Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)


Barnett College of Ministry & Theology


Department of Christian Ministries and Religion

Primary Advisor

Dr. Alan J. Ehler

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim Vigil

Third Advisor

Dr. Melissa Archer


The intention of this thesis is to stir up marriage counselors into taking a fresh look at their methods for preparing and educating American couples for marriage, as the research will show that couples need much more than mere test results and analytics. Couples need more than a diagnosis; they need the prognosis of the path for healing. The programs developed by Christian therapists that are used in many churches in America do a great job at showing areas where couples are strong and where they need work, but too little is done to address their core beliefs about marriage or otherwise teach a scriptural theology for marriage. How can the focus of traditional premarital counseling methods in American churches be improved from merely providing test results and analytics, to teaching couples the skills and core beliefs they need to adequately build a grace-filled, soul-deep intimacy for a supportive marriage of a lifetime? Through a review of relevant Scripture, a theology for a marriage of servanthood will be presented. Once this foundation is established, chapter three will discuss the research of the methods of the popular pre-marital education programs used in the American church, and whether they provide any sort of path to overcome the deficits exposed by their assessments of couples. It will be shown that such methods could be improved by laying a foundation based on a biblical theology for a marriage of servanthood. This theology provides the motivation for couples to become more holy as they become more whole. Chapter four will present a key ingredient for applying this theology, one which builds on an existing premarital education concept and offer ways for premarital counselors to use it in the premarital counseling process. The ultimate goal of this work is to generate a fresh discussion in the improvement of church-based premarital counseling so that many more couples can sustain a thriving marriage for a lifetime.