As I was waiting for my husband to finish checking us out of a hotel last week, I began to skim through the newspapers in the lobby. There was a bunch of political stuff I didn’t have much interest in. More headlines about food and gas prices rising which only made me depressed and then one headline jumped out at me. On the front page of USA Today, “Fewer Couples Embrace Marriage; More Live Together.” My first thought was, “Ugh, how typical.” But as I began to think about it more, my heart began to become more saddened and I realized it wasn’t just the world who was embracing this lifestyle and way of thinking.
How many times in the past few years had I heard about a church openly welcoming a couple currently living together as members, found out about a Christian couple that had been spending the night with each other so much they might as well split rent, or heard about the engaged Christian couple that decided to go ahead and move in together early since they were about to be married anyway.
Living together is beginning to become the norm. It’s no longer shocking that boys and girls are roommates, girlfriends and boyfriends spend the night with each other, and cohabitation comes without a desire to ever marry. This has become the world’s norm and it’s begun to creep in the church as well, but no one says anything. They just say, “It’s bad” or “The times have changed so we should too.” Yet again, we haven’t applied God’s Word to our lives, taught it to others, and lived it out. We just assume either people know they shouldn’t do it or we don’t want to step on any toes and seem out of touch with modern times. But in God’s family, this issue is black and white. There aren’t any gray areas and God has made that clear in His Word.
1. The Statistics Say Yes
According to a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2010, the percentage of women in their late 30s who had ever cohabited had doubled in 15 years, to 61 percent.The survey found that about 28% of men and women had cohabitated before their first marriage and that about 7% lived together and never married. About 23% of women and 18% of men married without having lived together. In 2011, according to the Census bureau, unmarried couples made up 12% of U.S. couples in 2010, a 25% increase in 10 years. Men and women today are choosing living together over marriage for several reasons. Some choose it for financial reasons and some choose it because of what they call “common sense.”
It makes sense for a couple who potentially want to get married to try “living together” out. Wouldn’t you test drive the car before you buy it? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that it’s a perfect fit before you “take the plunge”? Marshall Miller, author ofUnmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together as an Unmarried Couple, says this is by far one of the largest reason for cohabitation: “It makes a lot of sense why people want to live together. If you are going to be living with someone for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you want to see what that that person is like not just on a date on Saturday night, but on Monday morning? And also how they handle the bigger things in life, like money?”
The bad economy may be contributing to the increase in unmarried couples. “Often, they live together not just for the companionship and to test their relationship, but because it’s cheaper than maintaining two households,” says Stephanie Coontz, sociologist with the Council on Contemporary Families. According to the USA Today post, couples at both ends of the economic spectrum are opting to live together rather than marry, largely because women increasingly rely less on men to take care of them financially.
2. God Says “No”
Marriage is not better because you’ve test driven the “car.” People are not cars, they’re people with feelings and personalities, which change continually, and you can’t replace them by just buying a “new car” after a few years. Marriage was meant to be entered into under holy and righteous circumstances because it’s a holy union under God. It’s a union that matters and should be upheld with the utmost reverance, as Gabrielle wrote the other day. As Christians, purity should surround all our relationships and living together takes that purity and taints it. As the children of God, we’re to be different than the world, do things differently, and not follow in its ways because God has a different and better plan for us.
Throughout Scripture, God is adamant about abstaining from sexual immorality (Lev. 18; Deut. 22:13; Acts. 15:20,29; 1 Thes. 4:13). According to God, if the person isn’t your husband or your wife you shouldn’t have any type of sexual relationship with them, no matter if you’ve been dating for 7 years or engaged and about to be married in 3 months. If they’re not your spouse, then they’re off-limits.
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. ~Rom. 13:13
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything… The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. ~1 Cor. 6:12-13
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. ~ Eph.5:30
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. ~ Col.3:5
When a Christian couple lives together before marriage, it means they are embracing the earthly flesh and are not acting as the children of God. There mustn’t be even a hint of sexual immorality among the children of God. We no longer live according to our fleshly desires but we live according to the Spirit which gives us life (Rom.8:5-13).
Our Lord didn’t tell us to abstain from sexual immorality to withhold good from us but because He’s trying to protect us and help us live life in the freedom He gives. He knows what’s at stake when we don’t follow His instructions: The Gospel.
Marriage and the family unit are a picture of the Gospel and when that’s damaged then so is the Gospel’s reputation in the world. Satan is trying his hardest to destroy anything that makes the Gospel attractive to a dying world so he fills our heads with lies that living together is ok, having sex outside of marriage is ok. He doesn’t want you to live in God’s best for you so he tells you something else is better for you even though it’s contrary to the Bible. As a friend of mine once said, “It’s Satan’s faux marriage. He’s always substituting an ‘almost as good’ alternative for God’s best.” His lies are attractive, they’re enticing which is why so many people fall prey to them but God is urging you to fight them, live in the Spirit, and He promises you a life filled with righteous joy and peace. He’s trying to protect you.
It doesn’t matter what all the statistics say or what some psychologist thinks is best for your marriage or even what’s best for your bank account. If God says we shouldn’t do something, then there’s a reason. We need to trust Him in that because He’s always faithful, He never lies, and He ALWAYS works for our best. He’s trying to protect your heart and He’s trying to protect the Gospel. Our lives should be focused on making the Gospel attractive, living according to the Spirit, not the flesh. Living together taints all of God’s perfect will for His children. We’re His children and we should live like it!
We’re getting bombarded with articles like the one in USA Today, we keep getting statistics that life is going a certain way in our world, we keep getting told that we need to change our beliefs to go with the times. It’s hard to keep battling, it’s exhausting. After awhile, what the world says can even start to make sense. It’s easy to start believing and doing what they’re doing but we must keep fighting. All my sisters in Christ, we must keeping fighting for the truth no matter what our lifestyle looks like to the world, not matter how counter-cultural it may be. Because with the truth of His Word and with His power, we can prevail. The Gospel will prevail!