So what does the Bible say regarding cohabitation? Well, if you do a search for a Scripture verse containing the word cohabitation you aren’t going to find one. Cohabitation, just like some other issues we experience in life, aren’t dealt with directly but instead by principle. In other words, we can find Scriptures that have implications for where we fall on this topic.
- We can trust God and trust his plan for us.
This is the most important point. God created you. He loves you and proved it by sending Jesus to die a cruel death to pay the penalty for your sin and wrongdoing. For mine too. Jesus was raised from the dead. Through His resurrection He provides us victory over death, which is our natural consequence for sin. If this personal God loves us this much and created us by design, then we should trust he knows what is best for us. Sometimes we see things differently and we want to do it our way, and those times require us to decide if we will trust in him or in our own wisdom (Psalm 139; Psalm 147:5,10-11; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 55:8-9; Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 14:12; Romans 6:23; Romans 15:13).
- Sex was designed for the context of marriage between a man and a woman.
God designed sex to be the most fantastic and fulfilling expression of intimacy. But in the wrong context it can create a world of hurt and leaves lots of emotional damage in its wake. Think of sex as a fire. In the right context like a fireplace, a fire provides warmth and power and energy. It is beautiful and special. It is contained and can provide these benefits because it is contained. But a fire that isn’t contained can burn your house down. It will damage things and people. Sex is just like that. In the context of marriage it brings joy and intimacy. Out of the context of marriage it brings destruction and emotional pain. You may know friends or family who have been personally burned by sex in the wrong context and have wounds that are deep and painful. You may even be able to relate to that personally. I’d like to add also that I’m not saying sex is never abused within the context of marriage. We all know that it is, and of course that is wrong and hurtful when it happens.
The Bible teaches that when a man and woman have sex they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31). This means that it is only designed to happen between two people. The biblical imagery around this idea presents the picture of two pieces of paper being glued together. They don’t pull apart, and if an attempt is made both pieces don’t stay whole. Marriage is exclusive and meant to be a life long partnership, and oneness is essential to that relationship. Of course as people, we are all broken and we fail miserably at times. But God is a God of forgiveness and restoration.
Undoubtedly I will have someone say “My boyfriend and I live together but we aren’t having sex.” To that I would still have a few concerns. First of all, I’m not sure I can believe you. That seems very strange to me that you are dating, living under the same roof and not having sex. Likely, either he isn’t that into you and sees you more as a roommate, or you are likely on a path to having sex but haven’t crossed that line yet. Secondly, assuming you are living together and not having sex, if you claim to be Christians then I would kindly remind you that you are called to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), not get as close as you can! Be careful because we all know it is a slippery slope!
- The reason marriage is to be honored is because God created it to represent his relationship to his people.
God always intended marriage and the family to image himself to the world. If you think of God’s relationship with us in terms of marriage or cohabitation, God isn’t just living with us. He isn’t “trying it out” or “keeping his options open.” In a wedding a husband makes a covenant with his wife and before everyone he promises to love her sacrificially and faithfully forever. And the wife does the same. Do you see it? This is why marriage is so significant. In marriage God created a picture of how he loves us and sacrificed his only son for us. The Bible tells us this in Ephesians 5:21-33, one of the most important passages about marriage (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:19; Ephesians 5:31-32; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 19:7-8).
So here is the thing, God can be trusted because He is good. He knows what is best for us and desires to give us the desires of our hearts. So I urge you to do it His way. Trust Him to come through for you and believe that He knows best. Guess what that requires? Faith.
Now I personally can’t speak from experience regarding cohabitation because that wasn’t my story. My husband and I dated for about a year and a half and did not live together or have sex until after our wedding. It is possible! So what I would like to do is provide you with an opportunity to hear from someone who did walk this journey. Meet Erika:
So what should I do if I am already living with someone?
What if you, like Erika and Justin, are already living this and feel a pull from God to trust him in faith. What if you decide you want to do it God’s way? I applaud you. I believe there are different ways to handle that, depending on your situation. Obviously the clearest (and probably most difficult/inconvenient) would be to move apart and not have sex until you are married. This would be a true test of the relationship, and may be scary like it was for Erika. But think about the benefits of doing this. You can say to God you honestly tried to make things right. You would know in your heart that you did your best and that is really what God is concerned with, your heart. Think also about the joy and restored purity you would then share as a couple as you approach the altar to be married. Think about the example you would set for your friends and family, those who are influenced by you, and for your future children. If your wedding is in 3 weeks, then it might not make sense for you to rent a moving truck and remove all your things from the house! But you could at least find a friend or family member to stay with for those weeks.
- If we turn from our own ways and set our hearts and lives back on track with God, he will restore us.
God says that he is slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness. He is merciful when we acknowledge that we haven’t been living the way we should or that we’ve messed up. No matter how big. What great news! (Psalm 145:8-9; Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 1:9)
This does not guarantee that your relationship will make it, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t have problems. What it does mean is that you can be right with God no matter how far you have drifted or how disconnected you feel. No matter how far you walk, if you turn back toward him, he is one step away. What an amazing God.
- God will give us wisdom and teach us his ways if we sincerely ask.
God doesn’t just want our behavior to right, he wants our hearts. He created us for relationship with him and is desires for us to know him personally. He will guide us and teach us how to walk with him. (Psalm 25:14; Proverbs 2:1-11; James 1:5-6).
Aside from learning about God through the Bible and through a local church, I would encourage you to find a couple you respect who is living out what the Bible teaches the best you can tell, and ask them to have dinner with you. See if they would be willing to meet with you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance a few times and teach you what they’ve learned! My husband and I have done this and it is always worth the time and effort!
If you move apart and the relationship doesn’t make it, then aren’t you glad you figured that out now and not further down the road? But on the other hand, if you do the hard thing and make these steps to make the relationship right and you do make it, then its not likely you’ll regret it!
I am not saying that cohabitation makes it impossible for a couple to succeed in marriage or in long term relationship. What I am saying is that I believe there is a better way.
In addition to linking all of the Scripture references in this post, as a resource for you, I would like to provide a list of Bible verses related to cohabitation and premarital sex. It is not comprehensive, but I hope it is helpful. Click here to download the word doc.