We all know cohabitation destroys families, right? Clearing a person needs a shiny carbon rock and a scripted set of specific vows to create value and shelter life. All these heathens living without such things can possible be as strong as a Christian, heterosexual family?
Why People Think Cohabitation is Wrong
I once agreed that cohabitation was wrong, not for any religious reasons, but because studies seemed to prove cohabitation increased the likelihood of divorce. That’s not to say I thought it wrong or sinful. I simply thought God was looking out for me. The reason I was told to avoid cohabitation was because God didn’t want me to get divorced.
Well, turns out that’s not completely true. The reality has more to do with age than cohabitation. Couples who start living together after the age of 23, regardless of vows exchanged before moving in together, are more likely to stay together than younger, cohabitation couples.
Cohabitation isn’t contributing to the divorce rate at all. Why isn’t someone complaining about young marriage? Why aren’t religions condemning all young marriages for contributing to the divorce rate?
Why am I asking these questions when the answer is obvious? Marriage has traditionally been perfectly okay from a religious perspective, so long as the couple is heterosexual. Laws against child marriage are pretty new to the history of humanity and there are still places in the United States where it’s legal for children as young as 15 to be wed with parental consent. Religion has no problem with that.
But, no, let’s talk about the evils of cohabitation, or the one evil: sex. I have heard a million reasons why sex before marriage is wrong and not one has convinced to me. There’s a lot worse a human being can do than act on one of their brain’s main urges (if you’re wondering, the other two are sleep and food). That isn’t to say I don’t have any morals when it comes to sex. There are things I think are right and wrong when it comes to sex, but it’s not my place to judge, condemn or control.
The fact is, only 3% of Americans are virgins when they get married. If you click on that link, it will take you to a site promoting the wait until marriage and, like they claim, that 3% still amounts to many people*. Still, The 97% of Americans who are not virgins are far more people. I have a hard time believing that many people are evil people damned to hell.
(*EDIT: as this comment pointed out, my description of that link is incorrect. That site does not promote waiting until marriage, but aims to support people who choose to wait for marriage.)
The Evils of Premarital Sex
As I go on about virginity, something dawns on me. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s technically okay for a man and woman to live together and even sleep together before marriage, so long as they don’t have sex. Cohabitation isn’t really the evil this priest attacked, but the assumption that people who cohabitate are sexually active.
Maybe I’m wrong. Someone more religious than I am can help me out here. Is cohabitation wrong or just the premarital sex that tends to come with it?
In either case, I cringed when the priest said cohabitation in the same ominous voice he did the rest on that list. After 6 years together, my boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together this spring. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to make this move. It’s enough that the time feels right, the finances are right and where we both are in life is right.
Sure, I’m a little fearful, as well. Change always comes with a bit of risk. By far, my biggest fear is my parent’s reactions. I expect anything from acceptance to disownership of me as their child. I’d like to say I’m joking, but there is a part of me that really wouldn’t be surprised, especially if my parents took that priest seriously.
…because disowning your child for making a decision you disagree with is how good Christian family protect and hold sacred the lives within them, right?
Those are my own fears, though. Really, it’s not fair to throw them in with this debate.
I guess I just don’t see what the big evil deal is with cohabitation and how it equals an attack against family. Family can be whatever you want it to be. Religion does not get to decide how I define family. I know of a number of loving families where a wedding ring isn’t in the picture and many families where a wedding ring makes little difference.
It seems to me there are far bigger problems in the world than two people who love each other living together. Maybe we should focus less energy on judging each other and more on trying to lend and helping hand to our fellow human beings.
Have you ever cohabitation with a lover before marriage? Was it a positive or negative experience for you? Do you think this priest saw cohabitation as a problem, or was he only concerned about premarital sex? What are your views on cohabitation as it relates to the divorce rate?
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