Happy Valentine’s Day!
For the first time in America’s history, more adults are single rather than married. What is the difference between marriage and cohabitation, really?
In our society, the institution of marriage is polarizing, and hard-hitting questions about it will generate responses that run the gamut (even from among those who consider themselves Christian believers).
Ours is a progressive culture, yet we hear a lot about marriage. Gay marriage, the legal definition of marriage, polygamy–whatever–the central issue is marriage. Today in our society, marriage as it is traditionally understood (or defined in Scripture) is not as popular as it had once been.
For Christian singles, of whatever age, “what is the difference between marriage and cohabitation, really?” This is a deeply personal matter. Or is it?
More importantly for this discussion, why is marriage such a priority (or preoccupation) to people of Christian faith?
Attitudes and opinions regarding biblical marriage are eroded (old news), such that today’s Christian young adults may not even recognize marriage as it ought to be. The believer should be reminded of God’s intent in marriage, not society’s fangled opinions (and they are many). It is an incredible study (and worthwhile) for one who has heard that marriage is little more than a legal document between two parties regarding an exchange of vows.
“What is the biblical view of marriage?”
Marriage between husband and wife points to, teaches about and prepares us for the marriage between Christ and his Bride.
II Corinthians 11:2 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” (vs. those other guys) understand the theological principles of marriage, they would not seek cohabitation; its base alternative. Cohabitation is “base” and not an alternative at all. Instead, it is an attack against the center of the gospel narrative of the church; Christ’s bride. Anyone who denies this is deceived (which is worse than merely being uninformed).
Neither the legal contract nor the ceremony are all that distinguish a marriage commitment from cohabitation.
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 differentiate a marriage from cohabitation.
For a believer to choose cohabitation means choosing not to submit to God’s purpose; and miss all of the benefits. In cohabitation, one attempts to work the system; to try to grab all of the benefits of marriage and leave all of the hard work. Why would God bless that relationship? Or, How?
What should one do if they are in a cohabitation situation right now, but really want God’s best for their relationship together? Mark Driscoll, pastor of MarsHillChurch.org points out in a radio broadcast [found here (at 13 minutes)], that when you confront someone’s misaligned view on “lifestyle” matters, “you are going to get a fight. It’s like putting a [garden] hose on a cat, but deep down . . . particularly if they are a Christian, they are going to know they are wrong.” All you’re missing is a heartache.
If they want to start getting it right, “move out! . . . They’ve got to undo whatever mistake they’ve made.” You need to get a few things straightened out. But be encouraged, “you may not need a new person, but you [certainly] do need a new relationship . . . we’ve got to start this relationship over in a way that honors God and obeys the Scriptures. The church is there to help people to do that.” Pastor Mark ministers to thousands of 20- and 30-something singles in Seattle, WA. He sees the attitudes of a postmodern mindset constantly. His advice is my challenge to you.
God made us. He knows how we function. He knows what works and what doesn’t. He has your best interest in mind when he gives us his plan for a godly marriage. Trust him and be willing to do hard things!