Divorce Rate Hypocrisy
As reported by Lauren Leamanczyk at Today’s TMJ4 in Milwaukee, a new study released by the political scientists at the University of Washington shows that the 43% divorce rate among Evangelicals is higher than the national average and it certainly does not compare well to the rates of divorce of less religious groups in the nation today.
The situation is causing a bit of concern among Christian leaders over the high rate of divorce among people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians as noted by Mark Smith, the author of the University of Washington study who was quoted saying “Evangelical Christians look a whole lot like the rest of the population in terms of their divorce rates.”
Some Christian leaders are also saying that instead of putting a spotlight on the high divorce rate for Christians, many churches seem largely silent on the issue. It appears that abortion and gay marriage are often covered in the headlines, while the high divorce rate for evangelical Christians is not. Adding fuel to the fire, noted Southern Baptist theologian Dr. Albert Mohler published an article putting more pressure on the growing Christian crisis when he asked how is it that evangelicals can be firmly against on gay marriage when so many of their own marriages are on the rocks. As Dr. Mohler said, “Evangelical Christians and Christians at large would have a great deal more credibility in speaking to the marriage question, the divorce question, the same sex marriage controversy, or any part of it, if our divorce rates were remarkably lower than that of the greater culture, of the larger world and that is not the case.”
Mohler says that because the church struggles to accept Christian divorce as biblically permissible, but continues to insist that gay marriage is biblically wrong, it undermines any credibility they might have had. As Mohler noted, “It is a scandal that we have allowed other issues to crowd out our concern for divorce and frankly our acceptance of the culture of divorce even among the Christian churches.” Mark Smith also noted that gay marriage and abortion issues currently dominate the evangelical political agenda because those are the issues that motivate people to get out and vote at the polls. Even though the high rate of divorce among evangelical Christians is definitely a bigger problem for Christian families than gay marriage or abortion, divorce issues just don’t have the same impact at the polls.
Not every Christian leader accepted the 43% divorce rate number for evangelicals though. Scott Arbeiter, the lead pastor at the Elmbrook Church near Milwaukee said he believes that the divorce rate is probably a lot lower for the more devout Christians and that his church has addressed the problem with be creating programs to enhance and encourage marriages and to provide counseling for those Christian marriages that are already at risk. As Arbeiter noted, “Avoiding the issue is not going to help.”