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THE DANGER OF COHABITATION BEFORE MARRIAGE

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (I Tim. 4:1)

PREAMBLE
Let me open up our discussion on this concept of cohabitation with this story as a way of getting you understand what this piece is all about. John and Janet met during college and fell in love with each other. They went grocery shopping and cooked dinner together several nights a week. Janet often slept overnight at John’s apartment. In many ways, they felt like they were married.

Janet’s parents were divorced. Her mom actually was going through a second divorce when things with John were developing. Hearing the update of her mom’s crumbling marriage to her stepdad plus keeping up a relationship with dad was draining.

John parents on the other hands were legally married but emotionally divorced. His parents lived under the same roof but led separate lives and had little romance or companionship. John was grateful for the support they gave him in sports and school, but his parents did not have a marriage he hoped to emulate.

John and Janet had seen the heartache in their parents’ love lives, so they were cautious and wanted to steer clear of making the same mistakes. They spent hours talking about what was wrong with their parent’s marriages and tried to develop strategies to avoid the same pitfalls.

Knowing firsthand the pain of divorce and a loveless marriage and not wanting to make a mistake, John and Janet thought living (cohabiting) together was a wise choice. They could try, and if it didn’t work, they could go their separate ways and save each other the headache of divorce. They decided not to have children until they knew their relationship was on solid ground. A person would not buy a car without test-driving it, so why get married without trying it, they reasoned. Like John and Janet, the question in the mind of many young people is: shouldn’t we live together before getting married? This piece is therefore aimed at helping you, my reader, to know the danger of such act and to receive and employ God’s grace to stand out in your own time and generation.

WHAT IS COHABITATION?
Cohabitation is an unauthorized illegal living together of both unmarried male and female of different parental background in the same apartment, sharing the life peculiar to a married couple together. Some have described it as “two people having fun together in order not to be bored, being companions while planning for their future, probably they may end up as married couples or friends in the future.” There are two types of this act: the permanent couples and temporary couples. Permanent couples live together in the same apartment while temporary couples often spend time with each other during the day, not living together in the same apartment. While many have criticized the action, a lot of young people have argued in favor of the concept giving different kind of reasons. Now, what is your own stand?

WHY COHABITATION?
The question that will come to mind is: why has living together before marriage attracts so much patronage among young people? The following reasons could be eyes opener:

First, many are of the opinion that that marriage is fragile. Witnessing the demise of other people’s marriages like in the case of John and Janet’s parents has left many people wary of signing on. Hence, the unconscious belief, that living together tests the viability of relationship.

Second, many people distrust “courtship” (or dating in some quarters) as a way of getting to know their potential spouses. They see it as a game, a way to pretend. They think living together is the only a way to know the other person –sharing a bathroom and a bedroom is a good test of compatibility.
Third, it is obvious that puberty begins at an early age, and people are getting married later in life after finishing their education and launching careers. This extended period of unfulfilled sexual needs leads many to cohabit.

Fourth, many people view relationship as a private matter. They believe what happens behind closed doors is no one else’s business and has no influence on the larger community. Besides, the social stigma of “living in sin” is almost nonexistent. Society turns a blind eye to what used to be considered scandalous.

Fifth, some view that renting two apartments is expensive. A couple who lives together (and later may separate) doesn’t incur these costs. Consequent to this, many people believe that there is less emotional pain if cohabiting couples break up than if a married couple does so.

WRONG SIDE OF COHABITATION
It is important to note that we are living in a society where abnormalities are seen as the norm. Human mind is getting used to perversion and in our very eyes evil is being legalized. Cohabitation obviously has its wrong side and very grievous for that matter. I will like you to consider the following negative implications of such act.
Cohabitation is against God’s moral standard: However, God’s solid foundation still stands. It has this inscription on it “the Lord knows those who belong to him,” and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from evil” (2 Tim. 2:19). God’s moral standard does not give room for a loosed moral lifestyle. His plan for both sexes is to grow into adulthood taking into consideration that both are created in God’s image. Although, there should be inter-relatedness and relationship, it is not necessarily needs to involve staying in the same room on the perpetual basis to achieve this.

Cohabitation breeds insatiable lustful desires – But I say unto you, anyone who stares at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5: 28). A man gets easily stirs up sexually when he sees a naked body of a woman; for women, just a gentle touch on the body will achieve the result. There is no guarantee that this will not happen in cohabitation where a lady will have to dress up and undress everyday with the guy in the room fully awake and alive. And according to Matthew text above, a man looking at the undressed lady will certainly nurse immoral thought in his heart which is tantamount to actual sexual intercourse.

Cohabitation opens the door to indulging in sexual activities – Flee from youthful passions. Instead, pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace together with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). More than 50% of those who cohabits indulge in sexual act and subsequently in abortion. This is because they have created an environment for sexual passion to thrive and resistance level is usually very low in that kind of situation.

Cohabitation is a distraction to fulfilling your life purpose – Keep your eyes on what is in front of you, looking straight before you. Keep a watch on your behavior; let all your ways be rightly ordered (Prov. 4:25, 26). Life is in phases – childhood, adulthood (or youthful), and old age – and they are interwoven. If you have a bad upbringing from the cradle, it will definitely impact your adulthood negatively and obviously will transfer to the last stage of life. The best and the most delicate of these phases however, is the youthful stage. That is when you exhibit and showcase your strength and demonstrate your potentials. If by carelessness this strength is diverted to sexual activities, then it robs you of the strength you need to pursue the purpose and plan of God for your life.

Cohabitation is laying a bad foundation for a glorious marital future – Let married life be honored among all of you and not made unclean (Heb. 13:4 BBE). Marriage is a hallowed institution. It is God’s ground design meant to help man explore the beauty and perfection of God’s kind of love. It’s also an environment where sexual life could be explored to the fullest without guilt. When married life is practiced outside of this God ordained environment, it breed mistrust and robbed off mutual confidence in the future matrimonial home. A lot of those who cohabit before marriage end up having struggles to keep their marriage together which most times ends in divorce.

WINNING THE PRESSURE OF COHABITATION
Clearly define your identity. As a believer in Christ, the Bible says you are a new creature and an ambassador for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17, 20). Your completeness is in Christ and you can only derive fullness in Him. Your significant and relevance in life is based on your relationship with Christ.

Keep a focus on your future and safeguard it. God has a future for you that is filled with hope (Jer. 29:11). Marriage is a means to an end, it is not the end itself. Marriage actually is part of God’s program to help you maximize your purpose in life. If you get it wrong however, you jeopardize your future.

Be determined to maximize your college year. I want you to know that if you’re still in school, your school year is very crucial to your future relevance. You will never have a time like this in your lifetime. So be determined, like Daniel, never to defile your body with sexual sins (Dan. 1:8).

Be determined to be disciplined. As a young Christian, you possess the Spirit of God who can help you to be disciplined (2 Tim. 1:7). One of the ways of proving your maturity in Christ is to demonstrate self control in your sexual life. To be loosed in this regard is to betray the power of the Spirit of God in you.

Keep a distance from evil and if possible flee from it. If you can’t beat them, then don’t join them has become popular but this is not true. The fact many people are involve in doing the wrong thing is not enough reason to make it right. Train your mind to discern what is wrong and run from it.

CONCLUSION
Let me use the word of Apostle Paul when he encouraged the Roman believers to glorify God: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1-2).

Revd. Gideon Akanbi
The Godly Brains Ministries
Ibadan.
08033101332

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