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Summary: If you are a teen listen closely, because the odds are very high that someone will ask you to move in with them. Decide now, how you will respond.

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COHABITATION

TEXT: Gal. 5:16-26

INTRODCUTION

1. While conducting a pastor’s seminar on how to cut the divorce rate in the Tampa Bay area, Religious writer Mike McManus asked, "How many couples who come to you to be married, are living together?" In a chorus, they replied: "70 to 75 percent!" Similarly, clergy in Cleveland, Richmond and Fond du Lac in recent weeks told him over half are cohabiting.

2. Then he asked, "How many of you have preached a sermon on it?" Only one in 20 had.

3. Today we are going to examine a much needed, but little examined subject – cohabitation.

4. It’s really what one writer called fornication squared. But we are going to use language that recognizes the presence of children in the audience.

5. If you are a teen listen closely. Because the odds are very high that someone will ask you to move in with them. You need to decide now how you will respond then.

DISCUSSION:

I. The nature of the problem

A. According to census figures – cohabitation has soared ten-fold, from 430,000 in 1960, to 4.l million couples in 1997.

B. It has replaced marriage as the dominant way male-female unions are formed in America.

C. In America 4.1 million adults are cohabiting at any moment of time. Over a year’s time, probably six or seven million people are shacking up. It is the dominant way male-female unions are now formed in the United States.

D. Yet only 2.3 million couples marry a year, and more than half are cohabiting at the time.

E. The University of Wisconsin reports that those who marry after cohabiting are 50 percent more likely to divorce than those who never lived together. St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 7:18 that we are to ’’flee fornication.’’ Surely, cohabitation is fornication squared.

F. Sadly, these young people are mistaken. The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University published a report last year confirming earlier studies that those who cohabit before marriage are 50 percent more likely to divorce than those who do not live together.

G. These ’’trial marriages’’ should be called ’’trial divorces,’’ because the vast majority will either learn the pain of ’’pre-marital divorce,’’ breaking up before there is a wedding, or will divorce afterwards. This sex-drenched culture has resulted in a doubling of never-married Americans, soaring from 21 million in 1970 to 46.6 million in 1998, according to Census.

H. It creates a problem for preachers. "How do we graciously tell a cohabiting couple: (1) that according to biblical standards, they are living in sin, (2) they are endangering their current and long-term relationship, and (3) need to separate before marrying in the church all without offending them and having them angrily walk away from the church forever?"

I. "Either we lower the standards and marry everyone who asks (hoping that something spiritual rubs off in the process), or we raise the standards so high that we marry an even smaller percentage of couples each year (missing excellent and rare opportunities to evangelize). Neither choice seems very appealing or appropriate."

II. Some good reasons not to cohabitate

A. Those who live together before marriage are the least likely to marry each other.

A Columbia University study cited in New Woman magazine found that "only 26 percent of women surveyed and a scant 19 percent of men" married the person with whom they cohabited.

B. Those who live together before marriage have higher separation and divorce rates. The National Survey of Families and Households, based on interviews with 13,000 people, concludes, "Unions begun by cohabitation are almost twice as likely to dissolve within 10 years compared to all first marriages: 57 percent to 30 percent."

C. Those who live together before marriage have unhappier marriages. A study by the National Council on Family Relations of 309 newlyweds found that those who cohabited first were less happy in marriage.

D. Those who are sexually active before marriage are much more likely to divorce. A study of 2,746 women in the National Survey of Family Growth found the non-virgin brides increase their odds of divorce by about 60 percent. Here is secular evidence for St. Paul’s injunction, "Flee fornication."

E. Those who live together are at high risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Three million teenagers alone contract one of five dozen STDs. If untreated, STDs can lead to brain damage, heart disease, infertility and even death. Women who have three or more sexual partners in a lifetime are 15 times more likely to get cervical cancer.

F. Those who live together do not experience the best sex. The best sex is found in marriage. Couples who abstain from sex before marriage are 29 to 47 percent more likely to enjoy sex afterwards.

G. Those having premarital sex may be fooled into marrying a person not right for them. Sex can be emotionally blind. Real love can stand the test of time without physical intimacy. The sexually active lose objectivity and actually cheat on the test of time.

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