The Implications Of Living Together Before Marriage -- By: Kenneth M. Gardoski

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 07:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: The Implications Of Living Together Before Marriage
Author: Kenneth M. Gardoski

The Implications Of Living
Together Before Marriage1

Kenneth M. Gardoski

Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


“Before 1970 it was called ‘living in sin’ or ‘shacking up,’ and it was illegal in every state of the union. Why then, many social scientists are beginning to ask, has America’s 30-year rise in unmarried cohabitation remained a shadow issue in the family-values debate?”2

“With the brave exception of Dr. Laura Schlesinger, no one uses the term ‘shacking up’ anymore. Living together without the benefit of marriage now raises only the most sensitive of eyebrows. Is the widespread acceptance of cohabitation a good idea? Most people have accepted the new dispensation uncritically.”3

Statistics clearly testify how dramatically cohabitation in America has increased in the last three decades.4 Between 1970 and 1994, the number of unmarried couples living together rose more than sevenfold from around 500,000 to almost 3.7 mil-

lion.5 By 1998 the number amounted to an eightfold increase.6 There are now more than 4 million couples cohabiting (not counting gay couples).7 Also, more and more married couples start out by cohabiting. Between 1965 and 1974, only 11% of marriages were preceded by cohabitation. Between 1980 and 1984, that number jumped to 44%, and it is now estimated that half of all couples who married after 1985 began their relationships by cohabiting.8

A recent article appeared in The Scranton (PA) Sunday Times entitled “Some Left Behind Are in Legal Limbo.”9 It concerns the victims of September 11, those they left behind, and the legal battles raging over compensation and inheritance. This article brings the truth home that in America, “family” can no longer automatically be defined as a married heterosexual couple with only their own children. As the subtitle of the article puts it, “Sept. 11 victims left behind a dizzying array of family ties, according to claims lawyers.”10 The article goes on:

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