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.

Conclusion

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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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen April 21, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Awww you’re welcome! And yes, God forgives both of us 🙂 Because He is good, no matter if we fail. God bless you, sir!

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Jack Wellman April 21, 2017 at 6:13 pm

🙂

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kathleen Winnett October 16, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I have a question I go to church every Sunday I have been baptize and was saved at the age of 32 years old. I taught awana for 17 years I love GOd but I’m living with a man now for 20 years and I can’t marry him because I will lose my husband pension.Am I going to hell my pastor won’t let me join the church because I’m living with this man who is a good man. I’m sacred I don’t want to go to hell.

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Jack Wellman October 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Katheleen.. The question is….do you trust God enough to take care of you. If you place your security over Christ, you are not seeking the kingdom of God first and His righteousness, which we are commanded to do (Matt 6:33). Many believe they are saved, but on the day of Jesus visitation, they will hear the most horrific, tragic news ever; Jesus will say, depart from me. Many will say Lord, Lord, but these same many will be turned away (Matt 7:21-23). The Bible is clear. Those who practice such things as sexual immorality will not enter the kingdom (1 Cor 6). It is good you are fearful because you cannot say you are a believer and live in sin (1st John chapter 3). Read these verses, call your pastor, repent of this, and move out of this sexually immoral lifestyle while you still have time. You are living with a “good man” but the Bible teaches, none are good…not eve one (Rom 3:10-12)! Jesus said if you love me you will keep My commands. I fear you are in danger of God’s judgment. Trust God. Move out. Repent of this. Those who do these things sin against their own body (1 Cor 6).

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Khunde October 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Hi..about salvation..are you saying that everyone we sin we have to ‘repent’ again even though we are saved. For example if I recieve salvation today and maybe after a few months I commit a great sin like I give into my lust and commit self pleasing…does that mean my salvation is gone now I have to repent again to God. Why would I repent again when I’ve already done so and that sin is already forgiven? Wouldn’t the logical thing to do be to realise what I have been tempted to do by Satan and pray to God about this shortcoming and ask God to help me with temptation? And to only have faith in God that I won’t fall into that sin again?

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Jack Wellman October 18, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Hello Khunde. To repent means to turn away from or forsake. God actually brings repentance and if you sinned a great sin, would you not repent of it or stop doing it? We all sin, but we are still saved, but I believe its good to confess our sins when we do them. If you sinned today, and didn’t ask God to forgive you. Or if you sinned and didn’t turn from it (repent), then would you fell good about yourself? John tells us to confess our sins (1 John 1:9). We are all tempted, but we are carried along by our own lusts and temptations and cannot blame the devil for all our sin and temptation.

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Debbie October 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Greetings Jack
What a sad story. My heart aches for you and for the young girl you counselled. You missed so many opportunities to show love like Jesus did and still does today. Our salvation as Christians is permanent and eternal. We can not lose our salvation by sinning. We are all living in a broken world and we wi still all sin at times. We try hard not to because we want the special rewards in heaven…but were still going to heaven. Praise God. Dont take it from me. Below is an article from versebyverseministry that explains really well what the bible says more fully about Christians and sinning. Our sins are forgiven past present and future! None of us can get to heaven by our works alone…for we all fall short of the glory of God. Thats why God sent His son to save us. None of us need to pretend to be perfect….we all know none of us are, save Jesus.
Yours in kindess and truth,
A sister in Christ

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Jack Wellman October 19, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Thank you Debbie. I do agree as the verses you cited mention on the website that we are not saved by the will of man but of God, and predestined for the kingdom, but it is important to realize what the Bible says elsewhere regarding practicing sin. The verses you noted were not in the context of “practicing these things” or living in sin, but 1st John 3 is and he writes, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Since this is true and someone living in adultery or sexual immorality that is not repented of, cannot be of God if they “keep on sinning.” That’s because they’re born of God and “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God.” I believe it is wrong to tell someone who is living in sexual immorality, or fornication, that they will still go to heaven since Paul says those who practice these things will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21). God calls us to be holy for He is holy…not perfect, but not in open sin with no repentance. That sounds like a license to sin.

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Marie May 3, 2018 at 11:44 pm

I am in agreement with Jack Wellman’s response to Julie’s questions. He showed the love of Christ by telling her the truth rather then what she wants to hear. Please consider the following verses that clearly state that a Christian can fall away from the Lord and loose their salvation. Once saved always saved is a doctrine of deception and Heresy that leads many into complacency and to live with unrepentant sin.

Hebrews 10:19-31, 38-39
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

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Jenny February 6, 2018 at 5:25 am

Thank you for this teaching.
At my church three of the leaders restrained me from telling a young follower of Jesus that her moving in with a man was wrong.
It was explained that she had come out of a difficult marriage time & all she needed now was a comforting time. That this man was kind & often not there. He is not a Christian & they were all praying sometimes openly on our prayer web site for him to become a Christian & to marry her.
I believe I am the only one who feels strongly she should be shown the bible teaching.
She is a very beautiful woman & has great ability during prayer time with bible references.I do not want to acussed of disunity & not obeying the leadership as has been made clear if I speak or write to her.
What are views. ?

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Jack Wellman February 6, 2018 at 10:12 am

These church leaders are compromising sin and condoning sin by giving their approval of a live-in situation between people who are not married, and that is clearly sin and this is no grey area. I am saddened by this church’s response. I wished you could send them here to this article or have them contact me since this is not a godly thing, and in fact, 1 Cor 6 comes to mind. This church is in trouble, in my opinion, because if they allow this sin to continue, what other areas in their personal lives do the compromise and try to justify their own sins?

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Dennis Carr February 15, 2018 at 8:40 am

Dear Sir: I do not have a problem with the comments and advice that you have provided. I only wish, that you churches would do their job and supply the information that you have mentioned. As long as their attendance is satisfactory and their bills are getting paid and their patting each other on the back, they are satisfied. // When a person ask me for my opinion, I try to give it to them as softly as I can and the truth the best I know, without them blowing up. The churches are failing us very bad. // Jesus Christ has called me to do divine healing. I didn’t even get in to studying the Bible till 2012. I was never told the importance of learning the Bible and what few times I went to church, it did not help me and I did not understand what they were trying to do. // So 2014 May 1 Jesus Christ spirit made his presence known and told me to start practicing Divine healing. I have three are four friends, and we discuss our opinions on healing. It is in Scripture in the Bible, many times. I have five or more professional healers that I study on the Internet. I usually study every day or make comments on Facebook to try and get people’s attention on the Bible. Thank you, Dennis Carr

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Jack Wellman February 15, 2018 at 9:57 am

Hello Mr. Carr. Churches are told to reach the lost (Matt 28:19-20) and visit this widows, orhpans, sick, prisoners, and the poor (James 1:27; Matt 25:36-38) and so if you have a gift for healing, you are overlooking the most important thing…rescuing the perishing. And as for healing, it is God Who choose to heal and not you. We pray for God’s will to be done on earth and in heaven, not man’s will (your or mine) to do their will in heaven and on earth. Jesus makes His presence with all who believe, not just you. There are no such things as “professional healers” in the Bible. You mean that they get paid to heal people so their professionals? Friend, you need to get out of this situation and start growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord as commanded. If your church did not help you then you help it! Be part of the solution and not part of the complaining. Jesus calls us to be His witnesses…and He said you will know them by their fruits…not by their gifts.

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Erika March 14, 2018 at 9:32 pm

Hello my name is erika and ive been with my fiance for 4 years and have 2 children with him. My question is i just recently got saved on 2/26/17 after my daughter was born and me and thier father was living together before i knew chirst…and as i get more intune with our Father i am starting to feel different about things and i must say this all happen after i got baptized on 10/29/17…we do live together still but i keep asking God to help get him an apartment so we can live separate again..i know our time isnt on the Lords time i already told him he has to leave bcuz we are living in sin…if we are both saved well i know i am forsure because i question my salvation everyday still and i know i shouldn’t be but there is always a BIGGG WHAT IF YOU KNOW??. I want assurance that im sealed God knows everyones heart so he knows i want the Lord more then anything in this world…i just want to make sure that i am going to heaven …i feel bad kicking him out to the streets…and the Lord knows that as a Christian ur supposed to come with Love Meekness Kindness etc…pls help with my question…Thank you and God bless u

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Jack Wellman March 15, 2018 at 10:21 am

Hello Erika. This boyfriend can work, right? Why not let him have his own place? It’s not really “kicking him out” but doing what God says that is important. The Bible tells us that those who live in sin can have no assurance of being saved (1 John 3), so I would repent of this, have him move out, or you will never have any peace of mind about your eternal fate. It is loving to live a single life and not live in sin with a boyfriend. If Jesus comes back or you die before repenting of this, only God knows where you’ll be. Call your pastor and talk to him..both of you go to him and counsel today.

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Michelle April 9, 2018 at 5:37 am

Amen

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Anonymous June 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Thank you pastor Jack this article helped and blessed me tremendously I’m in a similar situation but it’s a way bigger church witness killer. Please if you can contact me by email. I’d very much like to discuss with you. Thank you and God bless

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Jack Wellman June 2, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Hello Anonymous. I will my friend. Thank you.

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Cyntha August 15, 2018 at 11:19 am

Thanks relevant issues I would like to contact you via email as there are some concerns I would like to ask you about .

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Jack Wellman August 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

Please click on this link: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/contact/ and I will respond to your concerns. Thank you Cynthia.

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Roman September 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Well I digress.
This is an old post. But how can we judge when only God can judge. Just because people live together doesn’t mean they are in sin or sinners.
Roommates of opposite sex. For example.
Only God can judge. Because God sees the heart.
A couple who is dedicated. To God and has professed to God they are married although not married in paper.
God sees the heart. Only he can judge this couple
Has been blessed and God has miraculously healed the young lady.
Let’s think why did God ask Hosea to marry a prostitute she was a sinner.
Why did God tell David. I have given you all the daughters of Israel. Let us not be hasty to judge others.

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Jack Wellman September 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Hello Roman. We are not judging anyone. God’s Word says that and the Bible says that being dedicated to one another means they can live together before marriage. This is sin. God sees the heart but also the sin and His Word says that people who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). read your Bible. Follow His Word. Not what you think. David is no excuse for us to commit adultery. The quote you mentioned in 2 Sam 12 is actually Nathan the prophet condemning David’s actions, not supporting it as you say. You have taken text out of context to make a false pretext. Please don’t counsel people. You do not believe or follow the Bible. Hosea was ordered by God. It was NOT Hosea’s idea and besides, He MARRIED her, not lived with her outside of marriage. Please repent of this satanic teaching.

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