What Is So Wrong With Cohabitation?

Before you go Google “cohabitation,” it means living together and engaging in a sexual relationship before you are married. You may have noticed those around you doing this, maybe you are doing this. Here is a staggering statistic from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007: over 12 million unmarried partners live together (U.S. Census Bureau, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007”). That was five years ago! It seems to be the motion of our culture, and many people are doing it, so what is the big deal? Some might even think, “There is not an eleventh commandment forbidding me to move in with my girl/boyfriend is there?”

Let’s think about biblical marriage for a moment. God instituted marriage between a man and a woman, thus making it a divine institution, see Genesis 2.18-25 and Matthew 19.5. This is to depict, for believers, Christ (husband) and the church (wife), see Ephesians 5.22-33. This divine joining is to remain unbroken (no divorce), see Malachi 2.13-16, 1 Timothy 4.3, and Hebrews 13.4. Sex is the consummation of the marriage covenant and therefore is not be had outside of marriage, in fact if two were caught fornicating they would be stoned, see Exodus 22.16, Leviticus 19.29; 21.9, Deuteronomy 23.18, 1 Corinthians 6.18; 7.2, Colossians 3.5, 1 Thessalonians 4.3 and Deuteronomy 22.20-29.

I think I should mention that I highly doubt a man and a woman engaged in a romantic relationship can live together without having sex. If you live in separate homes, and the urge arises, one can leave. When the two live together and they want to have sex, but know it is a sin, the ten foot separation to another room is doubtful to help. What does Scripture say about the temptation to have sinful sex? FLEE! 1 Corinthians 6.18. This is why Paul writes that part of the reason we get married is to satisfy those physical urges, “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” 1 Corinthians 7.1-2. If Jesus says that when a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has committed adultery (sexual fornication) then how can it be any different if two people live together without having sex? I doubt any man can live with a woman and not think about her sexually. If you try, you are essentially saying you know better than Jesus and no longer have a sinful heart, see Matthew 5.27-30.

I hope it is obvious to you that those who profess Christ as Lord must submit to the Scriptures, and this calls for the acknowledgement that cohabitation is a sin and should not be done. If you have the excuse that it is “more convenient” to live together than separate, I would plead with you to check your heart. Who is Lord? You or Christ? Follow him and do not try to be your own savior. He knows best.

But what should Christians do when their unbelieving friends and family announce, “We are moving in together!!”? First, Paul tells us not to judge those outside the church, see 1 Corinthians 5.12-13. They do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or as one saint has said, “they have not been bit yet.” If they do not have the Spirit in them, then they will not obey Scripture, but they will chase after their dark passions and lusts. I would recommend that if you are a believer, and some you love who do not believe say they are going to cohabitate, you present the Gospel.  If God judges those outside the church, He will judge their sins (all of them) and the most loving thing you can do is to lead them to the source of forgiveness and mercy (the cross of Christ). Do this with the hope and expectation that the Holy Spirit will bite them (regenerate them). The only hope for joy and salvation is not in the person they are thinking of living with, but in the Son of God.

There are plenty of excuses people have for living together (and engaging in sex) before marriage, but none of them stand against the holiness of God and the holiness He expects from His people. The striking increase in cohabitation has lead to the dramatic rise of divorce and illegitimate children (outside of wedlock). Cohabitation has made marriage a marketplace. People want to live together before they are married to see if it will work. This sort of mentality does not show faith in God, nor His covenant of marriage. This mentality shows the selfishness of individuals and the sin of their heart. It is like saying, “I am willing to live with you before we are married because I want to see what you have to offer me, and if I like it (and don’t think I will get bored of it) then we can consider marriage.” More often than not, during this “trial run” the couple finds out they are pregnant, but that was not in the plan! They moved in for convenience, but a pregnancy is inconvenient (some get rid of the child). When the couple keeps the child (which they should) then they feel obligated for marriage and marriage out of obligation is setup for failure, unless both partners turn to God for grace and love and repent at the foot of the cross. When husband and wife love Christ more than themselves and each other, the marriage will last.

I am not alone in this view that cohabitation is a bad thing. There are even secular people (non-Christians) who have noticed the same thing. Click here for an article from New York Times about cohabitation in America, here you will not find one word about God.

If you are cohabitating, think of marriage. Think of the Gospel of grace, go to a good Bible believing church. Ponder why marriage is more than a civil matter.  Read this book, The Meaning of Marriage.



  1. i agree with your article totally. 6 years ago i was cohabiting with someone before we split up and now that i have grown and matured spiritually, co-habiting is a no no in my life. I have been single for the 6 years up to date and i know if a man loves me as much as he says, he has to be willing to wait and do things the right way. i have survived these years by myself and done a good job of it. i value my worth more than sex and it’s liberating. i thank you for this article and hope others learn from it too.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story with cohabitation. I am also glad you have come to the realization that you need a man that will honor you and has to be willing to wait (both would be a mark of maturity on his part). Again, thanks for sharing and the encouragement.

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