Original Research

Who are we online? The interplay between online identity formation and Christian marriages

Chantal Ferreira, Hannelie Yates, Alfred R. Brunsdon
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6630 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6630 | © 2021 Chantal Ferreira, Hannelie Yates, Alfred R. Brunsdon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 March 2021 | Published: 23 September 2021

About the author(s)

Chantal Ferreira, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Hannelie Yates, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Alfred R. Brunsdon, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Mahikeng, South Africa


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Abstract

Digital technologies have become an integrated part of everyday life, and this development has not left relationships untouched. A need exists for theological reflection on the interaction between the dynamic contexts of the digital age and Christian marital relationships. The relational implications of the digital age are quite vast; therefore the focus of the article will be limited to online identity formation as a particular challenge of the digital age. Employing the method of a literature study within the scientific field of practical theology, this article explores the interplay between online identity formation and Christian marriage. It suggests that online identity formation exists around a reciprocal interaction with two prominent qualities of Christian marriages: The expansion of the self and one-ness. When considering the interplay between online identity formation and Christian marriage, awareness can be created regarding the marital implications of spouses’ online engagements, which may enhance contextual pastoral care with a relational focus within the digital age.

Contribution: The article contributes to practical theological reflection on challenges posed to Christian marriages by the digital age. It is aimed at stimulating pastoral thinking regarding online identity formation and its adverse effects on so-called one-ness in Christian marriages that can enhance pastoral care with a view on the flourishing of couples in the digital age.


Keywords

Christian marriages; digital age; identity play; online identity; online identity formation; pastoral care

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