Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (Psalm 119 deep dive)
                    Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM

Ash Wednesday:

Imposition of Ashes 11:00 AM
Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes 7:00 PM



Living Together Before Marriage


It seems today that nearly all couples who present themselves to the pastor for marriage are already living together. Many have children of their own and/or from a previous marriage or relationship. They are often paying their bills together, and own property in common.

What I say below I address first to the members of my own parish because they are my responsibility. But also to any other Christian who may benefit from it. And, too, to those who do not profess the holy Christian faith, so that they might have opportunity to learn something about our beautiful faith, and consider it for their own lives. 

Also I wish to highlight that what I say here is not exclusively addressed to young people, though they are the most vulnerable. But also to middle-aged and seniors as well because "living together" without the benefit of marriage has become the cultural norm in America. But it should not be for the baptized.

Marriage is too big and too important to be entered into lightly, or to engage in a resemblance of it. For the world marriage is but a social institution (of dubious value in our day). But not for the Christian, and indeed not for any human being who is honest. Because every man and woman longs for a spouse who is fully and exclusively committed, constant and true to them. But for the Christian it goes further. 

Marriage is not merely a social institution but an image of the relation that exists between Christ and his cleansed-bride the church. The Bride he rendered spotless and unblemished by his sacrificial death on the cross; by the washing of water and the Word. (Ephesians 5:22-33) As such it is a momentous event! One that needs to be entered into not by private decision, but openly, publicly, and accentuated by all the pomp and circumstance that can be mustered.

Let us also keep in mind that sexual intimacy is given by God to be exercised exclusively within the marital union of husband and wife. Its chief purpose is the procreation of children, by which frail mortals share in God's creative power and glory; and not merely to satiate an appetite.

But when couples who are living together come to the church seeking holy matrimony it is the duty of the pastor to do all he can for them. To teach them the fullness of marriage, and of life in Christ. He should instruct them, baptize them if they are not, bring them into communicant membership of Christ's body, and bless their marriage.

Part of his discussion will be that: what started off very wrong, in lust, sin and selfishness will now be made right! What began as a private (and often desperate and confusing) decision will now be publicly blessed because, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

But let us return to the beginning in order to give solemn warning to young and old alike that, "God has not called us to impurity; but to holiness." (1 Thessalonian 4:3-8). If you desire to have a spouse who is committed to you, and you alone, you desire a good thing! But don't follow the culture, follow the ancient, tried, true and reliable wisdom learned from Sacred Scripture. Come to the pastor. He will lead you and guide you in the paths of righteousness, and bestow God's benediction upon you. If you have already started down the wrong path, come to the pastor, he will help you make all things right.


Dear Rev. Fischer, I know what you mean. Every conscientious pastor has proposed these solutions many times. They might salve our consciences, but as you point out, they don't work. But once the couple comes to the pastor seeking holy matrimony, accepts his instruction, receives baptism, or renews their baptismal faith, we have to put them into a different category. If they won't accept that, then they can travel to the next church down the road. But God has blessed several such unions, and brought them into (or back into) the fold, at Christ Lutheran Church. In the words of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, "Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns." Contact me off list for more discussion on this.

On second thought, "separate" was perhaps a bad choice of words. What I meant was "stop living together" or at least "stop sleeping in the same bed".

Your post is certainly good, right and salutary; but do you ask couples currently living together to separate until the marriage? I found that doing so just causes them to go another church for the wedding. The best solution seems to be for them to have a quick civil ceremony then have the marriage blessed with a church ceremony later on. Either that, or a quick church ceremony with just the immediate family in attendance then the big wedding reception later on.

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