Originally posted on October 7, 2023 @ 5:09 pm

Cohabitation, or living together as romantic partners without being married, has become increasingly common in recent years. In fact, according to the Pew Research Centre, nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States have cohabited with a partner at some point in their lives. While this culture is non-African, it is gradually gaining ground and becoming popular.

 While cohabiting can be a convenient and cost-effective way to share a living space, it can also have a significant impact on relationships, particularly those that lead to marriage. In this article, we’ll explore cohabiting before marriage and what the Bible says about it.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Hebrews 13:4 NLT

What Is Cohabiting?

In the context of this article, cohabiting is when a man and a woman live together, sharing sexual intimacy without being legally married to each other. The practice involves a man and a woman living together as couples even though they are not legally married. This act is very common among students in the universities. 

While I was in the university, I knew some people who practiced this lifestyle, went to church together, and everyone knew them as a couple. It is sad to note that most of those who practiced this “couple life” didn’t marry each other eventually. 

Living together before marriage is called cohabiting or premarital cohabitation. Cohabitation is also referred to as live in relationship.

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Reasons for cohabitation

1. Lack of financial prowess to live independently. Some couples live with each other to reduce costs. In contrast, some live together to support a partner who is not financially buoyant. 

2. Testing compatibility: Some people live together as a way to test if they are compatible and also to be sure the marriage will work.

3. Fear of losing wealth or properties in case of divorce. Wealthy people, especially male celebrities, do not want to get married legally because of the fear of losing their properties to their partners in case of divorce.

4. Loss of faith in marriage: some people prefer to cohabit because they believe marriages do not work. They would rather cohabit because it’s easier for both partners to separate if need be.

5. Sexual compatibility: Many people I have discussed with are majorly cohabiting to “test sexual compatibility.” They want to be sure that their sexual desires can be satisfied by their partners.

Oftentimes, partners move in together with ideas about how they will split up furniture, books, finances, and pets in the event of a breakup. This mentality can make it harder to fully commit later on because it becomes habit to think about what the end of the relationship will be like. Early research in this field has shown that living together made marriage seems less attractive. Making a decision to marry and spend a lifetime with someone means giving up these plans for “what if.” 

Galena Rhoades writes,

Example of Cohabitation in the Bible 

In the book of John, Jesus met a Samaritan woman by the well (John 4:16-18) and asked her for water. The woman and Jesus began to discuss, and Jesus asked about her husband, and she replied, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus noted that she has had five previous husbands, and the one she lives with is truly not her husband. Jesus didn’t count him as a husband because she was cohabiting with the man.

premarital cohabitation; should Christians live together before marriage
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Consequences of living together before marriage

1. See finish: if you’re not Nigerian, you may not understand this phrase. “See finish” means a situation where someone has become so used to you that they no longer have regard or respect for you anymore. Cohabitation causes see finish between partners, and this may be the end of the relationship in some cases.

2. Lack of commitment: when couples cohabit, the possibility of being committed to marrying each other is low. Living together means you are staying together as a couple, and you do not have reasons to take your relationship further. 

3. Exposure to temptation and sexual immorality: The possibility of committing sexual sin when couples cohabit is high. Being together and living together is tempting, and the likelihood that both partners will fall into temptation is very high.

4. It is difficult to see your partner’s errors. One thing about cohabiting is that both partners are usually on their best behaviour (Although, these may not be the case for all). There is the consciousness that we are not married yet. Therefore, I must do what I can to impress my partner.

5. Cohabiting reduces the excitement of marriage: when cohabiting couples eventually get married, there is no excitement of marriage. Nothing is really new in the relationship, and there is nothing more to look forward to. 

6. Cohabiting prevents the critical study of your partner. It also reduces the opportunity to ask and discuss critical issues about marriage. 

7. Cultural segregation: cohabiting couples are becoming popular in Africa, but it is still not widely accepted. The woman tends to face more judgment and condemnation if the relationship fails.

8. Stagnancy for one or both partners: cohabiting can prevent partners from making speedy progress the way they would love to because there is a need to consider the other party before making important life decisions. 

9. Painful separation: separation can be very painful for cohabiting partners, especially because there is sexual intimacy involved and, in some cases, multiple abortions. The more partners you have cohabited with, the more painful breakups and separations are.

Is living with someone I’m not married to a sin?

The straightforward answer is yes. Why? The intention of God is not for man and woman to be living together before marriage. When Jesus was portraying his relationship with the church, he stated that “he will come and take the church (his bride Ephesian 5:22-23) like a bridegroom.” In this passage, Jesus mentioned that he was going to prepare a place for his bride (John 14:2), and when that was done, he would come to take his bride like a bridegroom. 

Also, remember the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The Bible emphasized they were virgins, showing they were pure, holy, and without stain, waiting for the bridegroom. They did not have a live-in relationship with the bridegroom; they kept themselves and waited for the bridegroom to come. 

Will God forgive living together before marriage?

Yes, God can forgive you if you repent and ask for forgiveness from God. Our God is merciful, and he is willing to blot out our sins and make us holy and righteous again. You mustn’t return to sin after asking God for forgiveness and mercy.

How to leave a cohabiting relationship

Leaving a cohabiting relationship may look difficult but it is possible. Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Repent of your sin and ask God to forgive you

2. Seek a Christian counsellor for counselling

3. Break away from the cohabiting partner

4. Dedicate yourself to God and allow him to fill your heart with his love. 

Christians living together but not sleeping together 

Whenever we are in love with people, we tend to break the rules and boundaries to be with them and experience the joy of the relationship. Many times, young people state that living together doesn’t mean sleeping together or having sexual intimacy, but how true can this be?

I agree that the opposite sex can live together without intimacy, but it is not sustainable. Sexual sin doesn’t start in a day. It begins with looking into each other’s eyes, hugging tightly with your hands, rubbing each other lovingly, and then graduates to kissing each other. Before you know it, the deed is done. Once sex happens, it either continues or becomes like the case of Ammon and Tamar. 

Even if we sleep in separate rooms, if we’re in a relationship with someone, it would be nearly impossible to keep ourselves emotionally pure even if we are staying physically pure. Without making a covenant before God, we are not married yet. But waking up and seeing our significant other, eating meals with them, unwinding with them, having so much time to bear our souls and deepest fears… it starts to feel like marriage, even when it’s not.


We should never put ourselves in a situation where we are tempted (1 Thessalonians 5:22). The Bible admonishes that we should flee every appearance of evil. Sin doesn’t start in a day; it’s a process, and that is why we should avoid anything that can lead to sin.

Final Thoughts

The fact that a lifestyle is becoming generally acceptable in our society doesn’t make it right. Premarital cohabitation may be increasingly popular (Romans 1:21-22) , but God does not support living with someone you aren’t married to. Don’t allow yourself to be entangled in this web, and if you’re in such a relationship, ask God for grace and break out of the relationship.

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