What About Living Together Before Marriage?
thrives on innovation. We ask how can we improve? What could make it better?
Few are the souls as interested in right and wrong as they are in escaping
tradition. In the area of human relationships this is apparent as well. As
modern man has sought to redefine marriage, what God has to say seems to matter
example of this move toward innovation in male-female relations is what is
euphemistically called “living together.” This state involves a couple
cohabitating together and engaging in sexual intimacy without following through
with the committment of legal marriage. This may be entered into with one of
two attitudes. The first says—“Our love isn’t defined by some piece of paper.
We know how committed we are to each other.” This was very popular thinking in
the 1960’s and 1970’s. The second says—“Let’s just try it for awhile and see
how it goes. If things work out, then we will think about marriage.” In this
mindset, the misnomer “trial marriage” is sometimes used to describe this condition.
If a person has any regard for truth, he or she must ask three questions about
1.) What is
God’s attitude toward this?
2.) Is Living
Together Marriage to God?
3.) Is this
really such a good idea?
God’s Attitude Towards Living Together
attitude is clear in this matter. Sexual intimacy before marriage is sin! This
has been true in all three periods of Bible history. During the time of the
Patriarchs we read in Genesis 34:1-31 of an incident involving Dinah, the
daughter of Jacob by Leah (vs. 1). The son of a Hivite prince whose name was
Shechem—“Saw her, took her and lay with her.” (NKJV). Although this is
sometimes referred to as the “Rape of Dinah” we are actually told very little
about whether it was consensual or not. We are told, however, three things
about this behavior: 1) It “violated her.” (vs. 2); 2) It “defiled
Dinah” (vs. 13); and finally, 3) It was “a disgraceful thing...which
ought not to be done” (vs. 7).
the Law of Moses was binding upon the Jews, the same principle was equally
clear. In Deuteronomy 22:13-29 several relevant laws were spelled out: 1) If it
was discovered that a women was not a virgin when she was married she was to be
stoned—“because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel” (vs. 21). 2)
If a betrothed women had sex with another man in the city, both the man and the
woman were to be stoned (vs. 23-24). 3) If a man had sex with a betrothed woman
in the countryside he alone was to be stoned, because although she may have
cried for help no one could hear her (vs. 25-27). 4) If a man took a virgin who
was not betrothed and had sex with her, he had to pay the girl’s father fifty
shekels of silver, and he was never allowed to divorce her (vs. 28-29).
law is equally clear. First Jesus echoes the previous laws in a broad
condemnation of “fornication” which he claims may “defile a man” (Matthew
15:20). Jesus used the word translated “fornication” in four passages – Matthew
5:32, 19:9, 15:19, and Mark 7:21. In each of these instances He speaks of it as
sinful. New Testament writers teach the same thing, declaring “the body is
not for sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:13); “he who commits sexual
immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). They describe
it as something that must be repented of (2 Corinthians 12:21), put away from
our conduct (Colossians 3:5), and refrained from (1 Thessalonians 4:3), for no
one practicing it may inherit eternal life (Ephesians 5:5).
Is Living Together Marriage to God?
John 4:1-42 we are told of an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at
Jacob’s well (vs. 12). In the course of their discussion Jesus said to
her “go call your husband and come here” (vs. 16). When the woman
replied that she had no husband Jesus demonstrated His Divine knowledge in
proclaiming to her—“you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now
have is not your husband” (vs. 18). We note, the woman “had” someone but
not a husband. This makes it clear that a simple relationship of commitment
does not constitute a divinely joined union.
is a beautiful relationship that entitles a man and a woman (who have the right
to marry) to the most intimate and rewarding of all human relationships. It is
a covenant witnessed, sanctified, and joined by God (Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew
19:6; Hebrews 13:4). It occurs in truth only when a man and woman LEAVE
the home of their youth, are JOINED to one another (fullfiling the
recognized customs within a culture to acknowledge a marriage covenant) and BECOME
ONE FLESH (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5-6). Only under these terms does God
join a man and a woman together in marriage (Matthew 19:6).
Is This Really Such A Good Idea?
important information related to this subject came to light in 1992 from a
United States Justice Department study. The study entitled “Female Victims Of
Violent Crime” found that in any year in the 1980’s 56,000 women were assaulted
by their husbands. During those same years however 198,000 women involved in
“live in” arrangements were assaulted by their companion. That is nearly four
times as many, making it clear that women cohabitating were statistically more
likely to suffer violence than married women. Apparently, men who are unwilling
to make a permanent commitment to a woman they live with feel little need to
“nourish and cherish” her as the Bible instructs (Ephesians 5:29).
study further revealed that 40 out of 100 of these couples break up short of
marriage. (This appears to be a major reason that 40 million adults have never
married—double the figures from 1970). Of the 60 couples who do marry, 45 will divorce.
That is a 50% higher divorce rate than married couples that did not first live
together. Thus out of 100 “trial marriages” only 15 resulted in lasting
marriages. This may mean danger ahead. A University of Wisconsin survey of
Families and Households reports that two-third’s of those who marry now have
lived together first. That is six times higher than in 1970 when only 11% lived
To alter God’s arrangement
is not only an offense to Him, but it deprives those engaged in it of the joyous
union that God intended for them. God’s ways are always best.