Heterosexual Cohabitation and The Church – After Obergefell

The historic church, evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox, has taken a dim view of ‘cohabitation,’ which used to be called ‘shacking up’ or ‘living in sin.’ The faithful churches in fact generally try to deny the Sacrament to those in cohabitation. This is a far more common practice than homosexuality; it is said that perhaps the majority of marrying couple today may be living together before they marry. Of course, the definition of ‘cohabitation’ nowadays is people living together openly before they are ‘married,’ but in our current universe, what do we mean by ‘married’?

Is an opposite sex couple that has been ‘married’ in a civil ceremony ‘married’ while at the same time a same sex couple ‘married’ in a civil ceremony not ‘married’? That would be interesting. Churches that I would call apostate also ‘marry’ both opposite sex and same sex couples. Are we going to rule under canon law that the opposite sex couples that were wed in one of these places are ‘married’ and the same sex ones are just cohabiting? Or are we going to take a view that only those couples who have been wed by Holy Matrimony in a faithful church, one that only applies matrimony to opposite sex couples, are really ‘married,’ and all others are really cohabiting? The last option is the only one where we are not saying that some are ‘married’ and others not.

This situation also provides opportunity for conservative Protestants to be stricter on divorce and remarriage, an area where they [as the gay activists point out, and quite rightly] have been lax. I would like to see the church leadership investigate more thoroughly the circumstances of a divorce and decide whether the reasons were valid and whether a ‘marriage’ to someone else should be recognized at canon law. The Catholics have been doing this for years, though I realize that they have been fairly lax in practice too. Because the evangelicals did not draw the line strongly enough after no fault divorce came in 45 years ago [that was not through any court decision, though it is possible that doing away with no fault divorce on demand of one partner might be declared ‘unconstitutional’ now if it were ever tried] they watered down some specific sayings of Jesus and lost a lot of moral credibility about the same sex issue, about which Jesus felt no need to speak during His earthly ministry. [Though we have to affirm that Jesus endorsed the Scripture, and what the Scripture says, Jesus says; this is an important watershed where the Church has to dig in.]

The evangelical church has been right not to endorse same sex holy matrimony [I don’t think it’s heretical by-the-way for an evangelical to endorse same sex civil ‘marriage’ as long as she doesn’t wish it to be validated by the canon law of her church, or doesn’t favor her church performing same sex ceremonies] but it has to pay a little attention to the impact of Obergefell and of social trends to cohabitation and serial monogamy as it affects the other 97% of us.

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