Joy Eggerichs blogs regularly at loveandrespectNOW.com where she answers her readers questions about faith and relationships in her Ask Joy feature. This question comes from a concerned parent about cohabitation.
How can we respond to young people who want to live together before marriage? I am referring to my son and other friends in their late 20′s.
I am trying to be quiet and work with it but it is very awkward. What do you say to young people about this topic? Would you recommend any books or speakers?
Dear Concerned Parent,
I want to answer this question looking at your relationship with your son and the people we deal with personally.
My heart is telling me that the best way to approach your son is not with recommending books or speakers to prove what he is doing is wrong, but rather step back and assess some broader issues.
When we see scripture’s instructions, we need to remember that the instructions are for believers. As believers, we follow because we believe God knows EXACTLY what he is doing and wants to help us navigate our sexuality, relationships and marriage with high esteem and reverence.
When I have friends who do not profess to be believers, their cohabitation is not my primary concern.
I don’t start with the stats of increased divorce or abuse, etc. I don’t “withhold” engaging them about their relationship or giving them advice just because they aren’t doing things “the right way.”
My primary concern is that they come to believe in my Jesus.
Now, if someone DOES profess to believe in Jesus, (which I gather may be your son) then my primary concern is still not cohabitation.
My concern is the fact that they are either not taking scripture seriously, or they don’t believe God is a good God who actually has some understanding of what he wants for us.
So what do we do?
You mentioned you were trying to stay quiet on the topic. If you really sense the Lord is telling you not to say anything, then I would listen to that prompt. But I think if your son or my friends are professing believers, then it is our place to be involved and ask questions.
Caring, non-accusatory questions.
People want to be understood. Each relationship has a unique story, so if you don’t understand that story, you will never win the right to be heard as someone with wisdom and sound advice.
You won’t get the opportunity to walk with them through their story.
We need to get at the heart of their relationship, belief system and view of God. If they seem open to the dialogue then you can both dive into what scripture says about marriage, together.
(Side Note: “Together” means you aren’t forwarding verses and articles, rather you are with them and asking questions, not doing all the talking. I always have to remind myself…this is how JESUS taught. He assumed people were smart enough to think.)
I believe these situations can be just as much for our own learning and growth as it is for the people we are concerned about.
Be prayerful and ask God for wisdom, timing and an overwhelming love and boldness. It already sounds like you love your son very much.
And that is a perfect place to start.
From my heart,
P.S. (resource alert)
Scripture speaks to us about being knowledgeable and informed. This article will be very beneficial for you to read (not forward to your son) so that you are equipped on the topic and understanding our generation. My incredible friend, Esther wrote it for the Washington Post recently. Hot off the press!
This is a great read for anyone wanting to know more on the topic, and will give insight on the “why” my generation is a fan of living together.
Questions for students:
Have you ever had someone approach you about the fact that you were living with your significant other in a way that felt loving?
Why do you think cohabitation is a growing trend among our generation?
What is your response to believers who choose to live together before marriage anyway?
Do you have any good resources on this topic?