Is it Sin For Unmarried Christians To Live Together? A Pastor’s Counseling Session

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does the Bible say about living together?  Is the Bible silent on this?  What if the couple is not having sex?

Here is an actual exchange of a counseling session I had with a young lady who believed that she was a Christian and asked for advice about whether it was sin or not to live with or even stay the night with her boyfriend even though she claimed that there was no sex involved.  I have changed her name in order to protect her privacy.  I want to use this to establish the fact that living together outside of the bounds of marriage is sin…even if there is no sex.  Here is a real counseling session I had with a young lady that was seeking some guidance from a pastor but didn’t have a church home.  You will see later why this young lady didn’t have one.  Please follow along with me and see why people who may not be saved or even Christian put their beliefs or feelings over what God’s Word actually teaches.  This is dangerous ground to be on and like walking on thin ice, not knowing when the ice will break away and they will plunge through the deadly, icy cold waters.

living together outside of the bounds of marriage is sin…even if there is no sex

living together outside of the bounds of marriage is sin…even if there is no sex

Counseling Session

Julie:  Hey my name is Julie and I have none else to talk to… Would u please try to help me?   Could you give me some advice?

Me:  Maybe you should talk to your pastor or an elder or deacon.  Do you not have other Christians in your church to talk to?  What advice could your pastor not give that I could?

Julie: Well I don’t have a good church to go to…but its okay you don’t gotta help.

Me:  I don’t mind helping but perhaps you are struggling with your faith because you are outside of the sheepfold that Jesus is the Great Shepherd of.  When believers are put out of the church for discipline they are said to be delivered to Satan to buffet them so that their soul might be saved (1 Tim 1:19-20).  You are outside of the church’s protection and separated from the saints and subject to spiritual attacks.  There is safety in the fold and in the flock just as in nature, there is safety in numbers.  Why don’t you have a church home?

Julie: Because we always either get asked to leave or people judge us but what I was gonna ask was I’m 19 and I wanna stay the night with my boyfriend at his house    But my mom is kinda controlling and doesn’t want me to she always compares me to my sisters which him and I aren’t gonna have sex.. He and I don’t want that not anytime soon … I don’t see the problem with it.

Me:  Maybe your mom is only “controlling” because what you are doing, staying the night with your boyfriend, and she sees this as is sin even if you don’t have sex with him.  This is why the church is “judging” you.  Are you a Christian?  Is your boyfriend?  If he is not a believer then you breaking a commanded to not be dating or to be unequally yoked with or joined with non-believers (2 Cor 6:14).  If he is a Christian, then he should know better.  The members of the church are commanded to abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22), even if nothing is happening, because they too can hurt the witness for the church and the cause of Christ.  We too must abstain from every appearance of evil.

I once counseled a young Christian couple who were boyfriend and girlfriend and lived together.  They insisted that they slept in separate bedrooms and never had sex.  I told them that it doesn’t matter because most of their neighbors assumed that they must have been having sex because they lived together.  What was worse, they knew that they were Christians.  They hurt the witness of the church even though they didn’t have any sexual immorality occurring (allegedly).  It didn’t matter if they weren’t.  What mattered was that non-believers thought that they were because they were living together.  I strongly suggested that they live separately because they were giving the appearance of evil and even if there was no sin, they were bringing shame on the case for Christ by their doing so.  May it never be so among the Bride of Christ as He desires we live holy lives and this includes being above reproach.   Just because you don’t see this as a problem the Bible calls it sin.  What God believes is more important than what we think and disobeying God like this is sin and may show you are not truly saved and your eternal fate is in jeopardy (Rev 20:11-15).  I say this in love, not just as a pastor, but for your eternal soul’s sake.

Julie: Wait…before listening what do you believe? I don’t think spending the night with my boyfriend is wrong.

Me:  I believe what God says and what God says is more important that what I believe and as I said,  Is your boyfriend?  If he is not then you are not to even be dating as the Bible commands us to not be unequally yoked or joined with non-believers (2 Cor 6:14).  If he is a Christian, then he should know better and are commanded to abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22), even if nothing is happening, because they too can hurt the witness for the church and the cause of Christ.  It doesn’t matter what you think but what God says and if you follow your feeling over what God says then you may not be saved (read 1 John chapter 3).  Send this or print it out for your pastor or mom and I think they would agree.

Julie:  Just forget it cause it does matter

Me: Okay, this will be my last contact with you my friend if that is what you want.  Please allow me to say that I am sorry if I offended you but we will all have to stand before God someday to give an account for all we do and my duty is tell you the truth and I am saddened to see that what matters to you is more important than what matters to God.  That shows that if you were to die you would have no certainty of whether you would go to heaven or hell.  I will pray you make the right decision. I will not reply again unless you want me to.  Thank you for your question.

Julie:  That doesn’t mean I’m gonna go to hell though. But yeah we will all have to answer to God one day. We will all stand alone and answer to him. And what God wants does matter to me A LOT.  Thank you very much…but aren’t you judging me?  Hello!…staying the night with a boyfriend I don’t think that’s a big deal…everything’s a sin.  Living, breathing is a sin.. Being on earth is a sin. NO ONE IS PERFECT.  You’re not perfect and I bet you have a wife don’t you?  I bet you stayed with your girlfriend once before or your girl stayed with you.  Don’t tell me you didn’t. Because you probably did. And don’t tell me that I’m gonna go to hell if I stay the night… I don’t know where I’m going…..but for your information that’s not very nice and very good Christian to tell me that ill go to hell….

Me:  No, I am not perfect but I am married and so I can spend the night with my wife because the Bible doesn’t prohibit it but I did not live with her or spend the night with her before we got married.  You said everything is a sin?  Really?  No, reading your Bible is not, worshiping God is not wrong, asking for God’s blessing is not wrong.  I am not perfect but I don’t want to put my feelings or what I want over what God says in His Word.  Does this make sense Julie?  I never said you are going to hell…I am only trying to warn you that if you are not truly saved and you live with you boyfriend then you may not really be a Christian for Christians do not do things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches.  Of course I am not sinless but when I do sin, I immediately repent of it and confess it to God and stop.


A couple can live together and not have sex but if they are tempted by having such a close relationship and seeing one another at times and that lusting in their heart is equal to adultery of the heart (Matt 5:28).  It would be nearly impossible to not be tempted or lust in one’s heart when they must share living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms together.  Sooner or later there will be opportunities to see someone in a compromising situation, partially undressed or even share the bathroom at the same time.  Whether there is sex or not, living together is clearly sin because it gives the appearance of evil and we are to be above reproach and be an example for the church.   Excusing one’s lifestyle because it feels right is putting yourself at great risk for the disciplining hand of God and God is angered when we justify our sins by rationalizing them.  This is a sin of presumption.  They presume that God would not care but most certainly He does care and no sin ever goes unpunished or without consequences. They have every reason to fear and fear is the beginning of wisdom but if they have no fear of sin they may not be saved.

I have even had an older couple ask me that if they lived together and had no sex, would this be sin? They say that they loved one another but didn’t want to get married because if they did, they could only receive one Social Security check instead of the two they receive now.  I told this couple that the Biblical command to abstain from every appearance of evil applied to them just as much as if they were in their 20’s.  What is sad to me is that they say they believe in God.  God Who created the universe and everything in it from nothing and raised Christ from the dead yet they don’t trust Him enough to take care of their financial needs if they got married on a fixed income.

For those who have no fear, the opposite may be true.  A person living in sin who claims to be a Christian may have great doubts about their salvation even though God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of love (2 Tim 1:7) and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) but if a person thinks that they are a Christians and does not live like one, then they most certainly have good reason to doubt their salvation (1 John 3).  If they value what they think or believe over and against what God says in His Word, then that person shows no evidence of conversion and they may not actually be saved.  I would never give someone assurance of their salvation if they exhibit no desire to be obedient to God’s Word, to live a life of holiness and purity, to strive to grow in grace and knowledge and to place their desires over what God says.  They are seeking first their own agenda and not the Kingdom (Matt 6:33).  God help them to see that their eternal future is so terrible that I cannot even describe it with words (Rev 20:11-15).  If you know someone like this warn them (Jude 1:23) before it is too late.  God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  The literal translation is that God is at war with the proud.  May you have the peace of God instead of the wrath of God abiding in you.

I never heard back from “Julie” and still think about her from time to time.  I pray she became convicted of her living with her boyfriend.  Even if she doesn’t have sex, the opportunities there and the temptation there may be too great for her to control herself.  Even if they don’t have sex and lust after one another, Jesus said that is the same as adultery.  Besides, they should be abstaining from every appearance of evil for as I said, it hurts the witness of Christ, the church and of God particularly since they she said she is a Christian.  I pray she is right.

Related Post: Christian Advice Before Marriage

Resources: New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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