Is Living Together the Same as Being Married?

Is Living Together the Same as Being Married?

What is marriage? This is disputed by many. Is it simply a piece of paper? I believe marriage is a commitment for life. It’s becoming one flesh with another human being. The man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. They have children together if they’re able. Living together is not a commitment for life. It’s living together until “we no longer are in love.” It’s fornication which is forbidden by God. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4)

The 1828 Webster Dictionary defines marriage this way: “The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

Some will continue to argue that “living together” is marriage. Like I wrote, I believe it is fornication. Fornication is sexual intercourse between two people who are not married. Those who live together don’t want to be married so why should we try to rationalize that they are just because they are having sex together? Yes, they are living like husband and wife but without the life long commitment/covenant of marriage. Love and marriage are a commitment and a decision. They have nothing to do with emotions and feelings. No, they are becoming one flesh until death do they part.

When Jesus met the woman at the well, He asked her to go get her husband. She said she had no husband. Jesus answered her, “For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:18). Here He acknowledged that just because she is living with a man doesn’t make him her husband.

It’s no consequence that the first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding. A wedding is a celebration of a man and his wife getting married. Jesus celebrated this! This is His will for all believers in Him. The uniting of a man and woman in holy matrimony is something to be greatly celebrated!

Many believe that they must live together before marriage in order to “try it out.” Does this work? No. “The premarital cohabitation effect is the finding that those who live together prior to marriage are more likely, not less, to struggle in marriage. It has a long and storied history in family science…They find that living together before marriage is associated with lower odds of divorce in the first year of marriage, but increases the odds of divorce in all other years tested, and this finding holds across decades of data.” This, young women, is the reason that you need to know that love is not a feeling and living together is not marriage.

Teach your daughters from a young age that boyfriends do NOT receive husband privileges. Only a man who has vowed and made a covenant to love them all of the days of their lives and marries them receives husband privileges. A marriage depicts Christ and His Church. Christ isn’t just “living” with His Church. No, He’s committed to His Church. He made a New Covenant with her. He loves His Church enough to die for His Church.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:31,32

43 thoughts on “Is Living Together the Same as Being Married?

  1. Amen its a sinful activity that too many partake in. Get married make it official. To me you’re married whenever a pastor/priest marries you with witnesses around in the states at least. Whatever your government has to legalize marriage abide by it. But it sickens me to see people living together but there is no ring……you are living in sin, you’re not saved.

    1. Where in the bible do you see a pastor, priest or ANY clergy performing a marriage?

      Where in the Bible does it show that God gave ANY authority over marriage to civil government?

      1. General principles:

        1) As long as the requirements are reasonable and not against the Bible, a man and a woman should seek whatever formal governmental recognition is available. 2) A man and a woman should follow whatever cultural, familial, and covenantal practices are typically employed to recognize a couple as “officially married.” 3) If possible, a man and a woman should consummate the marriage sexually, fulfilling the physical aspect of the “one flesh” principle.

      2. The New Testament created two sacraments, the Christian church and marriage.

        Both are entered into with a public ceremony before God and man.

        Marriage is entered into with a wedding, or, at the very least, before a Justice of the Peace.

        The church is entered with a water baptism. The New Testament church knew this, and was strong. The current church does not, and is dysfunctional and weak.

        By negating baptism it circumvents Gods design of placing the man under Him and Christ, and over the home, church, and country. This allows righteous men to more easily serve and lead wives and children.

        Gods ways are best.

  2. I think some people (not all, but some) living together are very much commited to each other and they might even be together “till death do them part”, if you will. However, that doesn’t constitute covenant of marriage. If you want to be right with God, you have to get married, and in my opinion, you have to get married in a religious ceremony (a civil wedding is not enough).

  3. Marriage is a life long partnership, it weathers the good, the bad, the ups, the downs, and everything else thrown its way. A spouse is someone who “has your back”, someone you can count on (in most cases) through thick and thin. It’s not just a piece of paper – money is a piece of paper, it slips through our hands continuously – with a spouse, love and devotion doesn’t.

  4. It’s the Victoria’s Secret Supermodel test…

    If you were a Victoria’s Secret Supermodel…and you said ‘I will not sleep with you until we get married’

    There’s not a man in the world who would delay getting married. You would be married within days…hours even!

    And that’s that. That says everything. So if he doesn’t want to marry you…you know his true opinion.

    Nowadays in this financial climate, men will use a woman for money. At the very least, remember that if you are helping him pay rent or half of utilities or even worse helping him afford a house…He is using you.

    And if his financial circumstances change, and he can afford a house by himself…You will be sent packing because then he can upgrade to a higher woman.

    Reverse everything above for a woman. If a woman is ok living with a man before marriage and not demanding a marital commitment….Well…she ain’t taking you very seriously now is she…probably got some male friends in the background she’s keeping in reserve

    1. That’s just not true. I am no Victoria’s Secret Supermodel and neither are most women nor my friends but there were three men that wanted to marry me even though I didn’t have sex with them, the last being my husband and there were men who wanted to marry all of my friends. We’re (women who love the Lord) looking for godly men who want to make a commitment for life and live according to God’s will for our lives, not some unbeliever who only sees the surface (superficial) beauty. Surface beauty is only skin deep and fades with time. It’s the inner beauty (a meek and quiet spirit) that keeps a man attracted to his wife for life.

      1. You misunderstood the first few sentences.
        Usually the guys who drag women through the mud of endless years of dating are men who think ‘They can Do Better Than You.’ Oftentimes it is physical.

        So if you say ‘Would he marry Adriana Lima (who btw was Catholic and a virgin on her wedding night)’?

        If you know he would (and he would)…then..well..he’s using you for sex while still keeping an eye out for someone better.

        Occasionally you will get a good-looking girl who can’t get married because she has a personality problem and the men she dates can’t decide whether to stay or run. But that’s when family and friends need to get involved and give both parties some honest advice.

        1. If a man doesn’t marry a woman after a year of dating, I counsel the women to break it off. A year is plenty of time to know whether someone is marriage material or not. And yes, a woman has a much better chance of having a man marry her IF she’s not giving sex away for free.

          I did get involved with one of my friends who was marrying the wrong man. On the day of her wedding, I again pleaded with her not to marry him. On her honeymoon, she realized what a huge mistake it was and they were divorced soon afterwards. Good friends do speak up when they believe their friend is marrying the wrong man. I sure agree with you on that!

          1. Marriage is way more different than an unmarried couple that are living together. The difference is that one is right and the other is wrong. A living girlfriend is not a wife she’s not even a fiance she’s a concubine that her boyfriend is treating like a harlot while at the same time fielding is options to see if he can find something better or it’s the other way around she is fielding her options to know if she can find better and if they don’t find better and ended up getting married they are basically settling in that case, and these marriage are founded upon the sand. Which is why they are falling apart and also according to the statistic unmarried womens in their early 20’s who live with a partner are accounted to have the highest abortion rate.

    2. Christine,

      If you spent less time commenting on Lori’s blog (your comment yesterday was something else) and more time reading, you might learn more 🙂

    3. I really don’t think it’s just a matter of how good looking or rich someone is, or that they’re waiting for someone better, it’s more nuanced than that. Many people who live together probably genuinely care for each other, love each other, respect each other (at least for the time being, I guess), some are even commited, however, that doesn’t make it right with God. That is not what a covenant of marriage is.

      I think it’s a sign of a fallen world we live in: if you don’t really believe in God or if God for you is just someone who loves everyone and forgives everything no matter your choices in life, than I guess marriage truely would seem unnecessary. If you’re a believer, you see the value of making a vow before God and sticking to it. The only thing that saddens me is the fact that the latter group is obviously becoming a minority…

      Just a fun fact, I believe Adriana Lima was a Victoria’s Secret model who professed her faith on many occassions, and has stated she was a virgin until marriage, and her first engagement ended after a year, so obviously it took a bit more than just hours to find a man to marry! 😉 (I am just joking a bit, hopefully you don’t take offense. 🙂 )

  5. Instructing you’re children to be pure begins at a young age! There are good Christian children’s books that are great to read to your young children and pave the road to discussing delicate issues with them!

  6. no, it is not the same. its such a shame that people men and women alike degrade themselves so

    i married my wife within 13 months of meeting her. she walked into visit my church one day right in front of me, I fell in love with her instantly, I said, that girl will be my wife one day. We started dating within the month, I tried to get her to marry me by our second month, she said not yet, she wanted to pay off her truck first and make her own wedding dress from scratch. she also made all the wedding decorations and invites.

    people are very ignorant, they actually thought I had gotten her pregnant and thats why we were going ahead and getting married, I said, no “shes the one” and we don’t believe in living together or sex outside of marriage.

    my wife could have been a model, and I love her victoria secret clothes, perfume and lotion.

  7. I’m actually in a situation where I would love to get married but I am unable to because my partner is on disability. I don’t want him to lose his benefits because we can’t live on my income alone. What are your thoughts on a situation like this?
    We been together for three years and I would like to raise a family with him.

    1. This will sound brutal: Don’t marry him. Break up with him and find a man who can cover you physically, mentally, socially and financially. You partner does not have the ability to earn now and he won’t later. Once you go on Disability you very rarely get off it. Which is why it’s important to make some investments (if possible) before you go on it. My partner has an auto immune disease. He will likely end up on diability. He has aspirations to own a business. I told him to work on it. I have deferred marriage until I am certain he has a career/business/steady income stream. I will not work like a dog to provide for my man and children. God made me a woman not a man. This is my conviction. I look forward to him making it but if it was the case of him already being on disability I would not entertain marriage. You will want children, you will have to provide for them, you will want a home you will have to pay for it, please think carefully about YOURSELF, what you deserve and what God wants you to have. It is a horrible thing for you and you partner to think about but think about the rest of your life.

      1. Love the honesty and so true, really have to think about the future. A woman shouldn’t have to be the provider. Its different if you’re already married and something happens to your husband. Then as his helpmeet step up if thats whats necessary but its not ideal at all.

    2. Wodenwife, are you certain he will lose his benefits? My husband was on disability prior to our marriage or engagement and he didn’t lose any of his. If you aren’t certain, I would definitely speak with legal counsel about this.

      1. Mrs. Taylor, it’s something we both are doing research on. We have spoke to others who are on disability like family and other people. It’s still an legitimate fear though.

    3. Is there no work he can do? In this situation I would say trust God and get married. This current lifestyle is sinful. God always provides and will make a way :).

      1. Hi Kevin, he is working on a business but unfortunately can’t start since we are doing repairs to our home. The poor man is mostly bedridden most of the time. Thankful God has provided me with a decent essential job and family members who help us out.

    4. If you love him, marry him. My husband has health issues and isn’t able to provide fully for our family by himself, so I have always hard to work too, at least part-time. God will work it all out!
      I see all the time on this blog about trusting God (usually in relation to family size) and now when you love a ma with health problems people are telling you to ditch him! It makes no sense to me. If you love him, marry him, and trust God to work it out.

  8. But where is the line drawn? How do you know a couple living together hasn’t made a declaration before family and friends that they are in it till death? I consider it rude to pry unless they offer up the information. Until then I’d encourage them as much as I could to stay together. None of Michael Pearls kids are legally wed. I’m with Trey on this one.

    1. If they are married, they will state clearly to others that they are married. I even believe there should be weddings as this was where Jesus’ first miracle was performed. We are commanded to not be stumbling blocks to others and have no appearance of evil. Living together without being married disobeys both commands. Christians are to be different than those in this world. All studies prove that those couples who live together before marriage have much greater risk of divorce. There’s no commitment in living together. One or the other can move out with zero consequences. Jesus made it clear to the woman at the well that living with someone is much different than being married to them.

    2. I don’t think that Lori and I are that far apart on this (if at all).

      The Bible (the only authority on the subject that matters) teaches us several things about the marriage relationship. Here is a summary below.

      It is for life. In the Bible, it is clear that women were either purchased (Leah and Rachael; law regarding the “brides price”, etc.) or given by their fathers (Rebekah) and upon marriage, they became the property of their husbands. This property ownership would have clearly been understood to be for life. Back then, there was a universal clear expectation and understanding that marriage was for life.

      Verbally (publicly) claiming the status of the relationship is a marriage. There were different statuses of women (to men) in the Bible. There were wives as well as concubines (lesser wives). Even among concubines, there were different types, those that were purchased and those that were taken captive in war. Each (wives and certain types of concubines) were acknowledged and had different rights and protections under Hebrew Law. But either way if a woman was a mans wife, it was clearly stated.

      Sexual relations – The two must become one flesh.
      —————————————————————————————————-
      So in the question of what makes a valid marriage, here is what I see the Bible teaching.

      If she is still living in her fathers household, then her Father must consent. If the father is not around then does she have a brother who gives his consent? Both Rebekah’s father and brother gave their consent for her to go become Isaac’s wife. If the woman is not living in her fathers household then he should still be considered but his wishes may or may not be binding.

      Since in this day and age, it is not clear and obvious to everyone that marriage is a lifelong commitment, then I believe that the man and the woman should openly state to each other some words that clearly declare they are both entering into a marriage AND that they understand that it is a lifelong commitment. Hence the words in the traditional marriage vows “I take you to be my husband/wife” and “till death do us part”.

      Beyond this, sex (consummation) seals the deal.

      I see NOTHING in the Bible that requires a public ceremony, clergy or government involvement.

      That said, I think that a public ceremony, is certainly an good idea. The Bible does not show us ceremonies but they do show us wedding feasts and celebrations indicating the family and friends knowledge of the commitment.
      I see nothing forbidding having a member of the clergy perform a ceremony.
      I see nothing forbidding acquiring a civil marriage license.
      But, NONE of these things are necessary for the marriage to be valid before God, who is THE authority over marriage and the only witness that really matters.

      1. Hi Trey,
        I agree with your comments.
        I was taught growing up it is extremely rude to ask about someone’s marital status unless they offered the information. Some couples make the status clear and some keep it private. If I was in that situation I would be extremely offended if someone I hardly knew told me I was living in sin and needed to be married. It would come over much better from a trusted source. Otherwise they come across as a busy body. If a couple comes to your church for the first time with a couple of kids do you bring up in conversation after the service their marital status? I hope not. The woman at the well took Jesus words well because He was God made flesh and He knew how to approach her on the subject. We aren’t. So great caution is needed. So at what point do we broach the subject with a couple? I think it should be once we have gained their trust. Instead it seems the church likes to avoid these couples and gossip behind their backs about how terrible it is. Without a clear idea as to when to address the issue. Posts like this tend to fuel the gossip train. And I know that’s not the intent of it. Years ago my husband and I witnessed to a workmate and his girlfriend who were living together. During which we encouraged them to get married. Both became saved and subsequently got married. Because they trusted us. Had they not. My husband would of been punched and told to back off.

  9. I feel I need to add to your statement….”Yes, they are living like husband and wife but without the life long commitment/covenant of marriage.” I think some of the aspects of marriage lost to most today is Ownership and Authority. When two sinners stand before a Holy God and ask Him to join with them in Holy matrimony, there is not just two, but three separate entities involved. A Holy God joins these two unto himself in a covenant only to be broken by death. God said, What I have joined together, let no one (pesky, finite, weak, selfish, proud,etc) put asunder. When we get married, the husband owns his wife and she owns him. When two become one, he is her authority, her protector and her provider. This exactly mirrors our relationship as the church to Christ, He is our Provider, Protector and our Authority.

    As husbands, we are to lay down our lives for our wives and family, just as Christ did for us on the cross.This is where most women go astray (with much help from the Feminist movement), especially those that are living together.

    Feminism has told women, they don’t need to depend on a man, they can do it all on their own. A boyfriend will never rise to the level of being her provider,protector and authority, because she won’t really giver herself to him, A man will only care about the things he owns. If you doubt me, ask anyone how often they have changed the oil in a rental car? Since a boyfriend never owns her, he won’t commit to her and neither will she. Women want their live-in boyfriend to act like a husband, but that’s not what she wants. She wouldn’t want a true husband that would love her unconditionally, share his heart, his work, his future and his offspring, Why? Because she settled for a boy toy that she can control and easily kick out if she finds one with deeper pockets.

    People that live together Don’t act like husband and wife, they act like selfish children that want to have sex. They have no desire to leave a legacy. No desire to please and honor a Holy God that loves them and wants to bless them. No thought of building God’s kingdom here on earth. See, here again it comes back to the spiritual. When one has no relationship with the Lord, they don’t have the Spirit of God to discern spiritual truth.

  10. I think the key word here is covenant. You mentioned it alongside committment. They aren’t interchangeable. Cohabiting couples can be committed without having entered a covenant which is the problem. Biblical covenants demand soemthing of us. Thats why marriages where couples who have lived together fail at some point. They shared a residence and relationship without it demanding anything of them. Christ’s covenant with the Church was covered by his blood. The covenant demanded that sacrafice. Each covenant from Eden, to Noah, to Abraham up until the new covenant demanded something from God and we the people. The covenant of marriage mirrors this it demands something. Which is why spousal privileges should be reserved for spouses.

  11. Does anyone know what Jewish marriage customs were? I know that Abraham sent his servant back to his family to get a wife for Isaac in the OT, but fast forward to the NT at the wedding at Canaan where Jesus turned water into wine.

    1. Well, some customs were that the man asked for usually the father’s permission to marry his daughter and had to pay almost like a downry for her. It cost the father of a daughter nothing to marry her off, except some kind of wedding gift for the new family, maybe cattle or furniture. The woman had little to no say in marriage legally. Females could marry from the age of 12 or when they have completed puberty. Males usually married in their late teens or early twenties. Men could not go off to war or go away from their wives for one year after marriage.

  12. A marriage doesn’t necessarily need to be approved by the state to be considered valid, if the state is corrupt I believe? A certificate from a corrupt institution may officially recognize a marriage as a legal union, but a morally sound official and witnesses are needed to officiate a marriage in the true sense, I think. A regular marriage agreement from a corrupt government can easily destroy a spouse’s life. A man may legally stop providing for his wife who expected to be his homemaker. If she was living traditionally and doesn’t have much of an education or experience, nobody would hire her and she would be unable to fend for herself. A woman could easily divorce her husband and claim much of his assets while getting full custody of the children. The man gets measly visitation rights, possibly. He loses his own property and children. This is why I think that we should not allow the government to interfere with domains such as marriage. It’s better to live as a union that may not be legally recognized as a marriage, but still follows moral principles.

  13. Hi Lori,
    A family member of ours divorced his wife (no Biblical grounds), but before the divorce was finalized, shacked up with his new girlfriend. He professes to be a Christian, and eventually he did marry the live-in girlfriend, but his lifestyle choices caused a huge rift in our relationship and we are no longer on speaking terms. My husband and I did not support his new relationship, nor attend his second wedding on the grounds that there was no repentence for his sin. We are now the odd ones out in the family, as no one else was willing to take a stand. Lori, my question to you is this: Now that they are married, is this 2nd marriage “legitimate?” Is it right for us to not consider the 2nd wife part of our family as there has been no remorse or repentence? Perhaps Ken can weigh in on this?

    1. It’s a tough situation, Mrs. G. You must remember that you aren’t responsible for other people’s actions. No, he shouldn’t have divorced his first wife to marry a second but he did. He can’t divorce her to go back to his first now. The damage is done. I am sure he probably knew you didn’t support his new relationship but is he even a Christian? If not, he needs Jesus.

      1. Yes, he claims to be a Christian but we don’t see any fruit. 🙁 We hope that in the long run, our tough love stance will be of eternal benefit to him. In the meantime, all the other family and friends think that we are the ones not being very Christian because our stance doesn’t look very “loving.” The world we live in is so backwards indeed.

  14. Oh, and Lori do you allow people to include links in comments posted? I think you didn’t publish one of my comments a while ago where I included a link, though it was a website called Biblical gender roles which teaches according to the Bible traditionally. I thought I saw something about you not allowing links to be posted by commenters. Can you please clarify this?

  15. CVD
    It maybe foolishness but I love the man too much to leave him. He treats me with love and respect and cleans the house on days he isn’t in pain. I spoke to God many times about this and he has blessed with a decent job that will pay more once I become a permanent employee. It’s a struggle but I do because I love him dearly. Lol I guess I’m as protective as a valkyrie.

  16. I married later in life. When I knew I wanted to get married I told my then boyfriend now husband that there would be no fooling around before marriage. I felt that living with him would let him get comfortable and not want things to change. He agreed we married within two years. Life can be cruel for women if we are attractive that does not last. If we want children there is a shut off date. Simply put we have a shorter shelf life in the dating world. Men are naturally attracted to young pretty women not older. It’s not fair but it is what it is. I see young women wasting precious years on dead end relationships. Living together is not only sinful it’s a waste of a woman’s time. If he won’t marry you leave him. Pray that God will send you a good man and a good husband.

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