For those of you paying close attention in 2004, you probably saw the Barna Group numbers around Born Again Christians and divorce. I was 20 at the time, and paying more attention to research papers. I won't lie.
A little recap: Barna found that the divorce rate among Born Again Christians is nearly the same as that among non-Born Agains. Interestingly, that divorce rate, 35% among married adults, is only slightly less than the rate among avowed Atheists and Agnostics, at 37%. The Barna folks assumed that the rate among Atheists and Agnostics would be higher, since traditional faith barriers don't exist to preclude their divorce.
In general, Barna's assessments of Born Again Christians' experiences with and perspectives on divorce were far more moderate and in line with the mainstream than they expected.
And here's the kicker: 57% of "born-again" Christians age 16-29 criticize their own church for being "anti-homosexual." (This bit was included in a recent article on Time.com, "An Evangelical Rethink On Divorce?"
All of which begs the question: If Born Again Christians are divorcing at essentially the same rate as others -- Atheists, even! -- and their views on divorce are less stringent than one might imagine, and their young are upset about the anti-gay attitudes of their churches, then why all the rhetoric against same-sex marriage?
Now, I know that relaxing attitudes on divorce within their own community doesn't necessarily equate to relaxing attitudes on marriage equality. But come on. Is there no hyprocisy at hand when those who denounce same-sex marriage as an eroding factor on the institution of marriage and the health of "the family" partake in the dissolution of those marriages at the same said rate?
Or does the opposition to marriage equality stem more from a growing sense of alarm among (at least some) Born Agains that the wolves are rubbing elbows (and rubbing off) too much with their flock?
Born Again Christians continue to have a more negative view of divorce than non-Born Agains, even though the difference of opinion is not as large as we might think. A community that continues to hold as a core principle that marriage is sacred and indisolvable (outside of adultery) would be alarmed by having divorce rates "as high" as others. And it's not inconceivable to think that at least some members of the community (opportunistic leaders, for instance) would look for scapegoats (same-sex couples seeking marriage) in order to address the "divorce dilemma" among their own without having to alienate members of their community whose attitudes toward divorce or thawing all the time.
It's not unlike fighting a Cold War, in which domestic problems are addressed or avoided by pointing to an outside issue or force.
Or is there something else going on here that primarily explains the Born Again...discrepancy?...on marriage? Most likely it's a combination of things. And my money's on a leadership/rank-and-file dynamic as a significant piece of it. The most recent numbers around attitudes toward homosexuality point in that direction.