Posts belonging to Category Sexuality



Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC/Centers for Disease Control) just released a new study on marriage and cohabitation in the United States. The study defines cohabitation as “a man and woman living together in a sexual relationship without being married.” The findings confirm what earlier studies have reported — that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. As The New York Times reports:

Couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married, a new study has found. But their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began living together. The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found …

The survey found that about 28 percent of men and women had cohabitated before their first marriage and that about 7 percent lived together and never married. About 23 percent of women and 18 percent of men married without having lived together. Women who were not living with both of their biological or adoptive parents when they were 14 years old were less likely to be married and more likely to be cohabiting than those who grew up with both parents.

For more information on the effects of living together before marriage, I encourage you to visit my series on the topic. Click on the following links to access the series:

Living Together Before Marriage Series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?

Sexual Detox Series (Challies)

sexual_detox_freedom

Tim Challies has put together a helpful series on breaking away from pornography before marriage especially directed towards young men. Here are the links to the articles in the series.

Thanks, Tim, for a helpful and timely series. (Update: The complete series is now available for free download in E-book form. Click here to learn more.)

Related post: Taming the Internet in the Home

Don’t Waste Your Sexuality

Josh Harris has some positive things to say to young men on the topic of “Don’t Waste Your Sexuality.”

(Video length: 2:54)

Don’t waste your sexuality … in just our modern world I think that most people would say that our sexuality is our own, it’s all about our own pleasure, our own desires. And yet when you realize that all of life belongs to God, it’s for God, it really transforms your view. And so I think to waste your sexuality is to think that it’s only about this moment, or it’s only about just satisfying an urge. But our sexuality is such a rich thing … as a single person your sexuality is telling you something. It’s telling you that marriage is a good thing, it’s driving you towards something.

And so I think about young men that I interact with, and you know, trying to be godly and holy when it comes to sex can feel like such a burden, like, “Does God have a bad sense of humor? He gives me all these desires and then he says, ‘But don’t do anything with it.'” And the truth is, no, he does call you to restrain yourself and to preserve yourself for marriage, and yet you are supposed to do something with it. And what you’re supposed to do with it is to allow that desire to drive you, to say first of all, “I’m going to get my life in gear. I need to get a job, I need to start working hard to be a man of maturity and spiritual insight and discernment so that I can lead a family, a wife …

And then you get married, and you realize that your sexuality and the joy of that in marriage is something that’s constantly bringing you back to intimacy, constantly driving you to the good work involved with preserving intimacy and just bonding a husband and wife together. All these [are] different ways that God uses this gift to fulfill his purposes and to direct us and guide us, and when we engage our sexuality for him, it becomes a beautiful thing. It has purpose … and it’s not just about trying to seek some greater and greater thrill.

Look at the emptimess of our pornography-saturated world, and just how it becomes more and more meaningless. It literally is wasted and poured out for nothing. And yet when you look at God’s plan, you see not only pleasure, but delight and purpose that ultimately points us back to the giver of that good gift.

Living Together Before Marriage Series

Here are links to all four posts in the Living Together Before Marriage series:

Living Together Without Sex

Living Together Before Marriage Series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?

This is the third post in a series on living together before marriage. The first post presented statistics which demonstrate a high correlation between living together before marriage and undesirable outcomes. The second post presented various Scriptures which prohibit living together before marriage.

Many of the Bible verses in the second post assumed that couples who live together are also sexually involved. That is usually a fair assumption, but what about those rarer cases where a couple lives together but is not sexually active? Is it okay for a couple to live together if they don’t have sex? For example, how about the couple that moves in together for financial reasons but chooses to abstain from sex until marriage?

Well, I would applaud the decision to abstain sexually until marriage, but there are still good reasons not to live together before marriage. Let me share with you three.

  1. The first has to do with temptation. Let’s face it: living together, sharing a house, or sharing a bed is not the best way to fight temptation. If you are truly serious about saving sex for marriage, the last thing you should do is move in with the person whom you love and to whom you are sexually attracted. When you live together before marriage, you open yourself up for temptation.
  2. Secondly there is the matter of your testimony. The Bible says we should avoid even the appearance of evil. (Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22) How does your decision to live together affect those around you? What kind of an example does it set for younger people who are watching? How will people view your relationship who do not know about your commitment to abstain sexually? Our testimony affects how people view Christ and the church. Many have rejected Christianity because they do not see people living it out. Living together presents a poor testimony for Christ and his church.
  3. And thirdly there is the matter of trivialization. Living together trivializes marriage by taking away from the uniqueness of marriage. Living together pretends to be marriage, but it is not the same thing. It is really a mockery of marriage and therefore dishonors marriage. This goes against Hebrews 13:4 which says: “Let marriage be honored by all.” I think it’s sad when a couple who lives together and finally gets married says, “It’s not that different.” They have lost out on part of the joy and uniqueness of the marriage relationship which God intended for them.

After reading these posts, someone might ask, “What if we already lived together before marriage?” Is it too late for us? Is there anything we can do to make it right?” That will be the subject of the next and final post in the series.

Check out the other posts in the Living Together Before Marriage series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?
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Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage

Living Together Before Marriage Series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?

“The honeymoon was over before the wedding day ever arrived.” (See the testimony below.) Last month I posted some statistics on living together before marriage. Since then I have received a number of inquiries as to what the Bible says about living together. So in this post I would like to share some of the Biblical teaching about living together before marriage.

The statistics in last month’s post showed a high correlation between living together and undesirable outcomes. This should not be surprising, because the Bible has some strong things to say about living together. God is a loving God, and he gives us his commands for our protection. Those who choose not to live together before marriage will likely avoid many of the negative outcomes described in the earlier post. Here are some Scriptures on living together before marriage:

  • Proverbs 14:12“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  This Scripture stands against the arguments, “Everyone is doing it. It’s the new way. It’s accepted in society.” That may all be true, but just because a path seems right doesn’t make it so.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1,5“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to embrace and a time to refrain.”  As the following Scriptures indicate, the right time for living together is after marriage — not the year before, not the month before, not the night before. There is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”  Living together almost always involves premarital sex. By living together before marriage, you dishonor both yourself and your partner.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:8-9“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”  This isn’t the place to get into why Paul recommends singleness over marriage in this particular passage. However, it is important to note that the Bible encourages a couple that is struggling with sexual temptation to marry rather than burn with passion. Of course, this assumes a couple that is ready for marriage. I recommend that all couples get good premarital counseling from a pastor or Christian counselor before getting married.
  • Galatians 6:7-8“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  Although the original word in the Greek means “to sneer or to scorn,” the English word “mock” is instructive when it comes to living together. “To mock” means “to imitate, to pretend in order to deceive.” You can’t do that to God without consequences, and you can’t do that with marriage. Living together is literally a mockery or imitation of marriage in that it does not require a public commitment or lifetime vow of faithfulness.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6“It is God’s will that you should … avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.”  To “wrong” someone in this verse means “to exceed the proper limits.” To “take advantage” means “to defraud, or to take more than you’re entitled to.” It is the picture of someone who takes more than they should while selfishly disregarding the best interests of others. When we live together, we exceed the limits God has set for us. We take more than we’re entitled to.
  • Hebrews 13:4“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  The marriage bed can only be kept pure when the sexual relationship is kept within marriage. Anything else brings God’s judgment. Do you love your partner? Then why would you invite God’s judgment into their life? Why would you willfully rob them of God’s blessing?

You will notice from these Bible verses that I am assuming couples who live together are also sexually involved. And I think in most cases that’s a pretty fair assumption. I will address the (much rarer) situation of couples who live together but are not sexually active in a later post. But let me end this post by sharing the testimony of a young woman that I think effectively sums up some of the major problems of living together before marriage.

I wish I could tell every young adult in America that you truly will reap what you sow. Living together may seem wonderful initially … but eventually it creates more problems than you can imagine. I lived with my boyfriend for two years before we got married. I knew I was breaking my parents’ hearts, as well as my Heavenly Father’s heart! My boyfriend was not a Christian, but I figured I could change him if we moved in together.

The “this-is-yours, that-is-mine” mentality that enabled us to “successfully” live together completely unraveled once we got married. We had become too separate and selfish, making it nearly impossible to become “one flesh.”  The honeymoon was over before the wedding day ever arrived.  (Excerpt from letter printed in “Family Feedback,” Focus on the Family, May 1994, p.23)

Do you have any thoughts or response to all this? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Check out the other posts in the Living Together Before Marriage series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?
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New Temptation for Senior Adults

I found this Lifeway article interesting on the new temptation for senior adults to live together outside of marriage.

In 2007, the “Boomer Generation” officially retires. This is the year that people who were born in the 1950’s are eligible to retire from work. The truth of the matter is that the population of America is growing older and this is changing the landscape of our communities and our churches.

One disturbing trend is the number of “senior adults” who are living together and in turn, being sexually active. Recent reports tell us that “the majority of HIV carriers will be over the age of 50 by 2015, and that even now about 15 percent of new infections occurs in this age group.” (Sex Ed for Seniors; US News and World Report; August 13/August 20, 2007)

Many pastors have also reported that the most disturbing trend in their aging church is the number of couples who are living together. In today’s society we might expect that this number is increasing, but what is interesting is that the majority of these couples are over the age of 55. Many senior couples are living together for financial reasons. Although they want the benefit of companionship, whether made single by death or divorce, many decide that they simply do not want to get remarried.

As a pastor I can testify that this is increasingly becoming a problem. Whereas “living together” used to be a temptation more directed at the young and single, it is becoming just as big a temptation for the older and single.

The Lifeway article recommends that churches take the following four steps in addressing this situation:

  1. Preach and teach God’s design for loving relationships.
  2. Develop a small accountability group for seniors.
  3. Help seniors find alternative avenues.
  4. Confront in love and support unconditionally.

HT: MMI

Teens, Religion and Sex

The Dallas Morning News recently conducted a Q&A with Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. Regnerus helped lead a multi-year research project on teens, religion and sex, the results of which appear in his new book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teens.

Here are some excerpts:

One of the arguments in your book is that religion makes a difference in the lives of American teens. What difference does religion make?

Simply being Presbyterian or Catholic or evangelical is not as important as internalizing the faith. Kids for whom Christianity is a central identity – not just another aspect of their lives – tend to make more thoughtful and mature decisions about sex. But this is rarer than most people think: Less than 10 percent of all youth do this.

In the book, you write about surprising findings concerning evangelical teens. What were they?

Evangelical teens express conservative attitudes about sex, but they are very average in their actual behavior. Why? Because evangelical kids live in two worlds. The new world tells them to value career, self-fulfillment, happiness and entertainment – and this is what adults and parents model for them. But the old world – to which evangelicals still pay deference – values keeping commitments, God, marriage and delaying pleasure.

Most American kids only live in the new world. Evangelicals still inhabit both. The result is conflict and compromise: old world values but new world actions.

Parents and adults, did you get that? Unless we model what we believe, our teens are less likely to follow through on what they believe. We teach with our lives as much if not more than with our words.

HT: The Evangelical Outpost