Ability to forgive strongly correlated with human flourishing: study

By The Christian Post |
Woman reading Bible
Unsplash / Joel Muniz

The willingness to forgive plays a strong role in an individual’s level of human flourishing as a positive relationship with the Bible is the strongest predictor of human flourishing among the youngest group of Americans, according to a new study. 

The American Bible Society released the third installment of its State of the Bible USA 2024 Report Thursday, which examined levels of human flourishing among the American public. American Bible Society Chief Innovation Officer and State of the Bible Editor-in-Chief John Farquhar Plake reacted to the findings of the research in a statement shared with The Christian Post. 

“For the last two years, we’ve reported some rather troubling statistics about Generation Z,” he said. “As a group, these 18-27-year-olds are less connected with the church and the Bible than older generations. They also experience more stress and less hope.”

Plake also contrasted the mental health of most young adults with that of those who use the Bible regularly: “Not only do they score higher on the Human Flourishing scale than other young adults who read the Bible — but they have the highest score of any generation. There’s more research to be done here, but this suggests that the unique challenges keeping young adults from flourishing are countered by a regular interaction with God in Scripture.”

The latest installment of the State of the Bible report focuses on the Secure Flourishing Index, which measures individuals’ life satisfaction when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue and close social relationships. The research, based on responses collected from 2,506 U.S. adults between Jan. 4-23, shows that Generation Z has an average score of 6.4 on the Human Flourishing Index. 

Gen Z, which refers to the youngest group of Americans born between 1997 and 2012, had a lower average score than the three older generations.

However, when taking into account levels of Scripture engagement within each generation, members of the youngest generation that fall into the “Scripture engaged” category because they score 100 or higher on the Scripture Engagement Scale that examines individuals’ frequency of Bible reading and the impact of its message on their lives, have an average score of 8.0 on the Human Flourishing Index.

“Scripture engaged” Gen Zers tie with Scripture engaged baby boomers and elders, referring to Americans born in 1964 or earlier, in having the highest average scores on the Human Flourishing Index. Scripture engaged millennials, referring to Americans born between 1981 and 1996, were close behind at 7.9 followed by Scripture engaged members of Generation X (7.6), who were born between 1965 and 1980.

While even baby boomers and elders who are “Bible disengaged” because they score less than 70 on the Scripture Engagement Scale have a relatively high average score on the Human Flourishing Index (7.4), members of the younger generations who are Bible disengaged have lower levels of flourishing.

Specifically, Bible disengaged Americans who belong to Generation X and the millennial generation score an average of 6.5 on the Human Flourishing Index, while Bible disengaged members of Generation Z have an average score of just 6.0.

The research also revealed a strong relationship between an individual’s ability to forgive and their level of human flourishing. When asked about their level of agreement with a statement declaring, “I am able to sincerely forgive whatever someone else has done to me, regardless of whether they ask for forgiveness or not,” respondents who said they “agree strongly” with that statement had a much higher average score on the Human Flourishing Index (7.6) than those who said they “disagree strongly” with it (5.4). 

Respondents’ levels of human flourishing gradually declined as agreement with the statement about forgiveness decreased. Those who “agree somewhat” that they have an ability to forgive had an average score of 7.1 on the Human Flourishing Index, followed by an average score of 6.6 among those who “disagree somewhat” with it.

Additionally, the survey dove deeper into levels of flourishing within Gen Z based on the impact of the Bible in their lives. Agreement with the assertion that “the Bible has transformed my life” led to much higher average scores within each individual domain that makes up the Human Flourishing Index. 

Gen Z adults who “agree strongly” that the Bible has transformed their lives had an average score of 7.5 in the close social relationships domain compared to 6.2 for their counterparts who “disagree strongly” about the Bible’s transformative effects. The disparity was largest between the two groups in the domain of meaning and purpose, with Gen Z adults reporting a high level of Bible transformation having an average score of 7.3, while the other group’s average score was just 5.0. 

Young adults who believe the Bible has significantly transformed their lives also scored higher in the domain of character and virtue (7.9) than those who feel otherwise (6.2). While Gen Z adults who cite the Bible as a source of profound transformation had an average score of 7.2 on the happiness and life satisfaction domain, those who strongly reject the Bible as a transformative influence boasted an average score of just 5.4. 

The disparity in mental health between Gen Zers who “agree strongly” that the Bible transformed them (6.8) and those who “disagree strongly” with that assessment (5.6) was the lowest of the five but still noticeable. On the Human Flourishing Index overall, Gen Z respondents who “agree strongly” that the Bible positively impacted their lives had an average score of 7.3 and those who “disagree strongly” about the Bible’s impact on their lives boasted an average score of 5.7.

Originally published by the Christian Post.