Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inside the Statistics

This article made the rounds of the ol' blogosphere the last few weeks, looking at the widely-quoted statistics about divorce rates among Christians. Essentially, someone sometime threw out a stat that Christians divorce at the same rate as unbelievers, so apparently we're a bunch of hypocrites with no moral authority to talk about mawwiage, and blah blah blah. It became a nearly universally-accepted claim even among Christian - some would say, especially among Christians - that apparently nobody bothered to check to see if it's even remotely true.

Turns out, not so much.

So of course the many people who linked to it drew attention to the conclusion - those who are actually legitimately serious about their faith live like it, and therefore have significantly lower divorce rates. Yep. Should be pretty obvious.

But I don't know that I saw anyone draw attention to another line in the article, one that seems almost like a throwaway. Consider this: "Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans." Whaaaa??? Not just that the 'nominal' folk are identical to unbelievers - they're actually worse? Huh.

Based on this, I would like to propose the following about 'nominal Christians', where 'nominal Christians' is another way of saying 'unbelievers pretending to be Christians':

Pretending to be a Christian is worse than being open and honest about unbelief.

Too bold of a statement based on a single data point? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Discuss.


DJP said...

Fresh Trogdor! Yayy!

Robert said...

I have long believed that nominal Christianity will bring in more open persecution of true Christians here in the US. Many of them will jump right in with everybody else in saying that we are too close-minded, hateful, and judgmental. While in actuality, they are showing hate for others and love for themselves/their own sin by condoning and even promoting sins of those around them, thereby ushering more and more people down the wide road that leads to hell.

That is always where the difference comes in for me...when confronted with (and thus convicted of) sin in his/her life a Christian repents and tries to put that sin to death by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. When a nominal Christian is confronted with sin in his/her life, he/she justifies why he/she did it, says that Jesus loves him/her for who he/she is (not in spite of how sinful he/she is). I always fight between being angry and sad about this.

trogdor said...

That is a most excellent point, Robert. Good enough that I may steal it soon and turn it into a full post of its own.

Robert said...

Please do...I find myself too busy keeping up with everybody else's blogs to work on the one my wife set up for us to work through "The Institutes of the Christian Religion" together. I think we made it through about six posts or so...although I'm feeling more moved to get back into it as I am working through some other texts.