Marriage as a Spiritual Discipline -- By: Leigh E. Conver

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: Marriage as a Spiritual Discipline
Author: Leigh E. Conver

Marriage as a Spiritual Discipline

Leigh E. Conver

Leigh E. Conver is the Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Counseling from Southern as well. Dr. Conver is the author of a number of articles and is the co-author of Self-Defeating Lifestyles (Broadman).


Christians should view marriage as a spiritual discipline. While pervasive narcissism has eroded marriage as an institution in contemporary culture, marriage provides believers with the opportunity to prepare daily and discipline their hearts and minds towards sacrificial love and towards triumph over the potentially destructive effects of narcissism. By the design of the Creator, in marriage believers come to know each other intimately and provide each other with the benefit of daily opportunities to discern their individual growth towards the ideal of Christ’s self-emptying love.1

The Contemporary Challenges to the Institution of Christian Marriage

Recent research by a reputable Christian research foundation has echoed the commonly held belief that the institution of marriage is in serious danger. Furthermore, this most recent report has shaken evangelicals by asserting that the divorce rate in America for born-again Christians has now actually passed the divorce rate for non-believers by as much as 3%.2 Though this research sample does not closely delimit the percentage of couples who are living together outside of marriage,3 the results of this research project should awaken the church to the seriousness of the crisis within its own walls. Furthermore, the research provided another surprising outcome. By chronological age, the greatest percentage of divorced Christians is in the “Builder” generation (37% divorce rate) and the “Boomer” generation (34%), with the “Buster” generation reporting only a 7% divorce rate.4

Other sociological research confirms that as an institution, marriage is a popular, but unstable entity with 50% of contemporary marriages ending in divorce. The divorce rate in America climbed during the 1960s and 1970s, but has stabilized at about 50% in the 1990s. About 75% of those couples who divorce will later remarry, but at least 50% of these remarried couples will be divorced again.5 The median length of a marital union is seven years.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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