The Connection between Religion and Morality
There are exceptions to most every rule. And exceptions are precisely that; they are exceptions. Let me explain.
There are some people who have no religious philosophy. They profess not to believe in any Supreme Being. In spite of this, they lead reasonably respectful lives. They do not murder, commit adultery, or embezzle from their employers.
On the other hand, there are those who profess to be quite religious, and yet, clearly, they are as far from godliness as one can be. The notorious Ku Klux Klan is an apt illustration of the disconnect between “profession” and “possession.”
As a general rule, however, the person who truly believes in God, and who has some sense of the moral principles set forth in the Bible, is a better person. He is less to be feared in the neighborhood, and is more likely to be a savoring influence in his community.
George Washington once warned that it is folly to suppose that “morality can be maintained without religion.” Studies repeatedly have shown this statement to be true.
Author David Myers penned an essay titled “Godliness and Goodliness,” which appeared in the magazine Sightings (4/11/01). Myers called attention to the fact that in one “U.S. national survey, frequent worship attendance predicted lower scores on a dishonesty scale that assessed, for example, self-serving lies, tax cheating, and failing to report damaging a parked car. Moreover, in cities where churchgoing is high, crime rates are low. . .In Provo, Utah, where more than 9 in 10 people are church members, you can more readily leave your car unlocked than in Seattle, where fewer than a third are.”
A report by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Byron Johnson, which combined the results of some forty studies and probed the relationship between religion and juvenile crime, revealed that most delinquent crimes are committed by youngsters who have “low levels of religious commitment.” Children who attend church become delinquent with far less frequency than those who do not.
According to Myers, studies have demonstrated that the most benevolent people of our society are the ones who are involved in religious activity. Americans who never attend church give about 1.1% of their income to charity. Those who are weekly church-goers (who constitute only 24% of the population) give two and one-half times as much as the non-religious, and account for almost half (48%) of all charitable contributions given.
Several other surveys have shown that the highest rates of “volunteerism” are by the religious, as compared to those in whose lives religion was deemed “not very important.”
A poll of 502 teens, conducted earlier this month, by the Christian News Service, determined that more than 80% of those surveyed disciplined their sexual activity on the basis of their faith values.
And so while there always will be exceptions, the general truth is this: Those who believe in God are much more likely to have respect and concern for their fellows than those who do not. Read Romans 3:10-18 for the divine assessment of this matter.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.