The Harm of Living Together Without Marriage
Text: Psalm 50
I. As Christianity spread through the Gentile world, it faced many challenges
A. For thousands of years, the Gentiles gave little thought to God. Oh, they had their gods, but these were little more than extensions of their own desires. No, they lived in a world where men did what they wanted to do as they saw fit.
B. Becoming a Christian meant changing the cultural norm. - I Corinthians 6:9-11
1. Think about it. A church made up of people who were once swindlers, “party animals,” alcoholics, and thieves. They had people who had focused only gaining the most of this world’s goods. Some were living for sexual pleasure: unmarried people were having sex, married people were having sex with people to whom they weren’t married, homosexuality was prevalent as well as cross-dressing. Some of these sexual practices were even done in the name of religion!
2. Think about the artwork that has survived from this period of time. The celebration of nudity and the striving for sensual pleasures.
3. The change to living a life of a Christians was a startling contrast - I Peter 4:1-5
C. A fair portion of our New Testaments discusses sexual sins. Obviously it was a significant problem and God saw that it would continue to be a problem.
D. In an article on why the divorce rate is so high in the areas of our country where Protestant religion is strongly followed, a few lame guesses were quoted.
1. One that stuck out was: “Due in part to Oklahoma’s conservative religious values, relatively few young couples live together before marriage. ‘There is very strong pressure: If you’re going to have an intimate relationship, it has got to be in marriage,’ said Dr. Stewart Beasley, president of the Oklahoma Psychological Association. ‘When you get that pushed down your throat, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of options.’ One option is early marriages, said Beasley, ‘and the younger they are, the less likely they’ll make a success of it.’”
2. Did you catch that? Dr. Beasley thinks that Oklahoma’s divorce rate is high because most people don’t live together before marriage! This doesn’t help my already low regard for modern psychology.
E. Is it a wonder with advice like this that sexual immorality is rampant today?
1. The number of unmarried, cohabiting adults of the opposite sex has risen from 439,000 in 1960 to 4,236,000 in 1998.
2. That is nearly a 1000% increase in less than 40 years!
II. Why People Living Together without Marriage
A. The stigma against sex outside of marriage has been removed from society.
1. “Cohabitation is also more common among those who are less religious than their peers. Indeed, some evidence suggests that the act of cohabitation actually diminishes religious participation, whereas marriage tends to increase it.”
2. No longer is our society concerned with answering to the almighty God in Heaven - Hebrews 13:4
3. People give lip service to following the laws of God, but they live in evil - Psalm 50:16-22
4. The stigma did not come from society itself, but the fact that society recognized a higher authority.
a. Paul talked of the Gentile society that forgot God - Romans 1:21-23
b. The first step leaving God was a dishonoring of the body in lust - Romans 1:24.
c. When people lose their sight of God, they cast off the restraints on their actions - Proverbs 29:18
B. Technology has made it possible have sex without producing children.
1. It is amazing to me how often obvious lessons have to be re-learned.
a. If you removed a negative consequence from an action, does a person increase or decrease doing that action?
b. If there was no consequence to raiding the cookie jar, will more or less cookies be eaten at your house?
c. A child left to himself will come to disgrace - Proverbs 29:15
d. If a child is not disciplined, you are encouraging his death - Prov 19:18
2. Sex outside of marriage is not longer seen as wrong in our society, so there is no discipline there. Yet also we have removed the natural consequence of sex, which is the production of children.
a. This is done by teaching children how to avoid pregnancy.
b. We then freely give them the means with which to sin and then not take responsibility for their action.
c. And if they slip up and a child is conceived, why we make it possible for them to remove the “inconvenience” by allowing them to kill their child and even paying for the procedure.
3. Sex within marriage is supposed to be fun - Proverbs 5:19
a. A married couple shouldn’t be concerned if a child is produced, because it is expected and that is the place where children are to be raised - Psalm 127:3; Psalm 128:3-4
b. But what we have done is allowed people to partake of the pleasures of sex without having to face its consequences.
C. Our society focuses on self-fulfillment, but marriage is a commitment to someone else.
1. Feminism emphasizes an independence from men.
a. No longer is order God established recognized - I Corinthians 11:2-3
b. It is seen as offensive for a woman to be dependent in any way on a many - Ephesians 5:22-24
2. But it is not just the independence of women from men. Men too are rejecting their responsibility for women and their children. - Eph 5:28-30
3. Our materialistic society emphasizes the gaining of things. Marriage involves sharing your things with someone else
a. Hence, prenuptial agreements, which define what are my things before the marriage and what I’m taking with me when we divorce.
b. People are reluctant to become one so they remain two.
D. A fear of failure. As more marriages and cohabiting break, the people involved and their children fear it will happen to them.
1. You can see this in the delay of marriage until “I’m financially set.”
a. Part selfish
b. Part an unwillingness to start unless you can see you will succeed.
c. It is a lack of courage
(1) When the Israelites came to take the land flowing with milk and honey, did it not take courage on their part to enter into war? - Deuteronomy 31:6
(2) It takes courage to follow the Lord’s teachings - II Corinthians 5:6-10
(3) The fearful put off when they are uncertain as to the outcome. That is why the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
2. Pressure to delay marriage until you are “mature.”
a. Teenage marriages have a high rate of failure, so the thought is the longer you delay, the more likely the marriage will succeed.
b. Our own history shows this concept to be false.
(1) We marry later, yet half of our marriages fail.
(2) Just a few generations ago we married younger and those marriages lasted!
c. Marriage is not just for the old - Proverbs 5:18, Malachi 2:14
d. It is a lack of trust that God’s way works
e. What is happening is people are delaying until they are so set in their ways that they are unwilling to bond to another and adapt and mold their life around someone else.
III. The Harm of Living Together without Marriage
A. Cohabiting does not reduce the likelihood of divorce; in fact, it leads to a higher divorce rate (measured at 46% higher rate in 1987).
1. Sex causes a bonding between the partners - I Corinthians 6:15-16
B. People learn to live with someone without commitment. Therefore relationships are frequently broken while living together and for the rest of their life.
1. There is little commitment to the partner.
a. People who just live together frequently have multiple bed partners.
b. They frequently move in and out of relationships.
c. Instead of strengthening the bonds, they are constantly made and broken.
d. They literally don’t know how to stay with just one partner.
e. In warning against the harlot, Solomon says her ways are unstable - Proverbs 5:6
2. There is a strong view of living for self-gratification. Tolerance for unhappiness is diminished.
a. No relationship is perfectly smooth.
b. A marriage is a commitment to another person despite the disappointments.
(1) Doesn’t count the wrongs suffered - I Corinthians 13:5
(2) Bears all things, . . . endures all things - I Corinthians 13:7
c. A cohabitation is a matter of convenience.
3. It increases the acceptance of divorce (1997 study).
C. It leads to unhappiness
1. “Cohabiting couples report lower levels of happiness, lower levels of sexual exclusivity and sexual satisfaction, and poorer relationships with their parents.”
a. The harlot, in the end, is bitter - Proverbs 5:3-4
2. In part it is due to the uncertainty of the continuance of the relationship.
3. “Annual rates of depression among cohabiting couples are more than three times what they are among married couples. And women in cohabiting relationships are more likely than married women to suffer physical and sexual abuse.”
D. It harms the children involved
1. “One study found that children currently living with a mother and her unmarried partner had significantly more behavior problems and lower academic performance than children from intact families.”
2. Since the partner is likely not to be biological (father or mother), abuse tends to be 14 to 33 times higher than in a stable married family (from a study in Great Britain).
3. Children are meant to be raised in a family comprised of two married, loving partners.
4. The Bible talks of the widows and the fatherless as defenseless targets who need protection - Jeremiah 22:3
5. The fatherless have no helper - Job 29:12
6. The wicked prey upon them - Psalm 94:6
E. It leads to economic hardships
1. Cohabiting couples tend to have low incomes, just slightly higher than single people.
a. 6% of married couples with children are living in poverty, 31% of cohabiting couples with children are living in poverty, and 45% of single mothers are living in poverty.
b. Economic hardship and decaying health - Proverbs 5:8-14
2. Reason is the lack of motivation for men to become more responsible and productive.
3. A man is responsible for the provisions of his family - I Timothy 5:8
F. It leads to physical and spiritual health problems
1. The use of multiple partners spreads diseases rapidly
2. Proverbs 7:21-27 - It costs a man his life.
3. Proverbs 9:13-18
IV. God consistently refers to sex outside of marriage as a sin
A. Fornication - sex between unmarried partners
B. Adultery - sex between partners where at least one is married.
C. One cannot participate in these acts and be a part of God’s kingdom - I Corinthians 6:9-10
D. Other sins, such as thievery or lying are committed against other people, but sexual sin is one that is committed against your own body. - I Corinthians 6:18-20
1. I Thessalonians 4:3-8 - We are to hold our body in honor and set it for holy purposes. We are not to use it for impure purposes, such as sexual sins.
2. We are not even to make jokes about it - Ephesians 5:3-5
3. Proverbs 6:27-33 - It destroys the man – body and soul.
V. God is not being cruel, giving men and women the appetite for sex and then denying them the satisfaction of it.
A. What God has stated is that sex is designed for pleasure in a committed, covenant relationship called marriage.
B. God gives us a desire to eat, but that doesn’t mean we put anything in our mouths.
C. The satisfaction of sex is for a husband and wife - Genesis 2:24