Why Christians Shouldn't Live Together Before MarriageAug 26, 2021
You’ve met an amazing guy and you’re debating moving in together.
Or maybe you and your boyfriend are already living together, but you’re starting to wonder whether you should live together and if it’s okay for Christians to live together without being married.
What does the bible say about living together before marriage? Is living together a sin?
Should Christians live together before marriage? And is it really a big deal?
In this blog post, we will talk about Christians living together before marriage, including:
- What the Bible says about living together unmarried
- Whether living together before marriage is a sin
- What to do if you are already living together before marriage
- Living together but not sleeping together
- Whether you should live together while engaged
- Sleeping in the same bed before marriage
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What does the bible say about living together before marriage?
The Bible does not explicitly address couples living together before marriage too often, but we do see in the Bible that it was unheard of for unmarried couples to live together before marriage.
Couples in the Bible did not live together before marriage
We see in the Bible that God intended for couples to live together only after they were married.
“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” – Genesis 2:24 NLT
The emphasis in this Bible verse is the fact that a man leaves his father and mother, indicating that the man and woman lived with their families, not each other, before they got married.
And we see in John 4 that Jesus points out that the Samaritan woman was living with a man who she wasn’t married to.
“Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” – John 4:17-18 NLT
While Jesus did not want to judge this woman for living with a man she wasn’t married to, he makes a point to mention this fact to highlight that she shouldn’t be living to a man who she isn’t married to.
We are to avoid sexual sin, including having sex while living together without being married
The Bible also makes it clear that we are not to engage in sexual immorality or fornication.
“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NLT
God intended for sex to be enjoyed between a husband and wife in marriage, so couples having sex outside of marriage would be considered a sin.
Even if you are living together and planning on getting married, having sex before marriage is still a sin and not pleasing to God.
Living together before marriage creates more temptation to sin
The Bible calls us to flee from sexual immorality, or anything causing us to sin.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV
As Christians, we are called to flee or remove ourselves from sexual sin or temptation. And since it is so tempting to have sex with your boyfriend before marriage, living together unmarried would not be a good decision.
And we need to be careful not to think we won’t be tempted.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV
While some couples may try not to sleep together when they are living together, it is not wise to put yourself in a situation where you can be tempted.
We have a responsibility not to make others stumble
As Christians, we also have the responsibility not to do something if it makes another believer stumble.
If you and your boyfriend have strong physical boundaries in place and are not sleeping together, you may be tempted to live together since you are avoiding sexual sin.
But let’s say a new Christian couple at church looks up to you, and they notice that you live together without being married.
What kind of message is this saying to the new Christian couple?
They may think that it’s okay for Christians to live together before marriage, and they may end up stumbling into sexual sin once they move in together and fail to resist temptation.
We see this concept illustrated in Romans 14 below.
“Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.
You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.
But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:20-25 NLT
So even if you and your boyfriend are able to live together without sleeping together, you could still be causing other believers to stumble.
Which brings me to the next question, is it okay to live together if you aren’t sleeping together?
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Is living together a sin? What about living together but not sleeping together?
Some Christians will argue that the act of living together before marriage is not a sin itself. Rather, sleeping together or engaging in any sexual activity before marriage is the sin.
And some unmarried couples may argue that it’s okay to live together if they aren’t sleeping together.
But to answer this question, it’s important to understand the definition of sin.
Sin is anything that violates God’s commands or is not pleasing to God.
Just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly discuss whether living together before marriage is a sin doesn’t mean it’s not a sin.
Absence of any black and white guidance in the Bible on this question, and after considering what the Bible does say about unmarried couples, the best way to answer this question is to ask yourself the following questions.
Would God be pleased with couples living together before marriage?
Did God intend for unmarried couples to live together before marriage?
How much can you honor God in this area?
If you truly want to honor God in your relationship before marriage, it’s hard to argue that God would be pleased with unmarried couples living together.
And it’s hard to argue that living together before marriage is not a sin.
Christians living together before marriage – Should Christians live together before marriage?
Short answer is No. If you want to honor God with your relationship, Christians should not live together before marriage.
If you still want to live together without being married, it’s important to understand the consequences of choosing to disobey God in this area.
“God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 NLT
By choosing to disobey God, the Bible tells us that we are essentially rejecting God himself.
In Ephesians 2, we also see that when we choose to disobey God, we are choosing to obey the devil.
“You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” – Ephesians 2:2
Do you want to reject God? Do you want to obey the devil and let him control your relationship?
If you’re still not convinced that you shouldn’t live together before marriage, here are other common myths of living together before marriage, and why those myths don’t line up with God’s word.
5 myths of living together before marriage - Reasons why you should not live together before marriage
In case you still aren’t convinced that it’s not a good idea to live together without being married, here are 5 common myths of couples living together unmarried.
Common Myths About Living Together Before Marriage
Myth: Living together before marriage is like a trial period to determine if you are compatible or if you should get married.
Reality: You do not need to live together before marriage to determine if you are compatible or if they are the person you should marry.
To determine if you should get married, you should go through Christian premarital counseling and also consider the signs that he’s the one that God has for you.
And just because he may have some personal living habits that he needs to work on doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get married.
Love is not defined by how compatible you live together – love is based on choosing to love the other person despite their flaws.
And when personal habits do come up once you are married, love is saying that you’ll love the other person anyway, despite how often they leave their clothes on the floor or their dishes in the sink.
But if you do live together and then decide you’re not right for each other, this makes the break up and separation process harder.
If you break up after living together, one of you will have to find a new place to live, you’ll have to separate any possessions you bought together, and can you imagine trying to break up after getting a dog together?!
The fact that you already live together could even delay or prevent the break up process from happening at all.
Ever hear of couples getting married and then divorced, because they were too afraid to break things off when they realized it wasn’t right before they got married?
If you decide to break up after living together, this is one costly and heart breaking trial period.
Myth: If you live together before you are married, your marriage will be easier since you’re already used to living with the person and you’ll have a less chance of getting a divorce.
Reality: There is actually a higher chance of divorce for couples that live together before marriage.
According to Psychology Today, premarital cohabitation still appears to be a risk factor for divorce and the odds of divorce were 1.31 times higher for women who cohabitated prior to marriage.
Couples that live together before marriage may experience “short-term benefits” in the sense that divorce risk is lower for these couples right after the wedding and during the first year of marriage.
During that initial year, couples that did not live together first are at higher risk for divorce.
The difference during the first year of marriage could likely be caused as a result of those couples that didn’t live together before having to get used to living together.
But after the first year, couples who cohabitated before marriage end up having elevated risk relative to those who did not.
Myth: If you love each other but are still unsure if you want to get married, then it’s okay to live together without being married.
Reality: If a guy will live with you but doesn’t want to marry you, this creates a false level of commitment.
When you live together, you are essentially acting like a married couple but without the commitment of marriage, this can create tension and conflict in the relationship.
Over time, this may create trust and commitment issues in the relationship.
Myth: If you live together before marriage, you’ll get engaged and married sooner.
Reality: Moving in together before marriage can actually delay getting engaged and married, or prevent a couple from getting married at all.
I’ve had several friends thinking they would get engaged shortly after moving in together, but sadly, it had the opposite effect.
If you’re already giving your boyfriend wifey privileges, where’s the incentive for him to put a ring on it?
Myth: Saving money by not paying double rent is a good enough reason to live together before marriage.
Reality: Finances or saving money should never be a main reason to move in together.
God promises to provide our every need, and he would not want you compromising your relationship just to save some money.
Maybe it means living somewhere else temporarily, but moving in together to save money will only cause more emotional harm than financial good in the long run.
Bottom line - Is it okay to live together before marriage?
Christians should not live together before marriage. And even if you aren’t a Christian, I recommend not living together before marriage if you want your relationship and future marriage to work out.
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What to do if you’re already living together without being married
If you’re already living together and you aren’t married, don’t panic. I pray that God speaks to you personally as you read this, and that he shows you the path forward for you and your significant other.
The path forward may not be an easy decision, but I pray God gives you the strength and clarity to determine what’s best for your relationship.
Will God forgive living together before marriage?
God is a forgiving God, and he will forgive you if you’re already living together before marriage and want to make things right.
No sin is too big for God to redeem, and he promises to forgive our sins when we repent and confess our sins.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." – 1 John 1:9 CSB
"No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." – Luke 13:3 ESV
But how do you repent if you’re already living together? Should you get married? Should you move out?
Should you get married if you are already living together?
If you are already living together and you aren’t married, I would advise you both to pray and seek Godly counsel from other godly men and women in your life to determine if you are ready to get married.
While I don’t think you should get married just because you want to live together, you should consider whether you are ready to get married and why you are waiting to get married.
If it’s a newer relationship and things are going well but you aren’t sure if he’s the one, consider praying and evaluating these signs to determine if he’s the one God has for you.
And make sure you are equally yoked in your relationship and that you are on the same page spiritually.
But if you have already completed Christian premarital counseling or if you are already engaged, why couldn’t you get married?
This is why I do not recommend a long engagement for Christian couples. Waiting to have sex and waiting to move in together is not easy.
And while you may be waiting for the perfect venue to open up or waiting a year to plan your dream wedding, I want you to ask yourself what is more important.
Would you rather honor God and your future husband by doing things right, or would you rather compromise God’s ways and in hopes of the perfect wedding?
Consider the following steps if you are already living with your boyfriend or fiancé before marriage:
- Pray and confess any sin to God. Acknowledge that you haven’t been honoring God’s will for your relationship, and ask for his forgiveness.
- Pray and repent from your sin. Take action to remove yourself from the situation that caused you to sin. If you’ve been having sex before marriage, set physical boundaries in your relationship and discuss these boundaries with other godly men and women in your life for accountability.
- Pray and seek Godly counsel from others to determine if you should get married, or if you should move out. Consider temporary living arrangements while you determine the best path forward for your relationship.
Should you move out if you are already living together?
If you aren’t ready for marriage, pray and consider if one of you should move out.
Moving out and finding a new place to live is not an easy process, so consider any temporary living arrangements as you find a new place.
Maybe it means staying at a friend’s place until you find your own place. Or maybe it means renting a room from someone at church who wants to support your decision to do things God’s way.
I know many couples at my church who had been living together without being married, and God convicted them to move out and live separately before they got married.
Even if you are planning on getting married or if you know he’s the one you are supposed to be with, choosing to honor God in this area will set your relationship and future marriage up for success.
Think about it. Do you want to start your marriage off on the wrong foot with God, knowing that you didn’t obey his will for your relationship?
Or do you want to start off your marriage with God’s blessing, knowing that you honored God and your future husband by doing it God’s way?
If you decide to still live together for whatever reason, make sure you have physical boundaries in place to resist temptation and avoid sleeping together before marriage.
And if you have to sleep in separate bedrooms and install locks on your doors, do it.
You should still honor God by not sleeping together, even if it means implementing some firm boundaries.
For example, consider how much kissing is okay and whether you should wait to make out until your wedding night. And if you are struggling with boundaries, I highly recommend waiting to make out until marriage.
And if you choose to continue living together but not sleeping together, be prepared to face any other consequences.
For example, some churches have policies that won’t allow you to lead a team or serve on a certain ministry if you are living with someone that you aren’t married to.
And you could also face some of the issues discussed above that unmarried couples experience if they live together before marriage.
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What does the Bible say about living together while engaged?
If you are engaged and planning to get married, you still shouldn’t live together before marriage.
God intended for couples to live together and sleep together in the context of marriage, which does not include engagement.
Even if you are engaged, living together was not God’s intent and you should still wait to move in together.
If you are engaged and already living together, I would consider whether you can get married sooner.
Again, what’s more important, honoring God with your relationship or waiting to have the perfect dream wedding?
Maybe you have a smaller ceremony with close friends and family and then have your dream wedding later on.
But don’t think it’s okay to move in together since you are almost married anyway. Almost married and married are still completely different.
And don’t think you won’t be tempted to sleep together when you are engaged.
Even though we didn’t live together, when my husband and I were engaged, it was even harder to resist sleeping together or doing anything physical.
All those nights driving home when we wanted to stay and cuddle? I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would have been to resist temptation if we had lived together before marriage.
Temptation can get even stronger once you are engaged, so it’s best not to even think about moving in together until you’ve said ‘I do’.
What does the Bible say about sleeping in the same bed before marriage?
If you are considering living together unmarried, you may also be wondering, ‘is it a sin to sleep in the same bed before marriage with your boyfriend?’
If the Bible does not permit having sex or living together before marriage, sleeping in the same bed would not be pleasing to God either.
In Hebrews 13, the Bible talks about honoring the marriage bed by keeping it pure.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4 NIV
The ESV Bible translation says “let the marriage bed undefiled”.
And I personally think that sleeping in the same bed before you are married defiles the marriage bed.
As Christians, we already know that we are to avoid sexual immorality and to avoid situations that would cause us to be tempted into sexual sin.
Sleeping in the same bed would not be wise as it could easily cause sexual sin.
It’s like saying you aren’t going to eat a piece of cake, but then you take the cake out of the fridge and stare at it while it’s sitting on the counter.
If you take the cake out and stare at it, you’re most likely going to eat the piece of cake.
Likewise, if you sleep in the same bed together, you’re most likely going to engage in physical activity or sexual sin.
Not sleeping in the same bed before marriage is a physical boundary you should set in your relationship.
Final thoughts - What does the bible say about living together before marriage?
God did not intend for unmarried couples to live together before marriage. This includes sleeping in or sharing the same bed together, living together while engaged, or living together but not sleeping together.
Just because you are planning on getting married or if you are not sleeping together doesn’t mean it’s okay.
If you want to honor God with your relationship and future marriage, wait to move in together until you’ve said ‘I do.’
And enjoy decorating the home together when you get back from your honeymoon with that wedding ring glistening on your finger.
Are you praying for your future husband?
Whether you have a boyfriend or are still waiting on God to reveal who your future husband is, praying over them is powerful.
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