Recent statistics show that cohabitation before marriage is a growing trend in the United States. 48% of women, ages 15 – 44, move in with their mate before getting married. Because the Bible doesn’t specifically address this cultural subject, there are Christians who feel that living together before marriage is NOT living in sin. Without being legalistic, I want to argue that cohabitation is indeed sinful and should be avoided by Real Followers of Jesus.
Why Does the Bible NOT Address the Issue?
Why is the Bible silent on this specific issue? Simply put, there would have been no need to address the subject. In ancient, biblical times— especially within Jewish and Christian cultures— this would have been so rare, that there would have been no need for it to be addressed. Cohabitation was certainly NOT the practice of the early church.
Sex Before Marriage is Sexual Immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:2 – “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”
Paul clearly states here, that one of the reasons to be married (certainly not the only one) is to keep from sexual immorality; the implication is that any sex, outside of the boundaries of marriage, is considered sexual immorality. This is not an isolated occurrence; the message that sex is meant for a husband and wife only, rolls like thunder throughout the pages of Scripture.
Sexual Immorality is Clearly Sinful.
The Bible is clear that sexual immorality, in any form, is a sin. Sex is a gift from God, designed to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. Any sexual activity outside of these boundaries is considered sin. This would include consenting, heterosexual sex before marriage.
Living Together Promotes Temptation and Lust.
Even if sexual acts are not practiced between the two who are living together, lust and the desire for sex will surely be present. Extended time alone, getting glimpses of the opposite sex in a towel or less-than-appropriate clothing, building an increasingly emotional connection—this is the pathway to lust. According to Jesus, to lust is to commit adultery (Matthew 5:28). Why put yourself in this extreme mode of temptation?
Sexual Desire is a Strong Force.
We all would like to think we are strong and can handle the temptations that come with living together, but let’s be honest—we aren’t as strong as we think. Even with the best intentions, it is easy to fall, when put in the right situation (1 Corinthians 10:12). Why put yourself in that place? Sin hurts; when we sin, it not only damages us, but also those around us. Make no way for sin (Matthew 5:27-30). Sexual desire is a strong force; even with the best intentions, sexual activity is likely. We are called to FLEE from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Cohabitation Screams to the World: “Sex Before Marriage is Okay.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to stay away from the appearance of evil. It is assumed that when the opposite sex lives together that they are sexually involved. Is this the message we want our unbelieving friends to receive?
If you respond with, “that’s their problem,” you may simply not love people enough. Christians must love God and love people. That means putting aside our desires, for the benefit of reaching and helping others.
Here’s the question to ask before moving in with the opposite sex: “Is this decision most glorifying to God?” This question should guide us in all our decision making. Through the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can walk in a manner worthy of our calling.