Have you noticed a cultural shift when it comes to living arrangements in relationships?
I don’t have to look far to find an unmarried friend or acquaintance who lives with their significant other. It used to be shameful to cohabitate before marriage. However, now it is socially acceptable and even encouraged.
In an article by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Brian Owen points out reasons why cohabitation has become common including the attack on marriage, the delay of marriage, the cultural normalization of cohabitation, the cultural normalization of sexual activity outside of marriage, the rite of passage into marriage and prioritizing financial stability.
As I read this article, it became entirely clear to me that it isn’t just Millennials who have shifted their standards, but our culture as a whole.
Young and older couples, Christians and non-Christians alike are turning to living together before marriage, and if you ask me, the above mentioned reasons are spot on.
My generation has grown up seeing failed marriages and divorce as a normal part of our lives. In order for new generations to hold ourselves to higher standards, better examples need to be set for those generations as they grow up. You say you don’t believe in the “monkey see, monkey do” theory? I beg to differ.
Rather than mess with the lawyers and messy details of a divorce, couples just decided to move in together, and that solves that problem, right? Wrong. Engaging in marital behavior without the commitment to each other and the Lord is dangerous behavior, and in the end does no sparing of the emotional warfare that almost inevitably happens. The Bible says:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
This passage is found many times throughout Scripture in Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7 again in Ephesians 5:31. When the Lord repeats things in Scripture, it is for a reason, He is adamant.
The delay of marriage is another reason couples are choosing cohabitation. “You have your whole life to be married,” is what people say to justify the delay. I have never understood this mentality. While my husband and I were dating, I hated the many goodbyes that were given. I didn’t want to spend another second not being his wife, so why delay promising our lives to each other, but go ahead and move in together? It’s not logical.
Cohabitation has become such a cultural norm, it’s even celebrated at times. On the popular sitcom, Friends, there is an episode where one of the characters proposes as one would propose marriage, but instead he is asking the woman to live with him. The proposal is met with audience applause. This is one way that our culture has fed the idea that cohabitation is acceptable.
This is met with the cultural acceptance of sexual activity before marriage. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father.”
The verse says WHATEVER you do. As Christians, we are called to be more, to hold ourselves to a higher standard and that starts at home, especially with whom we live.
We are not called to be the spiritual police to others in ways that will only further drive non-believers away from Christ, but with love and by example we can help share why the Lord calls us to abstain from cohabitation before marriage.