Living Together Before Marriage Series

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


  1. Thanks for this great collection of thoughts on shacking up.

  2. Gcina says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful articles Ray. I would like your advice regarding this matter – please bear with me it may be a bit long. My boyfriend and I started on the wrong foot. We became sexually involved at the very beginning of our relationship and as a result I fell pregnant soon after we started dating. We were living in different towns and travelled frequently to be together and in the few months prior to our discovery of the pregnancy we grew very close and felt like we had been together for years. A few months after we found out I was pregnant, he proposed and I accepted but we could not marry immediately as we would’ve liked to because he needed to approach my father and offer to pay dowry as per out traditional requirement in South Africa. This lengthened our wait as his financial stability was starting to experience a bit of a shake. Three months pregnant, I decided to quit my job a move closer to my family and the father of my child. I spent most nights at his place and before we knew it we were living together.We struggled along as his financial situation got worse and I fell inlove with him even more because of his patience and dedication to providing for us with the little that he had even though I had not consulted him before quiting my job. i moved back home just before giving birth and started a new job as soon as I recovered from giving birth. Again when the baby was six months old, we drifted back into living together and things were much better now financially because we had two salaries coming in and he had just started a new business. He’s still financially unstable and I have had three pay increases since and are now the main breadwinner in our household. Last year (two and a half years into our relationship)I accepted Christ and vowed to take my Christian life seriously and have since been feeling guilty about our living together. Abtainance is a huge problem also as we began our relationship with sex. He is still dedicated to being my husband but still cannot afford the cost involed just yet. I have a strong feeling that God is withholding his blessings upon our lives because we are not doing right by Him.How can I make things right with firstly God, and secondly my non-christian father(who will not allow marriage without dowry paymemnt)without making my fiance(who hasn’t accepted christ)feel rejected and abandoned in his time of financial need? You are so right about having to face all these consequences as a result of wrong choices.

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Gcina – Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so glad to hear that you accepted Christ last year and are seeking to follow God’s ways.

    Yours is a very difficult situation. As far as making things right with God, the Bible is clear: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) It sounds like you have already confessed your sin to God and received his forgiveness. Now comes the long hard road of making right choices.

    First of all, you should not marry your fiance if he does not make a commitment to Christ. And he should not make a commitment to Christ just to please you. It needs to be the sincere choice of his own heart. Secondly, you should not continue living together. The temptation for sexual involvement is just too great. Thirdly, you should affirm your love for your fiance as a person, but let him know that as a Christian you cannot continue to live this way.

    All this means that you may need to back away from this relationship in prayer, asking God to bring the changes in finances and in your fiance’s heart. This will be hard to do, but I believe when you make right choices in faith, God will make his will for your next steps clear to you.

    I pray that God will give you the wisdom and strength to make good choices going forward, and I leave you with these verses from Proverbs:

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

  4. Tasha says:

    I realize this article was written in 2008 and I might not get a response but I will share my story anyway. I was living with my boyfriend but before we moved in together we had broken up and he came to my mom’s house and asked me about marriage and I agreed. He then said ok, we’re going to move in together and go from there….although the holy spirit was telling me don’t do it, to get my own place and we could still date. I didn’t listen and moved in with him. The first two months were fine and then it was like all hell broke loose. I cried every day, I felt guilty, I was depressed. I felt like I was literally dying. There was no unity, he wouldn’t go to church with me and then I found myself missing church because he didn’t go, I had my bills and he had his, we fought over money. It was just an ugly situation, and to make a long story short I left. I knew nothing good was going to become of us in that situation and I also knew it wasn’t right when he told me that we couldn’t go from dating,living together and being engaged and then back to dating. I told him we didn’t have to call off the engagment but I had to move that it wasn’t right and we were also having sex so that just really piled on the guilt for me (but not for him). GOD had already told me NO!!! to living together unmarried but I went with what I wanted to do anyway and paid dearly. I don’t recommend any couple moving in together before marriage. GOD had spoken to me so clearly but I didn’t listen. This happened last year June 2010 and up until now I struggled with did I do the right thing? I thought I had made a mistake, like I shouldn’t have left but that was just the devil trying to make me go back to living in sin. I see now I was and still am on point. I’m trusting and waiting on GOD to send the right person for me, who will understand were I stand in Christ and will respect me and my decisions and who will also be GOD fearing.

  5. Ray Fowler says:

    Tasha – It sounds like you have made some mistakes but you are learning from them and most important of all are seeking God first now. Thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ, and may God bless you as you wait on his perfect will for your life.

  6. sharon says:

    My husband and I have been married for 42 years and are mentoring young couples who plan to be married in our church. We are getting so many couples who are living together. There is a lot of information to give them about this but what if they choose to continue to live in this arrangement before the wedding date? Should the church marry them? Should it be required of them to live apart for a period of time before the wedding? As you can tell by the many years we have been married, this seems a no brainer but it is amazing the opposition we receive from others. Are we being legalistic? Are we acknowledging other sins that couples, who are not living together, come before the altar with as of lesser importance? Scripture is our foundation for all decisions. Can you back your answer with scripture?

  7. Sharon, I fear such situations are on the rise.

    My free pastoral counsel (remember, you get what you pay for) would be along the following lines …

    Are they professing Christians? Are they members of your church?

    If they are professing Christians, they should be a part of some church somewhere. Regardless of where, that church should lovingly discipline them for unrepentant sin (in this case, fornication).

    Assuming Matt 18 is followed and they remain unrepentant, not only should the church not perform the wedding ceremony, the church should excommunicate them and with them no longer associate (cf. 1 Cor 5).

    If they’re non-Christians, we’re not to judge those outside the church, but those inside. As an aside, I don’t perform marriage ceremonies for those outside the church, but that’s a different issue all together.

    P.S. You’re never being legalistic in holding professing believers to the standards of conduct outlined in Scripture, injecting human standards, however, is something else entirely.

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Sharon – These are tough questions that churches and pastors are wrestling with in today’s culture. I encourage couples who are living together to move apart before marriage, and if that is absolutely not possible, then to make a commitment to abstinence and get married sooner rather than later. We want to encourage people to do the right thing and getting married rather than living together is the right thing.

    The issue here is not whether someone is sinning before they marry. We all sin in many ways. The question is one of repentance. Are we actively turning away from sin in our lives, or are we actively choosing sin? If a couple is actively choosing sin, they should not ask the church to affirm their choice. If they are actively choosing obedience to God by getting married rather than living together, then we want to affirm that.

    P.S. Thank you for your ministry to young couples in your church. I think you are doing a wonderful thing in mentoring them.

  9. Ray Fowler says:

    Gunny – Good to hear from you. Thanks for logging in with your thoughts.

  10. Ray wrote: “The issue here is not whether someone is sinning before they marry. We all sin in many ways. The question is one of repentance.”

    Well said, brother, and a distinction that is often neglected.

    It’s always good to touch base, my friend. Keep up the good work.

  11. Vicky says:

    I really hope I get a response…I’ve been praying for the answer to this. My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost 8 years. We have a beautiful 1 year old little girl. He is divorced and had a bad exprience with marriage and we agreed when we started dating that marriage was just a piece of paper. We’ve had are problems like any other couple, but we love eachother so much and have been there for eachother through thick and thin. The birth of our daughter has literally been “heaven sent”. Her birth had us both searching for the “truth”. We want to raise her with morals and strong family values. The “Truth” I found lead us to Jesus Christ. We are now ready to put Jesus in our relationship and build a marriage on his fondation. Our wedding is taking place in 3 months. My boyfriend thinks we should get married legally first since we are living together and have the wedding ceremony…but I dont want to do that. I want the ceremony date to be the “real” wedding since I consider the religous ceremony more imporatant. I want for when the minister says “I now pronounce you husband & wife” , I want that to be real…not me thinking, oh, we already are. What should I do? I’ve prayed about it and said that I would do what God wants. I feel like we dont have to rush to a court house and get married then have a wedding ceremony 3 months later…that its ok since we have our intentions and our hearts in the right place. …… Comments???

  12. jill says:

    If I continue being in a relationship with a non-believer, and continue to have sex with him, but am born-again and sealed by the Holy Spirit can I still get in to heaven? I know it’s wrong. I’d rather it be right. I’m deeply in love with Lenny H. My passion is for him to come to faith in Christ and my hope is that we’d serve Christ together in ministry. However, I can’t let go of him, even though I hate sinning against God. I can’t sever him out of my life. I’ve never met a man I’ve cared for more. Plus, I’m not getting any younger and there aren’t a lot of desirable Christian men out there looking for women my age. Lenny H. is 74 and from a Jewish background. I’m a Jewish believer in Christ, and know I can lead him to the Lord as I am very evangelistic. He’ll be coming to Calvary Chapel with me on the 12 of Sept. – he and his friend Mike Y. and his girlfriend Rocio. They’re Catholic. Not born-again. I never thought I’d find myself in the situation I’m in, never. However, my feelings and emotions are all tied up in this guy. He or I either die, or he gets saved for this relationship to end. Preferably he gets saved. My heart desire is to be his wife and never sin against the Lord again. Thanks.

  13. Rhonda W says:

    Thank you so much for this series. I realize that you wrote it long ago, but it is still impacting lives today. The truth never gets old. I will be referring to your series as I am generating a pre-marital curriculum for our church. Thank you for your faithfulness!

  14. grant says:

    my fiance and I have been planning our wedding for sometime now, the only setback being finances. we strayed a bit and ended up pregnant. we have lived together for a while, because I’ve been raised by two divorcees, and have been taught all my life to know your companions worst moments before getting married. and the only way to know them at their worst is to be together 24/7. I’m not denying we sinned, but we’re trying to become a pure christian couple. my question is is it wrong for us to slumber in the same bed? we call each other husband and wife we’re faithful. we now have a twomonth old miracle. if we were to sleep in different beds, one of us would take full responsibility of tending to our daughter, while the other would have to be away from her. we profess to God our love, our family, and consider ourselves married. plus with a two month old, there is no sex, nor intimacy. is it wrong to slumber together to take turns tending to our daughter because we’re not “officially married”? please email your response to I can’t always get online. thank you

  15. Terrivia Wilson says:

    Should we tithe together if we are engaged and living together?

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage? at Ray Fowler .org
  2. Living Together Without Sex at Ray Fowler .org
  3. Marriage for a Lifetime Contest at Ray Fowler .org
  4. Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage at Ray Fowler .org
  5. Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage at Ray Fowler .org
  6. Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States at Ray Fowler .org

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