I am the senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida. These are my thoughts about faith, life, family, church, and a lot of other important and unimportant things.

Cohabitation may have a downside

This doesn’t come as a surprise to those of us who are paying attention. It seems that there is a growing amount of science showing that “playing house” really is just playing house. Living together before marriage, or cohabitation, rarely accomplishes what people think it accomplishes. In fact, it accomplishes the opposite. The evidence is growing that living together before marriage INCREASES, not decreases, a couple’s chances of divorce.

Hmmm… It’s almost like God knew what He was doing when He inspired the Apostle Paul to write,

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV)

Or,

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)

Or,

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NIV)

They say that the science of global warming has been “settled” and that skeptics are unscientifically minded, “deniers,” or in the pockets of big oil. At what point does the science get “settled” when it comes to human sexuality? How many more studies will it take to show that there just might be some value in avoiding cohabitation before marriage?

I’m being a bit snarky here. Science, by most people’s definition, is never “settled” on anything. Science is always testing, learning, and revising conclusions in light of new data. That’s a good thing! I should praise God for the scientists who “tested, learned, and revised” every time I take an Advil for lower back pain. Science is good. Science makes my life better. And science is not incompatible with God’s Word, in spite of some people’s attempt to make it so.

But as a Christian, I don’t feel the need to have 1,000 scientific studies to back up everything the Bible teaches. I’ve studied enough and lived enough and experienced enough to trust biblical wisdom as the Church has interpreted and taught it throughout the centuries. If the Bible says that sexual immorality is unhealthy for people, then I feel pretty safe in assuming there’s a lot of truth in that teaching, with or without 1,000 scientific studies to support it. The Bible teaches that sexual intercourse in the context of marriage between a man and a woman is part of God’s perfect plan for our lives. In the context of marriage, it can be a beautiful, enjoyable, life-affirming (and life-creating) activity. Outside that context, it can lead to brokenness and pain. We don’t need science to confirm or deny this. Life experience is sufficient confirmation.

However, if you just have to have another scientific study to feed your need for data, here’s another one for you, just for kicks: “BMW owners twice as likely to be adulterers as drivers of other brands.

Thank God I drive a Volkswagen! I like increasing my odds of remaining faithful to my wife. And I think she’d like that, too.

 

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