Is Living Together Before Marriage a Good Idea?
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Some Christians Are Confused About This Issue
Living together before marriage is becoming increasingly common in many places around the world. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) it is also becoming more prevalent amongst those who call themselves Christians. In fact, recently I became aware of some Christian parents who were actually insisting that their daughter and her boyfriend live together before marriage to “try things out and make sure they work.” I was astounded, but I understand this is not that uncommon.
So, I’d like to help those who are Christians understand what the Bible says about this topic.
Here are the three Scriptural points I’d like to say on this subject, which I will elaborate on below.
God prohibits sex outside of marriage.God gives prohibitions to protect us, not to rob us of pleasure.Sex within marriage is not just God’s suggestion, it is His mandate.
Here are my explanations of these three points related to living together before marriage:
1. God prohibits sex outside of marriage.
Hebrews 13:4 says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (ESV)
The word for “sexually immoral” in this verse includes any sex outside the marriage relationship of a man and a woman. It’s the Greek word PORNEIA from which we get our word pornography.
The same word is used in 1 Corinthians 6:18 which warns: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (ESV)
Sexual immorality is not just to be avoided, Christians are to “flee” or run away from it as fast as they can.
This is a far cry from living together before marriage that some try to legitimize!
Having marriage plans in the future doesn’t mean it’s OK to live together and have sex now. Christians are to maintain purity until the marriage covenant is formalized.
For those who have violated this teaching the answer is to confess sin, receive God’s forgiveness and begin a new path of purity.
2. God gives prohibitions to protect us, not to rob us of pleasure.
It is very important to understand that not living together before marriage is God’s instruction not to rob us of pleasure but to protect us.
How so? Because there is a deeper bond in sexual relations than the mere physical union. If it were merely a physical act, then no one would care who had sexual relations with anyone. However, married people care very deeply that their spouse is exclusive in their sexual expression. Likewise, those in a committed dating relationship want faithfulness also.
In fact, part of the design of sexual expression is to seal the bond between a husband and a wife (see the next point for a deeper explanation).
1 Corinthians 6:18 says it this way, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” (ESV)
In other words, you must not become one flesh with anyone that you don’t want to be joined to in marriage for the rest of your life. If you do, you’re cheating yourself and the other person.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 gives this challenge, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
For those who are engaged to be married, the same rules apply: wait to have relations until after the marriage has taken place.
3. Sex within marriage is not just God’s suggestion, it is His mandate.
When it comes to sex within marriage, the picture changes completely. Not only is sex permitted, it is commanded by God.
1 Corinthians 7:4-5 says, “A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (CEV)
This one of God’s commandments that is usually quite easy to obey!
Within marriage God WANTS us to find sexual fulfillment and great joy. He has made this abundantly clear, stating here and in other places that married couples are to find fulfillment in each other.
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19 ESV)
Cultural norms change, but the “new morality” is just the old immorality that God has corrected in the Bible. Living together before marriage was a bad idea 2,000 years ago when the Bible was written, and it is just as bad today.
Instead, let’s use sex as God intended—a major part of the glue that makes a married man and woman “one flesh” until “death do us part.”
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Podcast: Why did God invent marriage?
Podcast: How can I overcome pornography?