Under the radar screen raging hormones or economic necessity may be driving Evangelicals to cohabit even when they know they should not. Here is what some say is really going on among the young, conservative, morale and righteous among us:
- THE GODLY ARE LIVNG IN SIN - there are large numbers within the so-called Evangelical Christian experience who are, for a myriad of reasons, cohabiting. But it is not easy to obtain verification of this since most Evangelicals see cohabitation as sinful.
- BETTER GAY THAN SHACKING UP - a cohabiting heterosexual couple being “outed” in the Evangelical community is probably more objectionable and less tolerated than a gay person coming out.
- EVANGELICALS JUST LIKE NON-CHRISTIANS - also, many young adults in the emerging church don’t see cohabitation as being sinful and are in cohabiting relationships, much to the chagrin of their parents and grandparents. There is very little difference in the habits of unmarried, single Christian couples and that of people who don’t claim to be Christians.
- PASTORS BECOMING MAVERICKS - also, there are many pastors who understand this and perform marriages that are in the church and in the eyes of God but are not legally on the books–a form of civil disobedience?
Lessons yet learned by Evangelical leaders:
Years of condemning cohabitation has done NOTHING to slow down the rate of cohabitation among young Christians. In addition, while rates of marriage continue to decline, rates of cohabitation are about to skyrocket since nearly 70% of high schoolers think living together is both harmless and worthwhile.
Explanations for the Rise in Cohabitation
- Many cohabitating couples had parents who divorced after many years of marriage, thus, by cohabiting they feel they will avoid the mistakes of their parents.
- Many cohabitating couples see themselves as far more independent than previous generations and they no longer depend on a committed partner for financial, physical or emotional needs, or general daily chores such as cooking and cleaning.
- Many cohabiting young people feel they have greater choice, more time to find a soul mate and less of a need to make a full commitment.
- Many cohabiting couples expect to invest less and receive less from the relationship by selecting a “wait and see” attitude.
It’s time to “reinvent” and raise our expectations of cohabitation, and our attitudes toward those who decide to live together. There is a commonly held myth that marriage means you will “live happily ever-after.” However, there is no similar assumption of cohabitation other than “it won’t last” which helps create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s time to take a serious and non-judgmental look at cohabiting couples of all ages and help them strengthen and sustain their relationship to increase the likelihood they will marry. Let’s consider finding a new approach to this reality!