Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

John B. Youngberg

Second Advisor

Lenore S. Brantley

Third Advisor

Reger C. Smith


Problem. There is a growing concern in present society over what have come to be known as 'family values.' At the heart of these values lies marriage, and the erosion of this ancient institution has caused practitioners and researchers alike to focus on possible opportunities afforded by premarital intervention. With the proliferation of enrichment programs, there is a need in the church for an evaluation of Adventist Engaged Encounter (AEE), the largest group premarital intervention program in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, especially as it relates to two of its primary foci: role expectations and growth.

Method. Demographic details were obtained from 128 engaged persons, 99% of them Seventh-day Adventists. These persons also completed the Interpersonal Relationship Attitude Scale in the pretesting, with 80 persons completing data collection procedures at posttest. Of these, 57 were in the experimental group and 23 were in the control group. The SPSS MANOVA procedure, involving the two-sample t test, was the major statistical method employed to analyze the data. The.05 level was set as the significance criterion for the research.

Findings. AEE is a very private and individualistic program and appears to attract those of Caucasian background, from above-average income brackets, and acquainted only a short period of time. While experimental couples expressed overall satisfaction with AEE, no significant difference over time was found between experimental and control group either in role relationship attitudes (companionship/traditional) or in growth attitudes. The experimental group recorded less realistic posttest scores, however, on the Relationship Expectations scale (realism/idealism), and this was statistically significant at p $\le$.019.

Conclusions. This study supports a large body of research which has found no significant difference in engaged couples attending an enrichment experience. AEE would do well to focus upon those features that make it unique, namely its claim to have a strong biblical foundation, and be more discerning concerning the intrusion of unacknowledged humanistic theories incompatible with an overtly Christian, peculiarly Adventist theology of marriage and family living. The resulting premarital program could operate in a format conducive to other cultures, an untenable option under the present constraints of the Encounter movement.

Subject Area

Marriage counseling, Marriage--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists, Adventist Engaged Encounter


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