A new study reveals that while most Americans view virtually all reasons for divorce in the same moral light, a strong majority of pastors still believe there's at least one case when divorce is a sin.
LifeWay Research conducted separate surveys of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Protestant pastors. Respondents were present five different scenarios, then asked if divorce was a sin. One scenario was if a couple no longer loved each other; the remaining were when a wrong was committed: adultery, addiction to pornography, abuse, and abandonment. (See chart below)
The survey results indicate that while pastors make a distinction about divorce being a sin based on the reasons behind it, the majority of Americans believe divorce isn't – regardless of any of the scenarios. In the case when a couple no longer loves each other, only 38 percent of Americans surveyed believe divorce is a sin.
In contrast, three of five (61%) of Protestant pastors who participated in the survey believe divorce is a sin for couples who no longer love one another.
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, says the study reflects how the government views divorce.
"[Since] our laws went to no-fault divorce across the country, that's really the mindset of Americans: that there's no fault, there's no sin involved in a divorce in most situations," McConnell summarizes.
"And so something that we see as really a biblical value – whether something's a sin or not – is something that the average American is not in tune with."
America's first no-fault law was signed into law in 1969 by Ronald Reagan, who was then governor of California. By 1975, most states had enacted similar statutes.