Unintended Consequences

This article is a follow-up to the last article I wrote entitled, “Unacceptable Statistics.”  In the last article, I shared the results of a twenty year study from three different congregations.  The results from each congregation were almost identical.  Among other things, the findings from these three congregations showed that the vast majority of our young people who marry non-Christians eventually leave the faith (72%, 80%, 75%).  Furthermore, these findings showed that very few of our young people are able to affect the conversion of their non-Christian spouses (17%, 14%, 5%).  What may be even more disturbing than these statistics is the fact that the majority of our young people are choosing this path for themselves.  From the three 20 year studies, an average of 71% of our young people chose to marry non-Christians.

At this point, allow me to interject another unintended consequence of this life choice.  If one wishes to ignore the statistics, thinking he will be the exception to the rule, that is his choice (I certainly pray that they are right).  However, what is seldom considered until after the fact is the impact that this choice has on the children that will be born into a religiously-mixed marriage.  What happens to the faith of children raised in religiously mixed homes?  While I don’t have statistics from two of the congregations mentioned in the previous article, I do have statistics from one of the congregations.  Here are the findings:

  • 72% of the children born into religiously-mixed homes left the faith after graduation from High School.
  • 5% of the children born into religiously-mixed homes attend all the services of the church (Sun. A.M., P.M., Wed.) after graduating from High School.
  • 70% of the children born into homes having two Christian parents remained faithful after graduation from High School.

Again, whether one views these statistics as anecdotal or a fairly accurate representation of what typically happens is your choice, but I am convinced they are fairly typical.  Most young people entering a religiously mixed marriage  think they’re strong enough to handle the inherent challenges such a relationship poses, (though only a small minority actually are), however few seem to think ahead far enough to consider whether their future children will also be that strong.  One of the unintended consequences of Christians marrying non-Christians is the spiritual loss of the vast majority of their children.

Please don’t discard this information because you are, or you know someone who is an exception to the rule.  If you’re an exception to the rule, I give God thanks for you, but recognize what you are, “an exception.”  If on average 3 out of 10 people can survive a fall from a five-story building, that’s wonderful for them, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.  Give it some thought.

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Comments 7

  • Amen brother, just amen!

  • Steve, as always right on target. (maybe I shouldn’t use that terminolgy). Nevertheless you are correct. I have been preaching for over 40 years. (I know that is hard to understand as young as I am). I have seen time and time again how young people marry outside the church and either fall away or leave the church of our Lord for a denomination
    There have been exceptions as you point out but the majority have left the faith. I had some cousins that years ago where the father attended the church and their mother attended a denomination. Neither of the two boys ever obeyed the gospel! We have seen that over and over. Thank you Steve for your great work. May God continue to bless your service in His kingdom. James

  • You are truly gifted, brother. It was long, but worth the time to read.

  • I’ve enjoyed reading this post and the one prior. However, as the stats may reveal an unnerving fact as to what happens when our youth marry outside the church, it does not reveal why it’s happening. If I may offer a conjecture, I believe the stats reveal another fact that should be discussed, the church is doing a very poor job to train and educate it’s youth and their parents about the sanctity of marriage and sexual purity. Look at the rates of divorce, are they not the same in the church as those outside the church. How about the rates of sexual infidelity? Some research (Barna) shows it’s increasing in the church.

    The Christian church is in dire need of a paradigm shift. If we do not change and minister to the needs of the youth and family we will not stop the exodus of our youth. The Christian church will die. Christ will become meaningless.

  • Steve, as always, this is so true and sad. I didn’t start going to church until I was 10 but we had an elder that was right there teaching us facts like this and the reasons why we should not be unequally yoked, even in marriage. One woman that was a friend of my mothers had married a Lutheran ~ a wonderful man but wouldn’t go to church with her. They had 2 boys close to the same age and they always questioned why they had to go to church with her when their dad didn’t go with them ~ why couldn’t they stay home with him? The oldest boy was baptized, the second never was. Both quit going to church when they were in high school. A few years after the two older boys, she had another son who was involved in the teen activities and works of the church. Today, he is an elder and has 2 beautiful children who are faithful.

    I agree very much with what Michael said, too. I don’t hear much teaching or preaching today like I did when I was growing up. When the elders see young (or old) women and men come in half dressed, why aren’t they discussing the problem with them and from the pulpit? A few years ago, I was on the church of Christ single’s site and was shocked at how many young people in the church see nothing wrong with having sex outside of marriage !! Why do more and more see nothing wrong is mixed swimming? drinking? smoking? dancing? One young preacher tried to have a discussion about appropriate dress when they go to church and he was blasted by several who kept saying, “it isn’t what we wear on the outside, it’s what’s in our hearts”. They have no respect for God or their fellow Christians and only want to do what they want, regardless if someone else finds it offensive. What has happened now that we seldom hear these topics preached on or taught in the classes anymore? Why are so many preachers willing to compromise the truth in God’s word, just so they don’t offend someone in the audience?

    God bless you for discussing these topics and keeping them out there so others can learn.

  • After I submitted my comments, I remembered something a good friend in church had written and thought some of you might like to copy and use it. Mary has given me permission to share it with others. She was teaching teen girls at church several years ago when she wrote this and it has been published in bulletins and a magazine, if I remember right, so any of you can feel free to use it if you like. She is a member of the church in Denton, TX.

    By Mary Martini

    Look at yourself in a full length mirror- front, back and side. Ask yourself:

    * Will what I’m wearing bring God glory (1 Cor. 10:31; Ex. 28:40,43; Isa. 61:3) and portray me as a godly woman (1 Tim. 2:9,10)?

    * Does what I’m wearing meet or exceed God’s standard for being modest (Gen. 3:21; Ex. 20:26; 28:40-43)?

    * Will my clothing help or hurt my influence for Christ (Rom. 13:10; 15:3; Phil. 2:3,4)?

    * Is it too short?
    Sit down, cross your legs, bend over, squat down, reach up. At any time, does the garment reveal any of your leg above your knees? (Ex. 28:42) With tops and blouses, is your midriff showing at any time (Gen. 3:21)?

    * Is it too tight?
    Am I revealing my body form (which highlights or emphasizes my sexuality), thus tantalizing, enticing or tempting men to have impure thoughts (Mt. 18:7; Gal. 5:19- lasciviousness)?

    * Is the neckline too low?
    Bend over – what can you see? Sit. Have another female tell you what they can see while looking down at you. (Men serving the Lord’s supper say this is a problem).

    * Is it too sheer?
    Can I see my skin or undergarments through the material?
    (Jn. 21:7 ASV – undergarments exposed = naked in God’s eyes)

    * If sleeveless, are my undergarments visible (Jn. 21:7 ASV)?

    * Is it appropriate and respectful (Gen. 41:14; Mt. 22:11-14)?

    When I come to worship, would someone think I was going to a picnic or other social activity, or can they tell I’m giving my best in my worship to God (Ex. 20:26)?

    * Because of how I’m dressed, would someone mistake me for a worldly woman (harlot- Prov. 7:10; Gen. 38:15)?

    * Is what I’m wearing stating that I’m dressed to be chaste (pure and holy) or chased (by men)?

    * Will it encourage a man to lust after me, thus causing him to stumble and sin (Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9; Mt. 5:27,28)?

    Remember – God may hold me responsible for wrong reactions if I dress inappropriately. (Mt. 5:27,28; 14:1-12)

  • Steve,
    Thank you for an excellent research of statistics by you and brother Edwards. I am praying that more and more preachers will step up to the plate and preach these very much needed subjects on marriage, divorce, sexual purity, sexual immorality, alcohol, mixed swimming,etc. I work at a Christian university and see these issues and it saddens me how so many are “for lack of knowledge and not been trained in the admonition of the Lord”. We must have preachers to be “BOLD” in their teaching the truth and not worry about offending anyone as it is more important to care about someone’s lost soul than empty words of another.

    Thank you so much for posting The Dress Test by Mary and I will be posting and using this myself and giving her the credit for a well said and needed article to share with all women, especially the young women I work with.

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