Tag Archives: Christianity

New study: regular churchgoers and married people most satisfied with their love life

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

One of the curious things about me is that I love to read studies in order to understand what to do in order to reach a goal. My goal is to find the “best practices” that are likely to achieve good outcomes for things I am trying to do. One of the things that we should all be concerned about is having a good love life. Well, believe it or not, there are studies about that!

Consider this article from Science Daily.

Excerpt:

Regular churchgoers, married people or those who enjoy harmonious social ties are most satisfied with their love life. This also goes for people who are currently in love or who experience the commitment and sexual desire of their partners, says Félix Neto and Maria da Conceição Pinto of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal. Their findings, published in an article in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, look at the influences on love life satisfaction throughout one’s adult life.

The researchers associate love with the desire to enter into, maintain, or expand a close, connected, and ongoing relationship with another person. In turn, love life satisfaction is a purely subjective, overall measurement of someone’s actual enjoyment of love. To investigate the factors that influence this across various age groups, 1,284 adult Portuguese women and men ranging between 18 and 90 years old were asked to evaluate and weigh specific facets of their own love lives by using the Satisfaction With Love Life Scale.

[…]While education does not impact a person’s love life satisfaction, religious involvement does. The finding that believers and regular churchgoers are positive about their love lives is in line with previous studies that associate religious involvement with better mental health and greater satisfaction with life and sexual relationships in general.

Previously, I blogged about a study reported in USA Today, which showed that people who attend church have lower divorce rates than those who don’t attend church.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

[…]The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[…]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Whenever I talk to atheists about marital satisfaction and marital stability, they always tell me these myths about how atheists divorce less, have more and better sex, and are happier in their marriages than religious people. But when I ask them for studies, they don’t have any. It’s like they believe things without any evidence at all.

In addition, atheists have lower marriage rates than religious people. That’s not surprising, since marriage only works if both people are willing to give up on pleasure in the moment in order to build something together, over the long term.

Now clearly, there are going to be atheists with great marriages that never break up. But individual cases do not overturn peer-reviewed research studies. The fact is that marriage is an institution that is soaked through with moral values and moral obligations. If you think that morality is just arbitrary customs and conventions that vary by time and place, as is logically consistent with atheism, then the odds are that you won’t be able to stay married for long – if you even get married at all.

William Lane Craig explains the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Probably one of the most common questions that you hear from people who don’t fully understand Christianity is this question: “why did Jesus have to die?”. The answer that most Christians seem to hold to is that 1) humans are rebelling against God, 2) Humans deserve punishment for their rebellion, 3) Humans cannot escape the punishment for their rebellion on their own, 4) Jesus was punished in the place of the rebellious humans, 5) Those who accept this sacrifice are forgiven for their rebelling.

Are humans rebellious?

Some people think that humans are not really rebellious at all, but it’s actually easy to see. You can see it just by looking at how people spend their time. Some of us have no time for God at all, and instead try to fill our lives with material possessions and experiences in order to have happy feelings. Some of us embrace just the parts of God that make us feel happy, like church and singing and feelings of comfort, while avoiding the hard parts of that vertical relationship; reading, thinking and disagreeing with people who don’t believe the truth about God. And so on.

This condition of being in rebellion is universal, and all of us are guilty of breaking the law at some point. All of us deserve to be separated from God’s goodness and love. Even if we wanted to stop rebelling, we would not be able to make up for the times where we do rebel by being good at other times, any more than we could get out of a speeding ticket by appealing to the times when we drove at the speed limit, (something that I never do, in any case).

This is not to say that all sinners are punished equally – the degree of punishment is proportional to the sins a person commits. However, the standard is perfection. And worse than that, the most important moral obligation is a vertical moral obligation. You can’t satisfy the demands of the moral law just by making your neighbor happy, while treating God like a pariah. The first commandment is to love God, the second is to love your neighbor. Even loving your neighbor requires you to tell your neighbor the truth – not just to make them feel good. The vertical relationship is more important than the horizontal one, and we’ve all screwed up the vertical relationship. We all don’t want God to be there, telling us what’s best for us, interfering with our fun. We don’t want to relate to a loving God if it means having to care what he thinks about anything that we are doing.

Who is going to pay for our rebellion?

The Christian answer to the problem of our rebellion is that Jesus takes the punishment we deserve in our place.

However, I’ve noticed that on some atheist blogs, they don’t like the idea that someone else can take our punishment for us to exonerate us for crimes that we’ve committed. So I’ll quote from this post by the great William Lane Craig, to respond to that objection.

Excerpt:

The central problem of the Penal Theory is, as you point out, understanding how punishing a person other than the perpetrator of the wrong can meet the demands of justice. Indeed, we might even say that it would be wrong to punish some innocent person for the crimes I commit!

It seems to me, however, that in other aspects of human life we do recognize this practice. I remember once sharing the Gospel with a businessman. When I explained that Christ had died to pay the penalty for our sins, he responded, “Oh, yes, that’s imputation.” I was stunned, as I never expected this theological concept to be familiar to this non-Christian businessman. When I asked him how he came to be familiar with this idea, he replied, “Oh, we use imputation all the time in the insurance business.” He explained to me that certain sorts of insurance policy are written so that, for example, if someone else drives my car and gets in an accident, the responsibility is imputed to me rather than to the driver. Even though the driver behaved recklessly, I am the one held liable; it is just as if I had done it.

Now this is parallel to substitutionary atonement. Normally I would be liable for the misdeeds I have done. But through my faith in Christ, I am, as it were, covered by his divine insurance policy, whereby he assumes the liability for my actions. My sin is imputed to him, and he pays its penalty. The demands of justice are fulfilled, just as they are in mundane affairs in which someone pays the penalty for something imputed to him. This is as literal a transaction as those that transpire regularly in the insurance industry.

So, it turns out that the doctrine of substitionary atonement is not as mysterious or as objectionable as everyone seems to think it is.

Jay Richards: How to end poverty in 10 tough steps

Jay Richards: How to end poverty in 10 tough steps
Jay Richards: How to end poverty in 10 tough steps

Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Is it because the wealthier nations exploit the poorer ones, keeping them poor? Or are there certain policies, laws, and cultural beliefs that lead to prosperity? Dr. Jay Richards delivers a lecture for Impact 360, in which he identifies 10 different factors that lift nations out of poverty, and explains why they work.

Summary:

  1. Establish and maintain the rule of law.
  2. Focus the jurisdiction of government on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.
  3. Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.
  4. Encourage economic freedom: Allow people to trade goods and services unencumbered by tariffs, subsidies, price controls, undue regulation, and restrictive immigration policies.
  5. Encourage stable families and other important private institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.
  6. Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.
  7. Encourage the right cultural mores—orientation to the future and the belief that progress but not utopia is possible in this life; willingness to save and delay gratification; willingness to risk, to respect the rights and property of others, to be diligent, to be thrifty.
  8. Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty—that wealth is created, that free trade is win-win, that risk is essential to enterprise, that trade-offs are unavoidable, that the success of others need not come at your expense, and that you can pursue legitimate self-interest and the common good at the same time.
  9. Focus on your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your competitive advantage.
  10. Work hard.

Solving economic problems is just like solving any other problem. First, we read to learn what has been proven to work. Then, we do what works. I want to encourage Christians to move beyond good intentions to good results when voting for economic policies. Often, people on the left want to “fix” inequalities by doing what feels good to them, or what sounds good to them. Economics is about choosing policies that we know have worked in other times and places.

Let’s talk more about #4 from Richards’ list.

Economic freedom linked to prosperity

Consider the book “The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution” by famous conservative theologian Wayne Grudem.

You can even read an article about it from the left-wing Christian Post here:

In a presentation of his new book at the Family Research Council, biblical theologian Wayne Grudem argued that poor countries can become rich only by producing their own prosperity, and that the free market is not only the economic answer, but in tune with the Bible’s moral teachings.

“Every nation that has escaped poverty has done so by producing its own prosperity,” said Grudem, professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. Perhaps best known for his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Grudem presented the key themes in his new book The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. The very first of his 79 factors to help nations escape poverty in “a free market economy.”

[…]Grudem argued that the wealth of a country is determined by its per-capita income – the average amount of money each citizen makes. The only way to increase this is to increase the production of goods and services, creating more wealth for everyone, he said.

[…]The professor pointed to 79 factors to help a country produce more goods and services, in three different key areas: the economic system, government, and cultural beliefs and values.

For the economic system, Grudem mentioned the Index of Economic Freedom, a report put out by the Heritage Foundation to judge each country’s openness to trade and wealth creation.

You can find the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom right here. Take a look at the countries at the top… these countries also have a very high per capita income. Their citizens are earning a lot of money by selling what they produce to willing customers. The ones at the bottom are run by socialist governments. You wouldn’t want to try to make a living in Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea. But these are the places that American socialists admire and support. Does that tell you something about what they would do to you, if they got hold of the reins of government?

The Fraser Institute in Canada did a similar ranking of economic freedom (economic freedom = low taxes, low regulation, free trade), and they concluded:

Countries in the top quartile (25 per cent) of economic freedom (such as the U.K., Japan and Ireland) had an average per-capita income of US$40,376 in 2016 compared to US$5,649 for the bottom quartile countries (such as Venezuela, Iran and Zimbabwe). And life expectancy is 79.5 years in the top quartile of countries compared to 64.4 years in the bottom quartile.

Economic freedom works best.

Ben Shapiro promotes books that challenge atheism and naturalistic evolution on his podcast

Come here, Mr. Dragon, I want a word with you
Come here, Mr. Dragon, I want a word with you

So, I was listening Ben Shapiro’s podcast, and he mentioned how he had been reading Stephen C. Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell”, which makes the case for intelligent design in the origin of the first living system. Dr. Meyer is a Christian, and got his PhD from Cambridge University. His work is the most effective statement of the case for intelligent design. His second book, “Darwin’s Doubt”, strengthens his argument for intelligent design by discussing the sudden origin of body plans in the fossil record.

Ben also mentioned that he was reading agnostic biologist Michael Denton’s book “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis”, which is a comprehensive argument against naturalistic evolution. If that were not enough, he has previously mentioned reading “On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision” by Dr. William Lane Craig, and Ed Feser’s book “Five Proofs of the Existence of God”. He’s already had Ed Feser on his podcast, and William Lane Craig was mentioned as a future guest.

I posted this good news on my Facebook page and declared something like: 1) “Wow! Isn’t it great that this Jewish conservative thinker is publicizing arguments to his audience that will help people explore belief in God, and evaluate naturalistic evolution?” and 2) “I wish that more Christians were reading these books, and that pastors in the churches encouraged Christians to read them, too”.

In a later dialog, I also mentioned how good it was for Jordan Peterson to have tweeted an article about the minimal facts case for the resurrection of Jesus to his massive audience. Peterson also had a dialog with William Lane Craig where Dr. Craig presented his arguments for Christianity. Many people went to that dialog to hear Dr. Peterson, but they came away having heard the arguments of Dr. Craig – the most able defender of Christianity today. I considered both the tweet and the dialog to be good things, because any time evidence for the Christian worldview is promoted to large audiences, it is good for the Kingdom of God. Most people haven’t heard of this evidence, and they are settling these important questions based on their feelings, or what the popular culture tells them. It is good for people who are still deciding the big questions to know that there is real evidence to evaluate before they decide.

Two women disagreed

Imagine my surprise when two Christian women I was friends with on Facebook disapproved of my two observations.

The first one said this exactly:

“What difference does it make if he has all the knowledge in the world and not Christ? Maybe I’m missing something?”

And the second one is even worse than the first:

“What good is the evidence, though, if people remain in unbelief toward Jesus, as Peterson and Shapiro do.”

Does the Bible support the use of evidence?

As I blogged before, the Bible records believers in God using evidence to convince non-believers from the start through to the finish. Whether it’s the miracles of Moses, Elijah on Mount Carmel, or Jesus’ miracles, or the resurrection, you can barely find a page where evidence is not being presented to non-believers in order to get them to believe. That is God’s approach, it’s seen in Jesus offering “the Sign of Jonah” (his resurrection) to unbelievers. These people were not saved FIRST. Evidence was presented to them FIRST. Evidence was part of God’s saving initiative in the lives of these non-believers. They were expected to evaluate and respond to the evidence when it was presented to them.

Why did they say it?

So then why not get excited when influential people promote resources filled with evidence relevant to the big questions of life?

First, some people think of Christianity as being about themselves. One Christian woman I worked for once told me why she wouldn’t read books about apologetics: “there’s enough unhappiness in the world already, I’m sure God doesn’t want me to do anything that would make me feel unhappy”. This woman was a troop leader for the “Calvinettes”, the Reformed equivalent of the Girl Scouts. She saw Christianity as being about her, and her feelings. Any expectations, responsibilities, obligations, etc. in the Bible could easily be dismissed, because she knew (from her feelings) that God would never want her to do anything that would make her feel unhappy.

Her view was: “Who cares about those people over there in the university, in Hollywood, in government, and in the Supreme Court, who are discussing whether God exists and whether evolution is true? I shouldn’t have to do any work to convince them that the Christian worldview is correct about these big questions.” It doesn’t matter to some people whether Christianity is respected as a “live option” in the marketplace of ideas. It doesn’t matter whether the rationality of the Christian worldview is diminished in the culture. They don’t care about being ready with an answer to questions from college professors, co-workers, and children. God’s concern for the universe begins and ends with their happiness.

There are conversations going on out there in the culture about big questions. How did the universe begin? Does God exist? How did life begin? Is there life after death? Is anything really right or wrong? We should read good books in order to know how to participate in those conversations with non-Christians. And we should rejoice when  influential non-Christians recommend those books to people still leaning and deciding those big questions.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Alliance Defending Freedom defeats secular left fascist Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

When we last heard about Jack Phillips, we had good news: he won his case against the Colorado LGBT fascists at the Supreme Court. But they weren’t done persecuting him, yet! Almost immediately after the SCOTUS win, they charged him again for refusing to bake another LGBT cake. Fortunately for Jack, the Alliance Defending Freedom defended him again.

Here’s the latest from Daily Wire:

Christian cake artist Jack Phillips has scored a major victory after facing years of continuous persecution for his religious beliefs from LGBT activists and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian nonprofit that advocates for religious freedom and traditional values, announced Tuesday that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission “will dismiss its most recent charges against cake artist Jack Phillips in the wake of newly discovered evidence of the state’s ongoing hostility toward religious freedom.”

In response to the clearly-targeted harassment of Mr. Phillips, ADF attorneys filed Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Elenis.

“We’re pleased that the state will be dismissing its case against Jack,” said ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner, who represented Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. “This is the second time the state has launched a failed effort to prosecute him. While it finally appears to be getting the message that its anti-religious hostility has no place in our country, the state’s decision to target Jack has cost him more than six-and-a-half years of his life, forcing him to spend that time tied up in legal proceedings.”

This sort of coercion by the secular left happens all the time.

I’ve reported on this blog about fake hate crimes, vandalism, violence, threats, death threats, attempted firings, actual firings, and many other power plays. So why do secular left fascists insist on persecuting people who disagree with them on moral issues? Why are they so comfortable using polical power to coerce others against their conscience?

Well, it turns out that there are some behaviors that the Bible calls sinful. And when people perform those behaviors, they start to feel guilty about what they are doing. That’s because God made people to not sin. Now, some people deal with these feelings of guilt about their sin by repenting, and turning towards God, and trusting him. But others just shut their minds to the evidence for God’s existence, e.g. – the Big Bang cosmology, the fine-tuning, the origin of life. Without God, they are forced into the view that objective morality, free will, and moral duties are all illusory. But they still feel badly about their sin. In order to deal with those bad feelings, they try to force everyone who still accepts morality to celebrate their abandonment of morality. And when asking others to agree doesn’t work, they go on to shame, silence and/or coerce others. And as we’ve seen on this blog, this can involve doing pretty much anything you can imagine. Sin makes people do terrible, terrible things to those who disagree with sin.

Are Christians tolerant?

Now let’s switch sides. What does a Christian do when faced with disagreement from a non-Christian? Well, Christians learn by watching God what to do with sinners. What does God do? God provides evidence of his existence to those who are open minded, and he leads those who trust him to make better moral decisions so that they don’t harm themselves and others by being self-centered. Christians also debate and disagree with arguments and evidence. Also, consider that God could squash everyone who disagreed with him right now, but he doesn’t. He’s giving them their whole lives to decide what to do with him. He offers evidence, forgiveness and leadership to those are open-hearted, and open-minded. But the others, he just leaves alone for now. And that’s what Christians do with non-Christians. We leave them alone. While a non-Christian is still alive, they have to be appealed to rationally, and treated with love and care. They have value because they were made in the image of God, to know the God who made them in a personal relationship. Christians believe that if a person doesn’t believe in Christ as Lord and Savior, then that person shouldn’t be forced to act as if they do by threats, violence, etc.

Tolerance and the secular left

But what about the secular left? The secular left are fascists, because they want Christians to behave as if they were non-Christians. And that’s why Christians need to do everything they can in the realm of law and policy to prevent secular leftists from getting into power. Secular leftists can’t ground objective morality or natural human rights on their worldview. Human rights have no meaning for secular leftists – they’re just nonsense. So, for them, anything is permissible in their quest to force others to approve of them. That’s why secular leftists need to be kept as far away from political power as the East is from the West. If you want to know what happens when they get it, just look at the atrocities committed by atheistic regimes in the 20th century, e.g. – the Soviety Union. People on the secular left are not moral people. Morality is the furthest thing from their minds.