People uncertain about their relationship with God more likely to suffer mental distress: study by Leonardo Blair for Christian Today
In the first chapter of the book of James in the Bible, Jesus’ brother warns against approaching God with unsteady faith because of the instability that comes with being “double minded.” Now, a new study suggests that people who are uncertain about their relationship with God are more likely to experience mental distress than other believers.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed,” James declares in Scripture. “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
In “Attachment to God and Psychological Distress: Evidence of a Curvilinear Relationship” published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion last month, researchers W. Matthew Henderson of Union University and Blake Kent of Westmont College conclude that “anxiety or a lack of certainty about one’s relationship with the divine represents a threat to psychological well-being.”
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The study used national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, including more than 1,600 Americans who believe in God. The study wasn’t limited to just Christians but respondents were predominantly Christian.
While earlier research has shown that religious practices like prayer and religious service attendance are “pretty protective of people’s mental health,” Henderson, an assistant professor of sociology at Union University in Tennessee, told The Christian Post that not much data was available about how “people’s specific religious beliefs” affect their mental health outcomes.