Faith Relationships

Cohabiting-Living for the Sex of It

Our friend’s young adult son decided to get an apartment with his girlfriend. It lasted a few months. Sex included. Another young man got his girlfriend pregnant. They’re getting married and planning to move into a house together before the wedding day. Reality is, with both of these guys, they grew up in the church. They heard the Gospel since they were toddlers, participated in youth group and played the part of good Christian guys. Yet, they ended up living with their girlfriends and acting out sexually. 

So What?

In a 2019 survey, The Pew Research Foundation found a rise in cohabiting among 18-44-year-olds. 

Younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to find it acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together. About eight-in-ten adults younger than age 30 (78%) say that cohabitation is acceptable even if the couple doesn’t plan to marry… 

It seems that having a faith background doesn’t make much difference between those who live together instead of marrying first. That’s just the way these young people think these days. parents of one adult child commented on their daughter moving in with her boyfriend. We raised her in church, but times have changed.

Try Before You Buy?

You’d never buy a car without test-driving it first, would you?  So, why do you think you should marry someone you have not lived with or had sex with?  Or so the logic goes. Try before you buy sounds logical when it comes to tangible objects like a car or boat, but not with another person. The trend towards having as many sexual partners as you can before you settle down actually works against the very purposes of what marriage is all about. Truth is, try before you buy is an indicator of weak commitment. If it doesn’t work out, move out! And so the world’s view of marriage spirals out of control.

Greek to Me!

Centuries ago, the Greeks were known for their open-sex norms. Everything from adultery to orgies down at the local god and goddess temples to homosexuality and pedophilia was commonplace.  As a young boy, I lived in Greece. My dad was stationed there for a military tour of duty. A few years ago, my sisters and I took dad back to Greece to see the place we used to live decades before.  Walking through tourist shops, there were scores of ancient Greek sexual images blatantly displayed on everything from posters to t-shirts to a bowl filled with condoms at the cash register. 

It reminds me of what I read in 1 Corinthians. The Gospel spread to Corinth, a city west of Athens. People came to faith in Christ from a background of various sexual experiences. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 ESV, Paul has this to say.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

From a totally secular perspective, it seems harsh to say those with a propensity towards sexually immoral acts, along with the other lifestyle actions listed are going to be kept out of heaven. Ignoring sin and its consequences do not make the issue of God and one’s eternal destiny go away.

Paul knew that those coming to faith in Christ, (new believers) had to shift their thinking away from their past sexual acts to a new and redeemed way to view sex and their bodies. 

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV.

The difference in the lives of those Corinthian Christians is not them trying harder to do right, but in them being washed clean by Jesus Christ. It’s the same for you and me today. If you have made a faith commitment to Christ, by faith, you are washed clean of all past sins. All of them. When God sees you, He sees the righteousness of Christ in your place. 

The Gospel Changes Everything

Here’s where the rubber hits the road, in terms of this entire discussion about modern-day cohabiting. Much like the Corinthians 2,000 years ago, the same problem exists in our culture today. Sex is seen as a rightful experience regardless of marriage. To say It’s my body!, and I am a Jesus-follower are two incongruent statements.  

Newsflash! Jesus Christ bought and paid for your body on the cross. His death and resurrection opened a door for you to experience true forgiveness. Your repentance of sin is a step of faith in His full ability to wipe your sin-slate clean. Total forgiveness. Upon trusting Christ, you received 100% of the Holy Spirit. That means your body is now a temple of the Holy Spirit. Christ living His life through you. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV.

Your Body Matters

What you do with your body, in particular sexually, matters to God. Cohabiting is a way people justify sex before marriage. As a reaction to Paul’s call for Gospel living, the believers in Corinth wrote him with the following, 

It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. 1 Corinthians 7:1 ESV.

Inferring NO sex at all, married or single.  Truth is that is not right thinking. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to have sex. Sex is a gift from God and is fulfilled in marriage. In fact, Paul explains that any sex outside of marriage is immoral. For that reason, he encouraged them to get married. 

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

Cohabiting is Not In God’s Will

Our culture may vote 80% for cohabiting, but the reality is the most important person in the Universe votes for marriage every time!  

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 ESV

What’s interesting is when it says that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, it actually means to learn how to take a wife for himself. Marriage is always God’s call for those with sexual desires. Unless He has specifically given you the gift of celibacy, find a wife!

Cohabiting is Fake Marriage

Cohabiting has all the semblance of marriage without the commitment. And in such lies the issue. Lack of commitment means the eventual breakdown of the family in our society. Lack of commitment reduces relationships to mere transactions. The entire God-ordained view of oneness between a man and his wife is ignored for what has become instead a mutual sharing of a house. Some claim they live together to cut expenses. It’s true that in some metropolitan markets housing costs are astronomical. Sharing housing expenses can seem like a logical solution, but there are better solutions.

Legitimate Cohabiting

There are some legitimate situations where unmarried men and women live in the same houses, along gender lines. I know of 4-5 young men each renting a room in a large home. It’s driven by their limited finances as they are each starting out on their own. I also know of 4 young women doing the same as they work and finish college. That’s not the cohabiting I’m referring to.

Male-Female Cohabiting

It’s the guy who is looking for a girlfriend to share life with. They play house, merge finances and share a bed. Sex is frequent. They might even have multiple partners. This may be what the world is turning to, but at issue here is whether Christ-followers should follow in these footsteps.

Don’t Mis-read What I’m About to Say  

When Paul wrote the Corinthians, he contrasted giving their saved bodies to a prostitute or to Christ.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 ESV

If you are a Christ-follower in love with a woman. If you are sexually attracted to each other, God’s call to both of you is to not move-in but to marry. If you decide that sex before marriage is justified, then you have bought into the lie that commitment and sex are separate issues. God sees sexual intercourse as two becoming one flesh. 

There is a street in our city where most prostitutes hang out. You can buy sex there, have a one-night stand, lose your virginity and walk away. If you buy sex from a prostitute you have become one with her. 

Now, hear me clearly, I am NOT saying your girlfriend is a prostitute. I AM NOT! What I am saying is sex without the commitment of marriage is like having sex with a prostitute because the commitment that only comes with marriage is not there. If you are a Christ-follower who is considering moving in with your girlfriend, by the authority of God’s Word, I urge you to reconsider. 

What is far better is to be a man so yielded to Christ that you treat your girlfriend the same way that Christ treats us; with holiness and honor.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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