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“What’s so bad about a couple living together outside of marriage?”


Passages that will help you respond when people say…

Unfortunately, this is no longer a common question. I say “unfortunately” because the reason the question is so seldom asked any longer is that our society has gone so far down the road of sexual perversion that “living together” hardly gets anyone’s attention. Even some Christian parents have defended their children’s decision to move in with their significant other without marriage. The customary defenses are generally “They can’t afford to pay two separate rents,” “Living in separate places won’t stop them from having sex,” and, “They want to make sure that they are compatible before they get married.”

These defenses may seem reasonable, but defending what God forbids is never reasonable.

Just to be clear, it’s not the actual living at the same address that is the main problem. The problem is the sexual immorality, and sexual immorality is a problem because it is sin, and sin is a problem because it places one under the condemnation of God’s Law and—if unrepented—condemns such a one to hell.

That being the case, it is important that we be ready to give clear testimony to anyone who seeks to defend this indefensible life-choice. So, let’s take the first one. “We can’t afford to pay two rents.” Besides the fact that the fifty-five-inch television and monthly Dish Network subscription, the internet and smart phone subscriptions, the eating out and going to bars and night clubs all reveal such a defense to be nothing more than a self-deception, there is something more important to take into account. Jesus asks the following question:

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world
and forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in
return for his soul?
(Mark 8:36-37 ESV) 

No amount of money saved is ever worth throwing away one’s relationship with God, and thus eternity in heaven. That’s the most expensive decision anyone could ever make.

Secondly, while it is true that living in separate places won’t stop a couple from engaging in sexual immorality, it in no way follows that making it easier for them to do so is the right thing to do. The Bible doesn’t teach us that if we are tempted to sin we should go ahead and give ourselves over to it. Rather, it says,

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
(1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV) 

The God-chosen way to deal with this particular temptation is marriage, in which sexual intimacy not only satisfies physical desires but also has deep spiritual benefits as well. Marriage isn’t just a social construct; more importantly, it is a precious gift of God.

Finally, let us deal with that third defense that is offered for why a couple might choose to live together without being married.

The claim is that they want to make sure they are compatible with one another before doing something as drastic as committing to one another for life. The truth is that they aren’t compatible—none of us are. That’s because inside of each person is the corruption of sin. That sin corruption reveals itself in pride, greed, covetousness, self-righteousness, arrogance, and jealousy. Since both individuals have this sin corruption, there will be conflicts whether they are married or not. But, once again, the Bible has a better avenue to deal with this than by giving oneself over to do what God forbids. The Bible’s plan is

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

Living in the darkness of sexual immorality will never give or prove the compatibility that one claims to seek. True compatibility, or fellowship, comes only from walking in the light of God’s holy Word, which exposes our sin corruption and pours out to our repentant hearts the cleansing forgiveness purchased by the shedding of Christ’s blood.

Frank Gantt is pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Loganville, Georgia.