Christian Families

‘Christian marriages are messy but have a higher chance of success’, the Evangelical Alliance claimed on 7 February 2012, in releasing (to coincide with Marriage Week) its latest report in the 21st Century Evangelicals series, entitled How’s the Family? This can be downloaded from:

The same health warnings apply as to the earlier reports. As Greg Smith, the Evangelical Alliance’s research manager, concedes (page 5), the data derive from a self-selecting panel of evangelicals who have agreed to complete online surveys hosted by Survey Monkey. The sample may, therefore, not be representative of UK evangelicals as a whole, still less of all Christians. On this occasion 1,219 (or 40%) evangelical panellists responded in November 2011.

Key findings from the research include:

  • 72% of evangelicals lived in entirely Christian households, the remaining 28% in homes which contained some non-Christians
  • 22% of respondents were single, with 1.7 single females for every single man, rising to three to one for the over-55 singles
  • Reflecting this absence of eligible men in churches, 23% of women had married a non-Christian, while 87% of male evangelicals had married a Christian
  • Two-thirds of evangelicals were married, compared with 49% of the population as a whole, but the proportion was 80% for men and only 58% for women
  • The mean age of evangelical marriage was 25 for men and 24 for women, well below the national average
  • Just 13% of evangelicals had lived together as a couple before getting married, against three-quarters in one national survey
  • The proportion of divorced evangelicals was one-half the national average
  • Evangelicals were two-thirds less likely than all Britons to live in single-parent households (4% versus 12%)
  • 89% of evangelicals were happy in their marriage and only 4% unhappy; however, in mixed Christian/non-Christian relationships the happiness score fell to 66%
  • Evangelical marriages were not immune from difficulty: 29% of respondents had sought help in their marriage at some stage, 10% had been physically abused and 9% unfaithful
  • Of evangelicals with children aged over 11, 19% reported that the latter were not committed Christians, with the remainder having 1.3 committed Christian children each, less than the biological replacement rate
  • Over two-thirds of evangelicals strongly opposed Government plans to legislate for gay marriage

Other Christian attitudinal data on topics relating to marriage are available from the quick polls answered by subscribers to the Christian Connection dating website, which has been in the news recently.

These snapshots of opinion, branded as ‘voodoo polls’ by some, must certainly be taken as statistically illustrative rather than definitive. A selection of results appears below, but for a complete list of questions and answers (covering other topics besides relationships), see:

  • Should dating sites which promote adultery/extra-marital affairs be banned? Yes 71%, not banned but should not be allowed to advertise publicly 13%, should be allowed without restriction 16% [6 January 2012, 855 votes]
  • Would you prefer to stay single than marry a non-Christian? Yes 62%, no 38% [24 November 2011, 1,315 votes]
  • What is the largest age gap you would accept in a relationship? Up to 5 years either way 27%, up to 10 years 39%, up to 15 years 12%, any age 22% [12 September 2011, 802 votes]
  • Is it reasonable or right for a single woman to have children via IVF treatment? Yes 12%, children need two married parents 50%, depends on the person and the circumstances 29%, all birth should be natural 9% [5 July 2011, 900 votes]
  • What is your view on sex before marriage? Sex belongs only within marriage 73%, sex is fine if within a loving and committed relationship 19%, unsure 7% [18 March 2011, 1,602 votes]
  • Should a Bed and Breakfast be allowed to prevent a gay couple in a civil partnership from sharing a bedroom? No 12%, yes 62%, Christians in that situation should be welcoming to all 27% [2 February 2011, 809 votes]
  • Should Churches devote a special Sunday to singles? Great idea 23%, not a particular Sunday but more focus generally 51%, might be a bit of a gimmick 19%, good idea but will never happen 8% [26 November 2010, 707 votes]
  • What type of Christian singles event would you most like to attend? Large party with music and dancing 16%, wine tasting 11%, pub quiz 46%, speed dating 12%, steer clear of singles events 16% [28 September 2009, 371 votes]
  • Do you feel it’s OK to date more than one person at a time? No 66%, fine if it’s just for the first couple of dates 20%, fine until you decide to ‘commit’ 9% [25 August 2009, 383 votes]


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