Thursday, October 11, 2012

Protestants in Decline

From the October 9, 2012 New York Times:
For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.
Much of this decline is the dramatic increase in the category that categorizes their religious belief as "none":
Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.
I'm going to take a wild guess that much of this dramatic loss of both religious affiliation, and especially of Protestants, is because a whole generation of kids have grown up watching Mommy and Daddy go to church every Sunday...and still get divorced.  One of the core values of Christianity (not just Catholic but Protestant as well) is marriage: "til death do us part."  It is very difficult for kids to take seriously a religious belief system that has so little serious impact on the lives of their parents for the one thing that really matters.

If you are part of the rapidly shrinking Christian majority in this country, and you have kids, and you are considering divorce: think long and hard about this.  Look for ways to work through differences and problems if there is any way to do so.  From what I have seen over the last thirty years, it is devastating to the kids in their emotional stability and in their religious beliefs.  And worst of all: an enormous number of the second marriages fail, too, because the core problems that caused the first divorce still have not been fixed.

A point that I try to make often is that while same-sex marriage is a bad idea, and Christians have good reason to oppose it, the single biggest piece of destruction being done to Christianity in America today is the frequency of divorce.  There are circumstances that are specifically provided for by Jesus: infidelity, for example.  There are other circumstances where I can sympathize with a spouse who decides that he or she can't take any more: physical and emotional abuse; self-destructive substance abuse problems.  But so many of the reasons that I see essentially boil to one or both parties are too selfish.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I quit attending church sometime after my parents split up when I was 29, and haven't returned. The rationalizations from both of my parents were truly a sight to behold, as it seemed that God found each of them in the right. While I still have a deep interest in religious thought and belief, I can't bring myself to invest any time in attending church.

gaffer said...

As an older man of 80 who has been married to the same women for 54 years, I can vouch for your opinion on this subject.
People marry today without commitment and goal. It is like buying shoes and if they pinch a little take them back.
Where is the responsibility and commitment to the kids? Today it is all "me" and our society shows it. We have met the enemy and it is us!

John Moore said...

Absolutely right.