WHAT WE TALK ABOUT
Biblical. Practical. Relevant.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
Can A Christian Have A Live-In Boyfriend/Girlfriend? We’ll use 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 as our guide, but first, I want to show you three sets of statistics that represent facts about cohabitation in the U.S. And just so we’re clear, when I say “cohabitation” I’m talking about two people living together before marriage.
The first set of stats is about the relevancy of the issue of cohabitation. I know this is a relevant question. I know you know this is a relevant question. But let’s pretend we didn’t. These stats might convince us.
Relevant? For sure. The question is rapidly becoming not who cohabits – but who doesn’t?
I’m sure that many of you have heard negative statistics on the damaging impacts cohabitation can have on marriages, particularly in terms of the number of cohabitations-turned-into-marriages that end in divorce. There is validity to those stats – but there are other negatives about cohabitation, too. Consider this:
This doesn’t tell the entire story about the negatives of cohabitation, but it does at least give you some idea of what can take place. Most Christians use these stats to sound an alarm that cohabitation is a bad idea and should be avoided – but there’s another side to the story.
Research exists, that suggests that cohabitation doesn’t impact people’s lives negatively at all. We’ll call these neutral statistics.
What’s the point? The statistics say that cohabitation does not, in every case, increase divorce rates or decrease the number of healthy, long-term marriages. But they also say that cohabitation does not, in every case, decrease divorce rates or increase the number of healthy, long-term marriages.
Simply put – we can’t answer the question “Can A Christian Have A Live-In Boyfriend/Girlfriend?” based upon statistics alone because there are both negative and neutral cohabitation stats that contradict one another. Now, can we ever use stats? Yes absolutely! But scientific data can never be what we primarily stand on. We, as Christians, must lean on God and His Word.
An example is abortion. Is abortion wrong? Definitely. It’s the taking of a human life, i.e., murder. Why do I believe that? Because of the scientific data? No. Now don’t get me wrong; I think scientific data enhances my stance on abortion, but it doesn’t define it. God’s Word does. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception and that human life is imago Dei. The Bible teaches that an assault on imago Dei life is an assault on the Creator Himself. The Bible teaches that God hates hands that shed innocent blood. That’s why I’m pro-life. Not because of science, but because of Scripture.
Can A Christian Have A Live-In Boyfriend/Girlfriend? Forget the research. The data. The stats. Forget science. What does the Bible say? 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. We’ll start at verse 12 so we get the entire thought.
(12) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (13) “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (14) And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. (15) Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! (16) Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” (17) But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (18) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Here’s what was happening: Christians, inside of the Church, were reverting back to the ways of their Corinthian society by participating in casual and random sexual activity, believing that sex only involved their bodies. In other words, sex was only skin deep. Paul writes to call out their behavior and to correct their thinking, desiring spiritual restoration for the Corinthians.
Paul starts with the basics in verse 15. Check out the first part:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Paul is reminding the Corinthians of the details of the transaction that took place when they repented of their sin and received Christ by faith. They were grafted into the body and the life of Jesus Christ. There are singular and plural aspects to being a part of Christ’s body, but in this context, Paul is focusing on the singular – a person’s physical body. Let me explain:
A person who repents and receives Jesus has their life hidden or covered over by His so that it’s impossible to tell where they end and where Christ begins. That’s what Colossians 3:3 says:
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
So now, after salvation, when God looks at you, he doesn’t see you, he sees Jesus! You literally become one with Christ. A shadow is a stupid way to illustrate this, but where you go, your shadow goes, yes? You can’t outrun it, can’t leave it behind or hide from it. It’s one with you. For a Christian, the same is true with Jesus, but in a much deeper sense. You take Him with you everywhere you go and attach Him to everything you do. Think about that for a second. Then move on the second part:
Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!
Paul is hammering away at this idea that sex is only skin deep by telling these Christians, who are one with Jesus – members of His body, that engaging in pre or extra marital sexual activity means that you are actually binding Jesus to that action. That's some serious stuff, isn't it? But that isn't where Paul stops. He elaborates further in the first part of verse 16:
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?
That word “joined” there means to hold fast, which implies grabbing and not letting go. So here’s what we have: A Christian, who is physically joined together with Jesus and then participates in illicit sex has attached himself as a member of Jesus’ body to someone else. What’s wrong with that? The Holy Spirit, through Paul, declares that type of union is reserved for marriage in the second part of verse 16:
For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
Paul just quoted Genesis 2:24, didn’t he?
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Why would he quote that verse when talking about sexual immorality?
“Becoming one flesh,” refers to the sexual consummation of a marriage, right? Follow me now. Adam was created first, but had no helper, remember? So God put him to sleep and created Eve from Adam’s rib. God made one – Adam – become two – Adam and Eve. But God didn’t just create Eve so that Adam wouldn’t be alone anymore. He created Eve for Adam and, by default Adam for Eve, so that the two of them could live in a covenant relationship together with God.
In doing this, God established only human relationship that would be adequate to represent the intimacy God desires with human beings. The only human relationship that could represent the gospel. That’s called marriage. And what did God institute as the physical seal of this God-ordained covenant that represents the gospel? Sex. Essentially making two become one again.
It is the deepest form of intimacy that two human beings can experience. It represents the intimacy that takes place between a sinner and Jesus when that sinner repents and comes to faith in Christ. At the moment of salvation, a sinner is jointed together with Jesus as one, a covenant that can’t be broken. That’s what marriage is supposed to represent.
That’s why sex is reserved for marriage and marriage for sex. Anything outside of these boundaries is off limits for Christians because it violates the God-ordained covenant of marriage and discredits it as a representation of the gospel. Do you see that?
So you can’t fake marriage. You can’t play house. You can’t try it out to see if it fits. Cohabitation is not marriage insurance. Cohabitation is at best a contract – not a covenant. It’s full of if/then conditions:
That’s what cohabitation is about. It’s a distortion of the marriage covenant, which is a misrepresentation of the gospel, a covenant sealed by Jesus’ blood. No Christian should be involved in that. So, Can A Christian Have A Live-In Boyfriend or Girlfriend? No. Not ever.
Even if people are living together and not sleeping together (a highly unlikely scenario) they are still cheapening the covenant that God created to represent the gospel by taking advantage what they have not yet entered into for personal ease because “it makes sense.”
I don't mean to sound harsh here, but, it doesn’t matter how much sense cohabitation makes. Cohabitation is never God's will for followers of Jesus. For a Christian, what makes the most sense is living in light of the gospel so that a lost and dying world will see Jesus in you. Paul tells the Corinthians (and us) how to live that way in verses 18-20:
(18) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.