Marriage and family are the most stabilizing factors in any community. This has been proven. To pervert that social structure is to destroy the very foundations of society. God seems to be putting this issue on the hearts of several leaders to encourage us to get back on track.

For example, syndicated columnist Dennis Prager states in his recent article, "5 Reasons Not To Shack Up" (WorldNetDaily, 10/3/06), that there's no comparing living together with marriage. He wonders why anyone would voluntarily choose not to marry the person he or she wishes to live with forever. "Unless, of course," he adds, "one of you really isn't planning on forever."  And Dr. Allan Carlson, of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society has just released a book titled "Conjugal America" in which he argues for "The Necessity of Traditional Marriage."

Pastors, counselors and chaplains today had better be prepared to effectively deal with these issues for the sake of all. "Living Together" is the key to doing just that. VanGoethem's book is the equivalent of a seminary course of "The Theology of Marriage."  He offers models for counseling unmarried couples and shows how to draw up a policy for marrying couples who live together (which can be referred to) along with a working form for the reader to use. He instructs pastors how to spot red flags when interviewing couples and the danger of letting any red flags slip by.  I plan to read his book a second time (slowly) in order to not miss anything in it.

Jeff VanGoethem (D-Min, Th.M, Dallas Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor of East White Oak Bible Church in Bloomington, Illinois. He is also adjunct Instructor at Lincoln College in Normal, Illinois.  He has specialized in this field of counseling for many years, and this book began as a thesis for his Doctor of Ministry program.

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