How do you guess fundamentalists and evangelicals will respond to Christians living together apart from marriage --in 10 years?

Fundamentalist will hold their ground, most evangelicals will cave in
23% (3 votes)
Both fundamentalists and evangelicals will cave in, probably teaching the ideal as a goal
0% (0 votes)
Neither group (by and large) will cave in
54% (7 votes)
One or both groups will only address matters with members, not long-attending believers
15% (2 votes)
Other
8% (1 vote)
Total votes: 13
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There are 10 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

Would you confront a believing Christian who is living together apart from marriage?  What if they are an older couple, and marriage would force one of them to surrender a pension from a deceased spouse?  What if they attended church, prayed with you, and fellowshipped with the family of faith, have made a profession, but are not members?  You might not practice church discipline in such a case, but would you bring the matter up and urge the person to rectify the situation?

 

Now fast forward 10 years.  Marriage has become even more the exception and less the rule in society.  After serial divorces, couples are no longer willing to risk the legal obligations of marriage.  If you confront believing people, they may storm out and badmouth the church, making it difficult to reach other people who are shacking up as part of the social norm.

I would like to think that I would hold the line. What are your thoughts?

 

"The Midrash Detective"

BryanBice's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

Would you confront a believing Christian who is living together apart from marriage?  What if they are an older couple, and marriage would force one of them to surrender a pension from a deceased spouse?  What if they attended church, prayed with you, and fellowshipped with the family of faith, have made a profession, but are not members?  You might not practice church discipline in such a case, but would you bring the matter up and urge the person to rectify the situation?

Now fast forward 10 years.  Marriage has become even more the exception and less the rule in society.  After serial divorces, couples are no longer willing to risk the legal obligations of marriage.  If you confront believing people, they may storm out and badmouth the church, making it difficult to reach other people who are shacking up as part of the social norm.

All of the examples cited are certainly cause for grief, and holding firmly to a scriptural view of marriage and morality will likely result in greater marginalization in an increasingly pagan culture. Our first concern must be holding to a biblical position regardless of how difficult it makes reaching others.

So, short answers:

"Would you confront a believing Christian who is living together apart from marriage?" Yes

"What if they are an older couple, and marriage would force one of them to surrender a pension from a deceased spouse?" Most likely, yes; however there could be rare occasions when the situation is not sinful.

"What if they attended church, prayed with you, and fellowshipped with the family of faith, have made a profession, but are not members?" Would depend on their "infancy" in the faith. A new believer? Not right away, but the church's position would not be hidden "lest we lose them." In time (recognizing the need for wisdom & discernment, even formulating a solution to their particular situation), I would bring up the matter & urge obedience to the Word. Should they refuse, well...not likely they'd want to stick around a church where everyone thinks they're living in sin.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

One aspect of my reaction would be their attitude- if they are indeed 'shacking up', and are taking steps to make things right, then I'd be quietly supportive. If they don't think it's wrong and don't care what anyone else thinks, that's another story.

It isn't necessarily the presence of unmarried males and females living in the same space, it's the nature of their relationship- fornication is the actual sin that we are concerned about, and then there is the appearance of impropriety that living together propagates. 

On a side-ish note- we get up in arms about men and women living together, but don't give a thought to a couple of guys as roommates, or a couple of girls. We shouldn't take for granted that sexual immorality in a shared living space is confined to straight relationships. 

I think it has become so common for young people to share living space that the church is going to throw up its hands and say "Whatever". They can't police who lives with whom any more than they can check up on everyone's movie viewing or internet surfing. Someone will have to step over the line in some way for the church to take steps. 

Ed Vasicek's picture

Good thoughts.

One further complication is two people of differing genders sharing an apartment without romantic or sexual involvement.  Do you believe them?

 

I think it is a given to be patient with those trying to remedy the wrong.

 

But Susan's points are well taken: there seem to be growing numbers of gays and lesbians, that even people sharing an apartment or room of the SAME gender is not a safe bet.  How would have ever thought it would come to this?

 

"The Midrash Detective"

BryanBice's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

One further complication is two people of differing genders sharing an apartment without romantic or sexual involvement.  Do you believe them?

While this happens these days, I would think that if there were a romantic connection between the two, it would be evident sooner or later. It seems incongruous that they could share a bed and not show any signs of affection in public. I guess I'd give the benefit of the doubt until I saw reason to doubt.

Having said that, the couple should be made aware that the arrangement does give cause for suspicion and doesn't help having an "above reproach" testimony; however, many younger people tend to minimize that, thinking people shouldn't jump to conclusions and judge.

Aren't these fun days in which to live & minister?!?!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

My prediction: increasing amounts of looking the other way.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

My prediction: increasing amounts of looking the other way.

 

I think you hit the nail on the head.  Perhaps technically against shacking up, but practically silent.

"The Midrash Detective"

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

My prediction: increasing amounts of looking the other way.

I think there was a time when the cultural lines between propriety and impropriety were very clearly drawn, as far as public behavior goes. I talk to my mom sometimes about her life when she was a kid, and there was plenty of hanky-panky going on back then, but shame kept everyone- pedophiles, homosexuals, and the sexually active- in their respective closets. 

Now that sexual activity of nearly every kind is viewed as natural, and sometimes in a positive light, people feel free to be more open about their personal lives. I find myself more likely to believe guys and girls who are sharing an apartment and say that there is nothing untoward happening, because if there was, they don't feel shame in admitting it. The sad part is that intimate relationships aren't sacred- it's more like scratching an itch than a meaningful bond. 

In any case, churches have to face the reality that they can't police their congregations- are they going to launch an investigation every time a couple of people share a living space? 

Like I said, the church can't make the assumption that immorality is confined to opposite genders. This is one reason why we long ago stopped allowing our kids to go places overnight with groups- we were seeing the intimate atmosphere of overnights strain sexual morality, and not just between boys and girls, but between boys-boys and girls-girls. Long gone are the days when a couple of tween/teen girls holding hands or hugging is cute and innocent, and let me just say that boys sharing a communal shower is IMO just flat out stupid. 

The church simply has to wait until someone crosses an obvious line before they can take action. Everything else is "don't ask, don't tell", why would this be different? We certainly don't ask church members what movies or tv shows they watch, if they are honest on their tax returns, or where they go on the internet. 

Ed Vasicek's picture

Susan, I understand your point, but it sounds like openness and honesty will take a dive.  High pressured or legalistic churches encourage self-concealment, which I think is less than ideal.  I hate to think they we will move even more toward a pretending atmosphere.

 

I know there are still churches like this, but perhaps not as many.  Back in the 1970's, Christians would give the impression they had it all together, and everything was "spiritual." When they ate, they ate because they needed God to strengthen their bodies so they could serve him. They really ate because they were hungry.  When they played golf, it was because bodily exercise profited a little or because they were being good stewards of their bodies. The truth was, they simply liked to golf.

 

Now that we have finally gotten over that nonsense of justifying everything as spiritual, we will now pass on a culture of concealment.  It's not that you are wrong, you are probably right. I just don't like it!   Smile

"The Midrash Detective"

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The culture of concealment is not anything new. In the past, sexual immorality was concealed because our culture viewed such as shameful. Now it seems that only the church stands as a beacon of God-defined morality. So folks who wish to be 'accepted' in church will continue to conceal their immorality.

I wonder realistically where we can draw the line as far as deciding who is and isn't complying with standards of Bible conduct. As with anything else, we have to wait until someone gets their hand stuck in the cookie jar. Sharing a living space is not IMO not stealing cookies in and of itself. It's a bad idea, it causes questions, etc... but that could be said about many other things that we tolerate in church. We don't require people who are 100 lbs overweight to prove that it's really a glandular problem and not gluttony, even when we see them pile their plate and go back for thirds at the church potluck. 

I think young people don't think the church is credible any more, because the church 'goes after' certain sins and completely ignores others. The kids I know that grew up in church are living their lives openly- they don't hide their drinking, their tats, their music, or their sexual exploits. If you say anything to them, they will simply point out all the people in church leadership who beat their kids bloody, are up to their eyeballs in credit card debt, abuse their wives, and watch R-rated movies (and I'm not talking about Saving Private Ryan). When rebuked, they roll their eyes. And I don't blame them. The church, by and large, is not consistent with discipline, and just as parental inconsistency breeds rebellion, so does the pick-and-choose church.

Not saying it's right- it's very sad and frustrating. Coupled with the complexity added by the social acceptance of homosexual and lesbian relationships, I think churches will throw up their hands and stop taking a firm stand, because they didn't know how to draw the line on Biblical conduct in the first place.