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Matt wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I was wondering what the Catholic Church says about co-habitating before marriage?

My fiancée moved here from 600 miles away and did not have the money to get her own apartment, so we are living in the same apartment.

  • Does the Catholic Church have any rules that forbid co-habitating before marriage?
  • Does this present any kind of an impediment to our marriage?
  • Is it permissible as long as we are not having pre-marital sex?

Matt

  { What does the Catholic Church says about co-habitating before marriage? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Matt —

Thanks for the question.

No, neither the Church, nor Jesus would allow co-habitating before marriage.

  • Why?

Because we should be striving to avoid situations which might inch us closer to occasions of sins of the flesh. Cohabiting before marriage would greatly put us in these situations. Inevitably, this would lead to pre-marital sex, something reserved for marriage.

This posting from our colleagues at Catholic Answers may help:

Even if a couple has a hard time accepting the morality of the Church's position, the stats alone should be enough to persuade them not to co-habitate.

I believe the percentage of couples whose marriages ends in divorce, goes through the roof,
if they have "played house" before getting married.

It's like the Lord is telling us:

"Your bodies were designed to be used certain ways, at certain times."

I know it can be tough Matt and hormones can be bouncing all over the place. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a long, lifetime marriage with your fiancée, it's best to wait.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Matt —

The Church has rules and norms about scandal and occasions of sin. You should not live together because it gives scandal and is an occasion of sin. It:

  • hurts both your reputations
  • risks putting a child in an unstable and dangerous situation, and
  • jeopardizes the stability of a possible future marriage.

If you both are ready to assume the responsibilities of marriage, you should have enough money between you to rent a room for her, in someone else's home or apartment, until the wedding date, which should be fairly soon. You could also get a third roommate, another woman, to be a sort of chaperone, though that solution is imperfect.

Question:

  • Why is she not working and earning enough for her own apartment or room?

In extreme situations of survival or necessity, it is moral to live together, if scandal is avoided and precautions, such as the chaperone, are taken. Otherwise, it is imprudent to live together before marriage, because it is a near occasion of sin. Most people would find it impossible to remain chaste.

Living together is not an impediment to marriage, but fornication would require that you go to Confession before receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. Most Catholic marriage prep programs would ask that you separate, or, if that is impossible, that you remain abstinent.

Mary Ann

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