This post might challenge your thinking. If you don't want to know what the Bible actually says about this topic, then you may not want to read this post.
This topic of living together before marriage can be a touchy subject for some. The world has their views about it and so does the church. We have one extreme which says let's "play house" and “experiment” with a non-marital partner; the whole "try before you buy" mentality. Whilst the other extreme has unknowingly taken to thinking that even being alone under the same roof as your non-marital partner is a sin, placing boundaries which do not stem from love but from FEAR.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18, KJV)
First things first, as believers everything we do must be rooted in the love of the Father and not in the world.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16, KJV)
Whatever we do, we must do out of a place of love. Love for God and love for one another. If abstinence alone becomes our goal, then we can all to easily put up boundaries and appearances that stem from pride (and a desire to be praised by man) rather than out of a desire to please God, honour and obey Him. God looks at the heart... man may see what you do, but God sees WHY you do it.
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.. (1 Samuel 16:7, KJV)
Now, let me share a simple statement that might shock you: living together before marriage is not a sin. Wait... what? Yes. It is not the living together itself that is a sin, so let's just clear that up first. Did you know that it is possible to live together and not sin, just as it is possible not to live together and sin? (By sin we are speaking about sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman – fornication – and other acts of sexual immorality). Is one more of a breeding ground for sin to transpire? Probably... but we will come to that in a bit, let me first clarify my statement a bit more.
All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. (1 Corinthians 10:23, AMP)
Like kissing before marriage, living together before marriage is one of those things that the Bible does not directly speak about. I.e., there is no scripture that says you cannot do either of them. What this means is that if we as believers judge those who kiss before marriage or live together before marriage to be sinning (I am not speaking about fornication or sexual gratification), whether in our hearts or with words, we ourselves are actually judging incorrectly — that is a lot to swallow, I know.
Now for the record, I did not kiss my husband before marriage, neither did we live together before marriage. Does this mean that we were pure in the sight of God? No. It doesn't. I bet that blows your mind too doesn't it? Good… because we really need to take off our religious lenses and begin to see through love. Everything we do must TRULY be about bringing glory to our Father, from the depths of our hearts… I got married in 2010, so there was no social media hype about purity, abstinence and not kissing till your wedding day at that time. We didn't kiss before our wedding day, because that is how the LORD led us to, not because everyone else was doing it. God knew us as individuals and as a couple and He knew what would be necessary for us. That is what I want to touch on now… what is necessary.
Living together before marriage may be permissible, but not necessarily wise or beneficial. However, on the other hand, there may actually be times or circumstances in which it is actually necessary. For most believers who live in the western world, because our thinking is so influenced by the western world, it is hard for us to actually imagine a scenario where GOD may say that it is necessary for two unmarried people to live in the same house. Funnily enough, the Holy Ghost gave me a real example this morning; that is actually what prompted this post.
In this very era, God is raising up ministry teams all over the world. Some of these ministry teams actually live in the same house or ministry centres. An unmarried man and woman who are called to one of these ministries by God, would find themselves living under the same roof as other men, women and children. Over the course of time, a relationship begins to grow and blossom between a single man and a single woman within the ministry and God reveals that they are to be husband and wife. Most western believers under normal circumstances would be adamant that either the man or woman should now move out; however, if you know anything about being called to another land for ministry, where would they go? They already live by faith and watch the Lord provide day after day for their ministry team. Why would they now leave their home just because they are in a relationship? That would just be religious. God has given them accountability right where they are and because their hearts are to honour God, and not simply to “look godly” to other people, they will honour, appreciate and utilise this accountability right where they are.
This is the example the Holy Ghost highlighted to me this morning. This is based on a real couple that met and married in these very circumstances. If we carried the same religious mentality towards purity and relationships and tried to counsel this couple, we would automatically accuse them of being in sin. But in no way are they in sin. A scripture that reveals the same principle of men and women, married and single living under the same roof is found in Acts 1: 13-14:
When they had entered the city, they went upstairs to the upper room where they were staying [indefinitely]; that is, Peter, and John and [his brother] James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael) and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (Thaddaeus) the son of James. All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together] along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Emphasis mine)
When Jesus ascended, the 120 disciples all lived together in the upper room. Their focus was on waiting on the promise of the Lord and not on sexual immorality - they were of one mind in this purpose. As Christians, we focus so much on sexual immorality that most of us believe that if two people live together it is impossible for them not to remain pure. Again, I am not saying that you should live together, but I am simply revealing how we have become so religious in our thinking. If we truly want to give the WHOLE counsel of God, we have to accept the WHOLE counsel of God. God is a GOOD Father and He recognises that all our circumstances are not the same. To that end, He does not make a hard and fast rule about things that are not SIN in themselves. However, He does call us to exercise WISDOM.
At the end of the day, marriage is not just about you, neither is it about having a fancy engagement story. Marriage is about reflecting Christ and His Bride. If this is not your heart, then even if you DO all the things that seem pure, your heart is actually not pure. The reason we would advise courting/engaged couples not to live together would be because:
In most cases (particularly in western culture) living together before marriage, whether you are sleeping together or not, automatically equals sleeping together in the minds of both believing and unbelieving onlookers. For this reason, it is both wise, loving and glorifying to God NOT to live together before marriage and not to advise others to do so. HOWEVER, if you tell people that they CAN’T or that if they do they WILL end up sleeping together, you are not speaking the whole truth. It is actually a lie to say that a believer does not have self-control, because self-control is a fruit of the SPIRIT. If you obey Him then He surely lives in you (Acts 5:32), and if you submit to Him then you WILL walk in self-control (Galatians 5:16).
So in conclusion, let everything you do bring glory to the Lord and let us not judge according to the appearance, but judge righteously. Selah.