What is marriage? When do we stop mentoring the truth about marriage?
I submit for your consideration a strange phenomenon. An increasing number of older men and women are moving in together. But, it appears to me that their rationale is fear based. Perhaps their spouse has died. They don’t want to be alone. Financially, it seems practical not to marry and, instead, live together. Perhaps it seems less complicated to keep their business affairs separate for the sake of their children and grandchildren. Perhaps insurance coverage or a life savings will be better protected if they just cohabitate. After all, it isn’t so much about sex as it is companionship and being a couple in a “couple’s world.”
So, what is a cohabitating senior, especially a cohabitating Christian senior, saying about marriage?
Is marriage all about the joys of pro-creational sex? Or is it more?
Marriage, from a biblical worldview, is the practice of generational faithfulness. It is the union of one man and one woman with all that they uniquely bring into partnership for the benefit of family and community. In God’s words, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).
We tell young people not to live together because marriage, more than anything else, is for the benefit of children. God knows and evidence proves that if a man and a woman have a child, that child will do better when raised by a father and mother who are committed to one another in the life-long relationship of marriage. Son or daughter will benefit from seeing the vocations of male and female played out in the home. If a man and woman are married but cannot bear their own or adopt children, they remain an example to nieces, nephews, and neighboring children that marriage is a meaningful union that strengthens society. It is one man committing to unselfishly love, partner with, and guard one woman under God. It is one woman committing to unselfishly respect, partner with, and complete one man under God. It is intimacy—far beyond the sexual.
So, what is an older couple who chooses to live together saying about marriage?
Are they saying that God’s institution of marriage is important for young people but not for those over 65?
Are they saying that one marriage was good and, out of loyalty to their first spouse, they won’t marry again?
Are they saying that financial stability and not God’s design is in their better interest?
Are they saying that marriage is all about sex and if they sleep in different beds then living together is no big deal?
Are they saying that they no longer need to set an example for children, grandchildren, or any child in the neighborhood?
Is the man saying there’s no need to guard his woman’s reputation and cover her with his name?
Is the woman saying she doesn’t need to help and complete her man?
When do we stop mentoring generational faithfulness? Can you tell me?