Our local newspaper the Livingston Press & Argus today printed an article that discussed the increase of cohabitation. Cohabiting together before marriage or in place of marriage may be increasing and becoming more accepted in our society but this does not mean it is good or pleasing to God. I know people are sinful and broken in sin and divorces do happen, but I do not want our idea of marriage to become defined by our brokenness.
I want marriage to be defined by God and His creative intent. In Genesis 1 we can read that God has created men and women to be different individuals, created in the image of God. We read in Genesis 2:24-25 that God intended one man and one woman to be joined together. I know that there are many stories in the Old Testament that how marriages can be distorted and destroyed by sin. Look back to the beginning in Genesis 1 and 2 and see God does have a design for what is very good. Men and women are both created by God in His image to become one flesh.
Pre-marital sex and cohabitation are not helpful for the success of a marriage. Cohabitation gives the impression of temporary or conditional commitment that can be easily escaped. Marriage has the expectation of a lifelong commitment. The lifelong commitment of marriage is not impossible. The union of husband and wife is practical and possible. We do not need to concede to our sinful selves and give up on marriage. As forgiven sinners we rely on Jesus Christ as the source and strength to be able to love another.
There is so much more I want to write about the blessedness of marriage as the design of God for the procreation of children, lifelong companionship, and opportunity to share with another person the love of Jesus. But for now I recommend a couple of resources.
Second Thoughts about Living Together by the Reverend Matthew Harrison is a good, brief booklet in a question and answer format. This booklet can help parents understand the struggles young people have today when they try to understand what the Bible has to say about living together.
Another good resource to start talking about why marriage is good and not just a parallel truth to living together is the book The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Timothy and Kathy Keller.