Want Your Marriage to Succeed? Harvard Study Shows What Can Help

Wedding cake visual metaphor with figurine cake toppers

A recent study by Tyler VanderWeele, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, on the topic of the relationship between religion and health, shows that there is a direct link between church attendance and lower rates of divorce.

The study shows that married couples who regularly attend religious services together are 47% more likely to not get divorced, than couples who don’t go to church.

You can read Tyler’s thesis here.

Want your marriage to succeed? Attend church regularly.

A few months ago I wrote about some of the “bad church statistics” that go around, one of them being that the divorce rate amongst evangelical Christians is just as high as amongst people who are not Christians (roughly 50%). The conclusion that is often drawn based on this incorrect statistic is that being a Christian really makes no practical difference in the way people live. This statistic is, however, incorrect. As this new study out of Harvard shows, the more a couple attends church the less likely they are to see their marriage end in divorce.

Not only is it good for your marriage, but it’s also good for your kids. The more a couple attends church, the more likely their kids are to have faith of their own when they grow up. (Those statistics and more on this topic here)

VanderWeele’s study also linked church attendance to lower rates of depression and suicide.

In an interview with the Christian Post, VanderWeele said,

“Religion is, of course, not principally about promoting physical health or decreasing the likelihood of divorce, but about communion with God. However, it turns out that the pursuit of this goal also has profound implications for numerous other aspects of life, including health and marriage.”

“religion is about both communion with God and the restoration of all people to their intended state of complete wholeness and well-being. The evidence suggests that it can indeed accomplish both,”

“The religious community provides social support, a constant reinforcement and reminder of the religious teachings, family programs, and a communal worship and experience of God.”

On a personal note, I believe in the Church. I believe in it not only for practical reasons, but for theological reasons. Even if I were not a pastor, I would be committed to church; in fact, it was my belief in and commitment to and service in local churches which led me to become a pastor – a path which I had never sought after or imagined for myself.

I believe in the church because I see in the Bible that it is something which was ordained by Jesus, built by Jesus, and commissioned by Jesus, not only to spread the gospel, but also to start more churches!

It isn’t because church “works” that church is true, it is because church is true that it works.

Advertisements

What Running Has Done for Me

Two years ago I went in for my yearly check-up and was told that I am pre-diabetic. The doctor also told me I had high blood-pressure and high cholesterol, neither of these were news to me; I had been told this since I was in high school.

I decided to take up running, if for no better reason than that I felt that it gave me the best workout in the least amount of time – despite the fact that for years I had said that I would never run, unless someone was chasing me or I needed to catch a bus.

Over the past 2 years I have slowly but surely built up my running distance and times. I don’t know at what point you get to call yourself a “runner”; whenever I start to feel that I’m making progress, I meet people who are light years ahead of me. However, I recently bought a pair of actual running shorts… so there’s that.

Currently I run about 15-20 miles per week. This month will be my first month running over 70 miles in a month. My 10k time is now down to 52:40 and my goal is to run a half-marathon next year.

wp-1475188583546.jpg

I just got a new pair of running shoes this week. While I was shopping for them, the workers in the shop were talking about a 50k race they ran on Saturday, and then a friend of mine told me that he is running a 100k race next year…
I’m probably never going to make it to that level (nor do I desire to), but here are some things that running has done for me:

  1. Increased my endurance in other areas of life

    One of the hardest parts about running is that I get bored. It’s monotonous. I’ve had a few running partners, but one moved away and the other got injured and quit running. Thanks to a great pair of wireless headphones my wife got me for my birthday, I am able to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I run.
    I have noticed though, that since I started running more, I have been able to more easily focus on tasks for a longer period of time, such as reading books, or sitting in one place to write. In the past I always felt that I had a hard time sitting still and focusing on one task for long periods of time. I know that getting lots of cardio exercise increases blood-flow to the brain, so maybe that’s the cause of the difference I feel – or maybe it is that endurance exercise has increased my endurance in other areas as well.

  2. Improved my health

    I’ve been back to the doctor, and although I’m still in the pre-diabetic range, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are at the best levels they’ve ever been in my life. My weight is at the lowest it’s been since before I got married 12 years ago. My resting heart rate has gone from an average of 60-65 bpm to now being 38-43 bpm! I also sleep better at night.

  3. Reduced my stress level

    Along with my lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and resting heart rate, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my stress level. It’s not that I’m doing less, it’s that I’m not as stressed out by things in the same way I was before.

Jonathan Edwards and others have pointed out the correlation between physical health and spiritual and mental health. The advice Jonathan Edwards gave to those struggling with “melancholy” (what we might call depression) was that they begin with making sure they are eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest and physical exercise along with spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading of Scripture and participation in a local church.

Running has been good to me. I recommend it.