marriage or cohabitation?

Written by Crystal Rowe

Crystal has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her and is passionate about serving others in the name of Christ. Crystal is married to her perfect match, D and is Mommie to A and the two sweetest kitties on earth.

January 27, 2011

A recent report by The National Marriage Project revealed that marriage is becoming less important to couples as they decide to raise a family together. Take a look:

In 1960, approximately 66% of all women over 15 were married in the United States; today, only 51% of women over 15 are married. This decrease is partly due to the fact that women are getting married at an older age. It’s very uncommon for young women to get married before they are in their 20’s.

There could be many other reasons for the decline, but the numbers make it clear that people are avoiding the institution of marriage.

Marriage may be becoming less important to our culture as a whole, but people aren’t remaining single. Instead, they are choosing to stay in committed monogamous relationships, live together, and raise children together. This scenario begs the question…

What makes this kind of relationship different than marriage?

Are we at a point in our national history where the definition of marriage needs to change? It seems there is an interesting philosophical question about “what is marriage.” Is it a covenant between two people and God? Is it a legal contract between two people? It makes me wonder – is there really any difference between a marriage and a cohabiting committed relationship? Or is it just semantics?

It strikes me that religion, and particularly Christianity, has something to offer the world when talking about marriage.

The Bible is full of stories about covenants and promises. In fact, the Bible as a whole is one big love story. God loves each one of us so much that he never gives up on us. He provides for us, over and over again. He fulfills his promises to us – even when we don’t live up to our part of the bargain. God sacrificed everything for us, and he did it willingly and requiring nothing in return.

What would it look like if we modeled our relationships on God’s relationship with us?

We have to be honest though – none of us are God. In our relationship with God, we can rely on God to provide our every need. We can rely on God to always be there. And yet we owe him nothing in return.

When it comes to a marriage, one person can’t do all the providing and supporting. If both parties don’t strive to love the way God loves, the relationship won’t work.

Too often we allow one party to be the primary caregiver, or the primary provider, or the primary decision-maker. We owe our relationship partner the same amount of love and care that we expect from them. We have to rely on each other – one person can’t hold the relationship together.

It seems to me that if we used God’s love for us as a model for how we should love our partner, there’s not much difference between a marriage and a cohabiting committed relationship. Those people choosing to raise families together without being married should be held to the same standards and expectations as those couples who do choose to marry.

What do you think – is there a difference between marriage and cohabiting committed relationships?

37 Comments

  1. Brock S. Henning

    Crystal, astounding facts on those numbers, but I don’t find it surprising. After 20 years in corporate America, I’ve met more and more young women who want a relationship but are choosing to forgo marriage, at least until later in life. I’ve asked many women “Why?”, and I’d say 90% of the answers are “I can’t find the right guy.” The majority of those women also come from divorced parents.

    Sounds like a trust issue. They’ve been hurt, they’ve seen the damage a marriage (or divorce) brings, and they’re scared of the commitment. And who could blame them?

    Your question is absolutely relevant, the “try before you buy” mentality. I know us Christians have been totally against living together, primarily because of the pre-marital sex issue, but I still would say “Yes,” there is a difference between marriage and cohabiting, and it has little to do with sex in my opinion. The former invokes the highest level of trust and commitment; it’s messy if the contract is broken. The latter leaves a hole in the commitment to each other; it’s still messy if one chooses to walk away, but there was never a binding contract to each other. Can two people truly love each other without committing to “til death do us part?” Is that really love? Or is it something convenience?

    If God is to be our model of how we love our partner, then we need commitment to that partner. God forms a contract with us when we give Him our life, a contract that can’t be broken. Marriage is meant to do the same thing. Cohabiting is not.

    Nice post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Crystal

      “Can two people truly love each other without committing to “til death do us part?” Is that really love? Or is it something convenient?”

      I love those questions Brock – thanks for asking them!

      I’m brainstorming “out loud” here – I’m super concerned about the children that are being raised in these relationships – what are they learning about commitment and relationships? It is much easier to walk away from a cohabiting relationship than a marriage because of the legal contract in a marriage. Something doesn’t sit right with me that couples who are choosing to raise children in cohabiting relationships could walk away rather easily…

      Reply
      • New Lutheran

        “It is much easier to walk away from a cohabiting relationship than a marriage because of the legal contract in a marriage.”

        I’d argue that if the legal contract is the only thing keeping a couple together, they’re better off apart, and the kids probably would be as well.

        Reply
        • Brock S. Henning

          Good point, NL. I completely agree with that. The heart commitment definitely trumps the signed piece of paper. 🙂

          Reply
        • Brock S. Henning

          Good point, NL. I completely agree with that. The heart commitment definitely trumps the signed piece of paper. 🙂

          Reply
    • @bibledude

      “Can two people truly love each other without committing to “til death do us part?” Is that really love? Or is it something convenient?”

      This struck me about your comment too. And I think that I see some of this idea throughout the comment thread on this post. Too often these cohabitation relationships are out of convenience. I know because that used to be me.

      BUT… I do know that it’s not fair to make blanket statements that say every couple that isn’t married is only in it for the convenience…

      Really interesting points Brock! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  2. New Lutheran

    Much like Kate above, my wife and I lived together prior to the wedding. We saw the wedding as a “requirement” to make what we already knew and felt “official” in the eyes of others. I know many may frown on this as unacceptable for Christians. I’ve even seen the phrase “living in sin” thrown about. The problem with this is that the standards Christians have for marriage in this culture have morphed over the centuries. God created the gift of marriage, but unfortunately He wasn’t very specific on how exactly to do it. As a result, cultures have *created* socially acceptable processes in the absence of specific rules. Any time anyone judges marriage, cohabitation, etc., they’re judging against culturally acceptable norms. We’ve strayed so far from the Biblical process (betrothal) that our current typical dating -> engagement -> wedding process can only be called a creation of our own culture.

    Who’s to say that two cohabitational adults haven’t promised themselves to each other? Who’s to say that God doesn’t see this as a marriage, even if we can’t bring ourselves to embrace it within the social norms we’ve created?

    I’ll also use this forum to point out the obvious: marriage is hard. It’s no surprise that fewer people are getting married. Before my wife and I were wed, we were counseled by many people: pastors, parents, friends, etc. I’m sure they were all giving great advice, but it was all far too sugar-coated. I feel like very few people are blatantly honest about the pitfalls and problems that can occur in marriage. Too many marriages suffer in silence, so afraid to air their dirty laundry that the true nature of their relationship is never revealed to others. To their church or their family or their kids, they look happy and healthy and loving. You’d have to see them behind closed doors to know what’s really going on. These marriages that look so good on the outside are a real disservice to our entire culture. We teach, through these facades, that you have to have it all together all the time. That marriages are supposed to be easy…

    The reality is that you’ve taken two different people and joined them together under the same roof, placing expectations, obligations, and a legally binding contract on both of them. Yeah, nothing difficult about that right?

    Reply
    • Crystal

      Great questions – it’s an incredibly important conversation for people to have – especially as the number of couples remaining in cohabiting relationships and raising children in those relationships continues to rise.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
    • Brock S. Henning

      “God created the gift of marriage, but unfortunately He wasn’t very specific on how exactly to do it.”

      NL, you said exactly what I was thinking when I first read the post, and it’s something I’ve thought about before. Who but God can see into the hearts of two lovers? Many in churches are taught that something miraculous happens when two people are wed, in a church, with a pastor, in front of family and friends. But yes, where is that spelled out in the Bible?

      I do believe that something special happens though, or else Paul wouldn’t have called marriage “a mystery.” (I realize he was speaking of the relationship between Christ and the Church, but it would seem he treats each with the same mystery.) The question is at what point does it happen, and does it occur differently depending on the person and cultural practices for marriage? Again, if it was a mystery to Paul and it’s not clear in the Bible, I doubt any of us will figure it out either.

      Interesting discussion though!

      Reply
      • @bibledude

        This kinda reminds me of the idea that many Christians have (including in my background) that someone has to publicly speak a verbal prayer with certain ingredients in order to become a Christian. I’ve long felt that prayer or not, becoming a Christian is something that happens in the heart and mind of the believer… even if it’s never said out loud.

        VERY interesting conversation!

        Reply
        • Brock S. Henning

          Yeah, there you go. That’s just the example I was looking for. That makes me think of baptism. It’s an outward statement of an inward change, but it’s not the outward statement that gives us a relationship with God and eternal life…it’s the inward change: heart, mind, and soul. I know that some churches practice baptism as a requirement for a relationship with God (which I disagree), but let’s not run off on a tangent here. ha ha 😉

          Great post and active comments. This has kept me coming back several times today!

          Reply
          • Crystal

            What an interesting connection – one I never thought about. One of the things I love most about my Lutheran background is our understanding of baptism and how it’s an act of God’s grace rather than anything we do ourselves – but that’s another conversation for another day!

            This has been a great conversation!

          • Kate

            This is really interesting. I took a “Sex, Love and Marriage” class in college that was a religion elective. One of the questions posed by our professor was what is the difference between two people who love each other going out in a field, praying for God to seal their union and a “traditional marriage.” Aside from the few catholics in the class, none of us could give a really good answer. Maybe the public declaration helps with accountibility within a Christian community. Someone else made a a comment that marriage is hard. Perhaps we invite our family and friends to the event so that we can form our own team of spiritual cheerleaders to help us when the going gets tough.

    • @bibledude

      I totally agree about marriage being hard, and you make some great points about ‘the contract’.

      The interesting thing that I’m seeing trend through this conversation is that it seems less important to Christians (at least the ones in this conversation) to have an actual, formal covenant when the relationship is real. When I saw this post coming up, I figured that I would see lots of Christians jumping to defend the institute of marriage. So it’s an interesting shift that seems to be happening in the church.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  3. Phoenixkarenee

    Wow. You know, I’ve felt for a long time that the word “marriage” lost its meaning a long time ago. The same people who throw it about and condemn those who despise the name and choose another pattern out of protest against all the cultural rigmarole that is involved in legal marriage, themselves break the true concept of marriage from the core on out until they fall apart in divorce.

    While I think there is a great value in public and official commitment to one another before sex and the increased intimacy and bonding of linking the entirety of two lives together, I do think that the culturally acceptable method of running about trying different people until you find someone you “fall in love with” is terribly flawed, and dependent on emotional waves that have nothing to do with true relationship.

    On the other hand, there is no way to “legalize” truth. It is or it isn’t. Some marriages start from the beginning on the mutually sacrificial foundation of true marriage and grow in depth and meaning through every challenge. Some fail at the foundation and crumble before the constant storm that is life. I think the results prove more than the name, and a cohabitation agreement that displays the character of unity and mutual support that “is” marriage is just as right before God as the “marriage” without foundation is wrong.

    At this point not many of us could throw the first stone, either way. Better to teach what real relationship is meant to be, and the value of mutual service and support.

    Once you’re sleeping together, I don’t think the point should be whether you’re really married, but rather that you’re a part of a relationship that is now called to reflect the heart of marriage, whether bearing the official stamp of authorization or not. If we looked at it that way, maybe perspectives would change throughout the church?

    I’m not sure I’d stick to this theory to its end because sin is a devious corruption. There are a lot of reasons why official marriage is good and right, but it’s not enough to condemn everyone who creates their own covenant before God due to the damage the church has done by conforming to the world’s view of marriage.

    Reply
    • Crystal

      “Better to teach what real relationship is meant to be, and the value of mutual service and support.” Very well said!

      It’s unfortunate that we don’t hear much conversation about what a real relationship would look like – we hear a lot of conversation about the marriage and divorce rates, but perhaps we need to take a step or two back and really talk about what it means to be in relationship with others.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation – it’s so important that we continue to talk about it!

      Reply
    • Crystal

      “Better to teach what real relationship is meant to be, and the value of mutual service and support.” Very well said!

      It’s unfortunate that we don’t hear much conversation about what a real relationship would look like – we hear a lot of conversation about the marriage and divorce rates, but perhaps we need to take a step or two back and really talk about what it means to be in relationship with others.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation – it’s so important that we continue to talk about it!

      Reply
    • @bibledude

      Marriage is good. It’s hard, but it’s good. But this conversation really seems to be opening up all kinds of perspectives.

      I especially like your last statement about not condemning someone because of their decisions when they’ve already been damaged by the church. We can’t really expect people to live by the church’s standards when they have no reason to trust in the church in the first place.

      The bottom line is that this isn’t as black and white as one would think. There are all kinds of perspectives that can creep into this conversation. And as you say, we should be cautious of the sin (that crouches like a lion).

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  4. Kate

    One of the things that contribute to a later marriage age is the increase in higher education. This is true all over the world, not just in the US. In the time that the graph above encompasses, while the rate of married women decreased, the rate of women enrolled in universities has dramatically increased. It’s grown so much that now nearly 60 percent of those enrolled in colleges and universities are now women. After working hard on a degree (or several) many women are choosing to put marriage on hold to pursue their career goals. Can women have a career and a family? Absolutely, but the choices get much harder when your partners goals and dreams have to be balanced with your own. Women today do not feel that sharing a life with a man makes them feel whole. They can have quite a fulfilling life as a single person. So, in addition to redefining the role of marriage in our society, we also have to continue to adjust our view on gender roles.
    I 100 percent agree with your comment that: “When it comes to a marriage, one person can’t do all the providing and supporting. If both parties don’t strive to love the way God loves, the relationship won’t work.” Well said. Perhaps the issue is that we don’t teach this enough and that’s why so many marriages fail.
    I also have to be honest that I struggle with the difference on marriage and cohabitation myself. My fiancé and I lived together before we got engaged. We are both Christians, attend church together and consider our faith a central focus of our relationship. I felt no less committed to him before our engagement than after. In my mind, it is a bit of semantics. Being married will certainly make our parents happy, but to me it doesn’t change the way I feel about him, our commitment level for one another or how our lives are intertwined. It makes legal matters easier and I’m looking forward to taking his name, but standing up in front our dearest friends and family won’t make it any more official to us that it is right now. We choose each other as life partners and through this we will walk with Christ. I guess now we’re just “going public.”

    Reply
    • Crystal

      I think you’re right on that people are waiting later to get married. In fact, another part of the report reveals that getting married later in life decreases your chance of getting divorced. I think part of that is because the older we get, the more we know ourselves and what compromises we are (and aren’t) willing to make.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Kate – it’s an important conversation to have!

      Reply
    • @bibledude

      I didn’t get married until I was 29! And we lived together for a little while before we were married. So I totally get where you’re coming from on this Kate.

      I also know that before I met my wife, I lived with other who I really had no intention of ‘forever’ with. It was more the perspective of ‘convenience’ as mentioned in other comments (like Brock’s).

      But you make a GREAT point about the heart of a real, committed relationship.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
      • Kate

        Thanks guys. By the time we get married, I’ll be 31 and I’ll say that I was in no way ready to be married before now. I may have thought I was, but I’m in Crystal’s camp of not really knowing myself until the past few years. I’m happy to have a partner that has had a similar journey that we can now continue together. I’m really happy that I didn’t rush into anything as I saw so many of my friends get married and my loneliness really grew. I know getting married young works for some people, but it wasn’t my path. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    My 12 year old daughter has commented several times that NONE of her friends’ parents are together. Most of them were never married to each other in the first place. By contrast, my husband and I did not cohabitate before marriage, therefore we had no offspring born into an uncommitted, potentially unstable relationship. We were married young (20) and had our “trial by fire” for the first couple of years but remained committed to each other before God. Today, almost fourteen years later, we are still going strong. (I don’t mention this to brag, but for the sake of illustrating that there IS, in fact, a difference between marriage and cohabitation.)

    Statistically, relationships and marriages that begin with cohabitation are much more likely to fail. This is verifiable fact. And because cohabitation/premarital sex brings children into these tenuous situations, fewer and fewer children are born into homes where commitment and healthy relationships are modeled.

    Someone mentioned the concept of “betrothal” and how the modern marriage model bears no resemblance to that practiced in biblical times. While it is true that we don’t practice betrothal, per se, and our practice of engagement bears little resemblance to it, betrothal was, in a sense, the covenant that marriage is today. It was official. It was contractual. It was a commitment before God and man, and it was binding. If we minimize the importance of marriage today then we omit an important step in a committed, biblically-based relationship. Moving in with someone and sharing their bed does not replace that covenant. Rather, it subverts it. It replaces the God-ordained model for a household with our own, based on subjective feelings, values, and priorities. (Isn’t this basically the definition of sin?)

    It is hard to make a case for this attitude based on the Bible, which calls sex outside of marriage “fornication.” And it is hard to comprehend that someone can consider themselves to be committed to Christ and simultaneously attempt to justify living in a way that is contrary to the Biblical standard for marriage and family.

    There is visible damage to society that is a direct result of the new “conventional wisdom” regarding relationships. My sixth-grade daughter can even see it. But read the news. Almost daily there is a story about a mother’s live-in boyfriend physically abusing, violating, raping, or even murdering her children. These mothers probably feel strongly that they are in “committed, monogamous relationships” with these men. They probably felt that way with the fathers of their children, also. But they weren’t. Our modern definition of commitment failed them and their kids.

    If you’re committed to Christ and to your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance’ then what is so hard about making it official? Instead of making excuses and compromising the time-tested and proven values that have governed the issues of sex, marriage, and family over the centuries, why not embrace them? Our modern culture should serve as a cautionary tale about treating those matters lightly. I think that when we start replacing Biblical wisdom and authority with that of popular culture, we are dangerously close to erasing what defines us as Christians. We’re supposed to be forsaking the world’s values for God’s. Marriage is an obvious place to make that stand.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      This is a great point about “replacing Biblical wisdom and authority with … popular culture”.

      And while I agree with much of what you’ve said, I also know that my own relationship with my wife started with us living together before we were married. I don’t share that to rebut what you’ve said, but just that I know that it’s not that black-and-white all of the time. I feel that I have a very strong marriage, and that’s more a matter of our hearts than it is the contract.

      I also know that there are lots of people out there that take the institution of marriage very lightly and do it knowing that they can always get out of it if it becomes inconvenient.

      I think the deeper issue here is one of commitment and taking relationships seriously. I know first hand that when people don’t respect the relationships that they are in, then people will get hurt…

      Thanks for jumping into the conversation! This is a great one!

      Reply
    • Crystal

      You make a lot of really good points here Elise.

      Just as there are stories about abuse within live-in relationships, there are also many stories out there of abuse within marriage relationships. I’m not so sure it’s “being married” that makes the commitment stronger. In fact, I grew up with parents who were much better off divorced than they were married – my life dramatically improved once my parents were no longer married.

      I think we have to broaden how we talk about what it means to be committed to one another and be careful about labeling marriage as “good” and cohabitation as “bad” because each individual relationship is different.

      dude said it best – I’m not sure there is a black and white answer here … but I DO think it’s something that we should continue talking about.

      Thank you for contributing to the conversation!

      Reply
  6. Ftgreenwood

    There is most definitely a difference between marriage and cohabiting committed relationships. Marriage was ordained by God. It is the form he provided for us to be united as man and woman in order to be a family and fill the earth.

    http://www.christianfamilyblog.com

    Reply
    • Crystal

      I don’t think I completely disagree with you – but I’m not so sure that the only way to identify “marriage” is the way that our courts (and society) currently identify marriage. Marriage is largely defined by a legal status. I’m merely asking the question of whether or not our understanding of marriage should be broadened. There may be people out there who consider themselves married as it pertains to a lifelong commitment to one another and yet do not want the government to be involved, for whatever reasons.

      Thank you for your thoughts on this – it’s so important for us to continue the dialogue on this topic!

      Reply
  7. BreadandSham

    What makes me any different from my friends who cohabitate and refer to themselves as “Christians?” I am not trying to change or conform the norm. Rather, I conform my thinking and behavior to the norm. Like it or not, Scripture does one of two things: it either confirms or confronts our lifestyle.

    Two important notes: Paul writes, ” 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Eph 5).

    Also, we read that we are the “Bride of Christ” in several places and specifically II Corinthians 11:2 which says, ” I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

    If “true Christians” not “nominal Christians” understood the theological principles of marriage, they would not be seeking cohabitation as its base alternative. Cohabitation is an attack against the center of the gospel narrative of the church as Christ’s bride. Anyone who denies this is deceived.

    Reply
    • Crystal

      I don’t think cohabitation can be the base alternative to marriage – but I think it all goes back to my original question – how do we define marriage? Why does marriage have to have the legal stamp on it in order to be considered a marriage? Can’t two people proclaim their love and lifelong commitment to one another in front of God and a couple of witnesses and yet refrain from the legal aspects of it?

      I really appreciate your thoughts on this – I love the images of sacrifice and selfless love in this Ephesians verse. I’m just not so sure that this issue is one that has no fuzzy grey area. It’s definitely a conversation to keep open!

      Reply
      • Breadandsham

        Your question, Crystal, is “is there really any difference between a marriage and a cohabiting committed relationship? Or is it just semantics?” (paragraph 1). Your conclusion is, “there’s not much difference between a marriage and a cohabiting committed relationship” (last paragraph).

        I point out that the legality of a contract or formality of a ceremony is not what constitutes a marriage.

        The leaving and cleaving rather than the doing what seems best for me . . . the altar, rather than the audience . . . what the covenant affirms, rather than what our ever-changing feelings dictate, are what constitute a marriage.

        A base alternative to ones willingness to submit to God’s purpose and plan would be to do what seems right in one’s own eyes.

        A little aside for @bibledude who said that attitudes regarding cohabitation reflect an “interesting shift that seems to be happening in the church.” Attitudes reflected in a post that supports an alternative to biblical marriage are not equivalent to a shift in the attitudes within the church. By definition, the true church must remain truly biblical.

        Cohabitation is a prime example of moral autonomy in society. A blindness. Not only does it miss God’s intent and design, it is outside of God’s will and therefore, we have no place asking for him to bless it.

        Reply
        • @bibledude

          I appreciate your thoughts on keeping a strong Biblical focus on this! That’s what I love about conversations like this on here! I definitely agree that we shouldn’t flex the Bible to fit our cultural norms. And while I haven’t done any formal studies to back this up, my comment about ‘the shift in the church’ is one that I’ve observed outside of this post. I’ve worked in young adults (20-something) ministry for several years, and I see it in the attitudes and actions of people everywhere.

          And this could be a topic for another post, but when I’ve seen young adults in a relationship (before marriage) move in with each other, they tend to withdraw from the church for fear of judgement. While I personal don’t agree with the cohabitation before marriage, I hate seeing people pull away from the church because of how those inside the church treat them. But like I said… that’s a conversation for another post!

          Reply
  8. Nikole Hahn

    I agree with some of your reasons. Yes…the people in cohabitation should be equally as responsible as a married couple. I also think there’s a distinct connection between people’s view of marriage and people’s commitment to God. I don’t think the definition of marriage should change. Otherwise, we are intentionally sinning. Little by little over the years our view of marriage has been slowly degenerating due to politics and changes in the law. The devil is pretty sneaky and subtle. The changes happened slowly over the years taking away every reason we should get married if our reasons for getting married were based on what the law provides or society’s acceptance of cohabitation. Couples who cohabitate rather than actually commit to each other are teaching their children those same morals and their children will pass on those morals to their children until generations down the road marriage is all but obliterated leaving the door open to other immoral things. If we okay cohabitation, what’s next?

    Reply
  9. Nikole Hahn

    Dr. Del Tacket of the Truth Project says, “Marriage is, therefore, no less a part of God’s creation than the moon or stars or fish of the sea. And, as are all the social systems that God has made, it, too, is a reflection of His own nature. And if this is the case, then it is not simply a capricious, evolved social arrangement open to our fickle or selfish designs. The family is one of those: the diversity of a man and a woman brought together in a unity so intimate that God declares they are “one flesh”—and not to be separated.”

    Reply
  10. Nikole Hahn

    On a lighter note, I’ve got to say when I watched an episode of ‘Friends’ and Chandler asked Monica, “Will you live with me?” among a myriad of candlelight it lacked something. It’s definitley not the same as, “Will you marry me?” as that question is heavy with responsibility and real commitment. ‘Will you live with me?’ means absolutely nothing. It is akin to taking out an ad in the paper for a room mate.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      I absolutely LOVE this perspective! This is a GREAT example of the difference in commitment level!

      Reply
    • Crystal

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here with the difference in a faith-based marriage and a legal marriage. Maybe it’s not a redefinition of marriage that we need, but a reclaiming of marriage – as more than a legal contract, but instead as a holy union.

      I think of the verse in Ecclesiastes – “a cord of three strands is not easily broken” – marriage isn’t simply an agreement between two people … there’s an aspect of God in a marriage that is all too frequently left out.

      Great perspective here – thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      • Nikole Hahn

        Thanks! I’m glad you both liked it. :o) I agree. I see marriage as a triangle–God at the top and husband and wife at the bottom. Good verse to go by, too! I think the break down of the traditional family is to blame for the views of marriage and commitment in general.

        Reply

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marriage or cohabitation?

by Crystal Rowe time to read: 3 min
41