You say you were dragged to church every week? You didn't want to go? Your mother insisted it was good for you?
Well, she was right. And in even more ways than she imagined.
Turns out, if you're concerned about your health, church is the place to be.
Jeff Levin in his book, God, Faith, and Health: Exploring the Spirituality Healing Connection, explains:
-- Data on Mexican Americans ... found that frequent church attenders were more likely to rate their health as good or excellent, report higher levels of well-being, and experience less disability, fewer days in bed in the previous year, and fewer physical symptoms.
-- Scientists at John Hopkins University ... found that less than monthly religious attendance doubled and even tripled the risk of death due to arteriosclerotic heart disease, pulmonary emphysema, …
-- A follow-up study found an actual dose-relationship between deaths and frequency of religious attendance. ... Each level of frequency reduced deaths incrementally; attending services at least weekly reduced by almost 50 percent the risk of death the following year.
Levin goes on to say:
“The best study conducted to date on the topic of religious attendance and health also found the most amazing results. It showed that the protective effects of frequent participation in church can last a lifetime. ... Published in the American Journal of Public Health, [one] study found that frequent religious attenders had greater survival rates -- that is, lower mortality -- that extended over a twenty-eight-year period. Frequent religious attendance in 1965 was still reducing the risk of dying in 1994.”
Again, if you're concerned about your health, it seems, churches, synagogues, and mosques are the places to be.
Yet, what is it about religious attendance that causes a reduction in disease and death?
Many feel that the supportive relationships found in church fellowship likely lead to the health benefits of attendance. An attender's fellowship with others, -- their caring for another's emotional, economic, and physical needs, is important. Yet, could there be something even more significant that enables attenders to experience such dramatic health benefits?
Possibly, those consistently attending services experience greater health because they are expressing a greater degree of love, forgiveness, and patience, -- all qualities that studies now show contribute to healthy outcomes.
Are attendees able to express these health-giving qualities because, more than human niceties, they emanate from God? Could expressing these qualities keep attendees connected to God and therefore connected to health? Could a better understanding of God or a stronger sense of God’s presence be physically beneficial?
In my years of active membership in Christian churches, I'm beginning to recognize that there is something to an attender's relationship with God that enables him or her to experience health and longevity.
I’ve asked myself often: If God has a role in an attender's health, could there be a law of God behind the benefits found in the studies that Levin describes? Could regular attendance bring people under this law?
Yes, your mother was right. Isn’t it time to start listening to her? Time to explore the benefits of religious attendance?
-- Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Health Blogger, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, musician, and step-dad. He is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Texas. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). His syndicated blogs originate at To Heal a Mockingbird.
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