Why We Won’t Perform Weddings for Couples Living Together

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I hate to disappoint people. I hate to tell a couple looking to get married that I won’t perform their wedding, nor will any of our pastors at The Bridge. I’m a lot bigger on saying, “Yes.”

But I have to say, “No” a lot.

It’s just that there’s too much at stake. When one of our pastors at The Bridge officiates a wedding, we take it seriously. We are not just an accompanying bystander, or a friend or family member attending and witnessing. We are participants, and endorsers of the wedding at that. We believe officiating a Christian wedding means we are representatives of God, putting our stamp of approval on the marriage and the marrying process.

I realize couples living together before getting married has become a cultural expectation and I can be viewed as out-of-touch on this. I guess I’m out-of-touch a lot. But there are some things where it is good to be counter-cultural. Jesus was. If you are a committed follower of Jesus, there are some things that you just have to push back on.

For starters, living together before getting married or to prepare for marriage is counter productive. It’s bad for marriage in general, and a predictor of a poor future marriage for the couple living together.

You probably already know the stats. Cohabiting relationships fail at a much higher rate (only 20% ever do marry) with the same emotional and psychological damage as those who divorce. By moving in, you actually make it less likely that you will ever marry. But the baggage you will pick up in that live-in relationship is carried into future relationships, making those more problematic as well. In the unlikely event that you marry the person you are living with, your chances of staying married are far lower than if you had never moved in. Couples who live together before getting married divorce at twice the rate.

I think there are a number of logical reasons for these stats but the bottom line is this: doing things God’s way is always better. He has your best interests in mind. Listen to him.

On a side note, for those Christian couples who live together but claim to not be engaging in sex…you are way stronger than me. But that doesn’t extinguish the harmful affects of living together. Marriage is more than sex. It’s the sharing of a household, merging two lives. Marriage in the Old Testament was just that…moving in together. When a couple moved in, they were married. So claiming that it’s ok for you because you are not sleeping together misses the point.

At The Bridge, we want to not only participate in your major life events, we want to help guide you, challenge you, and even serve as a guardrail against harmful choices. These are all things a church is supposed to do and be.

And because of that, we can’t endorse or promote a marrying process that we believe will weaken marriages and become a limiter for all that God intends for your marriage.

If you are in that situation, we will do everything we can to help you turn your circumstances into a win for God and a win for your relationship. But you might have to make some tough choices and do some hard things for that to happen.

Tough and hard…the makings of something that truly becomes worthwhile, for a lifetime!

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3 Responses to Why We Won’t Perform Weddings for Couples Living Together

  1. Wendy Johnston March 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi Pastor Scott, I was sharing your blog with some young kids at my work who belong to other faiths. They wanted to know where in the Bible it talks about this subject. They were thinking it might be ok to live together if there was no relationship, platonic. Can you point me in the right direction to give them a Bible verse that might help? Thank you!

    • Scott Ziegler March 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      Sorry for the delay in getting back with you, Wendy. I’m sure we’d agree that in the vast majority of cases, couples living together are also sleeping together. And there is a lot of Scripture that denounces any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).

      As far as sharing the same house, but not sleeping together, we have to go back to the meaning of marriage in Scripture. In the Old Testament, when a couple moved in together, that was marriage. We see that with the story of Isaac and Rebecca, she simply moved into his tent and they were married. Ceremonies developed over time to commemorate the union.

      I can’t say that a couple sharing a house or apartment, while sleeping in separate rooms is sin. But I don’t think it’s wise. Besides the temptation issues as well as the appearance that this gives to others, the same issues that hurt future marriages for couples living and sleeping together also hurt those who are sharing their household but in separate bedrooms. It’s still cohabitation without a lifetime commitment, and it puts the relationship into a performance category (both are trying to either see if the other is good enough or hoping the other views them as good enough for marriage), and that performance mentality doesn’t go away after the couple ties the knot.

      A blog posting and reply like this isn’t able to fully convey my thoughts, but I hope it helps.

  2. GINA BRUTOVSKI April 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    IM A DIVORCED WOMAN DUE TO ABUSE.NO ADULTERY WAS INVOLVED.CAN I RE-MARRY?

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