Friday, May 3, 2013

Married to reality

I've written about atheists and marriage. I showed that atheists can and do get married for very good reasons. But there are still some that claim us to be a threat to marriage. More recently, the discussion has been about same sex marriage as a threat to marriage, but some still claim that we are wasting time with marriage. Why is that? The claim is that our marriages won't last because they aren't 'blessed by God'. Well, how about if we take a closer look....

There was a recent study that looked at the divorce rates by different 'faiths'. Here are what the results say:

Jewish = 30% divorce rate
Born-Again Christian = 27% divorce rate
Other Christian = 24% divorce rate
Atheist/Agnostic = 21% divorce rate

As you can see by these results, atheists get divorced less than anyone else. But lets break down the results by specific Christian groups:

Non-Denominational = 34% divorce rate
Baptist = 29% divorce rate
Mainline Protestant = 25% divorce rate
Mormon = 24% divorce rate
Catholic = 21% divorce rate
Lutheran = 21% divorce rate

Interestingly enough, it would seem that Catholic's and Lutheran's also get divorced at the lowest rate of 21% just like us atheists. But are the stats really equal? One thing we must consider is how many of those Catholics or Lutherans are still married solely because of their faith. I'm not talking about faith making the relationship better and stronger, but faith that ties failed relationships together. Remember that in some forms of Christianity, divorce is a big no-no. In my past, I have known people who's marriage's were well past the 'best by date'. But they stayed in these relationships only because their religion disallowed divorce. Others didn't divorce because their church would excommunicate them if they admitted the truth that the marriage was over and that the love was gone. I ask you, is that any way to decide how to spend the rest of your life? I don't think these people are the majority of Christian marriages. But I wouldn't be surprised if that bumped the Catholic or Lutheran rates up to 22 or 23%.

So what causes the lower rates of divorce amongst atheists? I'd opine that it's due to a somewhat different approach to relationships. As I illustrated in my previous post, atheists tend to get married for the right reasons. But sometimes religion means that you don't get married for the right reasons. Sometimes it's a case of marriage because of an expectant pregnancy. In my opinion, that's not a good reason to get married in and of itself. Even if you're expecting a child, that doesn't mean you should automatically go get married. If you aren't compatible, you shouldn't get married, child or no child. But there's religious expectations to protect, so they get married and set themselves up for eventual failure. There's no need to be married to stay involved in the child's life.

Another example would be premarital sex. Some brands of Christianity forbid sex before marriage. This can lead to couples getting married before finding out if they are 'compatible'. Now, i don't think that marriage is all about sex, but it is a part of it. We atheists have no such prohibition, so we know what we're getting into and what to expect. But if you get married with never having sex, you could end up with a spouse that you don't have any physical chemistry with. So what can happen if that chemistry isn't there? Well many tend to either take a page from Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and divorce them. That, or they wind up cheating only to wind up with the same end result of divorce.

So while atheists still get divorced at a rate of 21%, that rate is the lowest of all 'faith groups'. There is room for improvement, but we're doing something right if we get divorced less than anyone else. I can tell you my wife and I are striving to take that 21% lower. But one thing clear is that atheists are not ruining marriage. If anything, we're taking better care of it than anything else.

-Brain Hulk

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