Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Drew Moser

Second Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Third Advisor

Skip Trudeau

Abstract

Much curiosity surrounds the question of whether men and women be just friends. Heterosexual cross-sex friendship is a nonromantic, nonfamilial, relationship between a man and a woman (Schoonover & McEwan, 2014; O’Meara, 1989). While nonromantic by definition, the relationship may not remain void of all sexual tension. Furthermore, these relationships are especially explored during emerging adulthood (O’Meara, 1989). The emerging adulthood life phase involves individuals ages 18 to 30 (Smith, 2009). During the transition to adulthood, many emerging adults feel curious about religion and spiritual development (Setran & Kiesling, 2013; Bryant, 2007). Although some emerging adults seem non-committal especially in faith, others desire “real” encounters with God and even possess a spiritual hunger (Powell, Tisdale, Willingham, Bustrum, & Allen, 2012; Setran & Kiesling, 2013). These individuals find faith directing and guiding their quest for identity and personal purpose in life (Fowler, 1981). Emerging adults navigate identity formation and establish their own “meaning of life”—which results in many utilizing personal spiritual beliefs as a foundation to that process (Setran & Kiesling, 2013, p. 14). Thus, the current research examined 10 Christian emerging adults’ faith development with specific attention to the role of their cross-sex friends. The research also explored the impact of faith-based higher education, specifically, the environments and programming educators provide to foster healthy cross-sex friendships that further faith development.

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