Thoughts On Cohabitation
I've hesitated for a few months on this article for personal reasons. But I've waited long enough, I am ready to share my thoughts. I understand the allure of cohabitation. There are practical, emotional and relational benefits to it. Cheaper rent, commitment, and proximity among many others.
I just don't think it's wise.
To be sure, the statistics are muddy at best. Depending on your bent you'll read them one way or the other. There have been high profile articles about each side, citing the dangers of cohabitation and the overreaction to cohabitation. The bottom line is that the results of any test on this issue are complex simply because human beings are complex! When you put two human beings together that complexity multiplies exponentially.
We can't expect to come to a comprehensive answer on cohabitation just like we'll never come to a comprehensive answer on abortion, gay marriage, or God's existence. Everyone has an opinion on all of these topics and we'll never answer them well enough to convince everyone of our viewpoint. But this doesn't mean we shouldn't share our viewpoints.
I'm all for the tension that these topics live in. But I also think that if we're going to engage in discussion of these topics we need to be ready to show some grace. We can't offer our opinion up and then freak out when someone disagree's with us, no matter how ridiculous their logic is.
So, with that said, it's time for me to explain why I think cohabitation is unwise.
I'm assuming that if you are cohabitating you are having sex. It seems a logical conclusion to me. As a Christian I will not approve a situation that deviates from God's plan for sex. God created sex for a specific context, marriage of a man and woman, and we humans have done a bang up job, pun intended, of screwing that plan up...pun intended again.
I also think it's unwise to assume that cohabitation is a dry run at marriage. It's not. When you get married roles and expectations change. Bank accounts get merged, the commitment increases, expectations of your significant other get higher. You are recognized legally, socially, emotionally and spiritually as one. You are no longer individuals, you are a couple, two becoming one.
There is a weight to marriage that is not found anywhere else. And this, marriage, is really the crux of the whole cohabitation issue.
As a Christian I have an incredibly high view of marriage. It is a covenant between a man and a woman that is a representation of the covenant Christ has with the Church. As a husband I am called to serve and love my wife as Christ serves and loves the Church. In short, I am called to lay my life down for her every single day. My wife is called to love and respect me and submit to the authority God has placed on me.
It's incredibly freeing to know that no matter what I do my wife will be there for me. That doesn't give me carte blanche to be an idiot but it certainly encourages me to know that we can make it through the times when I am being a massive idiot.
The picture of Biblical marriage is awesome. It is itself a testimony to the glory of God and the salvific love of Christ.
The world, on the other hand, sees marriage as a contractual obligation, a business transaction. As soon as it goes sideways you get out. And if you view it as a contract or a business arrangement that makes total sense. Why wouldn't you protect yourself? Why would you stay in a relationship that is clearly not benefitting you?
So we're at loggerheads. The world's view of marriage, in which cohabitation does make sense, versus the Bible's view of marriage, in which cohabitation makes no sense.
I know my view of cohabitation is colored completely by my faith in God but I also know that your view of cohabitation is colored by your beliefs, whatever they may be. All I'm asking is that you consider the long term impact cohabitation could have. I know these thoughts are incomplete and I'm probably going to have a lot more to say about this in the future but I just don't see how cohabitation is a wise move.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter, even if you think I'm an idiot.