A new survey finds that cohabitation is pervasive in the United States, and is increasingly viewed as acceptable by Christians—even if it doesn’t lead to marriage.
Here is what you should know—and that most American don’t—about cohabitation.
1. Cohabitation is the state of living together and having a sexual relationship without being married. Because Scripture considers all sexual activity outside the covenant bonds of marriage to be sexual immorality, cohabitation is sinful and should be rejected by orthodox Christians (Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3; Jude 7).
2. As more U.S. adults are delaying or foregoing marriage, the percentage who have engaged in cohabitation has been rapidly increasing. Since the 1960s, the percentage of men and women who cohabit before marriage has increased by almost 900 percent. More recently, Pew Research found that the share of adults ages 18 to 44 who are living with an unmarried partner has risen from 3 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2017. But a report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics that selected only adults who had sexual intercourse with a partner of the opposite sex, found the numbers were even higher: 17.1 percent of women and 15.9 percent of men were cohabiting.
3. Among adults ages 18 to 44, the share who have ever cohabited (59 percent) is now larger than the share who have ever been married (50 percent). Young adults (ages 18 to 29) are almost twice as likely to have cohabited as they are to have married (44 percent vs. 23 percent). Among those ages 30 to 44, the share that has cohabited (71 percent) is similar to the share that has married (73 percent), and 52 percent have both cohabited and married at some point. A majority (62 percent) of adults ages 18 to 44 who have ever cohabited have only ever lived with one partner. About one-in-four (24 percent) have had two cohabiting relationships over the course of their life, and 14 percent have had three or more partners.
4. Almost all of the increase in non-marital births in the United States since 1980 has taken place in the context of cohabiting unions. Most adults ages 18 to 44 who are presently cohabitating are also living with children. In 2018 an estimated 5.8 million American children lived with cohabiting parents, which accounts for about 8 percent of all children younger than 18. Among cohabiters, 54 percent have at least one child 18 or…