Marriage, religion = social capital

Two research projects find, respectively, that marriage and religious people in community lead to social well-being. Jesus certainly affirmed marriage and he gathered a community of disciples.

The first research project is Australian and finds that marriage is good for children.

We need to look afresh at the overwhelming evidence that children do best in  families with two married parents. It is not the wedding ring that does it. What  seems to make the difference is that process of clear decision and public  commitment. The promise to commit for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,  in sickness and in health really matters when the ”worse” happens, when money  is tight, and when sickness strikes. Of course it is not a guarantee,   but the  likelihood that a non-marital relationship with children will break down is many  times higher than for marriages.

Children are a blessing from God and ideally a child is nurtured in the loving public commitment of their father and mother. Jesus affirmed marriage as between a man and a woman in Matthew 19: 4-6.

Read more: Marriage at the heart of a crucial commitment to children  Another report on the same research which carries more statistical information, Falling marriage rates hurting children: report.

The second research project finds that “religious people make better citizens and neighbours“. It was conducted  in the USA and has some support from Australian data.

The authors, Putnam and Campbell  write that ”for the most part, the evidence we review suggests that religiously  observant Americans are more civic, and in some respects simply ‘nicer’ ”.

On every measurable scale, religious Americans are more generous, more  altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts.

They are more likely to give blood, money to a homeless person, financial aid  to family or friends, a seat to a stranger and to spend time with someone who is  ”a bit down”. . . .

In an interesting “sober thought” the authors hit on a conversation topic earlier in my day in which my friend commented on the healing and healthy role that his Christian community played in his life.

A sobering note for believers is that this study reveals that the content of a  person’s belief isn’t what matters so much as their level of involvement in a religious community.

In the reformed tradition we too often place the cognitive (content of belief) before the relational (belonging in the Jesus’ family).

Jesus invited people to come and follow him, joining in his community, and while following him they learned of him and his way of life for the world.

Read more: God’s truth, believers are nicer.

The research conclusions: marriage and religious people in community lead to social well-being, are an encouragement for me to follow Jesus ever more closely, day by day.

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