Ask Your Preacher
What does the Bible (and where) say about two people living together prior to marriage?
Dear Spare Key,
Moving in together would be a sin as well as a temptation toward further sin. No matter how pure our intentions might be, two people of the opposite sex living together looks bad. Even if you weren’t actually sleeping together, nobody would believe you. God tells us to abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:22). The word ‘form’ in that verse literally means “shape or appearance”. Christians need to not only avoid sin – but avoid looking like they are sinning. A boyfriend and girlfriend living together (no matter how chaste) looks like a sinful relationship. The Bible also tells us to do the things which are ‘honorable in the sight of all men’ (Rom 12:17, 2 Cor 8:21). Consider what living together before marriage does to the honor of your girlfriend/boyfriend. God wants you to do what is in their best interest and uphold their reputation and honor.
Secondarily, the temptation to sleep together will certainly grow with living together. There is nothing abnormal about a man and a woman being strongly attracted to each other. God recognizes that young people naturally are inclined to burn with passion for the opposite sex (1 Cor 7:9). The key is to make sure you don’t put yourselves in a position that could compromise your integrity. We are to ‘flee fornication’ (1 Cor 6:18) and be wise as serpents in regard to righteousness (Matt 10:16). Don’t set yourselves up to sin.
The idea of living together before marriage is a modern one – not a Biblical one. Biblically speaking, if you aren’t ready to get married, you aren’t ready to live together. The deepest act of love you could show to your girlfriend/boyfriend would be to wait until you are ready for marriage.
I just read the Marriage Clif Notes. Is it okay for the wife to be the boss (because in my house, my wife is the boss)? I guess it is the new thing today.
Husbands are to be the spiritual leaders of their homes (Eph 5:23); the fact that it is popular and normal for men to shirk that responsibility and allow their wives to fill the leadership void doesn’t make it right. A man that will not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8), and many a woman has torn her house down with her own hands because she doesn’t let her husband lead (Pr 14:1). A nagging, bossy wife (Pr 11:22) and a lazy, apathetic husband (Pr 12:24) are a recipe for a disastrous marriage. God designed husbands to lovingly lead their families and wives to respectfully support their husbands.
What does the Bible say about marriage?
Dear I Do,
The Bible says quite a bit about marriage… more than we can cover in a single AYP post. We can try and hit the highlights though.
- Marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5). Homosexual relationships are not, and cannot be, marriages.
- Marriage is intended for a lifetime – God hates divorce (Mal 2:16).
- The husband is supposed to lead his family and love his wife as Christ loves the church (Eph 5:23).
- The wife is supposed to respect her husband (Eph 5:33).
As we said, those are the quick highlights. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to write back in.
(This post is a follow-up to “Ring In The New”)
To follow up on your response to the question of wearing wedding rings, you seem to be saying traditions are fine as long as the intention behind them is good. There seems to be no New Testament evidence of using rings in a wedding ceremony. In previous responses to questions regarding using musical instruments in worship, you have made statements such as, “The problem with instrumental music in worship is that it isn’t a part of the Bible pattern, and the moment we start doing things outside the Bible, we have gone beyond what God intended (1 Cor 4:6).” Also, “There are no examples of the church using instruments to worship God in the New Testament. If we start using them, we are adding something to God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19).” I assume you, as elders and pastors of your local congregation, have conducted many wedding ceremonies (probably involving the exchange of rings). How is allowing extra-biblical traditions such as exchanging rings in a wedding not in opposition to your previous statements? If man-made traditions are fine as long as the intent behind them is good, why have a problem with congregations that use musical instruments in worship?
Ringing In My Ears
Dear Ringing In My Ears,
The difference between instruments in worship and wedding rings is that God has given specific commands regarding singing, but He hasn’t given specific commands about wedding ceremonies. The Bible specifically commands the church to sing and make melody in our hearts to God (Col 3:16, Eph 5:19). When God gives a specific command, we cannot go beyond what He has written (1 Cor 4:6) and decide that since God wants us to sing, we should sing and play instruments – that is adding to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19).
However, weddings are an entirely different situation. God tells men and women to get married (Matt 19:5), but He leaves it at that – the details are up to us. This is a general command. General commands leave the specifics up to the individuals. For example, if you told someone to fill your car with gas, they would have the option to use premium or basic gas, they could decide which gas station to go to, etc. The specific details would be left up to the individual. Since God authorizes marriage, we are left to make our own decisions regarding what the marriage ceremony will entail.
Why do most christians wear wedding rings? I heard that ancient pagan Romans were probably responsible for beginning the use of engagement and wedding rings. Originally, the ring was placed on the third finger of the left hand because of a superstitious belief that a vein from this finger runs directly to the heart. Although this superstitious idea is no longer believed by most people, wedding rings are still placed on the third finger of the left hand by the majority of wearers. There is nothing in the Bible saying we should do this. Why have christians held on to this pagan practice?
Dear Ringed Out,
Many people wear jewelry that depicts ancient idolatrous behavior (almost all Native American artwork falls into this category) or practice traditions that have ancient pagan roots… the important thing is how those traditions and jewelry are perceived today. As Paul said, “We know that an idol is nothing” (1 Cor 8:4). The wedding ring and the tradition of wearing it on the third finger of the left hand have no intrinsic evil to them; it is only if those traditions are perceived as acts of idol worship that they become sinful. If people believed you were wearing your wedding ring for pagan Roman purposes (or if it offended your conscience), you would have to stop (1 Cor 8:7-9). However, most wedding ceremonies today state that the ring is a symbol of unending love – not a symbol of pagan worship. The wedding ring’s beginnings may or may not be idolatrous… nobody knows definitively where the tradition comes from. Regardless of its past, in today’s society, wedding rings almost universally represent a pure commitment to matrimony.