4 Lies Culture Tells us About Living Together Before Marriage
- Felicia Alvarez Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 5 May
“So…are you engaged yet?” the hairstylist asked her client with a smile.
Sitting in the chair across the way, my ears perked up. This should be an interesting conversation to eavesdrop on (yes, I confess I am an eavesdropper).
“No,” the athletic blonde man replied.
“What? How long have you been together now?”
“Four years,” he casually replied.
That’s a pretty long time, I thought to myself.
“Has your girlfriend asked about it?”
“Well, come on man, you’re not getting any younger,” she teased.
“I know. I know. I was twenty-eight when we met, now I’m thirty-two.”
Okay, mister, you’re no spring chicken. Why are you taking so long? And why in the world is she still with you?
“Well, I’m gonna keep pestering you until you propose. So when are you going to pop the question?”
Good, Ms. Hairstylist! Keep encouraging him. He needs to make a commitment or move on!
“I’m not sure…” he said awkwardly.
What? You’re not sure after four years?
Sensing his discomfort, the hairstylist immediately switched to a more comforting tone. “I’m sorry, I know it’s not that simple. It’s a big decision, and you have to think about it seriously. I’m just giving you a hard time.”
Well, he needs someone to give him a hard time!
“Yeah, well...we did just get a puppy!” When he said that, his tone changed, as though sharing a dog with his girlfriend made him more committed to the relationship.
Okay, The furthest his commitment goes at this point is joint custody of a puppy. This is so backwards. Run away, girlfriend. RUN AWAY from this guy!
“Really! Aw, I’m proud of you!” Ms. Hairstylist exclaimed.
Culture’s Warped Views
Remember that old nursery rhyme from elementary school?
John and Sally sitting in a tree
First comes love,
Then comes marriage
Then comes Sally with a baby carriage
Now I guess we could rewrite it like this:
John and Sally sitting in a tree
First comes house,
Then comes schnauzer,
Then comes Sally with a pre-nup paper.
I mean, that would be more accurate of our society today, wouldn’t it? “In just two generations the number of cohabiting couples has skyrocketed, from 439,000 to 5.4 million.” Culture wants us to believe that we should accept this is the new normal.
Neither is cohabitation limited to non-Christians. According to the Barna Group, 37 percent of cohabiters profess to be Christians. And recent polls indicate that 49 percent of youth between the ages of thirteen and seventeen who have attended church in the last week approve of cohabitation. Culture promotes moving in together as the most logical step in a relationship.
Even the children’s programs are promoting it! I recently saw a Disney channel sitcom where an elementary school girl asked her teenage sister if she felt committed enough to her boyfriend to move in with him. I was flabbergasted when I heard that come out of the little actress’s mouth. Why was an elementary age girl modeling that attitude on a kid’s television program? It’s crazy.
But just because it’s the cultural norm mean we have to accept it. In fact, we shouldn’t, because it’s based on a bunch of lies.
Culture’s Big Lie #1: No guy will like you unless you move in with him.
We need to think about this one carefully. The Bible speaks clearly on the topic of cohabitation. “It’s God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). If a guy expects you to move in with him, he is not respecting God or you and, therefore, isn’t worthy of your attention. A Christian man of integrity will neither expect nor request this of you; he will respect the Bible’s standards on sexual boundaries. So, if a guy won’t pursue a relationship with you because you refuse to move in with him, is he the guy you really want to be with?
Culture’s Big Lie #2: You will change him for the better if you live together.
He’s not going to magically improve when you share the same address. Why would he need to impress you if he’s already got you where he wants you? A wise woman once told me, “What you see is what you get. He’s not going to change a whole lot when you get married and live in the same house. So, before you commit, consider what you have the grace to deal with and make a wise decision. You don’t need to share a home to make that decision.”
Culture’s Big Lie #3: Moving in with him will make him pop the question.
Actually, it will probably delay a proposal, because he’s getting all the benefits of a wife without the commitment or responsibility. He’ll keep that deal until he’s good and ready to commit—if ever. In fact, statistics claim that cohabitation lessens your chances of ever marrying him by 50 percent.
Culture’s Big Lie #4: You won’t know if you’re compatible unless you live together. Cohabitation is a smart way to test out whether you would survive marriage.
Treating cohabitation as marriage “insurance” is a very unstable foundation, one built partially on fear and partially on selfishness. It’s basically saying that, if you meet all my needs and serve me well, then I will marry you. Dr. David Gudgel shares that most cohabitating couples think:
If you make me feel loved, then I’ll marry you.
If you satisfy me sexually, then I’ll marry you.
If you treat me with respect, then I’ll marry you.
If you make me happy, then I’ll marry you.
If you fulfill my needs, then I’ll marry you.
If you like what I like, then I’ll marry you.
If you make something of yourself, then I’ll marry you.
If you don’t do things that get on my nerves, then I’ll marry you.
Yes, it’s vitally important to be loved, respected, and happy in a relationship. But does cohabitation prove compatibility, or does it simply test whether the other person fulfills all your wants? Are you seeing how much you can get out of the relationships or are you concerned with how well the two of you serve God together?
The truth is, you can’t “practice” marriage. Marriage is a permanent commitment. And you’ll never know what the other person will do if you get cancer or lose your job until it happens years (perhaps even decades) down the road. That’s part of the risk—part of the adventure. That’s why part of the marriage vow says, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”
Statistics prove that cohabitation is not a healthy way for a relationship to progress; in fact, cohabitation can decrease your chances of getting married and couples who do marry after cohabitating are more likely to divorce. However, we should be concerned with more than mere statistics. We need to remember that, as God’s children, we’re called to different standards. We’re called to be set apart—to be in but not of the world.
Many people claim that the Bible is just a bunch of rules. But God’s moral code as laid out in the Scriptures is not to restrict our happiness; it is to ensure a full and abundant life (John 10:10). God is our heavenly Father and wants our best. That’s why the Scriptures speak against living together before marriage. God provides these living standards, not to deny us of potential relationships, but to protect us from rotten ones.
God doesn’t want his daughters to be taken advantage of and treated as pseudo-wives. God wants his daughters to be treasured by a man who would lay down his life to serve and protect her.
God doesn’t want his daughters to lead the relationship, to be burdened with stress and worry, or to connive ways to pressure some guy to marry her. God wants his daughters to be pursued by intentional men and led by godly men.
God doesn’t want you to give yourself to a man without his lifelong covenant to you.
God doesn’t want you to move in with a guy because it isn’t in YOUR best interest. God loves and cherishes you and doesn’t want you to be used, stepped on, or broken.
So don’t believe these worldly lies. Don’t let them hold you captive any longer. A true man of God will not only respect your standards, but will desire to pursue purity for Christ’s glory.
Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.
Publication date: May 6, 2014