We’re All Born Again Now

  Did you see the results of that recent Barna survey about Christians and divorce? Depressing. According to George Barna, people who call themselves "born again" Christians divorce at even higher rates than non-believers—three percent higher, to be exact. Well, it would be depressing, and shocking, except it turns out the survey reveals less about how real Christians live their lives than it does about the confusion about what "born again" really means. Wade Clark Roof is the author of a new book called Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion. A religious studies professor, Roof says that one third of America's 77 million Baby Boomers identify themselves as "born again Christians." The question is, what do they mean by that? According to Roof, it means that they've had a "highly personal spiritual experience that has changed their lives." To these folks, you are born again "because of certain feelings... and experiences, not because you believe any particular set of doctrines." And Roof says only about half of those who call themselves "born again" today attend a conservative Protestant church. Twenty percent don't belong to ANY church. Shockingly, a third of those who say they're "born again" believe in astrology and reincarnation. In other words, you might call yourself a born again Christian, but so do people who call the Psychic Friends Network every week. And so does the guy down the street—the one who lives with his girlfriend and smokes pot on weekends. All of which helps explain the Barna results. Many of those who call themselves born again, have no idea what the term means. We certainly can't expect them to lead Christ-like lives, or to know, for instance, that God says "I hate divorce" in the book of Malachi. The good news is that divorce is much less common among serious Christians who conscientiously practice their faith. For example, research indicates that regular church attendance is linked with marital stability. And Christians who live by biblical teachings—such as remaining chaste and abstaining from sex until marriage—also enjoy much lower divorce rates. Of course, far too many Christians do divorce, leaving behind broken hearts and broken homes—and we should do something about it. Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and the best way to celebrate is by doing something other than exchanging cards with your loved ones. You can do something that will help lower America's divorce rate by helping your church begin a Marriage Saver ministry. It's a program begun by my friend Mike McManus. Marriage Savers has a proven track record for helping couples solve tough marital problems. And if your unsaved neighbors refer to polls about Christians getting divorced, set them straight. The statistics are misleading because they include a lot of people who aren't born again. And we must lovingly tell folks, including some in our own churches, something else, as well: Christianity is more than some touchy-feely, emotional experience. Only when we accept by faith our Lord's sacrifice on the cross, and faithfully follow Him, are we truly "born again."


Chuck Colson


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