What Does the Bible Say About Living Together Before Marriage?
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What Does the Bible Say About Living Together Before Marriage?


Cohabitation has become increasingly common in modern society, with many couples choosing to live together before marriage. However, as Christians, it is important to understand what the Bible says about this topic. What does the Bible say about living together before marriage? What are the biblical perspectives on cohabitation, and why is it not recommended by the Bible? These are the questions we will explore in this blog post.

In this post, we will delve into the biblical passages that discuss cohabitation and explore the reasons why living together before marriage goes against God’s commands and principles. We will also look at the alternatives to cohabitation that Christians can consider, such as courtship, engagement, separation, and pre-marital counseling. Additionally, we will discuss Christian responses to cohabitation, including encouraging marriage, providing support for couples, and advocating for biblical principles.

As Christians, it is important to understand what the Bible says about cohabitation so that we can live our lives in a way that honors God. We must strive to build strong and healthy relationships that are built on biblical principles and aligned with God’s design for marriage. Let us delve into this topic with open hearts and minds and seek to better understand God’s plan for our relationships.

Living together before marriage in the bible

Background Information

Before diving into what the Bible says about cohabitation, it is important to have some background information on the topic.

Definition of Cohabitation

Cohabitation is defined as two unmarried individuals living together in a romantic relationship. It can involve sharing a home, finances, and sexual relations.

History of Cohabitation

Cohabitation has become increasingly common in modern society, but it is not a new practice. In fact, it has been present throughout history but was viewed as unacceptable in many cultures and religions.

Statistics on Cohabitation

According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics, over half of the women aged 15-44 have cohabitated with a partner at some point in their lives. This statistic has increased significantly over the past few decades.

Biblical Perspectives on Cohabitation

The Bible is clear in its views regarding sexual relationships outside of marriage. Let’s explore some of the biblical passages that discuss this topic.

Genesis 2:24

Genesis 2:24 states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This verse shows that marriage is the proper context for sexual intimacy and relationships.

This passage emphasizes that God designed sex as a gift for married couples to enjoy and share intimacy. The phrase “one flesh” speaks to the spiritual and emotional connection that should exist between a husband and wife.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

This passage emphasizes the importance of avoiding sexual immorality, which includes cohabitation. It also highlights the fact that, as Christians, our bodies are not our own, but belong to God. Therefore, we are called to honor God with our bodies by avoiding sexual sin.

Hebrews 13:4

Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” This verse highlights the sanctity of marriage and emphasizes the importance of avoiding sexual immorality.

The phrase “the bed undefiled” speaks to the purity of sex within the context of marriage. It is a gift that God designed to be enjoyed within the safety and commitment of a covenant relationship.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”

This passage emphasizes the importance of living a holy and honorable life, which includes abstaining from sexual immorality. It also highlights the fact that Christians should be different from the Gentiles, who do not know God and are guided by their passions and lusts.

Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage is Not Recommended by the Bible

Now that we have explored some of the biblical perspectives on cohabitation let’s discuss why it is not recommended by the Bible.

The Sanctity of Marriage

Marriage is viewed as a sacred institution in the Bible, and sexual intimacy is meant to be experienced within the confines of marriage. Living together before marriage undermines the sanctity of marriage. When couples cohabit, they are essentially “playing house,” trying on the roles of husband and wife without actually making the commitment to each other and to God.

Sexual Immorality

As we have seen in the biblical passages we discussed, sexual immorality is condemned in the Bible. Cohabitation is a form of sexual immorality because it involves sexual relations outside of marriage. When we engage in sexual activity outside of marriage, we are not honoring God’s design for sex, and we are opening ourselves up to the emotional and spiritual consequences of sin.

Dishonoring God

Living together before marriage also dishonors God because it goes against His commands and principles. It shows a lack of trust in God’s plan for relationships and His design for marriage. When we choose to cohabit instead of honoring God’s plan for sex and relationships, we are essentially saying that we know better than God.

Effects on Children

Studies have shown that children who grow up in homes with cohabitating parents are more likely to experience instability and negative outcomes than those who grow up in homes with married parents. Living together before marriage can have negative effects on children, which goes against biblical principles of raising children in a stable and nurturing environment. When we choose to cohabit, we are not only putting our own relationship at risk, but we are also putting our children at risk.

Alternatives to Cohabitation

There are alternatives to cohabitation that Christians can consider when in a romantic relationship. Let’s explore some of them.


Courtship is a process of getting to know someone with the intention of marriage. It involves intentional and supervised interactions and can help couples build a strong foundation for their future marriage. During courtship, couples get to know each other in a safe and intentional way, with the guidance and support of their families and mentors.


Engagement is a period of time between when a couple decides to get married and their actual wedding day. This time can be used to prepare for marriage, get to know each other’s families, and plan for their future together. During engagement, couples can continue to build their relationship and prepare for their future marriage.


If a couple is already living together, they can choose to separate until they are married. This can be difficult, but it shows a commitment to God’s principles and can help build a stronger relationship. During this time, couples can continue to work on their relationship but without the temptation to engage in sexual activity.

Pre-Marital Counseling

Pre-marital counseling can be a valuable tool for couples who are considering marriage. It can help them work through any issues they may have and prepare them for a strong and healthy marriage. During pre-marital counseling, couples can learn important communication and conflict resolution skills, as well as explore their expectations for marriage.

Christian Responses to Cohabitation

As Christians, it is important to respond to cohabitation in a way that aligns with our beliefs and values. Here are some ways we can respond:

Encouraging Marriage

We can encourage couples to get married instead of cohabitating. This shows our support for God’s principles and can help strengthen relationships. When we encourage couples to get married, we are essentially saying that we believe in their relationship and want to see it flourish in the context of God’s design for marriage.

Providing Support for Couples

We can provide support for couples who are struggling with cohabitation or who are considering alternatives. This can include prayer, counseling, and practical support. When we provide support for couples, we show them that we care about their relationship and want to see them succeed in a way that honors God.

Advocating for Biblical Principles

Finally, we can advocate for biblical principles when it comes to relationships and marriage. This can include speaking out against cohabitation and promoting healthy relationships built on biblical principles. When we advocate for biblical principles, we are standing up for what we believe in and sharing the truth with those around us.


In conclusion, living together before marriage, or cohabitation is not recommended by the Bible. The sanctity of marriage, the importance of sexual purity, and honor due to God’s design for relationships and marriage all serve to discourage cohabitation. However, as Christians, there are alternatives to cohabitation that we can consider, such as courtship, engagement, separation, and pre-marital counseling. These alternatives can help us build strong and healthy relationships that honor God’s design for marriage and intimacy.

As we navigate the complexities of modern relationships, let us remember the biblical principles that guide us. We must strive to honor God in all aspects of our lives, including our romantic relationships. Let us encourage one another to seek God’s plan for our relationships and to pursue healthy and honorable relationships that align with biblical principles. And let us remember that when we honor God’s design for relationships, we are not only building strong and healthy relationships for ourselves, but we are also setting an example for others and glorifying God in all that we do.

May we continue to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in all areas of our lives, and may He bless our relationships as we seek to honor Him in all that we do.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.