Marriage should be honored by everyone. And every marriage should be kept pure between husband and wife. God will judge guilty those who commit sexual sins and adultery.
While much of the rhetoric in the public square these days focuses on the issue of gay marriage, the church has an even bigger issue on its hands and has for a long time. The problem of co-habitation. As a culture we have largely accepted the idea that a man and woman can live together as though married and even start a family, buy a home, and build assets together as married couples have traditionally done through the years, all without ever covenanting to one another in marriage.
As a Christian I understand the secular life outside the church is one where I can observe but in Christ’s love, cannot judge those who have no knowledge of or desire for Jesus Christ. But when these same folks claim to be Christian and even come to the church for acceptance of their lifestyle choice, I must revert to what the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians who were dealing with many of the same issues we are today:
Those outside the church it is not my business to judge. but surely it is your business to judge those who are inside the church—God alone can judge those who are outside.
(1 Corinthians 5:12a Phillips)
The tension the church body faces today is one where it is viewed as being harsh or judgmental if it shares truth with couples who are involved in this type of lifestyle. The sexual revolution of the 60’s opened a door to open relationships in our current culture and the generation of today are the children of that era. They see little wrong in trying things out to see if it works. The problem is, in most cases, it will not work. While cohabitation is on the rise in our society, statistics still show that roughly 50% of cohabiting couples will never marry. They also show that divorce is more likely than with couples who marry prior to living together.
So with the number of cohabiting couples steadily increasing it only makes sense that these same couples will find their way into the church and ultimately, expect the congregation to accept their lifestyle choice. The challenge to respond in love while staying true to biblical principle is difficult. Of course, the Apostle Paul knew this as well when he wrote:
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:2-4)
I’m always loving toward couples in any living situation however when they ask for my counsel or opinion, I’ve found it best to cut to the chase and share with them first from scripture before suggesting steps for improvement. The Bible is clear on this matter, we should wait until marriage to live together. A covenant marriage is a life changing step despite the triviality our culture ascribes to it today. The real problem with this issue is the mindset of our kids growing up. The adults of today were led down this path by the generation before as I mentioned previously. What legacy will we leave our children and grandchildren in the value of marriage and waiting for the proper mate?