I left the church a couple of years ago, and in the middle of it met my current boyfriend, with whom I live with. Right now, I feel a strong inclination to return to the church (yay ) and would like to return but I understand that cohabitation is a sin in the eyes of the church. I’d really love it if my boyfriend could somehow convert as well because he is very lost in suffering as I was, and I’m worried about the financial situation this would put us both in, as well as possibly losing my best friend. I was just wondering what my options are, if we broke up and stayed friends is it acceptable to be roommates in that case? I don’t want to just leave him behind.
That’s wonderful that you are feeling a strong inclination to return to the Church! Regarding your question(s);
If “cohabitation” is defined as “the state of living together and having a sexual relationship without being married”, then yes, it is sinful.
If “cohabitation” is defined as “the state or fact of living or existing at the same time or in the same place” (living together without having sex), things become more complicated. At that point we start getting elements like “the near occasion of sin” (ie; you’re placing yourself in a position where premarital sex is likely) or scandalizing someone (a man and are woman dating, and they live together). Are you living with him because that’s the only way the relationship will survive? Is living with him going to cause you to not move forward with marriage?
Some things that are important enough to consider that they deserve their own lines:
- Would he be fine with living with you in a chaste relationship (ie; be fine dating you but no longer having sex, while you’re still around each other all the time)?
- Would he be fine with, if you’re in the middle of “stuff”, putting the breaks on if you start thinking “this isn’t right”?
- If you broke up, would you be fine living with him as he brings home another woman who (if he doesn’t believe in abstaining from premarital sex) he would potentially to have sex with in your shared residence?
As you can seem there’s a lot to digest with the second definition. I mean, you can see how the first definition is pretty clear that it’s a sin. However with the second, you can technically live with your boyfriend in a chaste fashion, but there are so many areas with it that it will likely lead you to sin. And also, assuming that you can live with him in a chaste manner and not scandalize others; is it really the right thing to do regardless ?
Something I would like you to reflect on and take to prayer is that if you both truly love each other, it’s natural to want to want to have sex and live together. Both sex and the second definition of cohabitation are not inherently sinful acts. What is sinful is the timing of those acts. If a couple is getting married in two months and have sex, it’s a sin, whereas three months later it wouldn’t be. So on this point, I’d like it if you considered if marriage is an option in the near future.
Especially in light of:
Because although it’s very, very laudable that you would break up with him to avoid living in sin, you went the breakup route and never mentioned marriage as a possibility.
In the meantime, if you want to expose him to more about the faith, check with your local Catholic parish and see if they have a ministry like Alpha (some Catholic parishes run Alpha).
It would be best for you to speak to a priest at a nearby parish. You can find a Catholic parish online and call the office line to set up an appointment. If the priest is too busy, you can be referred to another priest or a devout parishioner that can help answer your questions specific to your unique situation. We might be able to give you some advice or suggestions, but in these situations it is best for you to have more long term guidance from a priest or parishioner that he trusts. It is very exciting to hear you are interesting in returning to the Church though! I have faith in God that everything will work out. Say some prayers if you haven’t already.
Thank you so much for your detailed input! You are wonderful.
I wish that I had done the right thing to begin with and not left the church, things would have been a lot different though I’m sure we would still be together. I feel as though going through a conversion in the middle of our relationship instead of me having been Catholic the whole time, perhaps some chance of him being converted is lost.
I wouldn’t dwell on the “what if?”; you have no idea if your decisions may have impacted his desire to convert. And bear in mind that tn the process of looking back too much, you might get a strained neck or run into a wall though.
That being said, you can apply some of the questions you would have asked in that scenario to the current situation, such as “is he fine with no premarital sex?” and “what is his stance on marriage?”. Those are questions you can ask him now to gauge his reception in terms of respecting your desire to move forward with your faith, and what his role will be in that area. And it’s yet one more test in terms of you returning to the faith, which can now be distilled to;
- Refraining from sex with your boyfriend, despite that everything appears to be set up to facilitate this happening.
- Artificial birth control, which also ties into the facilitation of the above.
Something I forgot to mention in my earlier post (and you didn’t mention in your original post); birth control. For Catholics, artificial contraceptives are also sinful. This is but one more thing that you will need to consider while being with him, in addition to the idea of children as a whole (ie; is he receptive to kids).
Really, some of this revolves around his mindset. If he isn’t respectful or receptive of you returning to the faith and everything that implies, then it’s time to reevaluate the relationship. And after that, it’ll be time to evaluate being roommates on a platonic level - especially if he lives a certain lifestyle.
It’s not necessary for you to fix all of your less than ideal situations at once. Most people just cannot operate like that. That’s why the best course of action for you to take regarding advice is to meet with a priest, and get his advice after he meets with you and talks to you a little bit about your situation.
Do what is right for YOUR soul. If it means leaving him while you return to the Church then do that. If you can stay friends (NO physical relationship) while you return to the Church do that. But you HAVE to do what is best for your soul first then you can deal with him and his situation after. You’ll be in a better state of mind, heart and soul and will be able to help him better. Talk to a priest ASAP.
Awwwwww, that’s awesome
This is a matter to talk to your boyfriend about-- making changes in the intimacy part of your relationship to abstain from sexual relations. And then something to your pastor about-- the logistics and financial situation that makes it difficult to physically separate right now.
This isn’t something that anyone here on CAF can discuss with authority. Someone can tell you to stay living together and someone else can tell you that you “must” separate-- but none of us is your pastor, who has the ACTUAL care of your soul and can give you pastoral advice and discuss returning to the sacraments with you.
Pray for that. The Holy Spirit may move him to do so. But, you have to be OK with him as he is to continue in a romantic relationship with him. Don’t base your future on what you hope he might do.
Talk to your pastor about the financial situation. You may not need to separate.
However, the comment about losing your best friend implies maybe you are concerned he will not want to change the sexual aspects of the living arrangement? This is something you will have to discuss. You will need to talk to him about your desire to return to the sacraments, and that it means abstaining outside of marriage.
Yes, you might lose the relationship, but that would be a good thing in the long run if he turns out not to be supportive of your faith.
Talk to your pastor. You wouldn’t need to “break up”. But you will need to adjust your situation somehow. It need not be moving out, if that will be a burden. But, you should move towards marriage, move towards a different living arrangement, or make the decision to part ways.
Make an appointment with your pastor.
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