Sigalow’s analysis also showed that Catholics were more likely to say religious factors influenced their decision on the amount of kids to have than mainline Protestants. Those who were widowed, divorced, separated or had a marriage annulled were also more likely to consult their religion when making a decision on how many children to have.
But, just like with marriage, Sigalow said the PALS study showed unpredicted outcomes.
“It just seems that religion motivates people in ways we don’t know a lot about right now,” Sigalow said. “There needs to be more for people to understand how religion operates and is a factor in people’s decision making.”
Impact of religious decisions
Although she was coy about offering an opinion on whether to follow religious teachings for making decisions, Sigalow said in an interview that religion’s influence on the decision-making process should be studied more.
For Emily Timbol, a religion blogger at The Huffington Post, it's not always important to make decisions based on religion. Timbol said she never really wanted kids, even though her religion calls for it.
“I like taking care of other people. I like kids,” she said. “But I don’t think you should have kids because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do."
It's about doing what works for you, Timbol said.
“If you’re Christian," she said, “you have to let the Holy Spirit and God show you what to do.”
And it's paid off for many families so far — like for Jones and her husband, who have been consulting their religion consistently throughout their lives.
Not long after the couple started dating, Jones' husband lost his hand. Jones is a breast cancer survivor. One of their daughters' "life was spared," after Jones received a "gut feeling" for her daughter not to head out to the mall with her friends, who were involved in a car accident later that day, Jones said.
"The Lord definitely helped us get through some tough times," she said.
For Jones, speaking to God and seeking his guidance is an important component of remaining happy and journeying on the right track.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to go wrong asking God what to do.”
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