Some call it "living together" or "cohabitating", others call it "shacking up." Yet no matter what terminology is used the fact remains that a rising number of couples are choosing not to get married. According to a new survey, more than 4 in 10 Americans believe that marriage is not necessary in order to have a successful long-term relationship. Of those surveyed who were in their 20s the numbers were even higher, more than half said marriage wasn't essential. Most of those polled also said that they favored living together before getting married.
In recent years societal trends have moved away from traditional marriage. In 2005, the number of married couple households in America dropped below 50 percent for the first time. Correspondingly, the number of unmarried women bearing children rose to its highest level ever. Compare that to 1930, when about 84 percent of households were married couples.
Many young adults think it's a good idea to live together to "test drive" a potential spouse in order to insure that they are "compatible." While such logic may seem practical to some, statistics show that such relationships usually end in tears and heartache. While some of these couples intend to eventually get married, the reality is that cohabiting couples break up far more than married couples, and couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to get divorced after marriage. Research conducted by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project indicates that couples who live together before marriage are 46 percent more likely to divorce and significantly more likely to experience domestic violence within their relationships.
The Word of God is clear: "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Hebrews 13:4)." The Bible expressly condemns fornication (1Cor 6:9,18) and there are great reasons why. Sex is a physical, emotional and spiritual act of two people becoming one (Matt 19:5-6, 1 Cor 6:15-16). Any relationship will have a better start if both spouses are free of vast amounts of baggage from previous broken relationships. Besides the risk of disease, of children born out of wedlock, and other complications, it is simply spiritually and emotionally damaging to engage in a series (long or short) of sexual relationships. Waiting until marriage also involves practicing self-control, which is just as useful a virtue in the years after the wedding as it is before. Couples who have proven self-control also tend to trust and respect one another more than those who were sexually active before the wedding date.
In the scriptures husbands are exhorted to love their wives "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." In other words, a Biblical marriage is one rooted in God's love rather than human love. C.S. Lewis calls this kind of love a "gift of love." Whereas, human love is a "need love." God's love is a gift because there are "no strings attached" to it. There are no conditions to fill, nothing to earn, nothing to do, and nothing to be. It just loves unconditionally, spontaneously, and continually.
Marriage is one of God's greatest inventions, offering us partners in the battle through life, to encourage us in times of discouragement, to help us up when we fall. Marriage offers us a constant friend and companion, a second head in trying to solve problems and a second set of hands in doing the work that needs to be done. Marriage is the foundational structure of a whole, happy family, where children can be raised in security and love. To learn more about God's unconditional love
and what makes a marriage last
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