Current divorce church statistics indicate that Christians of almost all faiths are on par with non-Christians for the rate of divorce. In spite of a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the Bible as the unadulterated, infallible Word of God, Christian couples are divorcing in record numbers. Studies on the divorce rate in the U.S. indicate that nearly one-third of adults have been married at least once and nearly a fourth have undergone a breakup. Other statistics predict that means that nearly half of all new marriages will end before reaching the 10-year mark. It is abundantly apparent that if the trend continues, believers who dare to say, “I don’t” will outnumber those who say, “I do.”
The Barna Group, an organization headed by George Barna of Ventura, California, submits that within Christian denominations, evangelicals known for preaching the whole counsel or full gospel of Jesus Christ top the charts at 26 percent; but born-again believers of other denominations account for a third of marital dissolutions among believers. Research was conducted from nearly 3,800 adult respondents who have been married. When it comes to marital failures, Protestants also outnumber Catholics by nearly 10 percent. The lesser rates for Catholics might be attributed to the fear of excommunication once imposed by the Vatican. Shocking divorce church statistics also indicate that African American believers are severing ties at a rate of 36 percent, while their Caucasian counterparts are at 32 percent.
Pundits can only speculate as to the cause of an increase in divorce church statistics. Church leaders might theorize that well known televangelists who have divorced and remarried might be setting a trend for the Body of believers at large. In the late 90s, televangelist Richard Roberts, heir to the Oral Roberts ministerial dynasty, divorced his first wife, Patti, and later remarried. One of the first evangelicals to end a long-term union, Roberts was harshly criticized by some, but still retained a formidable ministerial status, which continues to date. Former Praise the Lord (PTL) founder Jim Bakker and his wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker, also dissolved their marriage in 1992 amidst scandal and allegations of adultery and misappropriation of church funds. In recent years, Prophetess Juanita Bynum and Bishop Thomas Weeks, both African American, ended a five-year marriage after he allegedly assaulted Ms. Bynum in public in 2007. Bishop Weeks later remarried. Highly respected and renowned Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Charles Stanley also went through an uncontested dissolution in the 2000. In 2007, the marriage of Paula White and second husband Randy, co-founders of Without Walls International Church, was also amicably dissolved; adding to current divorce church statistics of internationally known televangelicals who apparently are sacrificing marriage for ministry.
The dissolution of these high profile marriages have contributed significantly to the rise in divorcechurch statistics, as those in leadership are apparently leading the flock to the divorce court. But is the acceptance and practice of marital dissolution for Christians biblically-based? And are divorce church statistics expected to climb? The answer to the first question is emphatically, no. On the contrary, God hates divorce, or what the Old Testament terms as “putting away.” “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:10-12). This passage clearly states that God is no respecter of persons when it comes to divorce. From the pulpit to the last pew, God hates divorce and remarriage.
“Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:13-17).
The impact of increasing divorce church statistics yields similar negative results for the traditional family unit as those in the secular world. The difference, however, is that the failure of Christian marriages has a negative impact on the church at large. Not only do spouses suffer emotionally, financially, and mentally; but they also are prone to suffer spiritually. A local church is only as strong as its families; and if those families are broken, it won’t be long before the local household of faith experiences brokenness, too. Broken homes lead to broken fellowship. Broken fellowship leads to broken or faltering church attendance; and a decrease in attendees can lead to a decrease in financial and faithful support. It is no small wonder that as divorce church statistics are on the rise, church attendance is on the decline nationwide. Efforts must be made at home and in the pulpit not only to safeguard the institution of marriage, but also the viability of the Church at large.