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Premarital Sex and Cohabitation: A Good Idea for Many Couples

August 17 ,2001

One of the most repeated mantras of conservative Christians on the talk show circuit -- and of talk show hosts like Sean Hannity -- is "No sex before marriage."  A related admonition frequently voiced by these moralists is "No cohabitation before marriage."

This theology defies all common sense.  It would require that people bind themselves to a lifetime commitment to have sex with only one person, and to live their entire life as man and woman with only that person, without ever having had sex with that person or having lived with that person.  In what other area of human endeavor would anyone make such a lifetime, irrevocable commitment with so little basis to believe it will work?

Perhaps the moralists don't even know that sexual preferences and compatibilities differ from person to person.  If your lifetime sole sex partner and you have vastly different sexual needs, desires and capabilities, such a match will create only a lifetime of sexual unhappiness.

Likewise with sharing living quarters with someone.  Common sense would dictate that there at least be a trial period of living together before the lifetime commitment is made.

The moralists often respond that a pre-marriage living together situation is not the same thing as living together as man and wife once the commitment is made.  That's true, but it's certainly a better approximation of it than nothing at all.

Would you sign an irrevocable lifetime contract to work for a company, or with a specific co-worker, without ever having worked for such a company, or with that co-worker?   Absurd.

Equally absurd is marrying someone without even knowing if you are sexually compatible, and if there is some basis for believing you can happily live together.

I'm not talking here so much about promiscuity (which for some may be a good thing in any case) but rather about two people in love who feel they may want to get married, and who may already even be engaged.

And all this is not to say that there aren't people who do want to wait until they are married to have sex or live together.  Fine for them.

But don't make that an iron-clad "moral" rule that everyone is supposed to follow.

For those who do want to test the waters before plunging in forever, such a course of action certainly makes sense and should be supported.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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