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How can we respond to young people who want to live together before marriage? I am referring to my son and other friends in their late 20’s.
I am trying to be quiet and work with it but it is very awkward. What do you say to young people about this topic? Would you recommend any books or speakers?
I want to answer this question looking at your relationship with your son and the people we deal with personally.
My heart is telling me that the best way to approach your son is not with recommending books or speakers to prove what he is doing is wrong, but rather step back and assess some broader issues.
When we see scripture’s instructions, we need to remember that the instructions are for believers. As believers, we follow because we believe God knows EXACTLY what he is doing and wants to help us navigate our sexuality, relationships and marriage with high esteem and reverence.
When I have friends who do not profess to be believers, their cohabitation is not my primary concern.
I don’t start with the stats of increased divorce or abuse, etc. I don’t “withhold” engaging them about their relationship or giving them advice just because they aren’t doing things “the right way.”
My primary concern is that they come to believe in my Jesus.
Now, if someone DOES profess to believe in Jesus, (which I gather may be your son) then my primary concern is still not cohabitation.
My concern is the fact that they are either not taking scripture seriously, or they don’t believe God is a good God who actually has some understanding of what he wants for us.
So what do we do?
You mentioned you were trying to stay quiet on the topic. If you really sense the Lord is telling you not to say anything, then I would listen to that prompt. But I think if your son or my friends are professing believers, then it is our place to be involved and ask questions.
Caring, non-accusatory questions.
People want to be understood. Each relationship has a unique story, so if you don’t understand that story, you will never win the right to be heard as someone with wisdom and sound advice.
You won’t get the opportunity to walk with them through their story.
We need to get at the heart of their relationship, belief system and view of God. If they seem open to the dialogue then you can both dive into what scripture says about marriage, together.
(Side Note: “Together” means you aren’t forwarding verses and articles, rather you are with them and asking questions, not doing all the talking. I always have to remind myself…this is how JESUS taught. He assumed people were smart enough to think.)
I believe these situations can be just as much for our own learning and growth as it is for the people we are concerned about.
Be prayerful and ask God for wisdom, timing and an overwhelming love and boldness. It already sounds like you love your son very much.
And that is a perfect place to start.
From my heart,
P.S. (resource alert): Scripture speaks to us about being knowledgeable and informed. This article will be very beneficial for you to read (not forward to your son) so that you are equipped on the topic and understanding our generation. My incredible friend, Esther wrote it for the Washington Post just yesterday. Hot off the press! This is a great read for anyone wanting to know more on the topic, and will give insight on the “why” my generation is a fan of living together.
Have you ever had someone approach you about the fact that you were living with your significant other in a way that felt loving?
Why do you think cohabitation is a growing trend among our generation?
What is your response to believers who choose to live together before marriage anyway?
Do you have any good resources on this topic?
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Thank you so much for this post! It was really an eye opener for me. I find that so often, when behavioral issues (not just cohabitation) come up , I feel like I go into “Ms. Fixit mode”. I feel that it’s necessary that I get out my prverbial jackhammer and start tearing down the “faulty” structure. As you can well imagine, this has NEVER helped anyone and served only to push the people I care about farther away from me, and now that I think about it- farther away from Jesus too. I never understood why my well meaning conversations and suggestions never did any good. I see now that I was just hating the sin, not loving the sinner. Thank you so very much! Keep up the good work!!
Two of my three sisters live aswell together with their boyfriends. I´m not happy with that. But I had to learn to not confront them with that. My sisters accepted Christ but aren´t following him right now. Confronting them had the result of drawing them away. So now I´m quiet and do my best to have a loving relationship with them. And I want to say that our relationships grew better. So one day if they are ready to come back to Christ, I´ll be at their side. Rejoicing with them:)
Joy I think you nailed it!!!
@Andi, Thank you. It was great to hear your personal story. As I said to @Lizzie92, we must find a balance. Obviously your heart for your sisters is not to condemn but because you believe they are doing something that isn’t the safest for them. It’s hard for people to see that when they are in something.
So…how do we love people and not set idly by, but do it in a way that is not condemning. This is the dance. This is where we pray. This is where we ask for wisdom and wait.
Praying you are given favor with your sisters!
Thank you for your prayers.
At some points I made mistakes, I wasn´t loving but more like a pharisee towards my sisters. I hurt them trough this. So I had to learn to be patient and wait on God. He showed me how to be more loving. Just the last 3 days was my older sister here for a visit. Before going to bed we were able to have a good conversation about relationships. I was listening to how she´s doing and she motivated me to do online dating :).
Yeah, I have a Christian friend of mine who recently moved in with her boyfriend. She told me about it when she was still just thinking about doing it and I did my best to voice my objections/opinion without being condemning; which I think I succeeded at, but that still didn’t stop her from doing it anyway.
As an older, single Christian who by the Grace of God has still managed to hang onto his virginity (although just barely, I’ll admit 🙁 ), it’s been odd and somewhat disheartening to see the shift amongst many Christian men and women, especially as they get older and stay single longer, towards a more blase attitude regarding sex.
And I’m not talking about a heat of the moment one time mistake either so much as it is that sex has become a normal and even expected part of any dating relationship that they have.
As I mentioned above, if they ask, I do my best to let them know where I stand on the issue, but I’ve long since learned that I can’t live their lives for them and save them from the hurt that inevitably comes from these kind of choices.
…All I can do is tell them I told you so when everything turns to crap and rub it in their faces.
God’s forgiven me (and continues to forgive me) for way too much to not extend the same Grace to my brothers and sisters in Christ when they’re hurting and need someone to be there for them when consequences rear their ugly heads.
“My concern is the fact that they are either not taking scripture seriously, or they don’t believe God is a good God who actually has some understanding of what he wants for us.”
I think that says it all right there. If our generation really had some sort of real want or desire or understanding of what God wanted for us, then our outlook on EVERYTHING would be changed. Would I stay in bed an extra hour instead of running? No. Would I go ahead and have sex instead of waiting for God’s best? No.
We’re so noncommital. Myself, as a professing Christian really truly trying to live out the gospel, I have a hard time of being fully and totally committed to something. I’m there, yeah. But I”m not committed…or not present as was the Catalyst theme. Half the time I catch myself doing just enough to get by…
I’m going to have to write a post about this for tomorrow before I bog down your comment section with a huge response. Great topic, Joy!
@JOY, Me, too! I was hoping you’d get in in time for the meetup, but sadness there. And then I actually saw you and Stephanie the first day in all of the masses out front. You guys were about 20 feet away, but it would have taken me screaming at the top of my lungs and 30 minutes to get to you. I already make a fool of myself enough in front of people I know, so I thought I’d play it cool in front of a bunch of strangers. 😉 There will be more opportunities, of this I am sure. I’ll just look forward to it for the next time!
This is such a great response to what can be a very difficult topic. I think not taking scripture seriously or not trusting that God’s commandments are for our greatest joy is such a great place to start. Jesus always went after the heart, and co-habitation or anything in our lives that is contrary to scripture is usually a reflection of something going on in there.
As for the co-habitation trend, I think it is as Esther (such a great name!) said in her very well written article. I remember so many of my friend’s parents going through divorce growing up, to where I actually felt it was strange that my parents were still together.
This is a disturbing trend, but your response is spot on, in my humble opinion. Great stuff Joy, keep it up!
I shared Washington Post’s/ Esther’s article on my fb and got some likes that surprised me! Appreciated her gentle approach. The caption under the WP’s photo, reminded me of the fact that Prince William and Kate cohabitated 10yrs??!, setting an example that unfortunately influences for the wrong. But as Esther points out, even they made it right (in God’s eyes and that is really with whom we should be trying to please. ) Put a ring on it and make a commitment is right-and God honors that! Appreciated your advice how to counsel and to be able to win the honor of speaking into another person’s life, especially with adult children on important issues. * note to the resource lovin’ gal that I am-Don’t just through resources at them. Appreciate the heart in your ministry! 😉
My husband and I are among the few people we know that didn’t live together before marriage. There was heaps of pressure from friends that we were doing the wrong thing by ‘rushing into marriage’ (after 7 years) without living together. Both sets of parents would have been disappointed if we had lived together, and I think that the belief of not living together was fostered in us long before we ever met each other. But current society definitely has a trend of living together, and to not do so is against the norm.
I don’t really have any ideas on how to guide young couples who are cohabiting instead of getting married. But we had a couple in our church get married a few months ago, and they were living together first. and i caught up with them at church the other day and i asked how married life was, and the response was “really no different to before”. That made me kind of sad, because its seemed so different to my own experience of starting married life.
@Mary, I know we have seen in our research that people who had pre-marital sex have lower levels of trust in their partners than couples who waited. So you have to kind of wonder, even if it’s no different now…did you make as strong of a foundation as you COULD have, had you set marriage as something sacred and worth waiting for.
But on a practical level I TOTALLY get how one would think that it makes sense to “test drive” the car before buying…
…but the other statement is…”why buy the cow if you can already get the milk?”