Living Together Before Marriage

Friends With Benefits

The number of unmarried men and women living together before marriage has skyrocketed. Not only has the number of people "shacking up" increased, but by and large it is and out in the open arrangement.

People have always had "arrangements" but for fear of criticsm tended to keep it low key. Today, many couples who eventually marry live together first. Living together before marriage seems to have gone main stream.

The following is taken from the syndicated column of Carolyn Hax. It's included verbatim here to corroborate just how main stream the "living together before marriage" attitude is among many young women:

"Dear Carolyn:
I am a college graduate in my early 20s and focused on the beginnings of my career. A year ago, I got out of a long-term relationship because I realized I didn't want to marry him.

I have worked on some issues I have had my whole life (saw a therapist to work through child abuse), and I have never felt better.

Living Together Before Marriage

And I am really happy being single. There is just one thing I truly miss about being in a relationship: physical contact.

Recently, I became friends with a guy, and we turned into friends with benefits. Things are going great. Neither of us is ready to be in a serious relationship; we say we are just friends with benefits while we are still young. Even after we stop the benefits, I want to remain friends.

Many people I have talked to don't think a friends-with-benefits relationship can exist, and they say it will always end badly because one person will always want more. Do you think my situation will end in sorrow? Or is it possible to have benefits without feelings?
- Anonymous" [1]

Living Together Before Marriage - The Bible

Genesis 2:21-24 (KJV)
"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." [2]
The God Given model for families is revealed early in scripture. One man and one woman bonded in one flesh.

The Bible makes no allowances for sexual gratification in living together before marriage. Indeed the Bible uses a special word for sex outside the boundaries of marriage. It's "fornication."

English = Fornication; Hebrew = Zanah; Greek = Porneia (pornography)

Fornication is voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and woman who aren't married to each other. Adultery is a type of fornication.

The Word for fornication is mentioned 38 times in scripture (KJV). The word for adultery is mentioned 46 times scripture (KJV). In every and all cases, fornication/adultery are explicitly forbidden.

The way fornication is used in scripture, it can mean any sexual union outside of, or in addition to marriage. So fornication "includes living together before marriage, adultery, homosexual acts, incest, and sexual acts with animals, all of which are expressly forbidden in the law as given through Moses."
(Leviticus 20:1-21)

Christ expanded the definition of adultery to mean even sexual lust (Matt. 5:28)." The term "fornication" is sometimes used symbolically in the Bible, to mean a forsaking of God or following idolatry. [3]

Living Together Before Marriage - The Numbers

[1]  ""The majority of couples marrying today cohabited first."
Bumpass, Larry and Lu, Hsien-Hen. 2000. "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children's Family Contexts in the United States." Population Studies, 54: 29-41.

[2]  ""55% of different-sex cohabiters do marry within five years of moving in together. 40% break up within that same time period. About 10% remain living together before marriage for five years or more."
Smock, Pamela. 2000. "Cohabitation in the United States." Annual Review of Sociology."

[3]  ""41% of American women aged 15-44 have cohabited at some point."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2002. "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States." Vital Health and Statistics, 23; 22.""

Living Together Before Marriage - Children

""41% of first births by unmarried women are born to cohabiting partners."
Bumpass, Larry and Lu, Hsien-Hen. 2000. "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children's Family Contexts in the United States." Population Studies, 54: 29-41.""

Living Together Before Marriage - Race and Ethnicity

"Black children are significantly less likely than other children to be living with two married parents. In 2006, 35 percent of black children were living with two parents, compared with 84 percent of Asian children, 76 percent of non-Hispanic white children, and 66 percent of Hispanic children."
Child Trends DataBank, 2007. [4]

The Biblical Injunction Against Living Together Before Marriage

There is no denying that there exists a stark contrast between the Biblical injunction against fornication and the reality of much of 21st century human living.

The question is; "Who's right?"

Is modern man wiser than Creator God? Or has God somehow failed to keep up with the times?

For those who are nominally Christian, or who are not believers; the above questions are irrelevant. You are now dismissed from the remainder of this discussion.

But for those who claim allegiance to Christ, than bear with this writer just a few more minutes, please.

Assuming one accepts the proposition that God is; and further that this God is interested in and active in the affairs of men; than it may be useful to speculate what God had in mind when He invented sex and then enshrined it within the union of a man and woman in marriage. In other words, how come God didn't invent living together before marriage?

I've always thought it hilariously funny that God invented something that feels so good as sex.

As a male, there is nothing more alluring, more attractive, more winsome, than the female form. God has engineered the her form to such a high degree that the desire to be with her can be overwhelming. I assume the same attraction works in reverse for females toward guys.

After creating such a beautiful human being, God went to a lot of trouble to design our sex apparatus with thousands of intense nerve endings. Then He strategically concentrated them in the sexual parts of our bodies. The crowning glory is that we are designed such that men and women have to work together to get the best pleasure. Praise God. He's a Genius, pure Genius.

So, it seems logical that the Creator intended for man and woman to get their satisfaction on, within the confines of marriage, for as long and often as they want.

But what is the deal with marriage? I mean, married or not, our sexual apparatus function just fine. And, truth be told, often fornicating is just flat out fun!

Well, the answer is really quite simple.

Sex is good. A Good God designed good sex so that we would want to do it as often as is physically possible. Sex is for pleasure. And sex is for making babies.

We may logically conclude that a Good God would not withhold from us any good thing (including sex). And this notion equates with how we see our selves as parents. As human parents, we give good things to our children to the degree that such indulgence will not harm them. Like God, we will not with hold any good thing from our children.

Obviously God is not against sex.

But sex is very, very, strong medicine. It may be the most powerful of all emotions. The physical sensation of sex is pleasurable to the point of addiction.

Also, sex between husband and wife produces as a by-product, a kind of glue as it were.

This is the meaning of Genesis 2:23-24 (KJV)
"23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore (for this reason) shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

It's interesting that the Bible specifically says, husband and wife, not living together before marriage.

The marital bond between man and woman is unique. The sex act between them encompasses far more than the physical interaction. In fact, sex is merely the representation, the icing on the cake, the visible effect, the capstone, of the spiritual, emotional, and mental melding of the husband and wife.

This combination of the spirit, mind, emotions, and the body is what makes human sex different than that of a monkey, or dog, or cow.

When these animals engage in sex, it is nothing more than a stimulus response. They are mere animals wired to do what they do.

On the other hand, despite the fact that he sometimes behaves like a monkey or a dog, man is not a animal. Man has been endowed by His Creator with a more sublime desire for the woman, (that contrary to the animal) goes beyond her genitals! Man desires the totality of the woman, and woman the totality of the man.

"Because she was taken out of man, for this reason a man will (has a great need to) forsake his family and cleave (get as close as possible too) to his wife."

In other words, the man and the woman are literally reunited with a part of themselves! There can be no greater unity than the unity of one.

Therefore the act of sex between husband and wife, while encompassing the very real physical entering into and enveloping of each other, exchanging fluids, mingling of breath and sweat; never the less rises high above the physical realm to an approximation of the union between God and the Church He died for.

Sex between woman and man, wife and husband is a Holy thing enshrined within the veil of the workings of the Holy Spirit.

For this reason, A Holy God has commanded that sex, with all of its intense physical and emotional pleasure be set apart ( i.e. Holy); NOT to those living together before marriage, but only FOR those who COMMIT one to the other for life.

Anything less is a dishonoring of yourself and the God who created you.

For this reason, there exists no such thing as marriage between a man and a man, or woman and a woman. For practical purposes, such as insurance and property, government may choose to confer civil union status upon same sex relationships. The fickle winds of current popular politics may force such to be worded as marriage. Be not deceived. It is not marriage.

Living Together Before Marriage - Practical Prohibitions

"Bad Boyfriends Often Abuse Children of Partners

NEW YORK (AP) - An ever-increasing share of America's children grow up in homes without both biological parents, leaving them nearly 50 times as likely to die of child abuse, according to research.

In many cases, the alleged or convicted perpetrator is the boyfriend of the child's mother - men thrust into father-like roles which they tragically fail to embrace.

Many scholars and front-line caseworkers interviewed by The Associated Press see the abusive-boyfriend syndrome as part of a broader trend that deeply worries them, particularly as an ever-increasing share of America's children grow up in homes without both biological parents.

"This is the dark underbelly of cohabitation," said Brad Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia." Living together before marriage has become quite common, and most people think, "'What's the harm?' The harm is we're increasing a pattern of relationships that's not good for children."
" [5]

Many people mistakenly believe that God wants to keep them from having fun. That is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. The truth is God desires to keep you from being hurt.

For this reason, God's first family consisted of a man, his wife, and their children born to them together. While we acknowledge, other types of families. The biblical model is based upon one husband and one wife and children. The family as designed by God is for the protection of every one in the family, especially children.

It is not in God's perfect will for there to exist: baby mama's and baby daddy's; and single mothers with 2,3,4, and more children by as many men. This is not a condemnation for those in such situations, but a recognition of the truth.

Fortunately, God is not surprised by anything, any of us do, have done, or will yet do. The only expression you won't see on God's face is surprise.

God's love can cover all our mistakes, big and small; and put our lives back on track. Here's how.

Living Together Before Marriage - Degrees of Fornication ?

Is there a difference between a couple that lives together for 20 years, makes two or three children; then marries; versus the couple that shacks up for a year or two then goes their separate ways?

Humans can not judge intent. But the Word of God does.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (KJV)
"12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
Biblically speaking, I suspect it comes down to: "With what intent was living together before marriage put together?" God knows.

If the intent was motivated mostly by love and a sincere desire to be together, but fear of commitment prevented an actual commit to a marriage, that's still fornication.

It the intent was merely swift, convenient, readily available booty call sex; i.e. friends with benefits; that's still fornication. I suspect the former has less sin than the latter. Again, God knows.

"Having sex with someone you don't care about or love is like letting someone go for a test drive that can't afford the ride. Why add the mileage?" (anonymous internet quote)

Some movie stars and other celebrities are as famous for their serial prostitution as they are for their talents. They go from one relationship to another, or from one marriage to another. It's all fornication.

So here's the windup. Living together before marriage has practical disadvantages not the least of which is disease, unwanted pregnancies, children, plus all manner of drama and hurt.

The sin of fornication dishonors God's illustration of the marriage between the Lamb of God and His Church. If seen from God's perspective, living together before marriage is no small matter.

[1]      Carolyn Hax, “Friends Can't Deny Risk of Benefits,” Columbus Dispatch, March 30, 2011,           Daily edition, sec. D.
[2]      Wordsearch 8 (WORDsearch Corp.),
[3]      Dr. Henry M. Morris, “Fornication,” Bible Encyclopedia, 
[4], “Alternatives To Marriage Project,” Non Profit organization,           March 30, 2011,
[5]      “Mom's Like Me,” Bad boyfriends often abuse children of partners,  &March 30, 2011,