Common Reasons Christians Have Sex Outside of Marriage
Why is it that so many couples choose to move in together before marriage?
Matt and Sarah met in college, began dating, and fell in love. As good as the idea of marriage sounded to them, living together first made more sense. Matt was looking for a companion, and Sarah needed a way to escape her parents’ home. She was tired of being told what to do and didn’t have a good relationship with her parents, especially her dad. So moving in with Matt seemed like the natural next step.
“Living together seemed like a sensible choice,” Sarah told me. “I found Matt to be nurturing and, best of all, he knew how to rescue me. He didn’t have a relationship with Jesus—but knew how to rescue me!”
However, living together didn’t go the way they expected. They ended up trading one dysfunctional situation for another. They found themselves dealing with emotional confusion and despair, and Sarah had to lie over and over again to keep her living arrangements from her parents.
“We needed someone willing to speak into our lives and help us,” they said. “Some kind of mentoring on the topic of marriage would have helped us make better decisions. That would have changed a lot of things.”
A Lack of Commitment
In an article titled “Marriage: ‘I Do,’ Not ‘Maybe You’ll Do,’” Sharon Barrett writes:
Of course, social science research supports the importance of faithful married love. Couples who are married rather than single or cohabiting report better health, less stress and depression, and more positive family relationships; they are less likely to suffer or commit domestic violence; and they are more likely to pursue a regular spiritual life. Married couples even enjoy greater sexual fulfillment than cohabiting couples.
One might think a cohabiting relationship would carry benefits similar to marriage, if the partners are committed to each other; but the truth is that most couples who cohabit are not fully committed…
Commitment is a key ingredient of marriage that cohabiting relationships often cannot achieve.
Why are many young people, including Christians, choosing to do something that may hinder or even derail what they’re hoping for in the future?
A Fear Response
On the surface, testing the sexual waters and living together before marriage almost makes sense. After all, marriage is a lifetime commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly and God hates divorce—right?
But often lurking at the core of this decision is something unexpected: fear. Many young people choose to cohabit because they want the intimacy of marriage but are terrified of the commitment of marriage. It’s like buying a new car; they want to test drive the vehicle first before signing on the dotted line.
Here are a few other common reasons Christian young people decide to live together before marriage:
They haven’t experienced the true love of God.
They don’t know what the Bible says about sexual purity.
They take God’s instructions for granted, thinking they are old fashioned or just for earlier times.
Peer pressure. It seems like everyone else is doing it.
They believe that sexual activity is acceptable as long as they don’t have “intercourse.”
What All of Us Need
It is amazing how much our lives change when we realize that God truly, deeply loves us. His love is the answer for heartache, family pain, self-hatred, lack of self-worth, and the other emotional and spiritual things we struggle with. When we give our lives to Jesus, we don’t live for ourselves anymore but we live for Him (Gal. 2:20). This is part of what it means to be a “living sacrifice,” as Romans 12:1 talks about.
As we really begin to understand how much God loves us, we are filled with hope and courage, and it becomes that much easier to trust Him and what He says about sexual purity in the Bible. We start to realize that He is what we need, and we no longer need to turn to a sexual relationship to find safety and comfort.
For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.