Monday, April 14, 2008

New Study Claims Regular Churchgoers Less Prone to Infidelity

A new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family indicates that regular attendance at religious services is a predictor of marital fidelity.

Led by David C. Atkins and Deborah E. Kessel of the Fuller Theological Seminary, the study covered how various facets of religiosity, including prayer, closeness to God, faith, and religious activities related to infidelity.

The authors found that regular religious service attendance was the only reliable predictor of infidelity. Prayer, importance of religiousness, and strong reported faith were not reliable predictors.

The authors believe that regular attendance likely implies prevention of infidelity because it is a shared activity between spouses. Attending services can create a strong network of relationships within the church, synagogue, or mosque that can provide social support to the spouses. Also, attending services means that an individual is hearing religious teaching on marital fidelity and the general importance of marriage.

For myself personally, this seems valid at face value because I've not stepped foot in a church since my teen years. But, for the most part, this research doesn't ring true to me.

First of all, though monogamy is heavily rooted in religious belief and practice, over the centuries it has woven itself so inextricably into the fabric of western culture that most wholly secular people value it as well and do not regard it as belonging especially to religion.

Secondly, my personal experience tells me that this is a load of horseshit. Some of the biggest philanderers I've known have been regular church goers. I remember one former coworker who "got religion" and ended up becoming the pastor of a small Baptist church in town. I remember being skeptical of his newly found religious fervor at the time, as he was about as big of a libertine as I am. Sure enough, he ended up getting fired from his job as pastor for having an affair with the church secretary.

And if the news media is any indication, my coworker's story isn't at all rare. Can you say Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, anyone?

Of course, this study was biased as it was conducted by a religious group, so that in and of itself, should warn anyone to take its results with a grain of salt.

1 comment:

The Blogger Exposed said...

Also, I would like to know how they tally the data. Is it a raise of hands? "Those among you who have cheated on your spouse, please stand up!"

Right. Church goers aren't necessarily more faithful, they're just bigger liars.

I was recently propositioned by a successful executive and regular church-goer myself. Our children are friends, and he had the balls to invite me over one afternoon while his wife was out for the day.

I never in a million years would have expected something like that from him b/c he seems so level-headed and devoted to his family, the community, his business AND the church.

So who is the one who declined the offer, as tempting as it was? Me, the non-believing NON-church goer.