The Issues of Cohabitation

Published: 2022-03-04
The Issues of Cohabitation
Type of paper:  Term paper
Categories:  United States Research Technology
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1880 words
16 min read

Cohabitation refers to a situation whereby two people live together and have a sexual relationship yet they are not married. Currently, most people in the Western countries are practicing cohabitation before getting married. This is as a result of the change of social views regarding marriage, religion and gender roles. In the United States, cohabitation is often viewed as a natural step when people are dating. According to past research, approximately two -thirds of the couples who are married have lived together before getting married. People tend to cohabit due to several reasons such as spending more time together, save money, testing their relationship and convenience of living together. Despite cohabitation being viewed as being socially acceptable, it contradicts the Christian faith doctrine which is fundamental. This essay analyzes the issues of cohabitation from a historical, pastoral, theological and ethical perspective.

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Issue of Cohabitation from a Historical Perspective

The issue of cohabitation is seen as a phenomenon that originated in the 1960 's. Throughout the nineteenth century, until the 1970's cohabitation was obscure and even considered to be a taboo. According to research, about half a million people were living together in 1960 and 1970.The number has continued to increase since by 1990 the number of people practicing cohabitation was approximately three million, and by 2000 the number had increased further to almost five million. The spread of cohabitation after the Second World War in the USSR was mainly due to the social policies that had been set in place and the laws that regulated divorce and marriage. For example in Russia family behavior significantly changed after 1965 after the implementation of strict divorce laws. This resulted in the divorce of most marriages and this, in turn, encouraged cohabitation. Historically the reason for the high rate of cohabitation is that the Christian doctrine on sex which opposes cohabitation have influenced most of the Western countries. Marriage is no more considered to be the permanent and sanctified institution that it was in the past.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, the difference between marriage and cohabitation was unclear in most countries. For example, in England, the distinction between marriage and cohabitation remained to be unclear until 1753 when Lord Hardwicke codified marriage. Modern trends in cohabitation are significantly different from those in the past. After the 1960's cohabitation indicates a definite shift regarding the normative behavior in the manner in which families were perceived and formed. In the past children of unmarried couples were regarded as being illegitimate and were not allowed to have the same legal rights that were enjoyed by the children of legally married couples. In the Middle Ages marriage was a presupposing agreement between partners whereby there were vows taken in front of witnesses and was consummated by sexual intercourse. The marriage was mostly celebrated in the public where a congregation was gathered. This has ceased as a result of the increasing rate of cohabitation whereby moving into the 19th century there was a gradual change of sexual relations. Family and love started to be considered as being a matter that is private.

Issues of Cohabitation from a Pastoral Perspective

From a pastoral perspective, those people who tend to live together before marriage take the risk of putting their future marriage in danger. Cohabitation from a pastoral perspective cannot be considered to be a marriage, and hence couples practicing cohabitation are not married in the eyes of God. People who exercise cohabitation tend to have a negative view about marriage due to the responsibilities that come along with marriage. A couple that lives together usually enjoy almost everything that is experienced in marriage which includes sex but they have few obligations and commitments and hence once in marriage, there is the tendency of feeling trapped. Cohabiting tend to be so counterproductive towards a marriage that is expected to last forever and therefore couples who have not married should avoid living together. Cohabitation poses a considerable risk to the individuals involved such as having unwanted pregnancy as some men may view cohabitation as a sexual opportunity with no intention of having a long-term commitment. A couple which lives together but they are not in a legal marriage, or a committed relationship may not have the willingness to solve various problems that they may encounter. Pastors view marriage as a union that is held together by a common commitment which is not present in a cohabitating relationship. Cohabitating partners value autonomy more as compared to being committed.

From a pastoral perspective, cohabitation does not help in having a successful marriage as compared to when people wait until they are legally married. There is no feeling of security that is achieved through cohabitation. Cohabitation results in having children out of wedlock, and that could have a significant impact on the children as they grow. Cohabitation tends to devalue the relationship as it prioritizes on personal financial gains rather than love for each other. Every person deserves to be respected and treated with dignity since they are all created in the image of God. From a pastoral perspective, the Christian faith teaches that people who are married have the right to enjoy a sexual relationship. Sex that is outside marriage is a form of disrespect for the marriage sacrament, human dignity and the sacredness of sex.

From the pastoral perspective, Christian marriage is a sacrament of Jesus Christ and a sacred vocation that God gave us. Marriage is a means to holiness in the lives of the spouses. Those who get married in the church tend to receive a sacramental grace that enables them to live a life that is guided by fidelity and love. The church aims at helping couples who are engaged to prepare themselves for marriage so that their union can be fulfilling and last forever.

Pastors and pastoral leaders who care for cohabiting couples should avoid ignoring the cohabitation aspect of their relationship, confronting and condemning the behavior of the couple immediately. The pastors have the responsibility to inform the cohabiting couples that cohabitation before marriage is morally wrong and sinful. Pastoral leaders are required to understand that cohabitation is not a canonical impediment to marriage and therefore when a couple that is cohabitating approaches the church for marriage the pastors should consider it as being a teachable moment whereby they can help the couple be in a better position of understanding the Catholic vision of marriage. Cohabitating couples can be helped to understand and live per the Christian marriage when treated with respect and sensitivity. Pastors should follow the steps of Pope Francis of encouraging couples to marry before they move forward.

Issues of Cohabitation from a Theological Perspective

According to theologians, the Bible teaches people that sexual intercourse can have a strong bonding and effect between two people. They consider that when the act of sexual intercourse occurs between two people who are married, they become one flesh but sex that happens outside marriage tend to have various consequences on the victims involved(Eph.5:31).The New Testament greatly condemns sexual immorality. The Scripture is clear about the condemnation of cohabitation. According to the theologian's people who practice cohabitation should be considered as being evil and they should be subjected to judgment and will not see the kingdom of God (Acts 15:20,29, Matt 15:19).In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul states that those people who involve themselves in cohabitation will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In Genesis two God introduced the sexual relationship between man and woman so that it would act as a sign of the marriage covenant. The same way the rainbow serves as a sign of a covenant between God and Noah that He will not destroy the land with the flood, the sexual relationship between man and woman was meant to seal the permanent unity of marriage. Those individuals who practice cohabitation disobey the scripture and violates Gods plan for marriage since according to Genesis 2:24 it is through marriage that man and woman become one flesh. In the teachings of Jesus, He uses the seventh commandment "You shall not commit adultery" to warn people and draw their attention regarding sexual ethics. From a theological perspective if the Scripture prohibits looking at a woman in a manner that suggests lust, therefore, the prohibition also includes having a sexual relationship between people who are not married. Abstaining from sexual immorality is connected to sanctification and is part of the will of God for believers (1st Thessalonians 4:3-8).According to the teachings of Apostle Paul acts of sexual immorality and other types of impurities are not to be mentioned, are to be less practiced since they do not fit among those who claim Christ as Lord among members of the church (Ephesians 5:3).

From a theological perspective, marriage was instituted by God. God established marriage as a heterosexual monogamous marriage whereby it was meant to be a relationship between one woman and man. God regulated the operation and function of everything that He created to ensure a good relationship existed with the rest of the world that He had created. God brought Adam and Eve together and defined the manner in which they were supposed to relate to each other, and therefore marriage should be a continuation of the initial relationship that God established between man and woman. Adam and Eve were united in the presence of God, and therefore marriage is not an act that people should involve themselves in without the presence of God as it is the case of cohabitation.

From a theological perspective, the purpose of marriage is to provide mutual help and guidance to each other which is not the case for a marriage that has been formed through cohabitation (Eph 5:23-25).Those who marry must be willing to have children since procreation is considered as being an integral part of Gods plan for marriage, this is clear in Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 35:11).Therefore cohabitating relationships are against the plan of God since most partners in such relationship do not have the intention to have children but rather to fulfill their sexual desires. Marriage should not be viewed as sexuality, but rather marriage is a triangular relationship that exists between Christ, man, and wife implying the existence of deep spiritual life.

Issues of Cohabitation from an Ethical Perspective

The practice of cohabitation is an act that breaches the biblical ethics. From an ethical perspective, a couple which is practicing cohabitation tends to neglect the importance of taking a vow of marriage. The practice of cohabitation disregards the importance of involving the extended family, other Christians and the civil authorities to act as witnesses. A marriage that was arranged occurred in the history of the bible but was never used as a prescriptive material for marriage ethics.

Cohabitation violates the sexual ethics of the Catholic tradition that any human genital act should occur within the marriage framework and every marriage act should be open to the transmission of life. Any sexual activity that is moral in the Catholic tradition is usually institutionalized within the confines of procreation and marriage and therefore sexual morality is marital morality as well. Cohabitation results in the breach of trust between individuals. When a person in power takes advantage of that particular position for example in a workplace, it may result in sexual harassment due to fear of repercussions.

How Cohabitation Affect the U...

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