A recent study published in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science” found that people who are religious live an average of four years longer than people who have no ties to religion.
A smart-aleck friend of mine made this comment: “Religious people don’t live longer; it just SEEMS that way because church is so boring.” Ha ha, very funny.
The researchers at Ohio State University were quite surprised at the findings, and they were not sure exactly why average lifespans increased so much for folks who are involved in their churches.
Maybe religious believers live longer because faith in God helps people cope better with the stresses of life. Or maybe it’s because if a person knows he’s going to church on Sunday morning it makes him less likely to stay out until the wee hours carousing on Saturday night. Or maybe the reason religious people live longer is because church potluck suppers serve only healthy food. Um, wait a minute. The church potluck suppers I attend serve the greasiest and fattiest—and tastiest!—food imaginable. So, it can’t be that.
Well, whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that faith in God and regular church attendance can increase a person’s longevity.
The government passes many laws and imposes countless regulations, which are designed to improve the health and safety of citizens. Some examples include seat belt laws, prohibitions against smoking in public areas, outlawing the use of certain toxic chemicals, and laws that prohibit the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors.
Maybe it’s time for our politicians to pass a law that requires everyone to attend church each week. After all, if it adds an average of four years to people’s lifespans, it seems like the perfect opportunity for legislators to improve the health of the American public.
I think I’ll contact Senators Blumenthal and Murphy and demand they propose a bill that forces people—in the name of health and safety—to go to church every week.
OK, OK, I’m kidding. I would never do that. Our poor secular senators would probably have nervous breakdowns.
You see, I’m a big fan of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion, which of course, gives people the freedom not to practice religion if they choose. Throughout history, whenever societies forced people to get involved with religion, bad things usually occurred.
Besides, faith is not the kind of thing you can force a person to have. Faith in God is a lot like falling in love. It happens because of a powerful attraction, along with much hope and joy. Also, God is a gentleman who never forces Himself on us. He longs to be in a loving relationship with us, but ultimately, we must decide it we will enter into the relationship.
In addition to the benefit of living on average four years longer, faith in God can give us the most awesome benefit of all: eternal life in Heaven. That’s the real reason religion exists, to help us enter into a faithful relationship with the Lord, which is the path to eternal life. To paraphrase what St. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain and Christians are the most pitiful people of all.
However, Christ did rise, and He promised that if we put our faith in Him, we too can rise to eternal life. So, the four extra years of life here on this earth are a bonus. But dwelling in God’s heavenly kingdom forever is the real prize. In the meantime, feel free to indulge during those yummy church potluck suppers. Apparently, no matter how greasy the sausage and peppers are, we’re still going to live longer because we have faith!