Cohabitation, Family, and the Gospel

A recent article written by Emanuella Grinberg chronicles the story of a young woman who cohabited with her boyfriend. The story provides an example for the larger cultural trend. The simple truth is that cohabitation is increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, “between 2006 and 2010, 48% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 moved in for the first time with a man to whom they weren’t married.”  This is a progressive increase from the statistical reports over the past decade.

Though the article’s author did well in objectively presenting statistics and expert opinion, there contained a plethora of quotes startling to the Christian reader. Grinberg suggests that the ‘living in sin’ stigma is fading, and marriage is being further delayed. Casey Copen states that the current generation finds “cohabitation to be quite normal.” Taylor Spearnak, the character within the focal narrative of the article, asserted that cohabitation simply “made sense” for her relationship. There is obviously a cultural worldview based on principles in direct contrast to the biblical teaching of the family structure. Yet, even deeper than this worldview, there is apparently a differing priority in regards to happiness and self-gratification.

Think deeply, the issue is not a mere matter of differing definitions; the problem is one of prioritizing self-gratification above authority – i.e., lack of submission. Even if Taylor (the woman within the narrative) had seen that she was going against an established authority, it would be difficult to adhere to in the face of her logical consensus. She indeed saw that it ‘made sense’ to move in with her boyfriend, but this was only according to her own circumstances, not any authoritative principles. It was a subjective, self-focused analysis of the situation. The issue is not merely a difference in opinion; it is a difference in submission.

This priority and submission issue is what leads to the more surfaced issue of disregard to the biblical model of the family. Once one places their own reason and gratification above the revealed truths of God, then it is only a matter of time until one is found in significant contrast to biblical ethics, structures, and commands. Once again, Christians should not be surprised that lost people do not align their ethics with biblical principles! Here is the essential observation that the Christian should deduce in light of this cultural practice: people are still in need of the gospel.

Let the gospel reign in the Christian’s engagement with culture. The culture’s perverted structure of the family is only a symptom to the culture’s greater issue. The church cannot focus on the culture’s baldhead from chemotherapy when they are terminal with cancer. Even if the church could rationally put forth the biblical model of marriage and the family as the greatest good for society, it would be a moot coercion; the culture’s primal need for the gospel would still be lacking. On the other hand, if the church boldly clarifies the gospel, explicit in the truth claim of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and lordship, the secondary biblical principles of good marriage and family structure will follow suit, necessarily attached to the fountain and source of all goodness and benefit, Jesus Christ. Church, for the greatness of the gospel and His kingdom, for the greatest benefit to our culture, aim higher and deeper.


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