What About Cohabitation?

An e-mail from a young lady who identified herself as a Christian jolted me. Though she had grown up in the Lord’s church, she wanted to know if the Bible said anything about a man and a woman living together before marriage. My first impulse was to ask, “Why, doesn’t she know?!”
Apparently there are many who don’t know Biblical principles that apply to this question. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported on this steadily-rising phenomenon. The 2000 census showed that 9.7 million adults were living with a different-sex partner. That’s a 72% increase since the 1990 census; reaching back to 1960, it’s a tenfold increase. (Source: http://www.unmarried.org/statistics.html)
Does the Bible condemn cohabitation? Maybe not explicitly, but there are some principles one must carefully consider before entering into such a relationship.
At the outset one must recognize sex as a gift from God to be enjoyed only within a God-approved marriage. Hebrews 13:4 states it succinctly: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (NKJV). The “bed” to which reference is made is clearly the act of sex, and it is described as undefiled. Outside of that one relationship it becomes adulterous, and God will not overlook such transgressions.
But suppose someone insists their cohabitation will be pure. Would it then be an acceptable arrangement? I would suggest not for at least two reasons.
First, a living arrangement of that nature opens the door to strong temptations. Will we disregard Jesus’ instruction to pray these words: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. …” (Matthew 6:13)? To be surprised by temptation is one thing; to invite it into our home is quite another. Those who desire to be pure will distance themselves from tempting situations.
Second, we must consider our influence on others. In Luke 17:1,2, our Lord gave this instruction: “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
The concept of offending refers to the example we set. When they see me living in an unmarried relationship — even though I insist it is a pure arrangement — will they be encouraged to also live in such a setting? Will their relationship be free from sin?
In John 4, Jesus conversed with a woman who was living with one who was not her husband. Will anyone suggest Jesus condoned that arrangement? Why would we attempt to argue such a point today?
Christians must scrutinize society’s trends in the light of what Scriptures teach. From that perspective, cohabitation is an arrangement we must choose not to make.

Does the Bible say anything about unmarried couples living together?

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