Friday, June 9, 2017

Should Christian Singles Shack Up?

So, you're a single Christian man and you've found a wonderful woman you want to be with every day. 

For the religiously devout, the answer to the question of whether to engage in premarital cohabitation is a simple “no.”

Anyone who knows their Bible, understands what scripture says about avoiding temptation. It's out of the question.

Perhaps you're thinking, "But it seems crazy that we're spending so much money on two separate places when we could cut our expenses in half by being roommates. What's the harm? We're just trying to save money--it's not like we're sleeping"

Living together prior to marriage has increased 30% in just the last decade. That's no surprise to any of us, unless we've been living in an underground bunker. 

I'm increasingly troubled, not by the fact that non-believers are living together. That's to be expected. It's the Christian singles I hear about openly sharing apartments and sleeping together before holy matrimony. 

Of course, whether you want to admit it or not, living together before marriage naturally assumes that a couple is sleeping together and having sex before marriage — which is sin, according to God's word.

You might start out thinking it won't turn sexual. After all, you have two different bedrooms. And maybe you're strong and can keep yourself from falling into sin. But you're still "playing house" experiencing non-sexual intimacy by living side-by-side, cooking and eating together, cuddling up together in your PJs to watch television, discovering what gives each other gas and all your other bathroom habits. You're living like a married couple (with or without the benefits).

But I don't even want to get into the issue of how foolish it is for Christian singles of the opposite sex to share living spaces. I'll tackle that another time.

The point I want to make today is how damaging it is to shack up before marriage, regardless of whether or not you're sleeping together and regardless of whether you're a Christian or not. Let's take those equations out of it and see how it's still a foolish idea.

The following findings reveal how living together before marriage negatively affects the relationship of anyone who tries it, abstinent or otherwise.

Studies show that cohabitation prior to marriage is linked to lower marital happiness, stability and a 33% higher chance of divorce. If you're one of the many divorced fathers who visit this site, that means the chance of your next marriage ending in divorce is already pretty high, even if you commit to living apart before marriage and staying abstinent.

Furthermore, couples who have lived together before getting married have more fights, lower commitment, lower relationship quality, and are twice as likely to suggest divorce.

An even more significant factor is that they may have “settled” for each other — having slid into marriage rather than making a more deliberate decision to get hitched.

What does that mean?

Moving from dating to sleeping over, and from sleeping over to living together can be a gradual slope--one not marked by rings, ceremonies or even a meaningful discussion about it. It just kind of happens.

This lack of weighing pros and cons comes from viewing living together as a fairly low-risk proposition. "If things don’t work out, we’ll just break up and move out."

Easy enough. Sadly without the commitment and investment in a ring, a marriage license, and a ceremony, it's pretty easy to slide out of that relationship.

Those intentional decisions serve as a way to lock you in, therefore decreasing the likelihood to search for other options. Just like a down payment on a car, the greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another situation when needed.

While moving in together might seem fun and economical, there are still investments. The setup costs are subtly woven in and often not easily recognized. You happily split the rent on a nice apartment, share the cable bill, pets and enjoy shopping for furniture together. All of these have an effect on how likely we are to leave.

Inertia sets in.

The result of prematurely “locking in” causes people to miss out on opportunities to date those with whom they might be a better fit. You could end up saying "I spent years living with an idiot who I wouldn’t have dated very long if we hadn't been living together."

Worse yet, couples who otherwise would not have tied the knot, end up married because of the inertia of cohabitation.

Whether a man and his lady friend are devout Christians saving themselves for marriage...or they couldn't care less about abstinence; founding a relationship on convenience and ambiguity can interfere with the process of finding the person God really wants them to have.

When men already have a woman cooking for them or fulfilling other emotional (if not physical) needs, why would they consider someone else?

The drive to look elsewhere is diminished. "I guess I'll marry this one, we're already sharing everything else, might as well make it official."

That's a real romantic motive. I'll bet she'll run to the altar when she hears that.

BOTTOM LINE: May we be men of integrity and honor. Not only abstaining from sex until marriage, but also refusing to compromise our testimony and reputation. Refuse to move in with anyone from the opposite sex until you can do so with your wife.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What scriptures come to mind that support your answer?