How the Perception of God as a Transcendent Moral Authority Influences Marital Connection Among American Christians


Christianity, God, transcendence, marriage, relationships


Dynamics that link individuals’ perceptions of God as a transcendent moral authority and marital connection were analyzed in depth using qualitative data from a sample of 48 Christian spouses from California and New England. Thirty-six individuals expressed their perception of God as a transcendent moral authority, and compared to 12 who did not, they conveyed three distinctive religious-marital dynamics. These were all processes to promote marital unity that engaged God, namely: (1) spouses modified their individual behavior in marriage with reference to their God model, (2) they shared as a couple the goal to obey God together, and (3) they perceived that God strengthened their marital bond. Further, there were underlying common factors to these three dynamics: (a) the spouses’ perception of God as a being who has an integrated personality of divine attributes—including demand for loyalty to God and interpersonal care, (b) their emulation of God, as well as having a relationship with God, in the form of obedience and receiving grace, and (c) their marriage being centered in God in a way that the relationship is characterized by their dealings with God. This structure was different from that of the individuals who did not view God as a transcendent moral authority. Specifically, these spouses focused more on individual autonomy, communication, or religion itself in regard to marriage; but not on God who has personality and authority. Thus introducing one unique vertical dimension, perceiving God as transcendent moral authority, to marriage appears to be associated with distinctive dynamics and a sociopsychological structure within the marriage relationship.

Original Publication Citation

Shichida, T.*, Dollahite, D. C., Carroll, J. S.(2015). How the Perception of God as a Transcendent Moral Authority Influences Marital Connection Among American Christians. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 34 (1), 40-52.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Psychology and Christianity




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor