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COHABITATION-LIVING TOGETHER BEFORE MARRIAGE

SCRIPTURES ON LIVING TOGETHER BEFORE MARRIAGE:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. This Scripture stands against the arguments, Everyone is doing it. Its the new way. Its accepted in society. That may all be true, but just because a path seems right doesnt make it so. Ecclesiastes 3:1,5 There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven a time to embrace and a time to refrain. As the following Scriptures indicate, the right time for living together is after marriage not the year before, not the month before, not the night before. There is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain. 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Living together almost always involves premarital sex. By living together before marriage, you dishonor both yourself and your partner. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. This isnt the place to get into why Paul recommends singleness over marriage in this particular passage. However, it is important to note that the Bible encourages a couple that is struggling with sexual temptation to marry rather than burn with passion. Of course, this assumes a couple that is ready for marriage. I recommend that all couples get good premarital counseling from a pastor or Christian counselor before getting married. Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Although the original word in the Greek means to sneer or to scorn, the English word mock is instructive when it comes to living together. To mock means to imitate, to pretend in order to deceive. You cant do that to G od without consequences, and you cant do that with marriage. Living together is literally a mockery or imitation of marriage in that it does not require a public commitment or lifetime vow of faithfulness. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 It is Gods will that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. To wrong someone in this verse means to exceed the proper limits. To take advantage means to defraud, or to take more than youre entitled to. It is the picture of someone who takes more than they should while selfishly disregarding the best interests of others. When we live together, we exceed the limits God has set for us. We take more than were entitled to. Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. The marriage bed can only be kept pure when the sexual relationship is kept within marriage. Anything else brings Gods judgment. Do you love your partner? Then why would you invite Gods judgment into their life? Why would you willfully rob them of Gods blessing? You will notice from these Bible verses that I am assuming couples who live together are also sexually involved. And I think in most cases thats a pretty fair assumption. Let me share the testimony of a young woman that I think effectively sums up some of the major problems of living together before marriage.

I wish I could tell every young adult that you truly will reap what you sow living together may seem wonderful initially but eventually it creates more problems than you can imagine. I lived with my boyfriend for two years before we got married. I knew I was breaking my parents hearts, as well as my Heavenly Fathers heart! My boyfriend was not a Christian, but I figured I could change him if we moved in together. The this-is-yours, that-is-mine mentality that enabled us to successfully live together completely unraveled once we got married. We had become too separate and selfish, making it nearly impossible to become one flesh. The honeymoon was over before the wedding day ever arrived.

Well, I would applaud the decision to abstain sexually until marriage, but there are still good reasons not to live together before marriage. Let me share with you three. 1. The first has to do with temptation. Lets face it: living together, sharing a house, or sharing a bed is not the best way to fight temptation. If you are truly serious about saving sex for marriage, the last thing you should do is move in with the person whom you love and to whom you are sexually attracted. When you live together before marriage, you open yourself up for temptation. 2. Secondly there is the matter of your testimony. The Bible says we should avoid even the appearance of evil. (Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22) How does your decision to live together affect those around you? What kind of an example does it set for younger people who are watching? How will people view your relationship who do not know about your commitment to abstain sexually? Our testimony affects how people view Christ and the church. Many have rejected Christianity because they do not see people living it out. Living together presents a poor testimony for Christ and his church. 3. And thirdly there is the matter of trivialization. Living together trivializes marriage by taking away from the uniqueness of marriage. Living together pretends to be marriage, but it is not the same thing. It is really a mockery of marriage and therefore dishonors marriage. This goes against Hebrews 13:4 which says: Let marriage be honored by all. I think its sad when a couple who lives together and finally gets married says, Its not that different. They have lost out on part of the joy and uniqueness of the marriage relationship which God intended for them.

What if we already lived together before marriage?


This is a question I am sometimes asked when presenting the scriptural and statistical reasons for not living together before marriage. If the Bible says not to live together before marriage, and statistics demonstrate a high correlation of undesirable outcomes for those who do, what if you already lived together before marriage? Is it too late for you? Is there anything you can do? The answers are: No, it is not too late, and Yes, there is something you can do. God reveals himself in the Bible as a God of grace, and even when we fail, we can still trust God to help us.

First of all, as far as breaking Gods commands in this area, we must understand why God gives us his commands in the first place. God gives us his commands to protect us from harm and to lead us in the way that is right. So even Gods commands are an example of his love and grace to us. However, Gods greatest expression of love and grace was given at the cross. When we break Gods commands, we sin against God, but God offers us forgiveness through his Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the penalty for our sin. When we confess our sin to God, putting our faith and trust in Christ, God forgives us and cleanses us. So if you lived together before marriage, the first thing you should do is simply confess your sin to God and put your trust in Jesus Christ who died for your sin. Secondly, as far as the statistics go, people who have lived together before marriage often wonder, Is there a way of avoiding the undesirable outcomes reported in the statistics? There are three things we should try to grasp here. 1. The consequences of sin: We should understand that even when God forgives us, we still often suffer the consequences for our sin. The repentant thief may still have to spend time behind bars. And the couple that lived together before marriage may struggle with certain issues in marriage as a result. 2. The challenges of marriage: We should also understand that every marriage poses certain challenges. Obviously, we should try to bring as little baggage into a marriage as possible, but we are all sinners, and so we all bring the consequences of various choices into our marriages. And that brings us to the third point, which is: 3. The power of prayer: I believe that any couple that puts Christ at the center of their marriage and asks God to help them can overcome the particular challenges they face in their marriage, whether those challenges arise from living together before marriage or from some other wrong choices they made along the way. It may not be easy, but God will help you if you ask him. What if you already lived together before marriage? Confess your sin to God, put your trust in Christ, and ask God to help you. God is a God of grace who will pardon your past and help you in the present. Hes got a pretty good future waiting for you, too!

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT MARRIAGE? Obviously, we can't cover all 500-plus verses, so we'll just look at a few key passages. I hope you will read the selected verses with an open mind, consider the analysis, ask your own questions of the heart, and then come to your own conclusions.

Background
Gen. 2:18, 21-24 The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'...and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV) Here we see the first wedding. We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God's idea, designed and instituted by the Creator. In these verses we also discover that at the heart of God's design for marriage is companionship and intimacy

We live in a society today that has little regard for the honor and sanctity of marriage as God designed it. Unmarried cohabitation, "living together," is a common social practice of today. With many in society this immoral practice has gained acceptance and approval. The following statistics indicate the magnitude of this disregard toward God's pattern for marriage and the home. Divorce statistics, although stabilizing, are very alarming. An estimated 2.33 million couples married during 1993. In this same year, an estimated 1.2 million marriages ended in divorce. This statistical data, projected, indicates that one in every two marriages will end in divorce (Universal Almanac, 1995, pg. 301 & 302). Also in the last quarter of a century, the number of marriage annulments granted to U.S. Catholics has grown phenomenally. Each year, cannon lawyers estimate 50,000 American Catholic marriages are declared null and void (Newsweek, pg. 58, 13 March, 1995). These tragic statistics are evidence that God's first institution - the home - is in danger and must be patterned after His instructions or the tragedy will be even more catastrophic. One of the familiar verses in the Bible is Matthew 19:6. That passage contains the words of Jesus in regard to marriage. "What therefore God has joined together let no man separate." This divine principle needs to be applied to the crumbling standards of the marital realm. It is high time that the beautiful, expressive words of Ephesians 5:31-33 be a daily reminder in the hearts of every married couple: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall be become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I am speaking concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband." Notice how Paul contrasted the nature and responsibilities of marriage back to the marriage of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:18-24) to substantiate what has always been true from the beginning. This scripture points out that marriage is a divine institution. It was designed by and originated with the sanction of God. Also this scripture along with 1 Cor. 7:2 establishes that marriage is monogamous. God created for Adam what was needed for his marriage: one woman. Paul stated that each man was to have his own wife and each woman was to have her own husband. This monogamous relationship is not having one

husband or one wife at a time. The principle of monogamy is one man for one woman for life. Marriage is a permanent bond between a man and woman and is intended to last until death (Romans 7:1-3) with only one exception found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, which we shall consider further in this article. Marriage is a divine institution with a purpose. If I were to choose one word above all others to convey the intent of marriage I would choose the word companionship. Marriage partners are to leave all others and cleave to each other. Genesis 2:18 says: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for a man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him'." Procreation, the perpetuation of the human race, is another purpose of marriage. Genesis 1:28 says, "And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it'." Children are to be born of parents who are married to each other. The home is the basic unit of society and is ordained of God. Marriage is also required to avoid fornication. First Corinthians 7:2-3 says: "But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband." God gave us our bodies and the sexual desire for each other. There is nothing evil, sinful, or shameful regarding the sexual relationship of husband and wife. However, sexual activity outside of marriage, either pre-marital or extra-marital, is to defile that which God has made sacred and holy. Fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, lesbians, etc. are violators of the Holy intent of God and they turn what God purposed to be a beautiful and pure relationship into something reprehensible and filthy. What constitutes marriage? A marriage is recognized by God when a man and woman resolve with mutual love and respect in their hearts to live together as husband and wife, and conform to whatever civil ceremonies are required (Rom. 13:1). There is no middle road between marriage and adultery. Two people who are living together are either married or they are committing adultery. Concerning the subject of divorce, Malachi 2:16 states very clearly how God felt about it. 'For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of Host. 'So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously'." Here and in Matthew 19:3-6, where the Jews questioned Jesus about divorce being lawful for any cause, Jesus stated that from the beginning it was God's intention that marriage be life long and monogamous. After Jesus stated God's position on divorce the Jews countered asking, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?" Jesus responded in Matthew 19:8 saying: "Because of the hardness of your heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way." Restating God's original plan in Matthew 19:8, Jesus in Matthew 19:9 declared that, the man who puts away his wife and marries another is committing adultery. The only exception is for

immorality (fornication, adultery). Christ's teaching clearly states that the general rule of marriage is that no one may divorce and remarry. The only exceptions to that are those who specifically are granted the right of divorce and remarriage. In Matthew 19:9, it is the "divorcing" party, i.e. the innocent party, who is given authority to divorce and remarry. The innocent party may divorce and remarry because it is specifically allowed or authorized by God. However, the guilty party is given no such freedom, no exception, therefore they have no authority to divorce and remarry. If the guilty party, who has been divorced by the innocent spouse, remarries another, they are living in adultery. If a husband and wife divorce for reasons other than immorality (fornication, adultery, etc.) and marry others, they are living in adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18). Contrary to the practice of today's society God intended for marriage to be a beautiful lasting union until separated only by death. Is this possible to accomplish? Yes! Otherwise God would not have ordained and sanctioned the marriage union with this stipulation (1 John 2:4-6). Marriage demands the giving of oneself to the other, and there can be no mutual benefit without mutual giving. A part of one's identity is surrendered for the larger identity. Marry to share the good and endure the bad with the one who love. Maybe it would be helpful to commit to memory a frequently used wedding vow: "For better, for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish 'til death do us part." These principles, I feel, are clearly seen in Ephesians 5:22-33. Marry to please God. Marriage must involve three persons: God, the husband and the wife. Enter the marriage relationship fully realizing the lifelong commitment and that God forbids divorce (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Choose your marriage partner carefully. One should never enter a relationship, as intimate as marriage, with those who refuse to honor Jesus as Lord (2 Cor. 6:14-18). For marriage to be the joyous relationship that God intended, the husband and wife must never take one another for granted. We must allow the light of love to endure within hearts that are open to a loving Father and His Son. Thoughtfulness, gratitude, and concern for one another must be ever present in a marriage. Perhaps the following practical rules for a happy married life will make marriage the life long union that God intended it to be (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).