Pastor Jim provides advice on the topic of cohabitation before marriage, providing both biblical and non-biblical reasoning.
Dear Jim: WHAT IS WRONG WITH LIVING TOGETHER BEFORE WE GET MARRIED?
Demos have become a way of life in most parts of the world. We would not buy a car before we drove it and ‘checked it out’ – nor a television and even a piece of clothing. So many singles come from painful past experiences and they want ‘to be sure’ that they do not experience this again. The logic often develops that if this is true for other less important things, then a ‘test’ drive before marriage would certainly be in order.
Sex and Living Together are Harmful Ingredients
I propose that you can take a test drive before marriage – but that ‘sex’ and living together are not only not necessary ingredients, but harmful. This statement is made from an emotional/psychological perspective as well as instructions given by God in the Bible.
Consider the Harm and Risk
Most people who are of this persuasion can readily share a number of reasons why they believe that living together before marriage is a good course to take. However, I find that these same individuals have not spent any time considering what harm and risk might be involved in doing so. Let me share perhaps the number one reason for not living together before marriage.
The Odds Are Against Living Together Before Marriage
The odds of your relationship not ending up in a marriage are significantly multiplied by living together before marriage!
Yes, you can share with me some who have – but the odds are not with you. Let me share some things that I believe are NOT present and positive when this course is taken:
- There is an underlying reality that you are not worthy of the other person’s commitment. This means that at any moment the whole thing can come crushing in on you – and your emotions and psychic know this and build an inner defense against the potential pain. This ‘cheapens’ the value of marriage – where two people choose to embrace life’s good times AND difficult ones and mutually find ways to resolve. You know that at the sign of difficulty the parties will likely bail. After all, comfort and pleasure or the foundation of this type relationship – not work and the resulting depth of love.
- A choice is being made to greatly hinder God being able to empower and bless you.
- The dynamics of two people ‘playing house’ without commitment is telling your emotions that you are not responsible. Your emotions and conscious will assimilate this into your character and it will find an outlet in another area of your life that can be very damaging.
- For some reason, Christian singles today think that modern medicine, etc. has removed the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The input that I receive from so many Christian singles clearly shows that this is not true. My heart breaks each time I receive one of these letters, etc. where the person has been permanently damaged.
- Often one or both of the parties thinks that by moving in together they will be able to change the other person. I feel comfortable in stating that this just does not happen. Frankly, when sex enters the picture outside of marriage, it changes the forces at play. Time after time parties will ignore warning signs of serious relationship problems because they want to enjoy the intimacy and sexual activity.
- Finally, there does seem to be another element at play in men. The man is the ‘hunter’ in the relationship. Once he no longer has to hunt, he loses his motivation to make changes. He already has his conquest. Further, he controls the conquest by the unspoken word that if the woman does not form to his demands/wishes, he will be gone. The hell that is created from this is unbearable for both and soon anything looks better than staying in this relationship.
I am a member of the group who believe that an extended period of time should be taken in dating to come to a complete and healthy understanding that you are compatible, etc. for marriage. Once an engagement is formed, I suggest that the engagement should be a relatively short period of time. Once parties know that they should be married, it is most difficult to stay sexually pure, etc. Check out my other blog post about a similar topic in Cohabitation.
Relationships are Work
Do not be one who makes choices based upon defense from past painful experiences. As I heard Dr. Les Parrott state in a Soul Mate seminar, one should be as healthy as they can possibly be before considering dating. Relationships are work – you either do much of it before marriage or after – but you will do it or fail. God does not want failures and encourages you to not get caught in this trap.
Already Living Together?
What if you are already living with someone outside of marriage? Consider the points above, pray and ask God what He wishes you to do. I think you will find that He asks you to move out and build the relationship on more solid ground. May He guide you to deeper joys and peace.
Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators (sex outside of marriage) and adulterers God will judge – Hebrews 13:4