Are Christian men more likely to abuse women (perhaps because of traditional views on gender roles)? No, says sociologist Brad Wilcox, who was interviewed by Christianity Today.
My research suggests that wives married to churchgoing evangelical men are comparatively safe. In the National Survey of Families and Households, husbands and wives were both asked if their arguments had gotten physical in the last year, and, if so, if they or their partner had “become physically violent.” By these measures, churchgoing evangelical Protestant husbands were the least likely to be engaged in abusive behavior.
Research that looks solely at the impact of church attendance comes to similar conclusions. Sociologist Christopher Ellison and his colleagues found that women who were married or cohabiting were significantly less likely to report abuse if they regularly attended religious services. According to their study, “compared with a woman who never attends religious services, a woman who shares similar demographic characteristics but attends several times a week is roughly 40% less likely to be a victim of domestic violence.” Not surprisingly, they also found that “men who attend religious services several times a week are 72% less likely to abuse their female partners than men from comparable backgrounds who do not attend services.”
Interestingly, he reports that the most violent husbands tended to be nominal Protestant evangelical Christians who rarely if ever attend church services. Also, people who attend church for extrinsic reasons (e.g. to look good, or to please a spouse) are more likely to be violent than those men who are intrinsically motivated to attend.
Additionally, he notes that women tended to be happier in marriages where the man is a committed Christian:
Men and women who attend church together are almost 10 percentage points more likely to report that they are “happy” or “very happy” in their relationships, compared to their peers who attend separately or simply don’t attend religious services at all.