Biblically Evaluating “The Shack Up” – Part 2

The Shack

In the previous post, I introduced the topic of professing Christians “shacking up”, or cohabiting before marriage. I brought up a few common arguments for why professing believers may think about “the shack up”, and then I laid the foundation on which there can be some sort of positive resolution to the issue: the authoritative word of God.

So if we can meet on that foundation, let’s spend a little time in the scripture.  We’re going to address some specific questions that will fence us in for arriving at an answer to the question of whether or not Christians should we move in together.

Question 1 – Does the Bible mention cohabitation?

Answer 1 – Not in the contemporary sense, no.

If we’re being honest, we don’t want to read anything into or out of the silence of the Bible on the issue, since arguments from silence aren’t exactly arguments.

Now one could attempt to stretch the text in some places to attempt to speak to the issue, like Ruth 3:13. In Ruth 3:13, when Boaz wakes up and finds Ruth at his feet, he tells her to stay the night. Still, in Ruth 3:14 it reads “So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, ‘Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.’ ” So, if one were trying to stretch that passage, one cannot miss that both Ruth and Boaz knew how it would look if she was seen coming out of his threshing floor early in the morning. That recognition of appearances is, in itself, suggestive, but not exactly a firm statement on the topic at hand.

There are a few other texts that a person could attempt to stretch, but the result is the same. The harder you stretch a text, the farther away you get from the meaning of the text.

Stretch

When you’re looking for a biblical position on an issue, it’s best to look at the passages of Scripture that directly address the topic, or the issues, at hand.

This brings us to the next question.

Question 2 – Does the Bible mention sexual morality?

Answer 2 – You bet!

This should be absolutely no shock to anyone who professes to be a Christian. The Bible talks about adultery, divorce, homosexuality, and various other issues related to sexual conduct and sin, but we’re not looking for some general statements about sexual morality.  We’re looking for something directly addressing the question of pre-marital sex…because if that’s out, then the question of shacking up is pretty much done.

Well, that is unless you’re one of those people who think anyone would believe that you’re going to be living together without sleeping together.

Sure Thing.

A-Team Van

And that’s the real A-Team van too.

That leads us to our next question.

Question 3 – Does the Bible mention premarital sex?

Answer 3 – Yes indeed, though it doesn’t use the phrase “premarital sex”.

The Bible does lay out a framework that addresses the concept though. Let’s take a serious look at one specific text that definitely addresses this issue. Our text is Ephesians 5:1-5, which reads,

 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Eph. 5:1 gives the general command. In light of what has come before in Eph. 4 (the forgiveness extended in 4:32, the sealing for the day of redemption in 4:30, etc.), the professing believer should live as an imitator of their heavenly father.  This is befitting of a child who is loved and cared for (all children copy their parents, but good parents are worthy of emulation). Christians should copy God, but how?

 Eph. 5:2 gives a framework for answering the question of “how” Christians should copy their adopted father. They need to “walk” in love, or live a life that is marked out by a continual pattern of love. This isn’t an emotional expression of affection either, but is rather an active giving up of self for others. Christ also didn’t just give himself up in part. Rather, he offered himself “for us” as a ” fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. In other words, Christ laid down his life for believers. In this way, Christ has modeled the love that Christians should exemplify.

 Christians shouldn’t just occasionally help one another. Christians should put their lives (meaning their own desires and well-being) aside for the benefit of others.  That is how Christians should copy their heavenly father.

pure-life-water-like-father-like-son-large-5

 Then, after laying out that general command in 5:2 that is an expansion of the general command in 5:1, Paul gets painfully specific in describing what sort of “laying down your life” he’s talking about. In Eph. 5:3 Paul gives three commands when he writes,

 ” But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints”

3a. The first command is that is “sexual immorality…must not even be named among you.” The phrase “sexual immorality” (sometimes translated “fornication”) is translated from the Greek term porneia and is used to refer to any sexual relationship outside a marriage covenant, where as “adultery” is translated from moicheia (which is not in Eph. 5:3) which refers to any sexual relationship in violation of a marriage covenant.  Adultery involves sexual intercourse that is contra-marital and where as “sexual immorality” involves sexual intercourse that is extra-marital.  It is worth noting that both terms refer specifically to physical sexual intercourse.

 Just because there is a lot of confusion about porneia out there, let me pound out a quick but comprehensive word study. Porneia occurs 26 times in the New Testament: Matt. 5:32, 15:19, 19:9; Mark 7:21; John 8:41; Acts 15:20, 29, 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:1, 6:13, 6:18, 7:2; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3; Rev. 2:21, 9:21, 14:8, 17:2, 4, 18:3, 19:2.

 In Matt. 5:32, it’s clearly referring to extra-marital sexual intercourse (if a man divorces his wife for sleeping around, she’s already an adulterer). The term carries the same idea (extra-marital sexual intercourse) in the rest of the passages with (i.e. every usage in 1 Corinthians is unquestionable), though a few may look confusing on the surface.

 When it appears in “sin lists” (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Gal. 5:19), it almost always appears alongside “adultery”. I’d suggest that this is because adultery and sexual immorality cover all possible occurrences of sexual intercourse exterior to the covenant of marriage. Like I previously said, adultery is sexual intercourse in violation of the marriage covenant and sexual immorality is sexual intercourse outside the marriage covenant.  Think along the lines of contra-marital and extra-marital.

 The only other confusing passages are Rom. 1:29, Col. 3:5 and Rev. 9:21. In Rom. 1:29, “adultery” doesn’t appear there at all and I’d suggest the reason lies in the people group being discussed (see 1:26-27). In Col. 3:5, the list is similar to the one in Eph. 5:3 and includes similar terms/concepts, though in a less focused list. In Rev. 9:21, it seems pretty easy to point out that the passage takes place during the Tribulation; a period of time when people won’t exactly be concerned with making any sort of marriage vows before God. Outside of those three unclear passages, every other passage where porneia appears is discussing physical sexual intercourse.

 So porneia “must not even be named among you”, since that is proper for someone who claims to follow Christ.  In other words, don’t do it. Ever.  There shouldn’t even be suspicions of it, nor should there be questions about it nor believable accusations of it.  It’s that dangerous because it leads to porneia, and porneia is deadly serious.

 Deadly serious? Really?

 Don’t worry. We’ll get to that.

 This then leads to the second term in Eph. 5:3.

3b. The second command is that is “impurity…must not even be named among you.”  The second term comes from the Greek term akatharsia (translated “impurity”) and this term speaks of something that is “unclean”, as in morally stained. The term appears alongside porneia in 2 Cor. 12:21, Gal. 5:19 and Col. 3:5 as part of a list of various sexual sins, and also carries a sexual idea in Rom. 1:24 and 1 Thess. 4:7.  In the other four occurrences in the New Testament (Matt. 23:27; Rom. 6:19; Eph. 4:19;  1 Thess. 2:3) it carries a more general idea of being unclean.  I would strongly argue that the term carries a sexual tone (though it also suggest more than just sexual impurity) here as it does a majority of times it occurs in the writings of Paul.  Akatharsia covers the bases (pun definitely intended) outside of porneia, which would basically mean all the physical actions that would lead a person to porneia.

Without being crass, this basically refers to all the physical stuff that would ever give the wrong person “mixed messages”.

Creepy Christian Craig

 Again, akatharsia “must not even be named among you”, since that is proper for someone who claims to follow Christ. In other words, don’t do it. Ever.  It’s that dangerous because akatharsia is deadly serious.

 Again? Deadly serious? Really?

 Don’t worry. We’ll get to that.

 This then leads to the third term in Eph. 5:3.

3c. The third command is that “covetousness must not even be named among you.” The third term is pleonexia, which refers to a “desire for more”.  In the only other mention in Ephesians, it refers to a general sort of “desire”, but in this passage I would argue that the term is referring to a desire for more of something of a sexual nature.  Now if I’m being honest, the term is only used with a sexual connotation elsewhere in 2 Pet. 2:14.  The common usage of the term is of a general sort of “desire”.  So why do I suspect it has a sexual nature here?  Well, the meaning of porneia is clear and the meaning of akatharsia is also relatively clear, but Paul anticipates a practical question and preemptively addresses it in the following verse.  The question is “where do I start in order to stop myself from falling into porneia?

Paul doesn’t leave the church in Ephesus hanging.  Paul unpacks exactly what sort of manifestation of pleonexia he’s thinking of, and gives his readers three concrete places to “nip sin in the bud”,  so to speak.  In Eph. 5:4 Paul writes, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

4a.  The term “filthiness” comes from the Greek term aischrotes, which only appears here.  That is significant because when Paul manufactures or imports a term, he desires to get a very specific idea across to his readers.  The term comes from aischyno, which occurs five times in the New Testament (Luke 16:13; 2 Cor. 10:8; Phil. 1:20; 1 Pet. 4:16; 1 John 2:28) and is translated as some form of “shame” each time.  In other words, the idea here is that Christians shouldn’t talk in a manner that would cause them shame if they were discovered.  Everything you say to someone of the opposite sex should be able to be said in front of the whole church without bringing yourself shame.

4b.  The phrase “foolish talk” comes from the Greek term morologia, which is a compound word of moros (from which we get the English “moron”) and logos (which is the Greek term for “word”).  The term only appears here and again, that is significant because Paul manufactures or imports a term to get a very specific idea across to his readers.  The idea here is that Christians shouldn’t talk in a moronic or foolish manner.  Everything you say to someone of the opposite sex should be able to be said in front of the whole church without bringing yourself accusations of being a fool.

4c. The phrase “crude joking” comes from the Greek term eutrapelia, which is a compound of eu (which means “well”) and trope (which means “turning”).  The term only appears here and again, that is significant because Paul manufactures or imports a term to get a very specific idea across to his readers.   The idea is that Christians shouldn’t talk in a manner that turns words, and every single teenager knows exactly what this is all about.  This is the teenage art of turning anything into an allegory for something sexual.  Everything you say to someone of the opposite sex should be able to be said in front of the whole church without bringing yourself accusations of having a dirty mind.

So as a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it in front of your church, don’t say it to someone of the opposite sex.

Public Speaking

This fills out the picture of what to avoid and how: Porneia refers to the physical act of sexual intercourse, akatharsia (in this passage) refers to the physical actions that lead to porneia, and pleonexia refers to the desire (as manifest in one’s talk) to participate in akatharsia toward the end of porneia. This means that you shouldn’t talk with the opposite sex about subjects that are sexually charged in nature, or make jokes that involve twisting an innocent meaning to make it into something sexual.

In other words, the battle for sexual purity is won or lost at the level of your tongue.  The questions of physical issues (kissing, petting, etc.) aren’t even on the table.

Finally, Paul gets to the big question of why.  In Eph. 5:5 Paul says, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Here Paul restates the three terms of Eph. 5:3 and states why they “must not even be named among you”.  This is the “deadly serious” part.  The reason is simple: people who are marked by sexual immorality, impurity or covetousness don’t get any part of the kingdom.  To say it another way, people who are sexually active outside of marriage, or  who are marked by getting physical with the opposite sex, or people who are marked by sexually explicit talk, aren’t going to end up in Heaven.

To say it more crassly, the guy who sleeps around and claims to be a Christian is a liar.

The girl who’s the youth group skank most likely isn’t a Christian.

The guy who makes dirty jokes around the youth group skank because she’s the youth group skank (with hopes of being her next skank) most likely isn’t a Christian either.

Hard words?

You bet they’re hard words.

Stuff like this reads like absolute insanity to every single human being who isn’t operating on a biblical worldview where the scripture is actually the very word of God.  Then again, everyone working outside of a biblical worldview would stop reading at Eph. 5:2.  Christ calls everyone who follows him to give themselves up for others, and that goes against everything that the unregenerate world stands for.  With regards to a believers relationships with the opposite sex, Eph. 5:3-5 is what giving yourself up looks like.  If Eph. 5:3-5 seems like absolute crazy talk, the problem isn’t with the morality of the Bible.  The problem is with your moral compass.

Failure

So then, let’s wrap this up a tad.

I’ve only gone through one specific text of scripture, but it’s a pointed text that gives a framework from which to evaluate the topic at hand.  Ephesians 5:1-5 seems fairly clear that sexual immorality (being understood as any sexual intercourse outside of a marriage covenant) is completely off the list of options, as are the two steps that lead to sexual immorality.  People shouldn’t even be able to make substantiated accusations of such things against Christians.

The same goes for impurity (meaning all the physical stuff that precedes sexual intercourse) and covetousness (meaning all the ways a person uses their tongue in efforts to pursue impurity or sexual immorality).  So the question then remains:

Does moving in together make covetousness, impurity or sexual immorality more likely or less likely?

Does moving in together give people reasonable basis for accusations of covetousness, impurity or sexual immorality?

Can you still do it?

Well, think of it this way.  The apostle Paul lays out an option for you:

You can choose to share a place with someone you’re not married to, but that choice means you’re also choosing to not share a place (namely “the kingdom”) with Christ.

In other words, “Christians” who move in together are openly declaring they’re not really Christians.

WHAT?

Crews

That’s right.

I said it.

Whoops, correction:

Unless my exegesis is wrong, God said it.

This post has gotten more than long enough, but there’s most certainly a whole lot more said about these issues in the scripture. Here’s a few passages to investigate further (but it’s certainly not a comprehensive list):

Gen 2:18-25; Ex 22:16; Lev 19:29; 21:9; Deut 22:20-29, 23:18; Matt 19:1-9; 1 Cor 6:13-20, 7:2, 7:8-9; Eph. 5:1-21; Col 3:5-6; Heb 13:4; 1 Thess 4:1-8, 5:22.

Also, there are plenty of questions and conundrums, and I’m guessing that you have more than a few.  I’ll address a variety of questions and conundrums in the next post.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Let the comment craziness begin” Unger

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24 thoughts on “Biblically Evaluating “The Shack Up” – Part 2

  1. Wow Lyndon – thanks for doing this. These two articles are a tremendous resource on this challenging topic. I have often puzzled over formulating a biblically-based response and I lack the Greek expertise to understand the nuances of the original vocabulary. Thanks again. I’m going to share this with my teenage children.

    • You’re very welcome Dave! I honestly wish someone had explained all this sort of stuff to me when I was in high school…it could have saved me over a decade of confusion and trial and error.

  2. Ive never commented here..but that was amazingly well written. It’s so hard sometimes in today’s world to have the ability to intelligently fight against immorality…thanks for the ammunition Brother.

  3. Pingback: Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 1-13-15 | Michelle Lesley

  4. I have already sinned with my body and have not been married before intercourse. I never really grew up with a teaching of God, of Christ and of the Bible. I am now at the point in my live where I recognized something is not right with me. And I need help. So I finally sought the word of God, a place I never imagined I’d come to. From the start I immediately started to notice change and regret not being a believer earlier on. I can not even describe why or how I’ve been moved in a single month more than I’ve ever felt all my years on this earth so far, with emotions I didn’t know I could feel. Sorry for drawing this out, I’ll get to the point. I realize the errors of my ways but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I have sinned. Is it too late for me, to enter into His Kingdom? Am I still favored? Am I still loved? How can I repent?

    • Rom.3:23 For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

      It is NOT too late for you Rachel! When Jesus Christ died on the cross he paid the penalty for every time you had sex outside of marriage & all the other sins you’ve commited. You can repent by turning away from your sins and to Jesus. Trust that even though, Jesus’ brutal death on the cross was the punishment that you deserve, all the wrath God has stored up from each and every sin you did, has been satisfied. Your sin debt has been paid in full! It is the great exchange! Jesus, who is the only one who, has lived a perfect, sinless life, took all of your sins upon himself on the cross. When you turn from your sin & turn to Jesus (repent) not only are your sins forgiven because,they have been paid for but, Christ’s righteousness will be credited to you! So, as you are reading the Bible and you read all the wonderful things Jesus did while he walked on this earth, you can be assured that’s how God sees you. Since the wages of sin, is death, Jesus died for you. It is the kindest, most loving thing anybody could do for you! Rachel, I will be praying for you! I will pray that you will forsake your sins & trust Jesus!

      • Thank you so much, I really needed that! I have pretty much finished reading the bible (I am on a 90 plan with one day left! :D) and it is absolutely amazing. I have to say, reading Matthew, Mark and Luke…it really touched me. As I was reading all the works our Lord preformed and miracles and how he has absolute love for us that he died for our sins…I could not keep myself from crying, it was beautiful. I will be re-reading it. I am turning away from my old self and walking the path to serve our Lord Christ, our Father God. My faith has grown tremendously.

      • Thank you Tammy so much, I really needed that! I have pretty much finished reading the bible (I am on a 90 plan with one day left! :D) and it is absolutely amazing. I have to say, reading Matthew, Mark and Luke…it really touched me. As I was reading all the works our Lord preformed and miracles and how he has absolute love for us that he died for our sins…I could not keep myself from crying, it was beautiful. I will be re-reading it. I am turning away from my old self and walking the path to serve our Lord Christ, our Father God. My faith has grown tremendously.

    • Well, just so we’re on the same page, I’d like to give you an articulate presentation of the Gospel. I don’t doubt your profession of faith, but I only do this to make sure that we’re on the same page and talking about the same stuff:

      In simple terms, God has given his moral law to mankind. He has generally placed it on the hearts of all men (Rom. 2:14-15) and articulately revealed it in the Bible (Ex. 20:1-17; Matt. 5-7, etc.). Though mankind knows about God’s existence and moral law, they reject what they know and rebel against what God has revealed in nature (Rom. 1:20-23) and Scripture (Ps. 50:16-17; Pro. 1:29-33) in order to follow the wicked desires (Prov. 11:6; Ephesians 2:3) of their wicked hearts (Jer.17:9; Luke 6:45). This rebellion is known as “sin”. Mankind acts wickedly because deep down, mankind is enslaved by their wicked desires; enslaved to sin (John 8:31-36; Rom. 6:15-17). They can change behavior that springs from the desires of their hearts (Luke 6:43-45; Ja. 4:1-3) but they are powerless to change the desires of their hearts (Jer. 13:23; Rom. 7:18-19; Eph. 2:1-3). This enslavement to sin is the condition of every person whether they are aware of it or not (Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:10-18). This is not to say that all people are totally wicked (i.e. never tell the truth), but instead that people are incapable of being righteous. God has clearly declared that he will judge sin as the capitol offense it is (Ecc. 12:13-14; Rev. 20:11-13) and in doing so, vindicate the glory of his justice (2 Thess. 3:10).

      What is this judgment? The ultimate judgment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), which includes physical punishment for sinful deeds (Matt. 12:34-37; Rev. 20:11-15), as well as eternal relational separation from God (Matt. 8:11-12; Rev. 21:27). Mankind is caught in a snare from which he cannot free himself; this is the bad news.

      In response to all the problems faced by mankind, the Bible presents a single solution in the person and work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Jesus Christ was himself God; the second person of the Godhead (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit); he shared characteristics with God the Father that would be claimed by no man. The Bible speaks of Jesus as creator (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16), sustainer of the universe (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), the one who forgives sins (Mark 2:5-12; Luke 7:48-49), the one who will judge sin (John 5:22; 27; Acts 17:31), the “fullness” and “exact representation” of God (Col.1:19; 2:9 Heb. 1:3), one glorified by God the Father (John 13:31-32; 17:1-5), Yahweh (John 8:56-58; 12:41), having power over life and death (John 5:21-25; 6:27; 35-40), commanding nature (Mark 11:12-21; Luke 8:25), being eternal (John 1:1; Phil. 2:6-11), being self-existent (John 5:26), being able to read minds/discern hearts (Mark 2:8; Luke 6:8), knowing the future (Matt.16:21; 20:17-19; 24:3-51; 26:31-35) and the Bible says God desires all men to believe his testimony about Christ (John 5:29; 1 Jo. 5:9-12).

      So Jesus Christ, 2nd person of the triune God of the Jews, became a man and lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet.2:22). Christ willingly chose to die (John 10:17-18) as a sacrifice of atonement for sin (Rom. 3:23-25; Heb. 9:24-28) and sinners (Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18) in order to provide his own righteousness (Rom. 4:1-24; 2 Cor. 5:21) to any who believe (Rom. 3:22-26; 10:9-10). The Bible teaches that atonement of Christ forgives past sins (Heb. 9:24-28; 10:11-14; 1 Jo. 1:7), removes the guilt of sin (Heb. 9:11-14; 10:22) spares sinners from God’s future judgment (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9) and restores rebellious sinners to right relationship with God (2 Cor. 5:18; 1 Peter 3:18).
      Christ was killed by crucifixion, buried and resurrected from the dead by God the Father (Acts 13:32-33; 1 Thess. 1:10) in order to show God’s verification of Christ’s declarations about his own person and work (Acts 17:31; Rom. 1:4), so the resurrection is God’s ultimate testimony about Christ (1 Jo. 5:9-12). Christ’s resurrection is the ‘prototype’ of the physical resurrection of all believers (Rom. 8:11; Col. 1:18) that will occur when Christ returns to earth a second time (1 Cor. 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 4:14) to conquer and eliminate death once and for all (1 Cor.15:25-26). The early apostles and Christians were eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-8; 2 Pet. 1:16), and these facts are the basis of confession in the Christian faith (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:14-19). The resurrection of the dead is the proximate hope of all Christians (1. Cor. 15:12-19; Phil. 3:10-11; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).

      So how does one respond? First, one must count the cost of following Christ. God does not promise believers financial prosperity, freedom from disease, etc. He does bless believers with increasing joy and righteous character (Gal. 5:22-23), but one of the hallmarks of Christianity is suffering (Rom. 8:17; 1 Pet.4:12-13) and God’s main tool for the production of character in believers is discipline (Heb. 12:4-11). The Christian life is one of battle, intense spiritual warfare engaged amidst hardship (2 Tim. 2:3-4) against the dark, spiritual forces of this world (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-20). The call to follow Christ is a call to become a slave of Christ; it’s a call to give up one’s own desires, values and self-rule (Matt. 10:34-39, 16:24-27; 1 Cor. 7:22-23; Eph. 6:5-9; Phil. 2:1-8, 3:7-9; 1 Pet. 2:16; Rev. 1:1).

      Secondly, one must respond in genuine faith; i.e. believing God’s testimony about himself, oneself and the person and work of his son. One must place their faith in Christ’s claims of ability to save them from their sins and the coming wrath of God (John 5:21-29, 10:22-30, 14:6; Acts 4:12) and true faith is always accompanied by repentance (Acts 20:21; 26:20). Repentance is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him (1 Jo. 1:9), and making a conscious choice to turn from sin (Acts 3:19; 20:21; 26:20), pursue Christ (Matt. 11:28-30; John 17:3), honor Christ as Lord (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10) and obey him (John 14: 21-24; 1 John 2:3).

      ***

      Sorry if that’s a little long winded, but I want to just toss that out there for you.

      All that said, I need to tell you earnestly and honestly that it’s not too late for you Rachel.

      It’s never too late. God is good and the God I worship saved Moses the murderer, David the adulterer, Saul the murderer, etc. The Bible is filled with plenty of horrid people…but the Bible is also a book with story after story of how God’s can “out-grace” anyone’s ability to sin.

      If you think you’re ability to run is greater than God’s ability to catch you, you’re mistaken. Nobody escapes his justice but on the flip side, nobody escapes his call to repent and believe.

      Psalm 139:16 says “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

      What that means for you is that the reason you’re not dead yet is because God hasn’t decreed that it’s time for you to die. He has all your days laid out in advance and that includes today. So today, if you hear the good news; namely that Christ can save you from the coming wrath of God against your own sin, what will you do?

      Do you believe Christ’s claims and accept his claim of Lord over your life?

      If so, then the call to repent is simple.

      In a nutshell, it means to turn from all the things you were doing before and start walking in the way that God has prescribed for you in the scriptures.

      There’s more to know, but I’ll give a single concrete step that is the first step in many:

      Ephesians 5:24 and Colossians 1:18 tell you that the church is Christ’s body on earth. Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:27 tell you that as a Christian, you’re automatically part of that body. The analogy of a body isn’t some strange metaphor, but rather a simply metaphor showing the idea of interconnectedness. You’re part of a bigger entity; the church. The church is a place where you now belong; it’s the source of much of your spiritual nourishment and growth. Passages like Hebrews 10:24-25 warn about neglecting to get together with fellow believers, and I’d encourage you to find a church.

      This is actually the most important step you need to take.

      I’m a random fellow on a blog. I don’t know you. I cannot really help you with much. I definitely cannot be involved in your life on any non-surface level. You need people in your life who can know you, help you, love you, lead you, teach you, encourage you, etc. I wish that were me, but sadly it cannot be (unless you live in Abbotsford, BC, Canada).

      If you let me know the general area you live in, I could try to help narrow down some choices for you. I could even make phone calls and check out some possible churches for you. If you have restrictions on travel or anything like that, I’ll gladly adjust my search accordingly.

      There’s a bunch more I could say, but I don’t want to bog you down.

      Also, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not simply saying “go to church” as an answer to how you need to repent. It’s the best FIRST step that I know of. There are many more steps, but every journey is made one step at a time.

      That’s why I would suggest that the best first step is to get you connected with someone in your area who can care for you ASAP.

  5. I enjoyed reading your take on ‘Premarital Cohabitation’. I had never heard the Greek term eutrapelia explained quite the way you did. Thanks. That said I found it more interesting in what seemed to be missing from the article you wrote. For example so little on the influences from nearly everywhere for engaging in ‘Premarital Cohabitation’. It is my sense that there are many songs heard today featuring some form of ‘Premarital Cohabitation’ not only as a theme, but as almost an endorsement. I think in fact many rock songs knowingly or unknowingly have a Biblical origin in their inspiration, yet manage to complete miss the essence of a cautionary tale. In my opinion the Lyrics to “Do You Feel Like We Do” song by PETER FRAMPTON was a rip off of the second half of the 23rd Proverb. If it was, it turned the 23rd Proverb on its head so to speak, and became a celebratory anthem instead of a father’s passing on cautionary wisdom to a son. Maybe at the time Peter wrote it he was so caught up in that “spirit” that nowadays he might not have the brain cells left to remember, or perhaps even care to remember those times for that matter to actually want to figure it out. Folks current motivation to accept and engage in ‘Premarital Cohabitation’ might have been described by AC/DC in their song “Highway to Hell”. ‘Livin’ easy, Lovin’ free, Season ticket on a one way ride’. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am living in a glass house with a hand full of rocks to throw. Not unlike the AC/DC song I don’t doubt that to many Bible believers, and I can accept that you Lyndon might be one, that I personally seem to be headed towards a very warm afterlife indeed, with or without global warming’s said influence. Nevertheless, other than the repercussions you point out about ‘Premarital Cohabitation’ having on one’s faith, such as it may or may not be; certainly there are real and practical down sides to be parsed out of published statistics on ‘Premarital Cohabitation’ from not only Biblical, but secular sources as well. Notwithstanding the moral implications you laid out, on balance the down sides of ‘Premarital Cohabitation’, both short and long term, although not stark in many of the senses of the word stark, tend to outweigh any up side. There is a consequence to everything of course. Better, and certainly more dramatically said ‘For they sow the wind And they reap the whirlwind’ Hosea 8:7

    • Thanks Roland. I tried to just keep it a biblical exploration of the subject, working through just one text. I could have brought in a whole bunch of other texts, or ideas, but that would have turned it into a book!

  6. Awesome work…I am going to share this with my wife and my teenage son (and in a couple of years, his younger brother). Thanks!

  7. Thanks for this Lyndon. One thought, though is that you addressed speaking in a sexual way to a member of the opposite sex leading to fornication. I would think that speaking that way in any group, or listening to it could lead to the temptation toward premarital sex. In other words, “locker-room talk” could make a young man think that “everyone is doing it” so he would be more likely to go along with what he thinks everyone else is doing. Anyway, its a small quibble. Thanks again for your labor in exegesis.

    • Possibly, yeah…but the text is specifically aiming at personal actions, not being a passive audience to someone else’s actions.

      That concept arises in the Bible, buy not specifically in Ephesians 5:1-5.

  8. You appear to be mixing up your terms. “Sleeping around” means to have sex with multiple partners. “Shacking up” (co-habitation) means to live together indefinitely as a sexually-exclusive couple without involving the government (licence, registration, change of tax status, government-approved celebrant & ceremony, etc.). The former is forbidden in Scripture; the latter is a marriage–and would’ve been considered as such by the Early Church (until about the 8th Century). Furthermore, if the couple were both believers and committed to staying together for life and raise a family, theirs would’ve been considered a Christian marriage.

    • Why is this comment relevant exactly Mr. Witness?

      Where did I talk about sleeping around in this post? How do I mix up terms I don’t use…outside of Matthew 5:32: the one time the phrase was used in the post…which refers to multiple sexual partners?

      Secondly, why do you play Scripture against the Early Church?

      The Early Church doesn’t dictate what’s Biblical or exegetically defensible.

      In the Bible, can you give me an example of a couple who were sexually active, were believers, committed together and stayed together and yet did NOT have some sort of marriage ceremony but were considered de facto married by someone in spiritual authority?

      Have fun actually establishing your case from the Bible.

      Have fun setting a biblical precedent. With the wide spectrum of ideas and biblical confusion present in church history, I can set a precedent for anything whatsoever.

      Final question. Are you currently living with someone that you engage in sexual intercourse with but have not taken the step of covenanting with them in a public covenant ceremony before the Lord?

  9. Q: Why is this comment relevant exactly Mr. Witness?
    A: It’s relevant because you are teaching the Church from an incorrect understanding of what constitutes a marriage biblically.
    Q: Where did I talk about sleeping around in this post? How do I mix up terms I don’t use…outside of Matthew 5:32: the one time the phrase was used in the post…which refers to multiple sexual partners?

    A: I said “appear to be mixing up terms;” it is yet to be determined that you were. Perhaps “mislabelling” concepts would’ve been a better way to put it. You attribute the attributes of “sleeping around” to “shacking up.” You may not have used the exact term “sleeping around,” but your whole exegesis of “porneia” is about that very thing. Your use of the word “skank” underscores the point. In both posts a clear distinction is not made between “shacking up” (cohabiting) and “sleeping around” (biblically illicit sexual activity)—they are “mixed up.”

    Q: Secondly, why do you play Scripture against the Early Church?
    A: I’m not sure what you mean by “play[ing] Scripture against the Early Church.”
    Q: The Early Church doesn’t dictate what’s Biblical or exegetically defensible.
    A: The culture of the Early Church (EC) is the culture of the writers of the NT. When Paul talks about married people in his letters, he means those who were considered married at that time (1st Cent) and in that place (Greco-Roman world of the 1st Cent). As an example of relevance: Slaves were considered married by the EC even when Roman Law did not. They did not have ceremonies—as the majority of poor people at that time did not.
    Q: In the Bible, can you give me an example of a couple who were sexually active, were believers, committed together and stayed together and yet did NOT have some sort of marriage ceremony but were considered de facto married by someone in spiritual authority?
    A: Couple: Adam and Eve.
    Spiritual Authority: JHWH
    Q: Have fun actually establishing your case from the Bible.
    A: Not every married believer in the Bible is named, nor are their ceremonial histories mentioned. The point is that there are no divinely authorised marriage ceremonies in the Bible. All ceremonies were human cultural creations.

    Q: Have fun setting a biblical precedent. With the wide spectrum of ideas and biblical confusion present in church history, I can set a precedent for anything whatsoever.
    A: Really? Can you set a precedent for teaching eisegetically on what God considers a marriage?
    Q: Final question. Are you currently living with someone that you engage in sexual intercourse with but have not taken the step of covenanting with them in a public covenant ceremony before the Lord?
    A: No. I’m a 52 year-old, remarried father of 3 recently enrolled in an antipodean Bible College where the celebrant of my second marriage is vice-dean (academic).

    (I live in New Zealand and just woke up. My apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors. You ask a lot of questions!)

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