Living with Him and Has Children. Now What?

Living with Him and Has Children. Now What?

A woman asked me for counsel. Here is her situation: “I became saved after already living in sin with the father of my now two children. We are still not married. Since becoming saved, I have seen and learned why God wants us to be married before having children and living together. My partner, however, is not a believer and doesn’t see the need to ‘rush into’ getting married even though I want to honor God and do so. How do I handle this? He is a great father and I don’t see leading him to Christ by breaking apart our family?”

This is a difficult situation. She knows that what she is doing is wrong but with children in the mix, what is she to do? I asked the women in the chat room what advice they would give her and there were differing opinions. We all know that sex outside of marriage is wrong and that we are only to marry believers. But we also know that children desperately need their mother and father.

One woman shared that she knew a woman in this situation and she moved out, hoping that this would cause the man to change his mind. It devastated the children and the man ended up living with someone else. Now, she is a single mother trying to make it on her own.

There is no easy answer for this situation, therefore, I am only going to give my opinion. Even famous ministers of the Word disagree with the solution as the women in the chat room did. The Bible makes it clear that fornication is sin but a man and woman living together and having children become a family. God also hates divorce. It’s devastating to children so I am going to answer with the children in mind.

God said it’s better to have a milestone wrapped around one’s neck and drowned in the deepest sea rather than cause a little one to stumble (Matthew 18:6). Parents separating causes little ones to stumble. Divorce/separation causes so much devastation upon them and effects them even into adulthood. This is why so few adults want to get married. They are products of the devastation of divorce.

Children need their mother and father under the same roof. I would counsel this woman to live a godly, holy life in front of this man. She needs to win him without a word by her godly behavior even though he isn’t her husband. Some suggest she do this but not have sex with him. I can see the logic in this, but I don’t see it in practical application. I doubt most unbelieving men would agree to continue to live with a woman who wasn’t giving him regular sex. What a tangled web we weave when we stray from God’s narrow path.

Sin makes a mess of everything. This is why God tells us to flee fornication and not to defile the marriage bed.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Hebrews 13:4

95 thoughts on “Living with Him and Has Children. Now What?

  1. Question: Where is this relationship going if Dad doesn’t want to marry Mom? A fundamental misalignment of values may lead him to leave, anyway. That said, yeah, they’ve made a family together, and it’s better to preserve that family if possible.

  2. I just read a book called the power of a praying wife. I think it would be great for this woman.

  3. She should move out. She will be a better mom showing her kids how to honor God and flee from sin. The dad can still be in their lives but living in sin helps no one and actually damages the kids teaching them its ok. Plus she could potentially find her a God fearing man to marry and for her kids to look up to if the dad is not a believer. She doesn’t have to stay or marry the guy she had kids with. It would be ideal in a perfect world though.

  4. Sadly, if he has no interest in following Christ and marrying her, she needs to leave with the children. And be celibate until a godly man wishes to marry her and raise her children in the way they should go.

    Staying with him in sin because he is the biological father isn’t healthy for her or those children.

    He may decide to step up, or he will think twice before playing house with the next woman without a commitment.

  5. That is quite a conundrum. I think perhaps she can ask the elders at church for their guidance as they are the leaders of her church. Perhaps when he sees men taking a genuine interest in him and his family while being kind the boyfriend may soften toward God.

  6. I myself have been in a very similar predicament.
    I got born-again just last summer and had a little boy and girl from my 8 year relationship. Of course, me getting saved changed everything but the Lord really put it in my heart to marry their father. Luckily he did agree to marry me and we did. As it was the right thing to do. I loved him very much (still do) although he wasn’t saved but was seeking the Lord too. We’re almost married a year now and it’s certainly very hard living with a non believer. He attends a great church with me every week but his heart is still not changed. All I can do is obey the Word and have faith that the Lord will save him someday. I do believe I now have to reap what I’ve sowed but I know the Lord is good and merciful and His timing is perfect. It is not His will that ANY should perish. It’s important to remember we are accountable for ourselves before the Lord not our husbands. Trust and obey. Keep seeking the Lord on this matter and He will lead you to truth. It’s His promise.

  7. Thank you for stepping up and saying truth, Kevin. I cannot agree with Lori’s solution. Yes, absolutely, children need their father and I would be the first person to point out the devastating effects of not having Dad around — know them firsthand. But fornication is fornication. Once you know you are in sin, you have a responsibility to flee it. The Bible even explicitly tells us to flee fornication, specifically naming it. This is a no-brainer situation.

    And, yes, the consequences are there and she’s going to have to deal with them. There will be custody issues to work out and that’s just something with which she will have to deal and accept. But there are ways to handle those courteously and graciously while still living the way she ought.

    Lori, so glad to hear that your husband is better again. Very scary for a while, I’m sure. Hope you have many long and happy years together ahead.

  8. The children a primarily the man’s whether legitimate or not – and so subject to his authority, which is God given. The priority is keeping the commandments of Christ – therefore she should keep them. He will provide the wisdom if the focus is kept on Him rather than specific sins.

  9. Well, she needs to be encouraging her children to respect their father, unless he’s a skirt-chasing drunk who hits them. And frankly, for developing closeness, even the best custody agreements are inferior to a home in which both parents are raising the kids together.

    The other thing is that she has a bond with this man that will always exist, even if they never see each other again. It feels rather icky to eject the man and audition for a replacement.

    I think, in her place, that I’d cease relations unless he married me. If he doesn’t want to get the official marriage certificate, I’d add, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that an obstacle.

    This might very well lead to the man leaving. But if he does so, then it is probable that he would have left sooner or later anyway. We should try to preserve a family, but not by agreeing to habitual sin.

  10. This is a difficult situation but I believe that Lori’s opinion and advice is sound.

    The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 addresses a situation similar to this when he talks about spouses that find themselves married to unbelievers. His instruction is “And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”

    Just because this family does not have a marriage “license” or “certificate” from the civil government (which has no business in marriage to begin with) is a lesser point than preserving an intact family in my opinion. The fact that this man has had two children with this woman clearly demonstrates his commitment to her. If there were no children involved then I would say that she should leave but with children, the lesser of the evils (by a HUGE margin) is that she stay “as long as he consents to live with her”.

    If we are worried about government legalities, 8 states in the US plus The District of Columbia still recognize “common law” marriages. Each State’s rules are different but they might be “married” in the eyes of the government if they live in Colorado, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, New Hampshire or Utah.

    Even if they are not common law married, she should still stay with him and treat him as her husband. I believe that this is the spirit of the instruction that Paul gave to the Corinthians.

    Also to be considered… if she does decide to leave, what right (moral, legal or otherwise) does this woman have to take the children away from their “great father”? Biblically children are the property of their father, not their mother. They should remain with him and she should leave with nothing but her personal possessions and whatever else he might consent to.

  11. How is it that you can state that the children are subject to the God given authority of their father and then conclude that the mother should keep them?

  12. I think there are two considerations here. One, does it really require a “marriage certificate” to be married? There are a lot of genuinely conservative Christians marrying with the church’s authority, rather than the state’s. And second, there is the “common law” marriage clause in most states.

    If this woman sought my counsel I would have told her to stay in the relationship, but to consider it a marriage. I would tell her to let him know she considers it a marriage on her end, that she is committed to him for life. And then to set it down hard in her heart to win him as in 1 Peter. And to have a vigorous prayer life including fasting for his salvation, and finding a group of women who will pray daily for his salvation as well. She can’t look at their sexual relationship as sin, and I see that as the only way she could continue to have relations with him without sinning.

  13. You have to take feelings, emotions, etc out of it and just be obedient to God and His word. You must flee from sin period. Even if there is no sex involved to play “husband and wife” without being technically married is wrong. She’s not married so shouldn’t be unequally yoked. She isn’t bonded to this guy besides the kids. He can still be a good father to them and she can also marry another guy who can be a good father to her kids and have a real biblical marriage.

  14. This is a subject that is on the edge.

    No matter what the woman does the children will be damaged. Trust and bonding are strong security issues. When our trust is damaged we store it in our minds and we tend not to bond easily with others.

    When we don’t bond we then turn to addictions to replace the need for love and security.

    Children and adults take drugs to escape that inner lonesomeness.

    Some turn to violence. Some look to suicide.

    There are many things that we do to avoid that horrible feeling of being alone even if we are with many surrounding us.

    Will leaving this man damage the trust factor in the children? Will staying with him work? Make it a matter of much prayer.

  15. How funny that this is the topic when just yesterday I commented that modern men have no morals. My first response would also be to simply get married but if he definitely doesn’t want to then pressuring him won’t do any good. The man clearly has no respect for marriage or her desire to be a godly wife but children need a mother and a father. If she was a single mother she’d have to work and would have no time to devote herself to motherhood. I agree with a previous statement that she should stay with him and tell him that she considers them married and she should ask church elders about her situation. If he truly loves her then in time he will become more involved in the church.

  16. “… does it really require a “marriage certificate” to be married?”

    According to Wikipedia (not necessarily the final say on anything but probably a good enough guide in this situation)…

    “For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families. Until the 16th century, Christian churches accepted the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s declarations. If two people claimed that they had exchanged marital vows—even without witnesses—the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married[citation needed].

    Some states in the US hold that public cohabitation can be sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. Marriage license application records from government authorities are widely available starting from the mid-19th century. Some are available dating from the 17th century in colonial America.[1] Marriage licenses have been required since 1639 in Massachusetts, with their use gradually expanding to other jurisdictions.[2] ”

    Before Western history…. (reference link at the bottom)
    Beginning in the Middle Ages, churches kept records of who was married to whom. But Luther viewed marriage as a “worldly matter,” and so he turned over the recording of marriages to the state.

    Calvin believed that for a marriage to be valid it needed to be both recorded by the state and officiated by the church.

    The Catholic Church did not require marriages to be officiated by a priest until 1563, and the Anglican Church did not get around to making this requirement until 1753.

    Biblically… I do not see God specifically giving “marriage” authority to the government OR to church leaders. The most prominent examples of marriage in the Bible appear to be between the father of a daughter and a man who wanted her for a wife (Jacob, Rachael) or a father obtaining a wife for his son (Isaac and Rebekah). How in the world did sex (in a dark tent) make Leah Jacobs wife when he did not even want her?

    The Bible also generically talks about the “bride price” that was codified in the Mosaic law that made marriage more of a business transaction between men. I am not even sure that this “required” the girls consent necessarily and MANY marriages throughout history were arranged by parents without either child’s consent.

    Much of what we do in “church” today boils down to traditions that were made up by men. It does not necessarily make them wrong, but it also does not necessarily make them a “requirement” either. When it comes to marriage, the Bible is sparse when it comes to the details of what it actually entails. I found this article to be interesting and informative.

  17. And what is a “real biblical marriage”? Could it be like the one described in the Mosaic law of Deuteronomy 21:10-14?

    “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. “She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. “It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.”

    Was THIS practice that was codified in the Mosaic law a violation of God’s idea for marriage? Was any part of the Mosaic law, Civil, Moral, Ceremonial, a violation of God’s view of “biblical” marriage?

    I am not trying to be difficult here but only to show that OUR view of marriage today is not necessarily how God views marriage and I am pretty sure that God is the bottom line when it comes to defining what a “Biblical” marriage is and isn’t.

    What is marriage other than a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman who become one flesh? It sounds like this man who has chosen to have two children with this woman has made that commitment to. Whether he wants to call it “marriage” or not (and get the government involved) does not seem like the most important thing at this point.

    I challenge you to show me where what they have is an “un-biblical” marriage just because the man does not want to call it marriage?

    I think the difference between “shacking up” and a marriage is the commitment. Two kids seems like he is pretty committed to me and as long as he is pleased to live with her, I don’t think she should leave him.

  18. I’ve noticed that most of the advice of those telling her to stay has tried to blur the lines between marriage and living together, which could cause confusion.

    This woman is not married. She confesses to this. She cannot marry her boyfriend without his consent, and he does not consent; therefore she is not married. The fact that they are not truly married is the reason why the situation is hard to be judged in the first place. She is not his wife, she is his girlfriend.

    But the Bible is sufficient. Here are some Scriptures that would be good for her to read.
    Christian living scriptures: Romans chapter 6.
    Fornication scruptures: 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.
    Scriptures like unto her situation: Ezra chapter 10, and Genesis 21:1-20.

    I really hope this helps.

  19. Lori,

    From my perspective, I look at facts. First, a woman and a man committed fornication, which is sexual intercourse between two people who are not married to each other, a sin in God’s sight: sin #1. Whether or not illegitimate offspring resulted, that sin should be repented of (do an about-face), turned away from and committed no more.

    Second, the fruit of these two peoples’ choice(s) and their sinful action(s) resulted in the births of not one but two living souls. These births are NOT sin #2 but the (natural) consequences of sin #1. The children did not choose to be born out of wedlock, just like my left hand did not choose to have four wounds gashed upon it a couple Saturdays ago. The scrapes and the bleeding and the diamond ring so twisted the stone fell out are just a few of the consequences of my foolish decision to not look where I was walking. I stumbled over the curb and my body slammed upon my left hand, arm and elbow. My left hand, visible and used every day of my life, will forever bear the scars of that one, personal, poor decision.

    I’m not saying that a precious newborn baby is an ugly scar, but these two precious little ones are the fruit of one man and one woman’s poor decisions. Each parent of these illegitimate births is now responsible to train up their children in the way he or she should go so that their living souls walks in the ways of the Lord.

    Q: What if the two fornicators of sin #1 were in fact legally married to other people, and a baby resulted from their fornication? Should they divorce their spouses (commit more sin) and then marry each other (even more sin) just so they could “prevent” the baby or child they conceived together (fruit or natural consequence of their sinful sexual intercourse) from “stumbling”?
    A: No.

    You’re so right, Lori: “What a tangled web we weave when we stray from God’s narrow path. Sin makes a mess of everything. This is why God tells us to flee fornication and not to defile the marriage bed.”

    This unmarried woman and this unmarried man need their eyes opened to the Word of God. If she is the only one of them who hungers for, thirsts after and desires to please the Lord and walk in His ways, then she must act upon her right decisions with wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Two or more sins will never add up to a right choice, ever.

    Another fact is, if the unmarried woman removed herself and the children from the unmarried man’s house, this would not be considered a “separation” because they were never married. Yes, it would be devastating, heartbreaking, etc. The mother AND the father of the children should both rather obey God than man. She cannot live by, “Well, what if I do ABC and he decides not to do ABC with me but chooses DEF instead?” She AND he should stop the madness, start today, this very moment, act in obedience to God’s Word and go from that point.

    Unless they are equally yoked, they should not marry. This, too, is God’s idea. When He planned it that way, He had both the husband and the wife’s best interest in mind, plus the fruit of their marital union and oneness, children. Marrying an unbeliever would be sin #3.

    “What if he gets angry and does JKL?” What-if this and what-if that? IF, IF, IF she will do as you teach, Lori, “go and sin no more,” live a life of godliness in front of this man and their children, teaching them the WHY she must now make some difficult and painful decisions, WHY God’s Word teaches her to flee, teaches us not to fornicate, not to sin, not to disobey His divine order for our lives, for our health and for our eternal souls that will live forever somewhere, THEN, THEN, THEN the Lord promises He’ll bless her, keep her, defend her, protect her and provide for her every need. I love to encourage people, “Just watch and see what the Lord will do!”

    It will require a step of faith to obey God’s Word. She’ll need to be diligent in teaching her children the WHY we make right decisions, what the right choices are and right desires. She must not backslide and go back to the pig’s pen or the dog’s vomit. She must be genuine, real, and authentic about her decisions. When she was a child, she spoke and acted like a child. It’s time to put away childish things and grow up. This is heaven or hell for herself and two little ones, and just as sure as God is real, if she causes them to stumble, it would be better for her that someone hung a huge millstone around her neck and dumped her into the Marianas Trench in my backyard. That should terrify every one of us!


  20. I am sorry for your terrible fall, Kelley! Ouch! Yes, it’s a difficult situation and there are many opinions. I asked her to pray about it and ask the Lord for wisdom. She will read all of the comments, I am sure, and will make the best decision that she can.

  21. I think this woman should move in with her relatives (mother, father) with her children. She should invite the boyfriend to supervised day visits and go on dates with him. They should attend church together and do activities with the children together. She can invite him over for meals with the children. I would not “give” him sex, as sex is only to be “given” and “received” by your spouse. I am not sure how actively participating in the pleasures of sex and even possibly creating new life again would be helpful in this situation. A man who knows he is sexually pleasing his girlfriend is going to feel proud, not repentant, not to mention the bonding that occurs is going to cloud both their judgements.

    The children need their parents to model Godly behavior, or else they will think it is okay!

    A good idea would be to invite the man to a dinner place or make a nice meal. Explain that she is saved and that means marriage is very important to her, religiously and for their children. She can list the statistics that show better outcomes for children with married parents. She can say she loves him so much and that it does not have to be a large, flamboyant wedding but a private ceremony in the church with close family and their children is fine. She can say she knows it might take time for him to make a decision regarding this, and that she will be praying for him all the while. Make sure that it is clear that he has unfettered access to be with his children and that she wants him in the children’s lives. They can even make a timeline for engagement, marriage, etc.

    If he expresses that he does not ever wish to be engaged or married, I think the best, even though it is heartbreaking, is to separate fully. This is assuming she TRULY wants to get married. Sadly if she does not *really* mind living in sin, and still enjoys this man’s company and does not care if they are never married, perhaps it is best for them to just stay pseudo-married and a family. Now if she is going to be bitter, resent the man, constantly be harping about their sin, unable to enjoy sexual intercourse because of shame, etc., then she should leave him and find a Godly man willing to take on the role of husband.

  22. “Another fact is, if the unmarried woman removed herself and the children from the unmarried man’s house, this would not be considered a “separation” because they were never married.”

    I will repeat, what right does this woman have to remove these children from their fathers household? Biblically, children belong to their father.

    If ultimately her conscience persuades her to leave, the children should remain with their father unless he willingly (without government pointing a gun at him as government has no more legitimate say in overriding God in marriage matters than they have in saying abortion is OK) allows the children to go with her freely.

    I know this is a difficult situation but in trying to boil down what really constitutes a “biblical” marriage it just keeps coming back to Genesis 2:22-24 for me. The very first marriage in the Bible. “The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

    The man said,
    “This is now bone of my bones,
    And flesh of my flesh;
    She shall be called Woman,
    Because she was taken out of Man.”

    For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. ”

    Did Adam and the woman (she was not yet named Eve) have a ceremony? None was recorded. Did they get a license? Pretty sure not. Were they issued a certificate? Very doubtful. Verse 21 says the God brought her to the man and they became one flesh. A fathers consent and sex, (just like Jacob and Leah/Rachael) poof they were considered husband and wife.

    Rape did not prevent a marriage in the Bible and fornication didn’t either. To me it almost boils down to whether or not this woman’s father approves of her (obviously committed) union with this man or not. If he did/does, then done deal; I believe it’s a biblical marriage in the eyes of God regardless of what anyone calls it or does not call it. If her father does not approve, then it’s not a marriage and she should leave the children with their father and leave him. I don’t see how it gets any more “biblical” than that.

  23. Lori,

    I should certainly have included that we will be praying for her to obey God’s Word. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.


  24. I find it odd that Trey keeps posting his very odd father’s rights posts.

    The man at issue in this post is a mere putative father. He merely had sex with a woman without marriage and may be the father of the children. He has no rights unless they are established by the state. And since he refuses to marry the mother of his alleged children, he left his children as bastards.

    It was only a few decades ago that laws regarding bastards were removed from the books. The mere fact that society removed the status should not mean that religious groups should follow. One of the worst things our modern religious groups have done is accepted bastard children as if there is nothing wrong. Unmarried mothers having bastard children is not the same as a widow carrying for her children.

    If he refuses to remove the status of bastard from his children by marrying their mother, she should move on. He isn’t committed to her and he really is nothing buta sperm donor contributing to poor outcomes for his alleged children.

  25. Sorry I am late to this discussion, but I am quite confident that she is to follow the apostle Paul’s admonition to “remain in the condition in which (s)he was called.” (7:20).

    There is no Biblical mandate that I am aware of to create a marriage beyond a couple leaving, cleaving, becoming one flesh, making a home and bearing children. There has never been a “certificate of marriage” spoken of in the scriptures, only a certificate of divorce.

    This couple is married.

    If one wants to argue that they are not because the man has not consented, ponder the idea that ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” (Deut 22:28-29). This man too many not want to be married to this woman he raped, but is married to her for life.

  26. Would not the man have to agree it was a marriage for it to actually be a marriage? Even Laban after his deception was discovered that he had given Leah not Rachel had to ask Jacob to agree with it, “Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

    Genesis 29:27-28” If the man doesn’t agree you could have a mess on your hands. Any father could go and insist his daughter is now your wife whether you agreed to it or not. This man has not agreed to be her husband in any sense (legally or spiritually). From what you are stating it seems the only legitimate authority for making marriages is solely the father of the daughter. Every guy better watch out or they may find themselves married without any say.

  27. With all due respect, you keep saying that this is a difficult situation, while at the same time insisting that they are biblically married. If they are truly married, this isn’t hard at all; 1 Corinthians 7:13+14 tells her exactly what she needs to do! But because she is not his wife and he does not want to marry her, she is left with the decision to either break up her family, or continue fornicating. This is the true difficulty of the matter.

    Now on the other, you have piqued my interest in what really makes a marriage, a marriage; as you have many solid points. Though I’ve never heard of the whole rape victim got married in the Bible.

  28. Mara, you write “the fact that they are not truly married,” can you define Biblically what is a marriage if it is not exactly what they are doing? Leave, cleave, become one flesh, make a home together, bear children. What is your mind is missing for God to recognize them as married? Is it possible that a couple start out fornicating but at some point, they meet all the requirements for marriage … and it just happened over time?

    What looks like a duck, quacks like a duck may indeed be a duck that meets all God’s requirements for marriage whether they agree with God on the matter or not. Is it possible that these your couples who are all shacking up “before marriage” in their minds are really considered married in God’s eyes? And hence when they leave for another they are committing adultry and divorce?

  29. I guess that is what makes this discussion interesting that most who believe she should depart are unwilling to define what a marriage is Biblically. We can’t presume customs on the Bible but need to recognize what God calls marriage… leave, cleave, become one flesh, make a home, bear offspring. I am curious if there is any other requirement? I can’t think of it, and this couple meets all the requirements. She should consider herself married to this man, even if he does not believe he is married. She was living in sin, but now is covered by God’s grace in the home and bed she has made for herself, and soon she will win her husband to the Lord. That is our prayer, and they can then make it official with a big wedding!

  30. So pretty much everybody who lives together is living in holy matrimony in God’s eyes? Because we have to remember not every couple can have children. So therefore, there is no such thing as living in sin, because as soon as two people move in together God considers them married? Is that really what you’re saying?

  31. My understanding of that passage is not rape because it says “and they are found”. The woman with the question also never said she was raped. Either way from what I understand you are saying is “sex = marriage”. If true, and perhaps it is, that would mean a lot of people are married without knowing it as sadly a lot of people fornicate. So fornication would be limited to the first sexual intercourse with a partner, after that it would be marriage? What do you make of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well. From my understanding he did not consider the man she was currently with her husband but something was different with the first marriages as he did acknowledge them. “The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” John 4:17-18

  32. Alonso your quote of Deuteronomy states “29then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” (Deut 22:28-29).” So there is no marriage until the man gives 50 shekels of silver. So if the man refused to give the money I assume he may be killed but still he would not have married her. I don’t see a marriage as automatic or an act that is entered into accidentally or not even being aware that it happened.

  33. I don’t disagree with leaving, cleaving, becoming one flesh, and having children as being biblical marriage. What initially was strange is that Lori advised for this woman to stay with her boyfriend, and to fornicate with him, but now all of a sudden he’s been her “husband” this whole time. That’s a huge flip of the switch with very little warning. This also means that much of America would be truly married in “God’s eyes”, and living together isn’t actually a sin at all because when you leave your parents, and cleave to your girlfriend, and sleep with her, she just automatically becomes your wife. If that’s the case then why wasn’t the woman at the well married? Jesus called the man her husband (God’s eyes), and she said he is not my husband, to which He replied with, “… Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that thou saidst truly (John 4:17+18). Hast being synonymous with have, means: posses, own, or hold. For the woman at the well to” posses/own a man” means that he was most likely living with her, and yet she was not married to him in God’s eyes.

  34. The mother is subordinate to father in God’s order – the unpicking of this matter requires faith and a thorough washing in the water of the Word. I can rise above this person to condemn because God found me in fornication, I was admonished for this sin but the greater matter is the keeping of Jesus Christ’s commandments as laid out in the 4 gospels and the repentance of those who call themselves His Church. If you put Him at the centre of those commandments you will see we are falling short no matter how righteous our carnal works are.

  35. Respectfully Sir, no so. Otherwise God would not use the following words: wife damsel, mistress, maid, concubine, harlot whore, adultress etc. They are each and every one different – check your etymologies: Also it is the man who determines the relationship – just like God

  36. I hear what you are saying Trey – there is a zeal there – now put Jesus at the centre of what you are saying and turn this one on yourself – let us repent and follow Christ wholly!

  37. If you can see that then you are well able to depart the customs and ordinances and justifications of man and cling and cleave to Jesus Christ your husband in simple naked faith and be clothed in His righteousness

  38. I believe as Ken and Lori do. The situation is not ideal but now it is time to make lemonade out of lemons:). Give those precious children an intact home. Honor him as your husband and pray, pray.

    If it were me, I would be tempted to buy an inexpensive ring off Amazon and wear it with a flirty smile. Most men are naturally inclined to please their women and then let’s not forget God:)

    I would NOT give him an ultimatum-most real men resist those just because it is their nature.
    Blessings on this family and yours, Lori??

  39. “Would not the man have to agree it was a marriage for it to actually be a marriage?”

    I’m not sure and the Bible does not spell it out for us. It does give us some examples though. Mosaic law dictated that if a man raped a woman that he HAD to (pay the bride price and) marry her and he could never divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

    Even if a man seduced a virgin to willingly have sex (fornicate) with him, that man HAD to pay the bride price and “she shall be his wife”. (Exodus 22:16). Unless her father forbid it. Then he still had to pay for the property damage the father suffered.

    I really don’t know what Jacob thought or if he felt he had a choice or not.

    “Every guy better watch out or they may find themselves married without any say.”

    You are correct. The law “of the land” for many decades in Western civilization was… you have sex with my virgin daughter… you broke it, you bought it. Shotgun wedding. The man married her or else.

    The real issue here is not what WE consider as being a valid marriage, it’s what does God consider to be a valid marriage. The difficulty it that the Bible does not spell it out very clearly for us.

  40. 1 Cor 7 is certainly somethi ng to ponder and pray about. But marriage and living togheter are the same then?

  41. I am not purposefully ignoring you but I am unable to respond to most of what you post because you speak in riddles that I just don’t fully understand.

  42. I am rather shocked at your advice I must say. For so many reasons! We are to obey God above a Husband when we are married if he asks us to do something against the will of God. Why not then to obey the Lord over a boyfriend? Over our children? I have read your advice to do so many times over. We obey Gods word over man/woman at all times! Then there is the command to obey the laws of your land. Our law currently states that to be married a couple must have a certificate and state vows with witnesses. Thirdly, all over the Bible is the admonition to FLEE fornication. The lady at the well when asked of her husband said she had none. Jesus said she did well to state she had none. He told her she had five and the one she lives with is NOT her husband. He told her to go and sin no more. And what about faith in God to see you & your children through because you are honoring him and his ways. God is more powerful than anything! Yes reaping what we sow is hard stuff. It will not be easy most likely. Most definitely honor your children’s father as you seek to honor God more. Lastly, I personally lived this. My Mother was not married to my father but lived in sin. My sibling and I were raised in the household of, “do as I say not as I do.” Lets ask shall we how well that teaching stuck? Not much at all. It was hypocritical. If we win husbands by actions and not words, We also win most people by our actions and not words. Including even more so our children who watch us ever so closely. I sympathize with this woman truly. But I Would be ever so careful as to what advice I took. Search Billy graham sermons on this topic and old time pastors to find truth. They preached it. To know something is wrong and continue in it is iniquity. By truth iniquity is purged. Read the Bible fully and deeply and discover the truth. Then walk in the way. May God bless you on your journey to knowing him and loving him more.

  43. The first line sums up the difficulty of this issue. “The Bible nowhere explicitly states at what point God considers a man and a woman to be married.” Now that is a clear fact.

    They go on to discuss the issues and they draw some conclusions but nothing is definitively cleared up by that article, at least not for me. 🙂

  44. To each his own brother. My conclusion is that we should abide by governing authority and go by their standards of officiating marriage. If there is no governing law about marriage in a particular place then I’m right with you. God is the ultimate binding but we do need to submit to governing authorities. Adam and Eve were married by God and it was legit there was nothing else required no governing laws. Plus I consider the garden of eden the ceremonial place per se.

  45. Honestly there is no easy answer to this question. We all have our opinion on this matter. What I would recommend to the women is to start fervently praying to the Lord. Seek HIS will and wisdom from Him for this difficult situation. Either way there is no easy way out but God can do miracles and can change her husband’s heart.

  46. I wouldn’t send a dog I didn’t like to the elders of the church for guidance in this situation. In all likelihood she would get the same mix of opinions that surfaced in these replies to the original post and be no better off than before. At worst she might receive some hyper-legalistic diktat telling her she’s going straight to hell if she doesn’t move out and don’t come back to the church until she does. At best? There are no “good” options.

    Once we get off the path of obedience to God’s Word, we find ourselves in situations (like this one) where there are no “good” options, only least worst options. In this case, because there are children involved, the least worst option would seem to be to remain with the man and be as good a wife as she can be to him in every way (which would include having relations with him).

  47. I would also like to add that as in what we see happening in Our country, attempting to redefine marriage is a very, very slippery slope. No matter if its defining the who, what, when, or why. Its ALL attempting to change what has been considered for hundreds of years as marriage. One man, one woman united in holy matrimony by, in, with, and for God.

    Living a way that is opposite of what God calls us too as his followers is being followers of the World. We are called to come out and be separate from the world. You will know them by their fruits. An apple cannot be an orange. If it looks like an apple, smells like an apple, tastes like an apple. Its an apple. The world we currently reside in loves to argue these facts. For example, if it looks like a man, if it has biological evidence of a man, has male dna BUT identifies as a woman. I will attempt to force you to believe it is a woman. Slippery, slippery wide slopes. Best to keep to the narrow path.

  48. This is largely where I land.

    I would add this as well. In order to justify her behavior in continuing to live with her unsaved (now) husband, she must (in her heart and spirit) live with him as her husband, not as her boyfriend as she did in the past before she was saved. She is to be monogamous (1 Cor. 7:4), with a submissive heart (Eph. 5:23), respecting him (Eph. 5:33), and live in such a way that he will be won over by her behavior (1 Pet. 3:1). Ideally it would be better to make the marriage “official” in the eyes of the law and with a religious ceremony (Gen. 2:22). But if he refuses to consider the relationship to be a marriage, and continues to willfully live with someone he does not see as his wife, this is his sin, not hers.

  49. I agree with those who say to leave.

    Emotions aside, fornication is always a sin.

    If she leaves, because he won’t marry her, God is perfectly capable of aiding her in raising Godly children alone.

    Psalms 27:10. If God can care for children without a mother and a father, he is certainly capable of raising them with only a mother.

    If she stays in fornication, she is setting a bad example for her children. She is training them that this behavior is acceptable.

    In reality, 1 Corinthians 10:8 says God killed 23,000 for the sin of fornication, in one day.

    God takes his commands seriously.

    Like many in this thread, Uzzah tried to reason his way out of obedience to Gods commands. The command was simple. Only the Levites were allowed to touch the Ark of God. Well, when the oxen stumbled, Uzzah tried to be a hero, and touched the ark to help out.

    He was instantly killed by God.

    God isn’t interested in our reasoning. He wants obedience.

    No one in Hebrews 11 compromised Gods commands for their own reasoning. That is why they are in the book of faith.

    Hebrews 11:1

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Hebrews 11:6
    But without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    James says that faith without works is dead.

    Remaining in fornication is a gross violation of Gods law.

    Facts don’t care about our feelings.

    God can easily bring her a Godly man if she leaves, to marry and care for her and her children.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Or, her boyfriend can easily have a change of heart. Once she leaves him, he is probably not going to avoid sex. So, he will show his true colors. Will he be honorable and marry her, or will he move on and find another woman to sin with.

  50. I feel that if there were no children, everyone would be of the opinion that she should move out until he agrees to marry her. Why should the addition of kids affect whether or not we continue in sin? Yes, they will likely suffer negative consequences of not having their dad under the same roof, but that is the consequence of her/his sin.

  51. Oh, boy. I have skimmed through the many comments on this, wondering if I had any input. As I skimmed, before reading it anywhere else, scripture popped into my head from John 4:16-18, when Jesus tells the woman at the well to call her husband. I see now looking back that others have already mentioned this. What I wanted to add is that Jesus doesn’t tell her to leave him. He doesn’t condemn her (and He doesn’t tell her to “go and sin no more” as someone else mentioned). He reveals Himself to her as the Christ, and she becomes a testimony who brings many more to faith in Him from that region. If this woman from Lori’s post is reading these comments as Lori mentioned, I would encourage her to put her faith in, and never forget or doubt, the mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. He can use you as an incredible testimony to bring others to faith, including your children and the father of them. I will be praying for your discernment and for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Stay in His word, pray pray pray, and He will give you light for your path. God bless you!

  52. I believe the church (the body of believers) has long established what is and isn’t a marriage. Shacking-up (with or without children, short-term or long-time) is not a marriage and by calling it one undermines the authority of the church universal and allows a non-believer (her boyfriend) to dictate church precepts. I agree with Kelley Dibble’s comment, two wrongs don’t make a right. Sometimes repentance is HARD and oftentimes our sins have lasting consequences in this life. But isn’t it better to suffer now in this short life, than to suffer for eternity in the next? We are called to be merciful and just and what is more merciful than to offer the assurance of God’s full forgiveness of her sins? And what is more just than to apply God’s laws equally to all?

  53. I find it odd that only one post ago, you said that living together and having sex outside of marriage does not equate marriage. And now you are saying that this woman is biblically married because she has had sex with this man and has had children with him. If what you say is true, then she never broke God’s law in the first place since the first time they had sex together they would be considered married.
    Or how many times do they need to have sex together in ordered to be married?

    I understand where you are coming from though and it is a difficult situation. Here is what I would suggest. She should continue to live under the same roof but not have sex with him. If he then decides to leave, it will be his choice and not hers. And in regards to who gets the children, if they are not in physical danger then the man should have them. Chances are, he will not want responsibility for them all the time and so it will probably be that they share custody in the end.

    This is a difficult situation as I have said but you have to follow what God, no matter what the outcome. I like Montesquieu’s comment and I think he says it best. I will be praying for God to direct this woman in what she decides.

  54. This is one of issues where, like all sin, there are consequences. The only answer that protects the children, and the couple, is for the couple to marry and the man will come to the Lord.

    I think some time should be spent praying for this before anybody leaves, etc. Our God is forgiving and patient.

    Please join me in praying for this outcome!

  55. Trey’s and Lori’s solution agrees with Paul’s (the Apostle: “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:12-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  56. Dianna Orea, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.””
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    You are fixed on the things of this world and you care nothing for the salvation of this women’s children and their father. What you advocate is contra-biblical.

  57. Ken, Lori, Trey, and those like-minded, you’re correct…for all the reasons given.

    These people are living as a family: he’s faithful to her, she’s faithful to him (we have nothing indicating otherwise); they’re raising their children together; the father is providing as he should, as is the mother.

    To boot, the most effective witness she could have would be the one where she observes 1Pet. 3.

  58. As always lori has the only christian advice that can b trusted for women on the internet. This woman is not going to wait for marriage with some mystery man! Duh like reality. She had 1 chance to prove loyalty has 2 kids with this guy she loves and is a great dad and freaking abandon him is the advice from the christian women.

    You found a bible now get divorced! Wow. There is not some surplus of 30yo men looking for single mothers for half of men single mother is a automatic disqualifier. Many that are left are scum like Kevin above.

    This gal aint turning those children to jesus neither. Hey were christian now so i left your dad the govt sold him as my debt slave and im dating scum Kevin’s now! They arent gonna b able to run fast enough.

    What she should do is ask him to marry cheaply and with out govt contract. Most men take this as it leaves them in control and this is right. Then take the kids to church and work on the man she has.

    I have gone to my church of several thousand for 5yrs. In my mid thirties the single moms my age i would say have bleak marriage prospects. The few im talking 5-10 single men in their thirties you would have to fight a hoard of attractive childless submissive young women for. And i may b exagerating when saying 5-10 men it might b 1-5 i am alone basically.

    Sometimes it takes a long time to reach people but no one has better tools that a young woman who already has the guy his loyalty and kids with him. Its going to b hard for him to turn down marriage without govt contract. Who could.

    Women love working on men when shes done with her project nothing will make her happier.

  59. Kate, what you are advocating is contra-biblical: “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    You and many others are advocating that the woman assumes a headship role over the man which goes against God’s created order.

  60. This doctrine, that says so long as you leave and cleave you are married in God’s eyes, is just loose enough to make a convicted fornicator feel right with God. I’m not trying to be argumentative, or overstep as a woman, but this is a serious situation and to say she is biblically married is a damaging lie.

    The verse that seems to support this notion is Genesis 2:24: which says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto HIS WIFE: and they two shall be one flesh”. The problem is the Bible uses the words ‘his’ (meaning the “pronoun possessive of he”), and ‘wife’ (which means “a woman who is united to man in the lawful bonds of wedlock”). Implying that the man and woman were already joined together (Mark 10:9), not that they were bf/gf in the process of becoming married. Leaving your parents and moving in with a woman doesn’t make her your wife, wedlock makes a woman your wife.

    So what is the “lawful bonds of wedlock”? According to Malachi 2:16, it is a covenant, NOT a commitment, that makes a man and a woman married. The word ‘covenant’ means: “a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a covenant is created by deed in writing, sealed and executed” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary). Which means that God recognizes marriages that are of the State (in writing), and that are of the Church (a mutual consent . . to do. . . some act: meaning marriage). Because the woman’s boyfriend does not consent to marrying her, (he only consents to being her boyfriend), they are NOT in a marriage covenant recognized by God. They are living in fornication. Just because two people become one flesh does NOT mean they are married. 1 Corinthians 6:16 says, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot (harlot not just being a prostitute but even a ‘common woman’ according to Websters 1828) is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh”. Two verses later and we are commanded to “Flee FORNICATION”; sleeping with a common woman does not make her your wife according to the Bible, it makes you a fornicator.

    Does having children mean you’re married in God’s eyes? No, according to the Bible. Judah, in Genesis 38:13-30, went and joined to Tamar giving her TWO children (like the woman who inquired of Lori), and yet the Bible never says they were married.

    Living with a person does NOT mean you a married in God’s eyes, either (John 4:16-18, the woman at the well). Someone posted that Jesus never told her to leave him, if that were the case what was the point of even mentioning her sin? I believe because the woman was humble about her sin, that God didn’t feel it necessary to tell her to leave him because she already knew what she was supposed to do, by her response of “he is not my husband”.

    I believe this woman needs to separate from her boyfriend and pray for his salvation.

  61. That’s not at all what she said. As a Christian, she is commanded to “flee fornication”, and “glorify God in your/her body, and in your/her spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:18, 20). Her boyfriend has made the choice to not agree to a marriage, therefore if she wants to glorify God in her body, she must leave. That is not usurping man’s authority (which he doesn’t even have, btw, because he’s not her husband).

  62. As far as I know there’s not one state in the US where this man wouldn’t get joint custody if she leaves with the children and potentially full custody if his situation long term ends up better than hers or the kids decide they want to live with him. The children would then be exposed to new women that come into his life and a myriad of other circumstances that would expose them to a potential variety of bad influences. I still wish I would’ve stayed with my 21 year old’s father with whom I had her out of wedlock. She’s been exposed to horrific things and it put his life into a tail spin of 2 subsequent marriages and kids with other women who he is no longer with, etc… This woman’s kids are a blessing and being with a man who is a good guy is also a blessing. Who knows what the future holds for them. G_d bless! I can think of a lot worse circumstances. Isn’t it about living by the spirit of the law not the letter of the law?

  63. Lori is right.

    If she leaves him, she’s making a grave, grave, GRAVE mistake.

    I’d even go so far as to say, that SHE stole a family from her children. Not him.

    What it really sounds like is there is some sort of relationship issue in the work and the girl is looking for a way to leave her man.

    When you are in a happy relationship, with kids, and you become born again…you’d just smile at your Man and think “oh I’ll get him down that aisle eventually” *wink wink* You would never contemplate leaving him!

    This just stinks of a woman trying to get out of her relationship.

    Don’t use Christianity lady to justify leaving your man and father of your kids!

    No wonder he doesn’t want to marry her…

    She’s not committed to him!

  64. A discontent woman will find any reason to leave her man…

    I feel bad for the guy! He had two kids with her and is trying to keep the family together!

    (When they marry, she’ll leave even faster cuz she’ll get his $$)

  65. I don’t pretend to know the best outcome here, but it seems to me that if she is now following Christ she will ultimately have to leave him, quite simply because she cannot continue what she now knows to be the sin of fornication, without repentance.

    We can only pray that if he truly loves her he will agree to marry sooner rather than later.

  66. When challenged by the Pharisees and even Satan (during Christ’s temptation) about the letter of the law, Christ countered with the spirit of the law. What would Christ say in a situation like this? The woman claims she has no husband because he won’t legally marry her, right? I imagine Christ asking her, “Who do you go home to every night? Who is the father of your two children? Who feeds and clothes them and puts a roof over your and their heads?”

    To me, this couple is already married in God’s eyes, and she should remain with the unbelieving father like Paul advised (so long as he is content to stay with her). She should continue to live as a faithful Christian wife who is married to him in all but the letter of the law. If he marries her someday, all the better. If not, she should stay with him so long as he remains in a committed monogamous relationship with her and the children.

    I believe this is what a loving father would advise his daughter, and Christ is the most perfect loving father of all.

  67. And that overrides the Biblical teaching that children belong to their father? Even wives are instructed to submit to their lost husbands? (1 Peter 3:1) Is not God powerful enough to take care of children if their father is lost?

    Or does this just boil down to… let’s obey God when it suits us and makes us feel good about things.

  68. I completely agree with Mara that saying they are Biblically married is not true. She did an excellent job of backing this with Scripture. Now the only reason people want to say they are Biblically married is that they don’t want to hurt the children with a separation, which I completely understand. If it was just a girl and her boyfriend living together, they would say separate (not claim they are Biblically married). To me saying that they are Biblically married is as ridiculous as saying a boy is a girl that is obviously a boy. Our culture is all about making things how they want them to be. As Christians we shouldn’t be doing the same. If the man and woman have not exchanged vows (and followed the laws of their land), they are simply not married. They are shacking up. To say otherwise, is to go with the cultures thinking of making things to be whatever you want them to be.

    From a lot of the comments I’ve read, people seem very black and white over the issue. I personally think there are so many details we don’t know the best course of action without knowing more (of course, ceasing fornication is an obvious must), but whether she should stay or leave needs to prayerfully be considered. And if the lady feels she needs to leave to give the man a wake up call so to speak, it doesn’t mean she has to break up with him and go find someone else better or more Christianly. She can still be his girlfriend, just not a live in one. Or if the lady feels the best course of action is to stay put (while ceasing the marital relations), then that may be the best course of action in this particular situation. Maybe for the children’s sake this is the best course of action (for ex. she would have to go back to work if she were to leave and have to put the children in daycare) or maybe she just doesn’t want to uproot her children at this time, which is completely understandable. However, if she does stay she needs to make it clear that she can not continue in sin with her boyfriend. I also think the lady needs to find out why her boyfriend doesn’t want to marry her. Does he not want to spend the money? Does he not want to be the center of attention at a wedding? Did he have a bad experience with his parents divorcing and he is afraid to be married? Does he not love her enough to want to commit his life to her? I think finding out the real reason at her boyfriends reluctance to get married is important. It might make finding the solution to him marrying her easier. If he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money, go get married at the court house (or have a super small church wedding with no reception). If it is a trust issue, then that may need to be worked on. This is such a hard situation, and must be covered in much prayer. Let’s all be praying for her- that her boyfriend gets saved, and they can be married!

  69. If the woman in the OP wants to leave, she can. But, as the one abandoning the household, she should leave the children behind with their father.

  70. Hi, Lori!

    After much thought and discussion with my husband, I will say (with much respect) that this is one of the few posts that I disagree with.

    In effect, what is said here is, “You’d better keep on sinning, because obeying God’s commands would be too costly.”

    I believe that this post may fall into the same trap that you warn us against – the fact that women, when they preach, fall into the trap of thinking with their emotions and forming their beliefs from those emotions (rather than the reverse, which is what men usually do).

    But God uses the “Obey first, and let ME take care of the consequences” approach. It is never wise to advise someone to continue in sin.

    Many commenters have surprisingly said that sex and living together equal a legitimate marriage, but this – as other commenters have pointed out – does not have a biblical or logical basis. (I know that you aren’t saying that.)

    I know you have this woman’s best interests at heart, and I appreciate that.

    I know you’ve gotten slammed with comments on this post – I hope it hasn’t ruined your week! Enjoy having Ken home – we’re so glad he’s doing better!!

  71. I agree. She has two kids. She says he is a good father. Stay with him and focus on making a happy home. She put herself in this situation, so just make the best of it. Don’t drag the kids through drama.

  72. It sounds like this particular man is not ready to make any commitment, whether sanctioned by the government or not.

  73. A spoken/written covenant before one or two witnesses just makes sense with marriage. Marriage is a high and holy calling and we want to treat it with due respect.
    I agree the children will be damaged either way (likely). But, if she chooses to live and have sex with a man who she has not made a covenant with in front of one or two witnesses then the children will not have a proper understanding of the high and holy calling of marriage and saving sex until marriage. If marriage is just having sex…..then the first guy/girl the children meet who they think they love with all their hearts and who wants to have sex with them….then why not repeat the sin of their parents?? God will eventually bless it, right? Especially if they have children?
    Alternatively, if the mother chooses to leave with the children and the father is silly enough to just find another easy woman then there is the pain of all that. It will affect the children. But, at least they have one example of a parent who has done hard things just because it’s right. The child can and may choose to do so in their own lives as well. And so helpful if the mom has placed the children in circles of godly people/fathers who have reinforced her choices.

  74. I fully agree that marriage is something you must actively commit to, not just passively drift into. However, there are many things to consider. Believers have no excuse to shack up before marriage as they already know better, but unbelievers can’t be expected to live like believers. C.S. Lewis pointed out that “one fault is not mended by adding another.” Someone converting only after getting entangled in a situation like this is not automatically told in the Bible to abandon their family or desert from the army or even free their slaves immediately, but to follow Christ in the situation they were called. If he does not turn her out, deserting her mate and children by choice will only destroy her witness along with her family. And children in Bible times belonged to both parents; Ezra had the men send away their children along with their heathen [hostile to God] wives, because the children were raised as heathens too. In the Bible, besides virgins, wives, and harlots, there were also concubines. Concubines did not share the legal status of wives, but they belonged to one man, their children could be recognized, and they were noted as being such only as stating a fact, not as condemning a sin. God did not create such a category, men did, but if even men who kept concubines could be considered godly, one must assume she could too. It wasn’t likely by her choice.

    Common-law marriage is still called marriage because, before the sexual revolution when casually shacking up then breaking up became so lamentably popular, that was the intent of the couple. Before the state got involved, before the clergy got involved, marriage was historically recognized as consent between the two parties. It was retained even by explicitly Christian governments to honor marriages by mutual consent when the couple either couldn’t afford a ceremony, lived somewhere too remote for an officiant to be available, or still believed the state only had the right to recognize and record marriages but not regulate them with a license.

    Some people refuse to marry because they want to leave the door open for easy escape, but those men usually avail themselves of this upon discovery of pregnancy. Others fear not the commitment but the ceremony/certificate. They shrug it off as “just a piece of paper” that doesn’t change their commitment, but they know very well that piece of paper is far from inconsequential. While a breakup especially with children will cause as much emotional pain and damage, a legal divorce entitles her not only to take him for child support but also alimony, his property, and court costs on top of this! In a society where the divorce rate is around 50%, women now initiate 80% of those, and the rate within the church is about the same as without, this fear is well founded and no feeble excuse. If this is his objection, then her protests to the contrary might not convince him, but if he is willing to declare their commitment even unofficially before their families and refer to each other as husband and wife (some common-laws of my acquaintance do) then his intentions are valid and so is their marriage.

  75. I forgot to include the example of Timothy. His father was known to be a Greek, but his mother was the one who raised him and trained him in the Scriptures. She may have been married as we tend to assume, but she may just as likely have been a concubine (not by choice) or otherwise abandoned by him. Point is, she was not required to leave Timothy with his father for his upbringing, but took advantage of natural parenting opportunities to raise up another disciple in the faith. So should this woman, if her partner refuses to marry her or tolerate revamping their relationship, rather than deserting her God-given responsibility as their mother to raise them in the ways of the Lord and leaving them with an unbeliever who cannot feed their souls without protest.

  76. I am not advocating that she disrespect the children’s father, nor am I unaware of the issues of custody agreements — trust me, I’ve lived through them. That is not the issue, though. The issue is the living in sin. And that simply has to stop. I don’t understand why that is so difficult to understand.

    And the children already have a father. Absolutely. And an arrangement must be made in which both of them are raising their children that they have had together. I am not advocating that the mother “audition for a replacement” at all; in fact, I would encourage her to remain single. She now has children to consider. They come first. They have a father. Yes, I am going to say it — she should remain single and celibate and take Christ as her Spouse. Somehow I don’t think that is going to be OK with anybody here, either.

    But it’s been done. If you find yourself divorced or widowed, and have young children at home, you need to put their needs first ahead of your own. They take priority. You need to rely on your own father, or your brothers, or uncles, or other male relatives to supply the father figure for your children, if he’s not there. Don’t go racing out to find another husband. You had one already. Maybe another husband will work out well, and I could be dead wrong, but in general it’s probably best to remain as you are, and let the kids remember their father as he was and rely on their uncles and grandfathers to fill the gap left.

  77. Trey, it boils down to what example the children are receiving. I’ve been reading your comments, and you seem to be fixated on that one thing — father’s rights. Here’s the thing. He refuses to marry their mother. He wants the benefits of marriage without marriage. The children see this and they start to wonder if this is okay — which it is not. Even you agree that fornication is evil, right?

    Open-and-shut situation. Children must be taught the difference between right and wrong, sin and virtue. If the mother has finally been given the grace to see, she must fulfill her duty — and she will answer to God just as surely for her obligations to her children.

    You may say, ah, yes, but she has obligations to obey this man. He is not her husband, he is not married to her. Therefore, she is not under his law. You counteract by saying we don’t know what a Biblical marriage truly is; well, what about the appearance of scandal? Especially today, as was mentioned by someone else, this is a slippery slope in this day of redefining marriage.

    What is more important?

    We have here public scandal — two people living together in what I shall call for the sake of all things considered, without the sanction of what we agree on in society as a recognized marriage. (And, OK, we can say that now that marriage has been redefined in our courts of law that doesn’t mean squat — but we still marry according to law. This can be argued till Doomsday and all we will have succeeded in doing is getting nowhere.)

    We have children who must be taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong. They must not be taught to think otherwise.

    We have a mother who had no faith prior to this time, but now has been given the grace of repentance — and we should rejoice in this, by the way.

    We have a father who still does not have faith, which is not really the issue since many unsaved men have been married to saved women and things turned out well — and sometimes they were saved later on — but the issue is that he won’t marry her.

    So what do you do here? This is a far bigger issue than anything about father’s rights. The mother will answer to God just as seriously for her role in raising these children and will be held accountable just as much. All souls are judged, and all souls are sifted before an almighty God. I know I will answer to God for what I teach my children just as severely as my husband will be. I don’t take that lightly.

    That holds a lot more weight than anybody’s rights.

  78. Having two children with this woman, living in the same house with them, supporting them and being a “great father” seems like a pretty big commitment to me.

    Deeds speak much louder than words.

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