What is Love? — Midweek Message
by Abiding Love
A CHRISTIAN LOOKS AT COHABITATION
The image above spells out how the norms of relationships in America have changed. As one writer said, “The house key has replaced the wedding ring as the status symbol of a relationship.”
I understand some of the reasons. They make some sense. It’s cheaper. You get to see each other more. You really do love each other.
However the reason I have heard most, I don’t get — living together is a way to test compatibility before making the commitment of marriage.
We live in a “free-trial” society. Everything we purchase seems to have a money back guarantee if we don’t like it. This is good salesmanship in a consumer society. On the other hand, a consumer mentality toward our relationships is both not healthy and also not God-pleasing.
One lady who wrote about her misgivings after cohabiting, shared what it felt like. She writes:
If you make me feel loved, then I’ll marry you.
If you satisfy me sexually, then I’ll marry you.
If you treat me with respect, then I’ll marry you.
If you make me happy, then I’ll marry you.
If you fulfil my needs, then I’ll marry you.
If you like what I like, then I’ll marry you.
If you make something of yourself, then I’ll marry you.
If you don’t do things that get on my nerves, I’ll marry you.
Compare that to Ephesians 5:25 — Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Consider last week’s message about what the love in a marriage covenant is.
If those lady’s statements are what someone is thinking about you, do you feel loved? Or do you feel tested? If those are your own driving thoughts about your partner, is that selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love — Christ-like love — or is that a self-serving, “make me happy” attitude?
It is this warped, consumerist view of “love” that I believe is the reason more divorces happen between couples who previously cohabited. They have built their relationship on a self-serving conditonal love. It’s hard to flip the switch over to covenant love.
It is that warped, consumerist, conditional view of “love” that also leaves people languishing in a cohabiting situation. One partner has no plan to make a bigger commitment. After all, who wouldn’t want a free trial that never has an ending date? Or as the old adage goes, “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free”. Meanwhile, the other partner always thought marriage would come, but is now in a bad situation they are simply too afraid to leave because they know nothing else.
There are plenty of aspects of cohabiting this short discussion didn’t touch on. We will continue the conversation on Sunday in Bible class at 9:15 (at church or online). But let this discussion focus on the huge difference that exists between the “commitment love” of marriage and the “consumerist love” of living together with no marital vow.
God is good. As I said earlier in this series, marriage is an incredible gift from God that is meant to bring fulfilment to our lives. God understands love. He taught us what love is. He loved us unconditionally, selflessly, sacrificially by dying to save us. Marriage is the place we get to give and receive that kind of love.
Man may come up with reasons for something else to be better than God’s design, But man’s reason is darkened by sin. God defines what is good and holy regarding our relationships in order to protect the incredible gift of marriage He has given us. So we listen to what he says:
Hebrews 13:4 — Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.
This is the third in an 8-week series on “Marriage and Relationships: By God’s Design”
Peace in Jesus,
Pastor John Gensmer
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