Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Jason Campbell

Abstract

The concept of submission is foundational to Christian teaching. Jesus modeled submission in his obedience to the Father even to his sacrifice on the cross, and both Paul and Peter included exhortations for Christians to submit to God, to governmental authorities, and to one another, but the most specific directive was to wives to submit to their husbands. Despite the centrality of the concept, the exact definition of biblical submission of wife to husband is a matter of interpretation, tradition, and personal opinion. This dissertation utilized a 58-question survey in an attempt to determine how a person’s definition of and adherence to wifely submission within the Christian marriage relationship affects his/her perceived level of happiness. A sample of 249 participants from 30 states and four foreign countries was assembled through social media and snowball sampling. The findings of the study suggest that those who believe that compromise or collaboration is the best interpretation of biblical submission report an overall higher level of marital happiness than those who interpret it as avoidance or accommodation. This is true regardless of whether or not they actually utilize the higher-self conflict modes to resolve differences within their marriage relationship. Even the ideal of a higher level of equality appears to translate itself into a more satisfying relationship.

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