What Does the Bible Say about Living Together before Marriage?

Betsy St. Amant Haddox

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 29, 2024
What Does the Bible Say about Living Together before Marriage?

The world likes to promote the idea that living together before the covenant of marriage occurs is smart. Wise, even. After all, our culture suggests taking a “test drive” before “purchasing”—which, in my opinion, is an incredibly unflattering and crude way to reference God’s gift of intimacy between a husband and wife.

But what if you aren’t compatible, people argue. They say that living together before getting married can open your eyes to the idiosyncrasies of your future spouse. It can show you your fiancé’s quirks and bad habits and give you the opportunity to decide if you can deal with them or not. The problem with that is, we all have quirks and bad habits, and no one, outside of the security of covenant, is going to endure those irritations long-term. The question isn’t “do they do things that bother you” but rather, “will I stay committed and faithful even though they do”?

Other arguments for co-inhabiting include monetary gain. If you combine incomes and share the bills, you’re setting your marriage up to be stronger financially. Maybe on paper that’s true, but the flip side is that this combining of resources and responsibility before things are legal just makes it harder to disengage once you break up—which couples who live together before marriage are likely to do.

Regardless, for believers, it comes down to not what the world says or what makes sense logically, but rather, what the Bible instructs. There are certainly a few gray areas in the Bible on various topics—but Christians living together before marriage is not one of them. This issue, referenced multiple times through the word of God, is incredibly clear.

Here are 8 Scriptures that clearly outline God’s plan for His children on sexual purity.

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1. Flee from Sexual Immorality

1. Flee from Sexual Immorality

The Bible warns us to flee from sexual immortality. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18, ESV)The definition of “flee” is “run away from a place or situation of danger”. It’s sort of difficult to run hard and fast from danger when it’s literally in your house and in front of you every day.

2. Abstain from Sexual Immorality

The Bible instructs us to abstain from sexual immorality. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 ESV) If you’re under the impression that you can live together with your fiancé and not have sex until after the wedding, you’re mistaken. The odds of success in this area are highly unlikely. Besides, why make it harder on yourself? Why intentionally set yourself up for temptation to fall into sexual sin? The Bible says to control our bodies in holiness and honor—it’s foolish to think you can do this when constantly living in the face of temptation.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

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3. There Is a Way out of Temptation

3. There Is a Way out of Temptation

The Bible tells us that God provides a way out from temptation. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). In this instance, if you’re already living together and are a professing believer and follower of Christ, the way out is to move out. 

Start fresh, take the initiative for a godly marriage, and do things in the right order. Honor God and your fiancé in this way. This isn’t about legalism—this is about your heart and your future spouse’s heart. Do the right thing—which is often the hard thing—and commit in obedience to God’s word. If you’re thinking about moving in together and are Christians, don’t do it. Resist the lies of the enemy prompting you that its not that big a deal. It’s a very big deal.

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4. The Marriage Bed Is Sacred

The Bible tells us the marriage bed is to be undefiled. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4 ESV). We’re told to guard our marriage bed. That doesn’t mean just from other men or women while we’re married, but even from ourselves. Jumping into bed before marriage is still defiling the marriage bed. Stay out of the sheets until after the ceremony—you won’t regret it.

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close up of woman's face eyes closed looking peaceful, psalms of peace for worried spirit

5. We Find True Life in God's Way

The Bible tells us that there is life in God’s way, not in worthless things. “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37 ESV). It’s hard to turn your eyes away from sin when the temptation is co-habiting your bedroom. If your fiancé or girlfriend/boyfriend is getting dressed in the morning in the same bedroom or bathroom, how can you look away? How can you guard your eyes and purity when the temptation is ever before you? Rather, wait for marriage, when the closeness and intimacy of shared quarters is a blessing and a gift, rather than a sin or struggle.

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6. Your Eyes Will Impact Your Heart

The Bible tells us that we can sin with even just a glance. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 ESV). If you think you can co-habit with your fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend and not sleep together, you’re probably mistaken. If you do manage to pull that off, you’re probably not going to pull off this command in Matthew. If you’re living together and constantly before each other in intimate settings, there will be lust intruding at some point. It’s how we’re wired as humans. Don’t be naïve and think you’re the exception to how God created mankind. Avoid temptation, and don’t move in together until you’re married.

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7. You Are Called to Be Different

7. You Are Called to Be Different

The Bible tells us to be different than the world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV). If you somehow miraculously manage to avoid sexual immorality by abstaining from sex and even glances of lust, what about the message you’re sending to the world? You can’t avoid that. The Bible teaches us to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). To the world, if you’re living together, you’re sleeping together. That’s the message you are sending out, whether it’s accurate or not. To keep others from stumbling, don’t conform to worldly customs but be different (1 Corinthians 8:9-11). Be transformed. Do what is good and acceptable, even when it’s difficult. 

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8. The Bible Says to Get Married

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV). 

If you’re dating and living together, or engaged and living together, you’re in sin. To avoid this sin, the Bible has a simple solution—get married! If you’re already living together and aren’t sure if you should get married, then stop sinning. Move out. Regroup. Get counsel and make a wise decision moving forward. But don’t stay in your sin and hope it all works out in the end—because it won’t. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7 ESV). To be a believer and continue in willful sin is a terrifying place to be. “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day” (1 Corinthians 10:8 ESV). God takes sexual sin seriously, so we should too.

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Betsy_headshotBetsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC. 

Originally published Monday, 17 July 2023.