Cohabitation; What Does the Bible Say About It?

Cohabitation is defined as, “sharing a living space and sexual intimacy without being married” So, what does the Bible say about cohabitation?

What Does the Bible Say About Cohabitation?

Cohabitation is defined as, “sharing a living space and sexual intimacy without being married” and it is running rampant in our day and age. So, what does the Bible say about cohabitation?  

To get a feel for how rampant cohabitation is today let’s look at some statistics/graphs produced from the Pew Research Center;

What Does the Bible say About Cohabitation

I’m not sure what happened in 2002 but cohabitation sky rocketed from about 4 million in 2002 to 8.7 million in 2016. That’s a 117.5% increase in 14 years and a 1,833% increase from 1960 to 2016!

I heard this quote from Connor Donovan in his article, “Millennials Navigate The Ups And Downs Of Cohabitation” that I found very interesting and goes along with the graph above;

“If you went to a wedding this summer there is a better than even chance that the happy couple was already living together.  Today, more than 65% of first marriages start out this way.  50 Years ago, it was closer to 10%”

So, what are the top reasons couples give for cohabitating (Source: barna.com)?

  1. Testing compatibility (84%)
  2. Sake of convenience (9%)
  3. Financial benefits (5%)

Cohabitation and the Bible

 It’s probably no surprise to you that the bible does not mention the word cohabitation in it anywhere. But there is a passage I believe speaks to this;

1 Thessalonians 4:3-6It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before

There is footnote to the double underlined portion of verse four (4) that reads, “Or learn to live with your own wife; or learn to acquire a wife.” Let’s re-write that passage but use “learn to acquire a wife” and see how it reads.

that each of you should learn to acquire a wife in a way that is holy and honorable” 

Obviously if you are a female you can substitute the word husband, but I think when we read the passage in the original format or with the footnote inserted we see it’s clear where the bible stands on cohabitation.

Related Content: Is He/She My Soul Mate?

The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

Meg Jay wrote an article in the New York Times entitled, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage” which spoke to the negatives of cohabitation. I wanted to pick out a couple tidbits to highlight along with some graphs from the organization, “ReThink Tank”;

Women tend to be taken advantage of in cohabitation

Meg Jay referenced research that showed that women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step towards marriage, where men see it as a way to test out a relationship or a way to postpone commitment. These gender asymmetries are associated with lower commitment levels and negative interactions even after the relationships progress to marriage. (Commitment vs. Convenience)

Sliding, not deciding, weakens bonds.

Meg Jay in her New York Times article asked a young lady, “How did this (cohabitation) all happen?” to which the lady replied, “It just happened.” Research has shown that couples are stronger when they make decisions together instead of “sliding” into situations.

You’ll do vs. I do

Meg Jay went on in her article to liken cohabitation to a new Credit Card you receive with 0% for the first 12 months. After the 12 months is up you’ve generally racked up a big balance and the interest has ballooned to 23%, thus making you feel stuck. This is what they call “Consumer Lock-in” in behavioral economics.

Lock-in is when we have a decreased likelihood to change or search for another option once a big investment has been made. The greater the set-up costs the less likely we are to move on to another, even better, situation. Meg says this is a lot like cohabitation. The people in the relationship think it’s an easy in and easy out process but research shows that is not the case. So, people will turn to the mentality of, you’ll do instead of I do.

Intimacy suffers without the No Out Clause (Marriage)

There is a beautiful thing about a no out clause and that is honesty. When we know the other person isn’t going anywhere it breeds a healthy environment in which we feel safe to tell the truth to the other person. One young woman from Meg’s New York Times article was quoted as, “I felt like I was on this multi-year, never ending, audition to be his wife.” Do you think this young lady is going to be honest with this guy if she feels she has to put on a show to win him over?

Kids suffer differently in cohabitation situations

There is a lot of new research coming out on the effects of cohabitation and kids. I believe the two (2) charts from “Rethink Tank” below sum up the research best. Sarah is a daughter of a cohabitating couple and Amanda is a daughter of a married couple.

 

What Does the Bible say About Cohabitationv

 

What Does the Bible say About Cohabitation

Do Not Settle

You may be thinking, “this is a really cool blog post with nice stats/graphs but is cohabitation really that big of a deal?” Listen people, young people especially, DO NOT SETTLE. Choose God over a marriage test drive, choose God over relationship convenience, choose God over the financial benefits of roommates of the opposite sex! Why? Because God first chose you. He had his one and only son slaughtered to death for you and I. He paid way too high of a price for you and I to just randomly shack up and sleep with whoever walks into our lives. We owe that much to him, the author and perfecter of our lives.

If you are currently in a cohabitating situation there are three options facing you;

  1. Do we need to go separate ways?
  2. We need to go through a courtship living separately.
  3. We need to get married tomorrow!

I ask that you don’t wait any longer to have this conversation. Talk it over before the sun goes down or if you are reading this at night have the conversation before the sun comes up. Have the courage to ask and answer these hard questions. Take an honest look and above all else pray and ask God what he would love for you to do in your relationship.

What are some things that are keeping you from leaving a cohabitating situation?

What’s one thing you appreciate about marriage or that you look forward to appreciating in marriage?

Written by Garrett Thompson

Joshua 1:9 - I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go. (CEV)

4 thoughts on “Cohabitation; What Does the Bible Say About It?

  1. Pingback: What Does the Bible Say About Cohabitation? – Kaya Basharan
  2. People think they can win the argument, so to speak, simply by asking for chapter and verse. It’s true that there isn’t a verse that explicitly tells us “cohabitation is a sin”, but anyone who knows his Bible can hardly come to any other conclusion.
    For which reason, I’m very grateful for you pointing out 1 Thess. 4:3-6. Thanks for the article.

  3. It amazes me me how the people who believe that Polygyny, Concubines and Cohabitation is ok with God do an in-depth teaching on the subject. They show both the Old and New Testament accounts of the subject. They show the Hebrew and Greek meaning of the words in questions, such as “sexual immorality”, “fornication” and the such. They show the historical accounts of people who actually lived this way in the scriptures. They show that there is not one SINGLE scripture in the Bible or one PASSAGE in the whole Bible that calls these three things sin.

    On the other hand those who believe that these things are sinful give reasons based on feelings, emotions and their own personal view of logic. They use scriptures without defining the key words in the passages. Without showing historical figures the scriptures unless they reframe what the scriptures actually say. They can not show anywhere where Father God, Jesus Christ or any Biblical writers refer to these things as sin.

    I have always believed that these where sinful until I started researching this subject. I can not find a single source that actually proves from the scriptures that Polygyny, Cohabitation and Concubines or a sin. Breaking God’s law is a sin. You have not shown one single scripture that proves these things break Father God’s law and as a result are sin,

    I am simply looking for truth. I want to do and teach what is right according to scripture. I want your side to be right so I don’t have to accept that I have been wrong all of these years and have taught others the wrong thing. Selfish I know, but true none the less.

    Just want you to to know that the other side is doing a much better side of laying out scriptural EVIDENCE to prove their point than you or anyone else who believes like you has done.

    If you really believe you are correct please do a much better job of presenting Biblical evidence. I don’t really want to promote the other side on your web site but I want you to see what you are up against because I would really like for your side to be correct. So I will mention just one book. It is entitled “The Monogamy Lie”. It is not even the best presentation I have read. But it tears down everything your article says and it does it by explaining the scriptures. Their are web sites which just have short articles like yours that also show you are incorrect, but I am not here to promote other material on your web site.

    Any way I hope you can do a better job presenting the scriptures because the other side has converted me and others.

    I hope I don’t become your enemy for speaking truth.

    Your Brother
    Presscott

    1. Did not see a way to edit my previous post. Left out a word that caused confusion. Here is the repost with the word added.

      It amazes me me how the people who believe that Polygyny, Concubines and Cohabitation is ok with God do an in-depth teaching on the subject. They show both the Old and New Testament accounts of the subject. They show the Hebrew and Greek meaning of the words in questions, such as “sexual immorality”, “fornication” and the such. They show the historical accounts of people who actually lived this way in the scriptures. They show that there is not one SINGLE scripture in the Bible or one PASSAGE in the whole Bible that calls these three things sin.

      On the other hand those who believe that these things are sinful give reasons based on feelings, emotions and their own personal view of logic. They use scriptures without defining the key words in the passages. Without showing historical figures the scriptures show, unless they reframe what the scriptures actually say. They can not show anywhere where Father God, Jesus Christ or any Biblical writers refer to these things as sin.

      I have always believed that these where sinful until I started researching this subject. I can not find a single source that actually proves from the scriptures that Polygyny, Cohabitation and Concubines are a sin. Breaking God’s law is a sin. You have not shown one single scripture that proves these things break Father God’s law and as a result are sin,

      I am simply looking for truth. I want to do and teach what is right according to scripture. I want your side to be right so I don’t have to accept that I have been wrong all of these years and have taught others the wrong thing. Selfish I know, but true none the less.

      Just want you to to know that the other side is doing a much better side of laying out scriptural EVIDENCE to prove their point than you or anyone else who believes like you has done.

      If you really believe you are correct please do a much better job of presenting Biblical evidence. I don’t really want to promote the other side on your web site but I want you to see what you are up against because I would really like for your side to be correct. So I will mention just one book. It is entitled “The Monogamy Lie”. It is not even the best presentation I have read. But it tears down everything your article says and it does it by explaining the scriptures. There are web sites which just have short articles like yours that also show you are incorrect, but I am not here to promote other material on your web site.

      Any way I hope you can do a better job presenting the scriptures because the other side has converted me and others.

      I hope I don’t become your enemy for speaking truth.

      Your Brother
      Presscott

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