[forthright] What About Cohabitation?

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2007 13:42:07 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: HEAVENLY CONNECTIONS

What About Cohabitation?
by Tim Hall

An e-mail from a young lady who identified herself
as a Christian jolted me. Though she had grown up
in the Lord's church, she wanted to know if the
Bible said anything about a man and a woman living
together before marriage. My first impulse was to
ask, "Why, doesn't she know?!"

Apparently there are many who don't know Biblical
principles that apply to this question. The U.S.
Census Bureau has reported on this steadily-rising
phenomenon. The 2000 census showed that 9.7
million adults were living with a different-sex
partner. That's a 72% increase since the 1990
census; reaching back to 1960, it's a tenfold
increase.
(Source: http://www.unmarried.org/statistics.html)

Does the Bible condemn cohabitation? Maybe not
explicitly, but there are some principles one must
carefully consider before entering into such a
relationship.

At the outset one must recognize sex as a gift
from God to be enjoyed only within a God-approved
marriage. Hebrews 13:4 states it succinctly:
"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed
undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will
judge" (NKJV). The "bed" to which reference is
made is clearly the act of sex, and it is
described as undefiled. Outside of that one
relationship it becomes adulterous, and God will
not overlook such transgressions.

But suppose someone insists their cohabitation
will be pure. Would it then be an acceptable
arrangement? I would suggest not for at least two
reasons.

First, a living arrangement of that nature opens
the door to strong temptations. Will we disregard
Jesus' instruction to pray these words: "And do
not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from
the evil one. ..." (Matthew 6:13)? To be surprised
by temptation is one thing; to invite it into our
home is quite another. Those who desire to be pure
will distance themselves from tempting situations.

Second, we must consider our influence on others.
In Luke 17:1,2, our Lord gave this instruction:
"It is impossible that no offenses should come,
but woe to him through whom they do come! It would
be better for him if a millstone were hung around
his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than
that  he should offend one of these little ones."

The concept of offending refers to the example we
set. When they see me living in an unmarried
relationship -- even though I insist it is a pure
arrangement -- will they be encouraged to also
live in such a setting? Will their relationship be
free from sin?

In John 4, Jesus conversed with a woman who was
living with one who was not her husband. Will
anyone suggest Jesus condoned that arrangement?
Why would we attempt to argue such a point today?

Christians must scrutinize society's trends in the
light of what Scriptures teach. From that
perspective, cohabitation is an arrangement we
must choose not to make.

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