What does the BIBLE say about Cohabitation, Living Together
Writer: Jimmy Evans | June 2006 | marriagetoday.org
I want to talk about cohabitation (living together without being married).
If you live together with someone before getting married, your chances of divorce increase significantly. Also, almost every problem people think they are avoiding by living together actually increases -- abuse, infidelity, breakup, etc.
Even though cohabiting with someone might seem like a good idea -- it is a practical disaster. The worst thing about cohabitation is the mindset that drives it. To understand this mindset and how it sets up a relationship for failure -- you must first understand the mindset that is necessary for success in marriage.
Marriage is a covenant relationship as is every important relationship God has with man or we have with each other. The word covenant means "to cut." The idea is sacrifice and total commitment -- just as Jesus instituted the New Covenant with us in His blood.
We must enter into marriage with a covenant mentality. When we say our vows, "...for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health...until death do us part..." we must mean business. Covenant commitment lays the foundation for lasting love and mutual care.
In cohabitation, covenant commitment is absent. In fact, the spirit that drives cohabitation is the opposite of covenant. You see, in covenant, when a man and woman are getting married, the spirit of the vows they are making is one of assuming responsibility to "love and to cherish" each other in a sacrificial manner.
The spirit of cohabitation is the opposite. The primary reason people choose to live together is to see how good someone is at taking care of them before they will commit. This is why the divorce rate is so high if they marry. From day one -- SELF was at the center stage of the relationship.
Today, half of all couples getting married have lived together before marriage. As I already stated, their chances of having serious problems or divorcing are much higher than couples that didn't cohabit. But are they cursed without remedy? No. However, to avoid the consequences of cohabitation, there must be a real change in the orientation of the marriage.
Here is how you change things: You must make a covenant commitment that focuses on obeying God and serving your spouse sacrificially. You must get the focus off of yourself and get your foot out of the backdoor.
Because of their fear of marriage problems or divorce, our society has taken the approach that the best way to solve the problem is to live together without formalizing a commitment. In sociological terms we call this cohabitation. On the street it's called, "shacking up" or "living in sin." Whatever you call it -- it just doesn't work and it actually produces and multiplies the problems it fears.
God's Way is Best
If you are living together -- my advice to you is to either split up or get married. If you're married and lived together before marriage, change the orientation of your focus from yourself to God and your spouse in a covenant commitment. This will remove the flaw in the foundation and give you a solid chance for success in marriage.
Yesterday I wrote about cohabitation and the fact that marriage was created by God as a covenant relationship. You must understand the concept of covenant to succeed in marriage because it is the core that everything else is built around.
Covenant simply means "to cut". The idea is sacrificial commitment unto death. Even though this might not seem an attractive thought to the casual observer -- it is an essential element of relationship because it removes the fear of rejection or abandonment. Covenant simply means -- "I will never leave you or forsake you." This is what God says to us in Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.Hebrews 13 (KJV) verse 5.
What a powerful statement! God not only tells us that He will never leave us -- but also that He won't forsake us -- which means He will never turn His affection or attention away from us. This is God's commitment to us and He never tells a lie.
The effect of God's covenant love is that it takes away our fear of rejection or abandonment and allows us to completely open our hearts to Him. This is why 1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.1 John 4 verse 18 tells us that "...perfect love casts out fear..." Until we know that the person we are in relationship with will not reject us or turn their hearts away from us when they see who we really are or do something wrong -- we simply won't open up completely.
Here is the issue
Intimacy is the prize of marriage or any important relationship. Intimacy means inner closeness. It is the fountainhead of truly satisfying sex, meaningful friendship, successful communication and everything good in marriage. And the gateway of intimacy is COVENANT COMMITMENT -- because it removes the fear of intimacy and allows us to open our hearts to each other.
The world is trying so desperately to produce the blessings of covenant without a sacrificial commitment. It doesn't take a lot of looking around to see how badly things are working out for those who are trying to take the low road to the Promised Land. Besides the epidemic of divorce, we now have a socially accepted process of living together with someone before we are willing to commit to them. Of those that do this -- it doesn't increase their level of commitment when they marry or chances of success. Quite the opposite. It just stews the relationship in the broth of self until everything tastes like them. No wonder they spit it out so quickly.
Covenant commitment brings the aroma and flavor of Jesus Christ into marriages. His unique covenant love is a higher and superior love than anything the world can offer. It is the only love that measures its success by the good done for others -- not self. It is the only love that doesn't operate based on a person's good or bad performance. It acts out of a covenant commitment and based upon the intrinsic value of the soul it loves.
Covenant love is the only love that can weather the worst storm, forgive the most grievous sin and love the most difficult person. The beautiful thing about this love is that all of us can have as much of it as we want and give it away as freely as we want without ever running out. The other thing about covenant love is that everyone wants it. The here today, gone tomorrow "love" of the world doesn't satisfy or bring success. Only God's love satisfies.
God loves you and is committed to you. He will never leave or forsake you. This is the love He wants you to experience from Him and in every other important relationship in your life. Don't accept a cheap substitute. Let God's covenant love be the foundation of your marriage and your life.