Is it okay for a couple to live together before marriage?
Couples living together seems pretty normal in the world today. There is this try-before-you-buy mentality, thinking that living together will help a person decide whether or not they want to marry their boyfriend or girlfriend. Yeah, that sounds great and all, but in all honesty, living in the same house or apartment together serves but one main purpose for the couple. Can you guess what that is?
I'll give you a hint. They're closer in distance, have more access to each other, and can...well, act like a married couple without the commitment of marriage.
Co-habitation, or residing in the same house, is not a sin in and of itself. There's nothing immoral about sleeping in your own bed in the same building as someone of the opposite gender (who is sleeping in their own bed). But I think we both know that's not how it works in romantic relationships.
When an unmarried couple is "living together," it means that they're pretty likely sleeping together, and by "sleeping together," I'm talking about having sex. Okay, now we've crossed over into the realm of immorality.
Choosing sex before marriage is definitely a sin. Premarital sex is repeatedly condemned in Scripture, along with other forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible is very clear that sex is for married couples only, and that the only other option outside of (and before) marriage is total abstinence—no sex at all. Premarital sex is just as wrong as a husband cheating on his wife or watching internet porn or any other form of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3). Why? Because they all involve having sex with (or lustful thoughts about) someone you are not married to.
Are there any exceptions?
Let's say a couple states, "We're living together because [insert some reasonable reason, like financial or logistical reasons], but we're abstaining from sex until after we're married." There are two problems that could arise here.
First, living in the same house together is an incredibly massive temptation for immorality. God wants us to run away from immorality, not put ourselves in a situation where we will be constantly tempted to do what we shouldn't (1 Corinthians 6:18). If you're trying to stop drinking soda, then you probably shouldn't pack a Mountain Dew in your lunch.
Think you have an ironclad willpower? Trust me—it isn't as easy as you think. Satan would just love to get you to hop into bed with your boyfriend or girlfriend before you're married. In the heat of the moment, it's hard to make the right choice. But the perceived benefits are not worth the troubles that will come with premarital sex. If you really can't help yourself, then get out of the relationship or get married (1 Corinthians 7:9).
Second, even if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend had some sort of super-willpower, there is still the problem of appearances. Let's say a couple's intention is to abstain from having sex (and by some miracle, they actually do), people will still assume that they're sleeping together—that's just the way it is. And yes, we do want to care what people think in this case. The Bible says to "avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Even though living in the same house is not sinful in and of itself, the appearance of sin is there and can torch your testimony for Christ in a second.
So, is it okay for a couple to live together before marriage? No, it really isn't—not if the couple desires to honor God with their relationship in keeping their hearts, minds, and bodies pure.
A Note from Cat
When I first put my trust in Christ, I was in college and already living with my boyfriend. I spent a year in guilt and tears because of a conviction from the Holy Spirit, but I didn't know how to get out of the situation. Finally, God provided a way: our pastor and his wife offered to let me stay with them until we got married, and let me tell you... It easily removed both the temptation to sin and the appearance that we were still sleeping together. Three months later, we were married, and I moved back into our apartment. It was one of the best things I could have ever done for our relationship.
If you're already living with your significant other and having premarital sex, please don't beat yourself up. What's done is done. But! It's not too late to change things. The situation is not honoring to God and needs to be exchanged for something that is. If finances are a problem, ask for help from an older, trusted friend or your pastor's family. God has already forgiven you for what's happened. It's up to you to honor Him with your next decisions.
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