What Does the Bible Say About Shacking Up?

Living together before marriage, commonly known as “shacking up,” is an increasingly common occurrence in our modern society. However, for Christians seeking to live according to Biblical principles, what does God’s word say about cohabitation? As believers, it’s crucial that we examine what the scriptures teach rather than blindly following cultural trends. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the Biblical perspective on Christians shacking up and look at relevant verses on this topic.


In today’s world, the idea of “trying before you buy” is prevalent when it comes to romantic relationships. Many couples choose to move in together and share a life, home, and often a bed before deciding to commit to marriage. However, the Bible paints a very different picture for believers. God designed physical intimacy to occur exclusively within the protective hedge of lifelong marriage between a man and woman. Shackiing up ignores God’s clear instructions and opens the door to potential pitfalls.

As Christians, we are called to honor God in all areas of our lives, including our romantic relationships and living situations. So what scriptural guidance exists on cohabitation, and how do we apply it to modern day relationships? Let’s explore key Biblical truths and principles on shacking up and examine relevant verses on this important topic.

What Does the Bible Say About Shacking Up?

What Is Considered “Shackiing Up”?

First, let’s clearly define what shacking up means. In simplest terms, shacking up refers to an unmarried couple living together in an intimate relationship. It goes beyond simply sharing an apartment or home platonically with roommates of the opposite sex. Shackiing up involves couples sharing a residence along with an intimate emotional and physical bond outside the covenant of marriage.

Some key characteristics that define cohabitating relationships include:

  • Sharing a residence without being married
  • An exclusive, marriage-like relationship
  • Joint finances, shared bills, and assets
  • An intimate physical relationship including sexual intercourse

Shacking up is not the same as engaging in premarital sex occasionally. It involves an ongoing lifestyle and commitment similar to marriage without the covenant or vows before God. Now that we understand what constitutes cohabitation, what does God say about it in His word? Let’s explore the Scriptures.

Old Testament Principles Against Shackiing Up

The Old Testament lays the foundation for God’s plan for marriage and sexual ethics. While it does not directly address today’s trend of living together before marriage, there are key principles we can apply.

Honor Marriage Covenants

Scripture consistently elevates marriage as an exclusive covenant relationship. God designed it as a lifelong union and partnership, not to be entered casually or dissolved easily.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NIV)

This foundational verse establishes the marital covenant. Leaving mother and father implies a new, distinct household formed through marriage. Becoming “one flesh” reflects the profound sexual and spiritual union only appropriate within marriage.

Avoid Sexual Immorality

Various Old Testament passages condemn sexual immorality both within Israel and among pagan nations. Sex outside marriage is consistently categorized as sinful across Scripture.

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, ESV)

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV)

Since shacking up involves ongoing sexual intimacy, it falls short of God’s standards of purity. As singles, we are called to chastity and holiness while waiting for marriage.

Stay Pure and Set Apart

As God’s chosen people, Israel was instructed to avoid close relationships and influences of pagan nations. Intermarriage was forbidden and considered detrimental to their calling as a holy nation set apart for God’s purposes.

Though modern believers are not under the same ceremonial law, the principle still applies. As Christians, we are instructed:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

If we are in a committed relationship with an unbeliever, we risk being influenced away from our faith. While under one roof, it can be challenging to maintain clear spiritual boundaries. Cohabitation often leads couples into temptation regarding sexual and moral standards.

New Testament Warnings Against Sexual Immorality

The New Testament continues the strong warnings against sexual sin but goes even further by addressing motives and heart issues. Physical intimacy is designed to be the consummation of an exclusive, consenting marriage. Sex outside that parameter is counted as fornication and grieves God’s Spirit.

Avoid Temptation, Flee Sexual Sin

Paul instructs believers to recognize that our physical bodies and desires are susceptible to sexual corruption. We are to flee from situations opening the door to sexual temptation and sin:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

“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 passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)

Sharing a home in an ongoing intimate relationship creates constant exposure to sexual temptation. Cohabitation is not part of God’s will or His design for sanctification in our relationships.

Don’t Defraud; Keep Pure Covenants

Paul instructs believers to avoid defrauding others in the realm of sexual purity. To defraud means to dishonor our brother or sister by unrighteousness in this area.

“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” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

Sexual interaction is only righteous within the marital covenant. To engage intimately outside of marriage brings dishonor to our bodies, hearts, and the sanctity of matrimony.

Remember, Our Bodies Are Temples of the Holy Spirit

As Christians, our lives and bodies are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify Him through purity and holiness.

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Cohabitation and sexual intimacy before marriage do not glorify God. Instead, they defile the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Be Equally Yoked

2 Corinthians 6:14 clearly prohibits believers from intimate partnerships with those who do not share our faith. It is unwise to enter marriage, a profound spiritual covenant, with someone who does not share our Christian values and worldview.

Dating or shacking up with non-Christians often leads believers to compromise standards of purity, integrity, and holiness. Scripture warns:

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Entangling our lives with unbelievers through cohabitation can corrupt our morals and Christian witness. We are called to seek partners who share our faith and will strengthen our walk with Christ.

Practical Dangers of Shackiing Up

Beyond defying Scriptural principles, shacking up can lead couples into compromised situations. Here are some pragmatic concerns regarding cohabitation:

  • Deception – Living together creates a pseudo-marriage without the full consent and covenant of actual matrimony. It is a form of relational deception and manipulation.
  • Increased Temptation – Sharing a residence fuels constant sexual temptation unlike discreet dating. Statistics show cohabitators have higher rates of infidelity.
  • Bonding Without Commitment – Intimacy without commitment creates emotional and psychological bonds even when partners lack devoted love. Breakups often become more painful and traumatic.
  • Relational Ambiguity – Cohabitating couples may experience confusion navigating undefined relationships. A lack of clear relational roles and boundaries creates uncertainty.
  • Redefining Marriage – Couples risk losing a God-centered understanding of marriage by practicing counterfeit versions through cohabitation.
  • Harming Testimonies – As believers, we are called to be living testimonies of righteousness. Cohabitation undermines our witness for Christ and ability to show the world God’s design for pure, holy relationships that honor Him.

While shacking up may seem convenient, acceptable, or harmless on the surface, it opens the door to both moral compromise and relational pitfalls that grieve our Lord. As followers of Christ, God calls us to obedience in setting apart our relationships and sexuality for His glory.

Guidance for Christians Considering Cohabitation

How should Christians in relationships heed these Biblical warnings and principles regarding cohabitation? Here is some guidance for singles navigating choices about living together:

  • Pray over relationships – Invite God into all dating decisions. Seek wisdom over worldly thinking about trial marriages.
  • Evaluate heart motives – Honestly examine if you desire cohabitation to indulge sexual desire or avoid commitment. True love can wait for God’s timing in marriage.
  • Guard purity – Avoid tempting environments. Implement measures to support moral integrity like accountability partners and parental oversight.
  • Submit to God’s Word – Study Scriptures on sexuality and marriage. Recognize that shacking up violates Biblical commands regardless of cultural acceptance.
  • Commit to righteousness – Embrace God’s design for sex and marriage. Wait patiently on His best rather than demanding our own way or will, trusting He knows what’s eternally best.
  • Seek wise counsel – Talk with mature Christian mentors, pastors, parents, and trusted friends who support Biblical foundations, not just shifting cultural trends.
  • Clarify relationships – If cohabiting, either pursue a Biblical marriage or reconsider the relational direction entirely. Seek to honor God first.

With the Spirit’s help, we can discern worldly ways of thinking from timeless scriptural truth. God’s word is our guide, even when it requires swimming against the cultural current. In the end, choosing His righteous ways leads to true blessing and fulfillment.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

In summary, the consistent Biblical perspective prohibits cohabitation between unmarried couples. God designed sex and living together as part of His plan for marriage alone. Scripture clarifies that shacking up involves sexual immorality and defrauds others because it falls outside God’s mandate. His word consistently elevates marriage while issuing strong warnings against sexual sin and deception.

As modern day Christians, we are called to honor marriage, maintain purity, flee sexual temptation, and avoid being misled by unbelievers and a deteriorating culture. God’s design for intimacy serves our protection and flourishing. When we submit our romantic lives to His wise design, we can fully experience relationship as He intended – beautiful, life-giving, and God-glorifying.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marriage is the only God-ordained context for sexual intimacy and cohabitation.
  • Scripture consistently prohibits sexual immorality including premarital sex.
  • Cohabitation involves defrauding others by engaging in intimacy outside marriage.
  • Christians are called to moral purity by controlling sexual desires and fleeing temptation.
  • Cohabitation does not honor God’s design for sex and marriage. It harms our testimony and compromises relationships.
  • Wise believers will pray, seek Scriptural truth, guard purity, and honor God’s standards for romance and living situations.

Thank you for reading this comprehensive overview of the Biblical perspective on believers shacking up before marriage. My prayer is this post provides sound scriptural guidance and encouragement to singles as you navigate relationship decisions according to God’s loving commands.

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