Living together Before Marriage? Good Idea?

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A Large number of college students I mentor struggle with the idea of living together before marriage.  It's no surprise.  After the November 18 USA Today article that referenced 40% of 18-29 year olds believe marriage is obsolete (Click Here For the Full Article) it's hard to fault kids who are wondering, "What's the Purpose of Marriage?"

They've seen a generation go through awful divorce settlements.
They've lived in a world where sexual gratification is instant.
They're wandering through life connected to each other with no more than Facebook or Twitter.

So I guess the question on the table is legitimate. 

Why in the world would anyone want to get married today? 
Isn't living together a viable option?

ANSWER: Not according to a Biblical Worldview.

As the world might make it sound viable, most all societies are totally against the idea.  In a recent report from the Raleigh News Observer (Click Here for the Full Article) Christians were only behind the Buddhists when asked if living together was a good idea.  The Buddhist claim they only want to be free from suffering so "as long as your not hurting anyone" then there's no objection.  The Christians say in word "we don't judge anyone who wants to live however they want" but in reality the taboo is there, and a close look at God's view of marriage is the dim reality of our relationship with Him.   Why would we compromise that?

The Muslims are vehemently opposed to any boy/girl interaction before marriage.
The Hindus, the same.

Interestingly enough, even though culturally acceptable, even some Christians tend to look the other way in this matter.  But I can't seem to reconcile the image of marriage as one of the sacred metaphors used in describing the relationship God chooses to use with us, and the idea that living together in a committed relationship can be normal. 

It's God's choice to use the sacred institution of marriage to show dimly the beauty of His relationship with us.  He could have chose another, but He used the marriage relationship to draw close our understanding of what He wants our lives to model. The idea of Jesus as the Bride Groom and the Church as His Bride is found all throughout the Bible. 

So How in the world might we compromise the institution of marriage or regulate it to something different than what is set up for God to reveal Himself to us? 

I saw this sermon yesterday.  John Piper is one of my all time favorite teachers.  His view on Jesus as a bridegroom helps to solidify my position that if we truly are interested in God's will being done "on earth as it is in heaven." It's a bit long, so you can watch a few snippets at the beginning, or if you have time, just let it play through your work today.

I would love to get your response.  What do you think?  As I embark on this adventure to teach teenagers about dating and sexuality, marriage is one of the institutions used most to help them  develop healthy relationships.  I'd love to know how you teach your students to deal with one another pre-marriage, so they might have a successful future relationship with a spouse.  Any ideas?

6 Comments

  1. The living together thing is a nightmare. And it is an even bigger nightmare trying to encourage young people to wait. My husband and I have been in a leadership situation where a couple living together joined our homefellowship group. He was not a Christian, and we felt the laws we uphold apply to him. It was always difficult watching their relationship. For our youth we have chosen to teach them on courtship and to steer clear of dating. For our young adults group we want to take them through, Every Man’s Battle and Every Woman’s Battle.

  2. I was married once and have never lived with my husband (or any other male non-family member) before I got married. I’d have to say that the events in my marriage have led to me consider never marrying again, but instead living with my next partner as a married couple would. As you mentioned in your blog, marriage is the relationship God uses to represent His relationship with us. My marriage was a poor representation of that (because of my husband’s infidelity and other issues). However, I don’t believe the ceremony and legality of marriage is actually necessary. I’ve learned that the ceremony and legality mean nothing if one person isn’t committed to the relationship. And also, Adam and Eve were “married” without a ceremony. God declared them as one. So why a ceremony and legality is required by the church, I don’t know. It seems to me that sex WAS the part that was the unifying factor in the case of the original “marriage” between Adam & Eve. Take my comments with as much consideration as you please. I once was a Christian, and the issues in my marriage led me to reconsider my beliefs. I still believe most of the Bible, but I have issues with portions of it.

  3. I do know from experience that sleeping together before marriage puts an undo amount of pressure on the marriage. I am divorced, and the main reason I married my first wife was simply because we had sex. I had this idea that I needed to be true to her because I gave my virginity to her. BIG MISTAKE. I would encourage people from all walks of life to NEVER live or sleep together before you get married. The stories I could tell of heartache are plentiful. I spent 2 hours in a car with Brady (your brother in law) and shared my story with him. LUST is the thing that grabs you. Unfortunately we live in a culture where sex is gloried and marriage is demonized, and so young people think “Oh I can do this and no one will get hurt.” They (we) are so wrong. My prayer for young people (my kids) is that they would strive to put Jesus first, and stop trying to make everything else a top priority.
    I may post more later…just don’t have the time now to go into detail!

  4. I totally agree that we’re seeing an erosion in the cultural value of marriage in America. One reason for this, I think, is extended adolescence. Have you read Teen 2.0? I think that you would love it. I highly recommend it to anyone who works with young people.

  5. Living together is ESSENTIAL for a relationship to succeed! My wife and I lived together for four years, were sexually active and “married” without the paperwork mandated by governments, NOT any diety, or God (if you will). Nowhere in the Bible does it state that one must fill out forms in order to be “joined in holy matrimony” and in many cultures there are many ways of marrying. In the USA we tend to think we know it all, but we don’t! My wife and I had over 33 YEARS of faithful married life until she passed away in recent months. Our courtship and living together gave us the tools to compromise and become the wonderful married couple we eventually became! JUDGE NOT, LEST THEE BE JUDGED!

  6. Stuart, As you can can see there are a number of views on this subject. Nobody’s here judging the way you decided to live your life.
    Our goal here is to develop a community that is willing to ask hard questions as it relates to a Biblical Worldview. We’re not in any shape form or fashion trying to tell someone how to live.
    As you put in parenthesis (God) I assume you’re belief system is something different, and believe me, we’re OK with that here. I went back and read the article again to make sure I understood where you were coming from, and I found no condemnation. (at least in my head as I read it I didn’t hear any) What I did read again is the comparison of marriage to a God/Human relationship on earth as expressed in the Bible.
    I too believe marriage has little to do with America, or Paper Documents, but everything to do with what marriage really means. After all, in our Biblical tradition adultery is one of the 10 commandments, so it behooves us to figure out what marriage is and how we can live in God’s Kingdom as faithful followers.
    Again, I’ve got nothing against you, your wife, or how you guys decided to live your life. In fact, I’m sure if we met, we’d have much to talk about and lots of life to learn from each other.
    I’m truly sorry for your loss. It sounds like your wife was a wonderful person who brought joy to many around her.
    If there’s anything we can do for you here, please know I’m available.
    AB

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