Marriage: On the Way Out?

How cohabitation is trampling on a divine institution
From the June 2000 Trumpet Print Edition

“Some psychologists, taking a new look at the institution of marriage, are voicing shocking predictions for the near future. Indeed, in their professional eyes, the trend toward obsolescence of the marriage custom has already started, and is gaining momentum!… Predictions are appearing in print that marriage soon may not be the socially required way for sexual union”(Herbert W. Armstrong, Why Marriage!Soon Obsolete?).

Current as this sounds, it was written in 1974. And a new University of Michigan survey would give even more fuel to Mr. Armstrong’s query:Is marriage “soon obsolete”? The March 13 U.S.News &World Report printed this shocking new study about Americans’ growing acceptance and preference for cohabitation, either in place of marriage or as a step toward it.

In 1965, according to the study, only about 10 percent of newlyweds had “shacked up” before getting married. This was before the politically correct term “cohabitation,” when this lifestyle was illegal in every state in the union. Today, more than half of America’s married couples live together first.

The study also showed how the cohabitation arrangement shows no real benefits over the marriage union: Although cohabiters have sexual intercourse once more per month than married partners, cheating, domestic violence and depression are also increased in cohabitation relationships.

U.S. News wrote, “One of the biggest revelations of the new research is how many cohabiting arrangements involve children.” And more and more unwed pregnant women are choosing cohabitation over marriage. The report stated,”About one half of previously married cohabiters and 35 percent of never-married cohabiters have children in the household.”

What does this mean for the children? First of all, the children are living with one adult who has “no explicit legal, financial, supervisory or custodial rights or responsibilities regarding the child of his partner,” according to University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite. Other research shows a greater risk of physical or sexual abuse of the children in these situations.

So why the rising popularity of cohabitation?

Because cohabitation, in America at least, has become a stage of courtship. Couples, ever wary of firm, lifelong commitments while living in the age of divorce, resort to cohabitation as a trial run for marriage. The U.S. News article states, however, that most research shows that marriages which evolved from cohabitation are “rockier” and have a greater risk of divorce.

They write, “Why this is so is hard to say.” The article suggests a few possible reasons, but then quotes the conductor of the survey as saying:”We need to do more qualitative research.” Does the subject needmore research? Or have the answers already been revealed by the Founder of the marriage union, God Almighty?

How did marriage come about in the first place?If there is a God, and He created it, why did He create it?The reason science needs to do more research is that they do not know the answers to these questions.

What is the purpose of marriage? What is the purpose of sex?If its only purpose is procreation, then why marriage? Animals procreate, but they do not marry.

In short, man was created in God’s likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). Whereas animals were created after the animal kind (the cow after the cow kind, the bird after the bird kind), man was created after the God kind.

What does that have to do with marriage?Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Were it not for the very fact that we were created in God’s very likeness, with the very purpose of being born of God—born into God’s own family—the marriage institution—giving us the experience of family life—would never have been ordained. If we were mere animals, developed by evolution, marriage would never have existed…. Marriage was ordained by God—not by man. It is governed by the laws of God—and man has no jurisdiction over it, in God’s eyes”(Why Marriage?).

Also, the Bible calls the New Testament Church the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:23-27) and shows that the husband-wife relationship is merely a physical type of something much more sacred and holy—the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Church!

To settle for or experiment with cohabitation is not only a direct violation of God’s law, it is also trampling on God’s supreme purpose for our very existence!