New research from the Barna Group finds that Christian women in the U.S. claim to struggle less with "traditional" sins than they do more modern bad behaviors.
On Tuesday, the research group revealed part three of its "Christian Women Today" study, which found that women most often indicated disorganization (50 percent) and inefficiency (42 percent) as their greatest struggles.
Christian women were far less likely to cite "traditional" sins like envy (13 percent) and lust (8 percent) as struggles in their lives. Other issues they claimed to struggle with include anger (36 percent), selfishness (25 percent), excessive arguing (19 percent) and arrogance (16 percent).
With regard to their spiritual lives, 73 percent of women said they are characterized by joy. A similar percentage (72 percent) said they are characterized by spiritual freedom, and 67 percent said they feel a lot of spiritual fulfillment. In contrast, only three percent claimed to feel "a lot" of fear, doubt or confusion.
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, questions whether or not women's self-assessments of their struggles are truly accurate.
"Do so few women really struggle with fear, doubt and confusion? Do they really think disorganization is their biggest sin? Or are women reluctant to admit their shortcomings – even in an anonymous survey?" said Kinnaman, according to the study.
One struggle that might have been under-reported in this study is that of lust. While less than one in ten women told researchers they struggle with lust, an estimated 25 percent of Christian women are addicted to pornography and 70 percent of them will never confess to it, according to Dirty Girls Ministries Founder Crystal Renaud in her book, Dirty Girls Come Clean.
Although the telephone surveys used to gather the data were anonymous, Kinnaman believes "there is a strong sense that social desirability is affecting the results."
"For example, perhaps Christian women are reluctant to admit their struggles because they might experience shame and guilt by giving a more honest response," he added. "Perhaps women need to learn to have grace and compassion for themselves and one another."
Another possible explanation for the answers given by women, he said, is that Christians in general feel they are more spiritually mature than they probably really are. Therefore, Christian men and women both need to learn how to better assess their own spirituality.
The study, which was conducted by surveying 603 adult Christian women in the U.S. who have been to a regular church service in the last six months, also examined those things that have caused them the most disappointment in their lives.
Women said the biggest disappointments in their lives were related to relationships: the death of a loved one (29 percent), their family or children (20 percent) or a divorce or bad marriage (nine percent). Only nine percent of women said they have no disappointments at all.