Cohabitation before marraige


#1

It seems the Bishops are yielding to popular sentiments over church doctrine in that they now allow cohabiting couples to marry in the Church. I believe the popular phrase was "living in sin". Why the change and is this a good thing?


#2

[quote="dandon6, post:1, topic:206454"]
It seems the Bishops are yielding to popular sentiments over church doctrine in that they now allow cohabiting couples to marry in the Church. I believe the popular phrase was "living in sin". Why the change and is this a good thing?

[/quote]

The Bishops "allow cohabiting couples to marry in the Church"? I think more info is needed on this. Was/is it doctrine to refuse marriage to cohabiting couples? If it is/was, can you supply some actual examples where this has happened? Also, can you please cite where cohabiting couples are to be denied the sacrament (Canon Law, etc).

I ask not to argue the matter so much as to fully understand what you mean exactly. For example, say a Catholic couple marry outside the Church (a civil union). They live together as husband and wife for a year and then realize that they should have married within the Church rather than by a justice of the peace. They go to their parish Priest and ask if they can have their marriage convalidated. Would/should they be denied?


#3

But isn't this a good thing that they no longer want to live in sin and get married? As long as there are no obstacles to them getting married of course.


#4

Isn't sex ouside of sacramental marriage a mortal sin? How can one receive a sacrament in this state. My original comment was sparked by some documents I read on the USCCB site (for example - usccb.org/laity/marriage/cohabiting.shtml). I am conflicted because I am an eigth grade CCD teacher and our book says that sex outside of Sacramental marriage is a mortal sin and this is what I have been teaching my students. Now the chruch seems to be saying " thats okay, you can still get married in the Church regardless." I'm having trouble teaching this doctrine if the church isn't going to back it up. They are talking the talk but not walking the walk. (IMHO)


#5

Danuska, it sounds like they want to live in sin and be allowed to marry. If they donn't want to live in sin, they should remain chaste until they are married


#6

Tietjen, I found this in the catechism:

2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression "free union" is fallacious: what can "union" mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments.183 All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.

Doesn't this make sacramental marriage impossible? What does the phrase "excludes one from sacramental communion mean"?


#7

More from the catechism:

2391 Some today claim a “right to a trial marriage” where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, "the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim."184 Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate “trial marriages.” It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.185

Isn’t the USCCB policy in contradiction to this?


#8

Obviously, proper marriage prep would address the sexual sin and get the couple on the right track. Simply cohabitating (sharing a residence) is not technically a sin. It is often imprudent, and possibly scandalous, but it's not a sin in and of itself.

Due to various circumstances, I currently live in the same house as my fiance (and his mom and grandfather). It can be done chastely.

Whether or not a couple is fit to marry in the Church is for the priest administering the Sacrament to decide. The public at large doesn't always have the full story.


#9

First of all:

This paper is neither an official statement of the Committee on Marriage and Family nor of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. It does not offer formal recommendations for action. It is intended as a resource paper, offering a compilation of resources and a reflection of the present "state of the question" regarding certain issues of cohabitation.

All couples marrying in the Church undergo some kind of pre-cana counseling which may include a requirement to live apart for a time before marriage.

Many diocesan marriage preparation policies suggest that pastoral ministers encourage cohabiting couples to separate. They recognize that this is a desirable goal to propose and to achieve -- not because the Church is so concerned with the fact of separate addresses but because it declares that conjugal love needs to be definitive; "it cannot be an arrangement 'until further notice'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1646). Even if the couple chooses not to separate, they can be encouraged to live chastely before marriage. "They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2350).

Having committed a sin in the past does not mean one is not allowed to get married in the Church. Cohabitation is still a sin and should be confessed. But once the couple has repented and seeks to get married, it isn't held against them.

With all couples, celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is properly encouraged as part of marriage preparation for the Catholic party or parties. The Catechism states: "It is therefore appropriate for the bride and groom to prepare themselves for the celebration of their marriage by receiving the sacrament of penance" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1622).

It should be noted that absolute moral rectitude is not demanded for sacraments to be celebrated.

I am not seeing any contradiction here.


#10

[quote="dandon6, post:6, topic:206454"]
Tietjen, I found this in the catechism:

2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression "free union" is fallacious: what can "union" mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments.183 All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.

Doesn't this make sacramental marriage impossible? What does the phrase "excludes one from sacramental communion mean"?

[/quote]

I agree that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin. However, in the original post you almost sounded as though that those people that cohabitate should be denied marriage within the Church. This is why I asked for clarification. In my situation, I was serving in the military. I met my future wife and eventually we decided to marry. We went to a Priest who told us that we had to attend "marriage prep" classes and would have to wait approx a year to be married. Well, I came down on orders to be relocated. Therefore, we decided that the only way (for the time being) to wed was to have a civil marriage and later have that marriage convalidated. Approximately a year later (after having been civilly married) we went to another Priest and were told that if we attended an Engaged Encounter weekend that he would marry us in the Church sacramentally. We did, and were married within the Church. I just wanted clarification as to whether or not you were suggesting that those who marry civilly, and therefore not within a valid sacramental marriage, should also be denied a sacramental marriage. If you were saying that my wife and I should have been denied marriage within the Church, then I was hoping that you would provide reference via canon law (or another authoritative source on the subject).

I am fairly certain (it was 20+ years ago) that we had gone to confession before being married within the Church as we did understand that Catholics marrying outside of the Church without a dispensation was wrong; but I wonder too about those couples that are protestant and marry in their protestant churches and then later become Catholic... What of them? They haven't had a sacramental marriage within the Church. Would they too be considered "cohabitating" and therefore living in mortal sin?


#11

In this day and age where liberal is the norm and sex is considered the ONLY path to a TRUE relationship... I think it's time for those of the Church (members and leaders) to be even MORE vigilant and prudent in their actions instead of being a little more liberal. We cannot combat a thing if we seem to approve of and/or turn a blind eye to it.

If you're cohabiting with your fiance the world will assume you are sleeping with him. When you attempt to stand up against premarital sex your position will be automatically dismissed. It's unfortunate, but true. This is NOT something that should be encouraged. To teach the world the way of Christ we must be as blameless as we can be... (which doesn't mean never sinning - it means avoiding the ocassion of sin and the appearance of 'scandal' as much as we can).

That's just my opinion.


#12

[quote="dandon6, post:1, topic:206454"]
It seems the Bishops are yielding to popular sentiments over church doctrine in that they now allow cohabiting couples to marry in the Church. I believe the popular phrase was "living in sin". Why the change and is this a good thing?

[/quote]

do you have evidence of some or all bishops caving on this teaching. Every diocese which with I am familiar includes in particular law the provision that couples be counselled in marriage preparation against this abuse and that catechesis for youth and adults stress the proper teaching on marriage and sexuality. If you are going to make the general accusation please provide a basis for it.

the document you cite first offers the disclaimer that it is informational and does not represent a formal teaching offered by all the US Bishops. The first part does give the statistical background on the unfortunate societal practice of cohabitation, and the second offers pastoral approaches to the problem both with catechesis before marriage, and with how specifically to address the issue with couples who approach to the Church to ask for the sacrament of matrimony.

With what part of the pastoral suggestions--not laws, not mandates, not magesterial teaching--do you disagree?


#13

Unfortunately, the parish where I attend does seem to go ahead and marry
couples that are currently living together.
I don't agree with it, but it happens.


#14

When quoting the title BIshops, every Bishop of the world is involved with the agendas presented. Just like this nonsense on LGBT lifestyles, so-called women priests, so-called same sex marriage, abortion.

The Roman Catholic Bishops are under the Pope. The Church Magisterial teachings are to be handed down to these Bishops, to the priests, to us the layity.

Many of our brothers under Holy Orders have suffered greatly because of “crack theologian” opinions of certain bishops and priests in the past 40 years.

Pope Benedict XVI has been cracking down on these certain bishops and priests who want to play games with the faith. God will have His Church “cleaned out”. Pope John Paul II when he was alive promised the people on this. More and more people are heeding to the message.

We are all together in the Body of Christ in faith and morals.

And by the way the USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops) was started during this Second Vatican Council. The Bishops in the USCCB convene on many issues and do have discussions, debates, opinions agendas. THE USCCB IS NOT THE AUTHORITY ON FAITH AND MORALS.

Look at the November 2008 election. There are certain members of the USCCB who have supported agendas contrary to Catholic teaching and natural moral law, promoting the Democrat Party.

The CONGREGATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH is the authority from the Vatican handing down the Gospel to the Bishops worldwide. The CDF does hand down the Gospel to the USCCB.

I do respect and appreciate USCCB for the past nine years on many issues in support of the faith. But like I said, quite a few dissident bishops have infiltrated and trashed the USCCB name. The obedient Bishops suffer from this damage.

God Bless.


#15

[quote="dandon6, post:1, topic:206454"]
It seems the Bishops are yielding to popular sentiments over church doctrine in that they now allow cohabiting couples to marry in the Church. I believe the popular phrase was "living in sin". Why the change and is this a good thing?

[/quote]

lMaybe the confusion is over the issue of requiring the cohabiting couples to live separately. Some priests (like Fr. Pfleger) are adamant and will refuse to marry a couple if they will not agree to live separately prior to marriage, whereas others may just be glad to "make honest couples out of them", as the saying goes.


#16

Why should we only pick on the cohabitating couples? Statistically speaking, most of the couples getting married who don't live together are having sex too, it's just not as obvious to the outside world. And on the other hand, there are couples who live together due to financial or family situations who don't have sex (I lived with my now-husband due to a financial situation - I know it's not a good idea, but what's done is done now - and we were chaste).


#17

I think cohabitation benefits marriage, by allowing hormone driven young couples to defer a wedding until they are more mature.

When very young couples marry, even Catholics, their marriages tend to be less stable. If they wait at least until their late twenties, increased maturity and judgment help them to make a better spousal choice.


#18

[quote="Magickman, post:17, topic:206454"]
I think cohabitation benefits marriage, by allowing hormone driven young couples to defer a wedding until they are more mature.

When very young couples marry, even Catholics, their marriages tend to be less stable. If they wait at least until their late twenties, increased maturity and judgment help them to make a better spousal choice.

[/quote]

That would seem to make sense BUT statistics don't play it out. Couples who cohabitate before marriage have higher divorce rates than those who don't live together. My dad (who isn't even Catholic) came up with a theory about this: when a couple moves in together, they have a non-commital attitude - "if it works out, good, if it doesn't, we can move on" and then when they get married they never let go of that attitude whereas people going into marriage without living together start out their combined lives with the "till death do us part" mentality.


#19

But, that would depend on the couple, right? You have “commitment-minded” couples and “non commitment-minded” couples. Commitment-minded couples tend to not live together before marriage and tend to not get divorced. Non commitment-minded couples tend to live together before marriage and tend to get divorced. So the cause of the divorce is being commitment-minded or non commitment-minded, not live together before marriage.

You’ll find a correlation between divorce and cohabitation because they are both symptoms of the same disease, but one doesn’t cause the other. Just like if I have the flu, I might have a fever and nausea, but the nausea doesn’t cause the fever, even though you’ll often find that I have the two together. Similarly, it’s possible to have a fever and not have the flu.

sn’t sex ouside of sacramental marriage a mortal sin? How can one receive a sacrament in this state.

Presumably they’ve received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and are absolved of their mortal sin before the Sacrament of Marriage. To me, it’s not different than a couple that has a child together before getting married.

I am conflicted because I am an eigth grade CCD teacher and our book says that sex outside of Sacramental marriage is a mortal sin and this is what I have been teaching my students. Now the chruch seems to be saying " thats okay, you can still get married in the Church regardless." I’m having trouble teaching this doctrine if the church isn’t going to back it up. They are talking the talk but not walking the walk.

The Church isn’t saying that premarital sex is fine, the Church is saying that sins can be forgiven and aren’t necessarily a black mark. From what I’ve heard, usually cohabiting couples are required to separate a few months before the marriage or to at least abstain from marital relations.

Cohabitation is a symptom of this idea that love is “magical” that people have today. There’s an idea that love is effortless and everyone has one “perfect match”, so if anything ever goes wrong, people need to divorce because they’re not with “the one”, In that made-up world, cohabitation would be necessary to determine if you’re with “the one”. The reality of the situation is that there are no two people “perfect” for each other, and every relationship takes work. In the world where love takes effort and compromise, cohabitation is not a necessity because you work and compromise after marriage.

Cohabitation also seems to be more of an issue as people wait longer and longer to get married. It’s hard to afford a nice home on a single income these days, so many people cohabitate for financial reasons. That wasn’t the case when two kids fresh out of high school got married. Now people wait until they’re almost 30 (or later).


#20

[quote="CoffeeHound, post:19, topic:206454"]
But, that would depend on the couple, right? You have "commitment-minded" couples and "non commitment-minded" couples. Commitment-minded couples tend to not live together before marriage and tend to not get divorced. Non commitment-minded couples tend to live together before marriage and tend to get divorced. *So the cause of the divorce is being commitment-minded or non commitment-minded, not live together before marriage. *
You'll find a correlation between divorce and cohabitation because they are both symptoms of the same disease, but one doesn't cause the other. Just like if I have the flu, I might have a fever and nausea, but the nausea doesn't cause the fever, even though you'll often find that I have the two together. Similarly, it's possible to have a fever and not have the flu.

[/quote]

I wasn't trying to determine the cause and effect relationship of the two (although I'm pretty sure we can't prove that one does or doesn't exist at this point) - my point was the idea that cohabitation does anything to prevent divorce, although it does SEEM logical does not play out in reality as couples who live together before marriage actually have higher divorce rates than those who don't.


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