Is Cohabitation for Christian Couples Biblical?

Christian couples who cohabitate are enjoying all the rewards and privileges of marriage without the responsibility and pledge of marriage. 

Did you know that 60 percent of young adults in America say they plan to live together before marriage?

It so countercultural to NOT live together before marriage these days. However, studies and statistics show that cohabitation leads to lower marital satisfaction and higher divorce rates. 

Romans 12:1-2 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (emphasis added)

Less Trust

Women usually enter cohabitation as a step towards marriage while men enter cohabitation as a way to delay marriage. Can you see how this could create conflict?

Less Committment

The idea behind living together is to test out the relationship before committing to marriage, “trying before buying”. But it is not like test driving a car that you then return to the dealer lot. A person has emotions and feelings, hopes and dreams that will be affected. 

What if you don’t meet their expectations or there are more challenges than anticipated?  The pressure is different than if you were already married and then living together. When you live together you act as if you are married by giving your mind, body and heart to this person while you have no assurance if they are really in it for the long-haul.

Someone asked me if Blake and I would live together before we got married. They used the same car analogy I mentioned above. I kindly explained that in a cohabitation relationship the little annoyances could cause someone to leave while in marriage there is a commitment that no matter what I am in it!

It is almost like a couple entering a cohabitation relationship already has one foot out the door. Steve Hoppe explains that this often creates an enviroment of fear and insecurity in the post The Dangerous Lure of Living Together Before Marriage.

There is something very powerful about proclaiming commitment through public vows in front of all your closest friends and family that is not present in a cohabitation arrangement. 

Less Unity

Couples that live together are really just roommates with benefits in the legal sense. The primary pronouns are “yours” and “mine” not “ours” and “we”.

Finances are kept separate when you are dating (at least they should be from a legal standpoint). But when you live together you develop habits of separate finances that then gets brought into a marriage, if you eventually do get married. Studies show that to win with money you and your spouse have to be on the same page about finances and agree upon the budget, saving and investing goals. This is very hard to do after living together where the financial arrangement established was separate accounts, separate budgets and separate spending patterns. 

We can let our circumstances dictate our decisions instead of letting our values determine our choices. Cohabitation is often a gradual slide into a more serious relationship instead of an intentional move forward. Biola professors, Chris Grace and Tim Muehlhoff, talk about this topic in great detail on their podcast The Art of Relationships Episode Living Together:Is It Really That Bad? 

I often hear the justification of living together from other Christians for many reasons including convenience, economic reasons or the desire to prevent a divorce. 

I live in Southern California. I understand the high cost of living situation. I see others make poor choices and blame it on the options. It’s a victim mentality that will leave you powerless and always dependent on someone else. It’s the same reason people go into thousands of dollars of student loan debt. They want an education but don’t have the cash to pay for it so they think debt is their only option. (Which by the way debt is not a good idea and there are other ways to graduate college without using loans. More on that topic in my Financial Freedom post). 

Marriage is Sacred

Living together before marriage is like opening your presents before Christmas.

“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.” Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is not just about your happiness or pleasure but about your heavenly purpose! The aim of marriage is to reflect the love of God and invest in the kingdom of God together. God brings a man and a woman together to be a strong pair of witnesses of His love to others.

I desire for you to have a thriving relationship, one that honors God and is for your good. The Word of God and research shows that living together does not add to your marital satisfaction or decreased divorce rate. God knows what He is talking about and research is proving that to be true (afterall He did design romance and create marriage)! God’s Word is timeless and does not evolve with cultural influences or changing trends. Sadly, our society is losing the sancity of the sacred marriage covenant.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and feedback!

Leave a Reply