I sat in a room with our discipleship pastor and two of my newest volunteers in our ever-growing Children’s Ministry just wanting to either spontaneously combust or find a way to crawl under my chair and hide. No, I was not being very manly, I was going to have to ask two people who were working in our ministry to take a break; the reason, they were living together, unmarried.
Cohabitation. That’s the word we used. One of them taught 2nd grade and the other 4th grade. You need to understand I was new to the area, I didn’t have much of a team and was trying to build one. I would take just about any volunteer I could. The church was large before it was even started, it was going to be a campus of a much larger church. Kids were going to show up and we needed all the volunteers we could get.
I didn’t have what it took to have that conversation, so I drafted our Discipleship Pastor to do it for me. He began to tell them that our church had a stance on couples that lived together and that they were certainly welcome to serve in other capacities, they just couldn’t be in a position where they were going to teach. As you might have guessed they didn’t take it too well that two young guys were going to tell them that what they are doing was wrong.
The guy said, “Well if I cohabitate at my house and she cohabitates at her house, what’s the problem.” I don’t think he knew what that word meant since they just got done explaining to us one of the reasons they were living together was to save money. That’s one way to sweep the woman of your dreams off of her feet, a relationship based on getting a financial discount.
You guessed it, they not only stepped out of serving but left the church for some time. I think I saw them one other time while I was there and it was, yep, awkward.
I hate conversations like that. I absolutely dread having to sit in front of someone and tell them that they are living in sin or that because of their lifestyle they cannot serve in a particular capacity. I hate it, but it has to be done. In the right context, we are compelled to speak truth in love to them if we care about them and care about Christ’s Church.
From my angle this idea of cohabitation, living together before you are married, is becoming more and more rampant, almost expected. As a matter of fact, I am almost always shocked to hear now when a couple has not lived together before they get married.
We certainly cannot get into all the reasons here, and address all the arguments for cohabitation, but what I can say is that it’s wrong. You don’t have to like that, and you might have stopped reading at this point, but it is wrong, and I am finding more and more people are not being told this hard truth. They are almost encouraged to live together. That way you can find out more about the person before you really commit to them.
The bottom line behind cohabitation is a lack of commitment. It is disguised as just the opposite. “We are so committed to one another we are going to live under the same roof.” That’s not a relationship that is a roommate with benefits. We just want to put some miles on the car before we put any money down. Or hey we are going to get married or we are engaged that’s the same right? No, it’s not.
I heard one guy say before “I am more committed to her than a married guy is to his wife.” No not really.
If I invited you over for dinner and I told you that we are eventually going to eat, that wouldn’t suffice your gut that says, “This waiting stinks, where is the food?” If I said, “hey you are at the dinner table and you have a plate in fork you know you are going to eat eventually just wait it out.” You will still not be satisfied.
We have men, and I know women as well, but we have a generation of men, who have settled and cheapened what it means to take a wife, to leave and cleave to her and then begin to have a marriage that is God honoring and not a ME honoring.
We have men who have settled for eating 1-inch samples of food from the food court free sample guy and then our women are wondering why the man won’t fully commit. The reason, he’s been getting fat on the free stuff and doesn’t want to pay for the meal now.
If we can look pretty committed, if we can have the same benefits as married couples and we can even begin to have a family like married people do then what is the problem right? The problem, it’s dishonoring in the eyes of God and it shows that you really aren’t committed. There is still something that is preventing you from being committed. If you are not committed, then stop trying to get all the benefits of someone who will be.
The one aspect that is rarely talked about when it comes to cohabitation is the emotional disconnect between the man and woman. I don’t mean moving in together causes you to drift emotionally a part, I mean it causes you both to go to emotional places than the other one.
For the woman many times, her emotional state is on high- she is waiting for the engagement, in her mind she has gone all in, this is what the next step must be so all that is left is getting married right?
For the man, emotionally he has it all. He has a roommate, a sexual partner, someone to do life with and if we are honest it looks like we are married so that is pretty close enough. The idea of actually getting married still scares him a bit and feels like a noose wrapped around his neck.
While the woman goes in with both feet, the man leaves one on the doorstep just in case things turn sideways. This is why you will find tension many times shortly after a marriage of couples who have lived together.
This might not have been the case with you, and like with all couples who live together, I am sure your situation was different. But when I look out across the number of couples I have had the privilege to journey with when it comes to their marriage this is certainly the case.
The Bible speaks pretty clearly that a man will leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. This means that after you have left, it’s time to cleave.
I am not advocating rushing into marriage, many have done this and are enduring rough marriages. I am advocating being committed to your wife to be, treating her as you bride, as you would want your future daughter treated by the man she is going to spend the rest of her life with.
Not ready to get married? Then don’t play house.
Get yourself, your career, education or whatever else you think you need to get in order, get that right first. It is not fair to string her along for all the benefits of marriage without the commitment of it.
Be a man do the right thing.
Keep Pursuing Manliness.