The quest to live longer is an old one. In two months, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida. Why is that relevant? This European explorer came to the area seeking the Fountain of Youth, which you can still visit in St. Augustine, Florida today. There you can see the stone cross de Leon and his men made to mark the year: 1513.
The Fountain of Youth supposedly rejuvenated its drinkers. Fit, local Indians appeared to be its beneficiaries. It turns out it was their mating patterns and seafood diet rich in protein that actually kept them looking young.
Solomon the Wise once said, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1-2).Interestingly, scientists are now discovering empirical data that points to long life as a reward for godly living.
For instance, webmd.com, under the subheading “Go to Church, Live Longer,” reports on one of many studies that have consistently found the same thing. Regular church attendance adds to life’s quality and longevity.
The researchers report: “People who attend religious services at least once a week are less likely to die in a given period of time than people who attend services less often.”
The study reports: “People who attended religious services at least once a week were 46 percent less likely to die during the six-year study, says lead author Harold G. Koenig, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. ‘When we controlled for such things as age, race, how sick they were and other health and social factors, there was still a 28 percent reduction in mortality,’ he says.”
Koenig added that going to church a regular basis is just as good for you as not smoking.
Another study posted on sciencedaily.com, found the same basic results: regularly going to church adds years to your life. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, researchers found “that regular churchgoers live longer than people who seldom or never attend worship services.”
Sciencedaily.com states: “The research showed that people who never attended services had an 87 percent higher risk of dying during the follow-up period than those who attended more than once a week. The research also revealed that women and blacks can enjoy especially longer lives if they are religiously active.”
Baylor University professor Dr. Byron Johnson, a social scientist who studies the scientifically quantifiable effects of faith on people’s lives, says, “We reviewed over 770 studies on religion to see what the impact was. Not just a handful, not hand-selected studies, every study that we could find. And that’s when we came up with the conclusion that about 85 percent show a beneficial effect.”
Dr. Johnson said that the studies show that if you go to church on a regular basis, you will add seven years to your life, if you are white. If you are black, you will add 14 years to your life.
About 15 years ago, the cover story of an issue of U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT was entitled “The Faith Factor: Can Churches Cure America’s Social Ills?”
In that article, they noted this: “What’s the surest guarantee that an African-American urban youth will not fall to drugs or crime? Regular church attendance turns out to be a better predictor than family structure or income, according to a study by Harvard University economist Richard Freeman. Call it the ‘faith factor.’”
The magazine also reported that “Frequent churchgoers are about 50 percent less likely to report psychological problems and 71 percent are less likely to be alcoholics.”
Ponce de Leon thought water from a spring might make him live longer, but it turns out the church is the actual Fountain of Youth.
Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is co-host of and spokesman for Truth that Transforms with D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour). He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and Answers from the Founding Fathers. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington’s Sacred Fire. Vist truthinaction.org for more information.