What Does The Bible Say About Living Together Before Marriage?
Marriage and what the Bible says about marriage is a hot-button issue in society today.
Christians will often debate each other about what you should and shouldn’t do before you’re married. Should you live together? Should you have sex? If you don’t have sex, how far is too far? And what about those men in the Old Testament with multiple wives?
Everyone has different views on sex and marriage, and it’s a topic that’s ignored in many churches on Sunday mornings because it’s a bit uncomfortable to talk about.
In this post, I’ll share what the Bible says about living together before marriage.
There’s not a clear cut answer
It’s easier to figure out what the Bible says when there is a clear verse about the topic.
For example, the Bible clearly says we should love and forgive each other. Unfortunately, we don’t see a clear yes or no answer about living together before marriage. There’s no verse that says “don’t live together before you’re married.”
But, there’s also no Bible verse that says we should live together before marriage. There aren’t any Bible verses about butterflies, and you won’t find a “don’t text and drive” Bible verse because the people were living in a different culture.
For some issues, we need to look at the Bible as a whole, rather than looking for a specific verse.
It’s also important to understand that we live in a much different culture compared to when and where the Bible was written. The Bible was written for us, but it wasn’t written to us. That means we need to understand the people and the culture that the Bible was written to.
We cannot base our morality on what society says is right or wrong, we need to follow God’s guidance and wisdom. I believe there’s enough evidence in the Bible to say that Christians should not live together before marriage.
A look at Mary and Joseph’s life
Because there isn’t a clear cut verse about this, we should look at what people who were following God did. I think Mary and Joseph can provide us with a great example. God trusted them enough to carry His one and only Son Jesus, so I’d say they were living a Godly life.
Based on Scriptures, we know this about Mary and Joseph:
- Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus
- Mary and Joseph were engaged and planning to get married
- Mary and Joseph didn’t have sex until after Jesus was born
- Mary and Joseph didn’t live together until they were married
"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 1:18 NIV
"When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
Matthew 1:24-25 NIV
"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'"
Luke 1:26-28 NIV
If we look at the lives of Mary and Joseph, we can assume that God’s plan for us is to not live together or have sex until we’re married.
What was the culture during the time?
Relationships and dating looked much different 2,000 years ago. The Bible doesn’t say much about dating relationships because it wasn’t very common. The person you married was mostly based on your family lines and societal status. Throughout the Bible, we can see that it was even frowned upon to date someone from a different culture.
People also got married much younger and faster than we do today. A couple might’ve dated for a few weeks or months before they decided to get married. They weren’t dating for 3 or 5 years like is common today. That left less temptation and fewer reasons to live together prior to marriage.
We don’t find a lot of Bible verses about the topic of living together before marriage because it wasn’t very common. If you were getting married at 15 or 16 years old, you would get married and then move out of your parent’s house.
Even in the 1950s and 60s in America, it wasn’t normal to live together prior to being married. Only recently has society told us that we should live together when we’re dating. I want to emphasize the importance of living a life based on God’s morals and not what society deems right or wrong. God doesn’t change His mind based on what a society says is normal.
Other related scriptures
Here are a few more Bible verses that imply that living together is reserved for marriage:
"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Genesis 2:24 NIV
"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."
Hebrews 13:4 ESV
"You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'—but not everything is good for you. You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'—but not everything is beneficial."
1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."
Ephesians 5:3 NIV
There are obvious benefits to waiting
I’ve heard the argument that living together before marriage is like test driving a car. You need to see how things work out before getting married so you can be sure that you’re right for each other. That sounds like a logical argument, but most people only keep their car for 3-5 years.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment.
You can learn enough about a person to decide if you’re right for each other without living together.
I’ve found that waiting to be physically intimate and not living together before marriage actually helps you learn more about the other person. Not being physically intimate forces you to have deeper conversations and get to know how the person thinks and acts. You’ll learn much more about each other when you set physical boundaries.
Not living together will also help you build self control. You will need self control when you’re married to avoid adultery.
Next, not living together before marriage would avoid things like STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
The Bible tells us that living in sin leads to destruction, and living rightly in God’s eyes leads to life. I believe that a lot of the relational problems we see today would be quickly eliminated if we followed God’s intentions for marriage and relationships.