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On live-in relationship and marriage

Letter to the Editor:
PASUGO, December 1995, p.2

MY LIVE-IN PARTNER has been invited a number of times to attend your Bible study on doctrines. In the process, she has come to understand your doctrines and is now inviting me to listen. Through her I learned that your Church does not approve of live-in relationships.

Personally I don't believe in marriage because it is just a piece of paper.  I know of many married couples who have ended up separated. Their marriage did not work.

My live-in partner and I have a beautiful relationship. We have been living together for more than 15 years, outliving even the other marriages I know of.  What could marriage do to our lives. Do we still need it?  We are happy and content the way things are.

Roger Castillo
Butuan City, Philippines

Editor's reply:

Unlike beasts, human beings have cultural institutions which serve as a civilizing influence. Civilized man has created sanctions that act as restraints on his behavior, thus further differentiating himself from the rest of God’s creation.

One of these institutions is marriage. This regulates society and limits procreation to those individuals who have exhibited emotional as well as physical maturity.

Thus, marriage brings about legitimacy not only in the relationship between the man and the woman but in its outcome, the offspring. It is society itself that places restrictions on sexual relations between individuals in the form of matrimony. Any violation of this restriction usually results in penalties.

     On the other hand, for those who accept the Bible as God’s word, there is even a stronger argument.

     Marriage was instituted by God as the only legitimate means by which a man may join with a woman in conjugal love and by which they may have children (cf. Gen. 2:18-24; 1:28).

 18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  (Gen. 2:18-24, NKJV)

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:28, NKJV)

Marriage involves a holy contract or covenant between a man and a woman, whereby they give themselves to each other for life:

“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mt. 19:6, New International Version)

The act of cohabiting without the benefit of matrimony is called fornication, a form of sexual immorality according to the teachings of the Bible. What is the problem with sexual immorality? The Bible says:

“Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man commits does not affect his body; but the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God…” (I Cor. 6:18-19, Today’s English Version)

The person who engages in sexual immorality injures his own body. No matter how much pleasure is derived through engaging in this kind of practice and no matter how happy the individuals involved may be, the end will still be tragic:

“But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars—the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev. 20:8, Ibid.) [emphasis ours]

The failure of some couples to maintain their marriage does not prove that the institution is itself a failure—a worthless piece of paper. Nor does it make the practice of cohabiting a valid alternative. The marriage contract’s validity remains; however, ignorance of God’s principles and rules for a successful relationship can only lead to disappointment, even for those who get married.

How then should individuals who seek to marry carry out this decision? Taking into account that the good spouse is a gift from God (cf. Prov. 19:14), one should, through prayer and mature deliberation, make sure that the person one wishes to marry is of such faith and character as to make a good companion and helper for life. It also pays to understand that to marry someone is a serious and sacred responsibility and that one should not get into it hastily under the influence of passion.


Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind. For the latest Worship Service Directory of Iglesia ni Cristo Locales and Congregations outside the Philippines, please visit www.iglesianicristoworshipservice.com or just click link at home page.

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