Should you get married? Or is it better, as many do these days, to try it out first by living together? God created human beings with a desire to mate: this is not evil in and of itself–it is how we procreate. But sin threatens to hijack that good desire and pervert and distort it into lusts and behaviors that hurt and deceive us. Because of this, God encourages those who strongly feel the desire for an intimate relationship to marry–but many these days are opting, instead, to “try it out” first by living together before tying the knot. Is this right? Is it Biblical? Is it wise?
“But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2 AMP)
The short answer is no, living together before marriage is neither right, nor Biblical, nor wise. To the contrary, it is completely misguided and foolish. Yet it seems frequently like such an appealing and much simpler alternative to marriage. Why is this?
The reason many fall into moving in together is because in our immoral world where sex outside of marriage is no big deal, once you are already doing it on dates, and maybe later on actually spending the night in the other person’s home, moving in for the sake of convenience seems to make sense. Of course, there are other reasons why living together might seem like a good idea.
Some don’t want to deal with the expense and fanfare of a big wedding–but, who says you need a big wedding? Others are genuinely afraid of the permanence of marriage, and marriage is permanent–all the more reason to be prayerful and wise, and to avoid the entanglement of premature sexual intimacy. Some like the thought of easily “playing house;” others–though they might not admit it–might feel they are one step closer to marriage. Yet, there are studies that show that couples who live together before marriage are less likely to actually eventually tie the knot than those who do not.
As a matter of fact, according to an excellent series by Focus on the Family (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/preparing-for-marriage/test-driving-marriage/ending-the-test-drive), there are some pretty solid reasons why you might want to reconsider living together:
“Only 30 percent of couples who live together actually get married.”
“The dissolution rate for couples who lived together before marriage is 80 percent higher than it is for couples who didn’t.”
“Thirty-five out of 100 couples living together experienced a physical assault in a 12-month period; that’s more than double the rate of violence among married couples, which is 15 out of 100.”
“The top three problems for couples who live together before marriage are: drunkenness, adultery and drug abuse.”
“Men who live with their girlfriends before marrying them are more likely to be underemployed (before and after the marriage) than men who have not cohabited. Women who live with their boyfriends before marrying them are more likely to need to be employed full time to compensate for their husbands’ underemployment.”
As old-fashioned as it may sound, the right, wise, and Biblical way of doing this is to abstain from sexual relations before marriage altogether. What “sexual relations” involves, of course, is a matter of discussion–some feeling that even kissing is off limits, while others feel it involves more physical intimacy. My personal opinion is that if you wouldn’t do it with your brother or sister, you shouldn’t be doing it with your brother or sister in Christ–with anyone whom you are not yet married to. If you would be later embarrassed to relate to that person in a more casual context were the relationship not to end in marriage, it is too much. You don’t want people out there who have experienced you as only your spouse should!
And, if you are totally aboveboard–moral and upright and pure–in your relations with others, not only do you remain unentangled should it later become apparent this is not the person you should marry, but you are also in a better position to actually really bless that person. I have had many friendships with coworkers of the opposite gender, but my goal in these friendships was to be a genuine blessing to them, not to use them to please myself–to the detriment of their own present or future marriages! Ultimately, if you are genuinely getting to know others without becoming physically intimate, you’ll not be tempted to casually move into their place–without an established sexual relationship, marriage, rather than cohabitation, is a much more obvious next step!
Help me be pure and avoid immorality, to Your glory! Amen.