Is cohabitation a mortal sin? If so, then why are cohabitating couples given the Sacrament of Marriage? One could not receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation with an unrepented mortal sin.

they are not or should not be, but other than actually going into their home as investigators, there is not much the priest or those preparing them for marriage can do about it, other than give the clear teaching, insist they separate and live continently before the wedding, and insist on sacramental confession beforehand. If the pastor and his delegates fail to instruct on this teaching, they bear at least some of the guilt and will be held accountable by God for their failure.

If their own families have not taught them by word and example, by this time what the parish says is not going to do the trick. Yes before anyone asks, they would marry validly assuming all the conditions for valid marriage are present, but would not enjoy the graces of the sacrament unless and until they confess and are absolved of all mortal sin.

and, before anyone asks, our response as faithful Catholics attending or witnessing a wedding in such a circumstance, is as always to place the most charitable possible interpretation on the situation, and assume that they separated, at least in bed, during the time of their marriage prep and indeed have confessed and been absolved. Beyond that NOMB

I don’t understand the sin of having the same front door. Two people living in the same house, with separate rooms and separate beds (and not having relations, obviously) doesn’t seem to me to be a sin (i.e. living as roommates for financial reasons). My understanding is that in years gone by, it would be considered scandal, but these days, it’s common among engaged couples and people aren’t as aware of each other’s living arrangements (I couldn’t tell you who most people in my parish live with).

The more applicable argument against it is the fact that people who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not. But, I would also argue the cause / effect relationship between these two. The standard argument is that living together causes divorce (with the higher divorce rate among cohabitators as evidence). However, I would argue that lack of religion in a relationship causes both people to live together more frequently and people to divorce more frequently. So the cause of divorce isn’t cohabitation, but rather lack of religion in a relationship and cohabitation is a symptom. Thus if people are highly religious, cohabitation won’t lead to higher divorce rates. I haven’t seen a scientific study that uses both factors in what would have to be a latent variable model.

If they have a one-bedroom apartment and two kids before marriage, maybe that’s a different situation. But even so, you’re getting into the realm of assuming what is goes on behind closed doors, which is problematic.

I know a priest who was preparing a couple for marriage, but they were living together. The priest made it very clear that they needed to go to confession prior to the wedding. The woman made it equally clear that she did not feel the need to go to confession because she did not think it was a sin. When the priest showed up to the church he asked the woman if she went to confession. She said no, and the priest walked out and went home.

It is a sin to subject yourself to the near occasion of sin.

I think that the culpability of the couple might be lessened depending on the stance of their parish and priest. If the sinfulness of cohabitation is not made clear during marriage preparation a cohabiting couple may become more comfortable in their situation. This may affect their marriage and it seems this may also be a factor in a later anullment process (maturity etc.). If we want to address the problem of couples later separating then I think that we must not compromise in marriage preaparation.

Hi and thank you for your response. I don’t understand this. We don’t believe that if one receives Communion in a state of mortal sin and then repents later in life that they will recieve graces from that Communion, do we? Rather we teach that reception of this sacrament in such a state is itself a serious sin. Do you propose an explanation for how marriage is different from the Eucharist in this regard?

Because the’re attempting to stop the sin by getting married? One hopes they would be advised to separate and go to reconcilliation before the wedding . Couples getting married have at least the intent to change the state of sin. It is true they won’t recieve the grace from the Sacrament until they do confess but it is still a valid marriage.

One must have proper disposition to receive a sacrament so I don’t see that it stops the sin if the sin is failing to accept the meaning and purpose of marriage. For example, I propose for consideration that this kind of reasoning with young children may be a factor in their being spoiled.

First of all, that’s a very broad brush you’re painting. The generalization of “near occasion” can extend to just about anything. Regardless, how does having the same front door lead a person to sin? Makes no sense.

I think the problem has to do with culture. Thirty or 40 years ago, men and women did not live together. So a man and a woman living together as unmarried was scandal since the general assumption was that an immoral relationship existed. These days, it is common to live together, so there is no longer the inherent assumption of immorality and therefore no scandal (which is what I dislike about scandal - the Church is fixed and not relativistic like protestantism, yet the sin of scandal is relativistic by it’s nature).

I don’t think anyone will be able to quote any Canon law or Church document regarding this issue, just that it’s “immoral” or “scandalous”. That’s the same argument that was used against women wearing pants. I think there’s an inherent feeling that it’s something that’s wrong, particularly among the older generation, but no one has ever been able to prove to me that cohabitation is a mortal sin

This woman’s attitude is probably more common among engaged (and non-engaged) couples than one might imagine.

One wonders what they believe they are obtaining through marriage that they don’t already have. They believe that sexual activity is OK in any case, married or not. Their purpose might as easily be accomplished through civil union than through marriage.

I’m curious… I am starting University and as such will live in halls of residence. I can request to live in single sex accomodation but that makes it very difficult for me to get to my campus as the only single sex flats are about 30 minutes away. Next year I will be moving into a shared flat with friends, several of which are male. Are either of these situations a ‘near occasion of sin’? And would I not be right in living with them or living in mixed sex halls? Or is it okay as I have no intention to date and/or marry any of the men that I am moving in with?

(sorry I know I’ve derailed the thread slightly) :o

Emphasis on front door yet they are inside the home together.:wink: It is a temptation to be alone together in the same home and it is not spiritually healthy to purposefully subject oneself to temptation. If a married man was traveling on business and told his wife that he was staying alone in a house for a month with his female colleague but not to worry “we’re just sharing the same front door and we are in complete control” she should not accept that.

There’s temptation visiting the other person’s house alone, so do we need to start encouraging chaperoned dates? There’s temptation when you see each other in bathing suits, so is it a sin to go to the beach with someone to which you are not married? And what about the argument posted above: living literally as roommates. Is that causing temptation and therefore a sin?

How about we use the same argument against pornography. Having a TV in your house might cause you temptation to check out Cinemax at night. Having a computer in your house might cause temptation to check out inappropriate websites. Having a phone might tempt you to make 1-900 phone calls. Therefore owning a TV, computers, or phone is sinful.

You see, this gets very slippery very fast. Living together as husband and wife (as the OP seems to be doing) is one thing. But just living in the same house, with the same front door, but separate beds doesn’t seem to me to be inherently sinful. Was it against social mores years ago? Yes. Is it now? No. Is it ideal? Probably not. But is it inherently a sin? I don’t see any reason to think so.

This is all news to me. Every cohabitating couple that I know shares the same bedroom and the same bed. When people romantically involved nowadays move in together, sharing the same bead is almost always the case. That is the “modern” thing to do. I think that very few posters here have observed differently. This “having the same front door” is a smokescreen, because most have the same bed, too.

No, that is not a “more applicable” argument. The Church does not deal with “more applicable arguments.” She teaches against sin (in this case, fornication) and scandal and/or near occasions of sin (cohabitation, even if no fornication were involved). These are moral teachings, and not applicable arguments.

I have never heard anyone here claim that living together causes divorce. Anyone who did so would be making an absurd conclusion. I have frequently heard that there is a correlation between the two, whether or not the word correlation was actually used. In other words, I do not believe that anyone actually believes that cohabitation causes divorce, but rather, the mindset that brings cohabitation also involves other variables that carry with them a higher probabibility of divorce. This agrees, more or less, with what you state above, but with other variables factored in, as well.

Having responded in the appropriate academic language, let me also say that the Church’s moral teachings are based on Our Lord’s teachings, scripture, natural law and Sacred Tradition. They are NOT based on scientific studies of any sort.

I think yes if you are likely to be alone with one of them. Consider the example of two married couples who live in the same house - one in one bedroom and one in the other. Suppose you were the spouse in such a situation and your husband was left alone for with the other married woman while you and and the other married man traveled separately on business for weeks at a time. Would you be comfortable with such a situation? There’s a reason why a married couple has their own separate housing and why we refer to families as a “unit”.

This is less of a temptation and scandal if one’s roommates are the same gender but still not free of problems - bathrooms etc. Keep your life peaceful and simple. Don’t subject yourself to temptation, enjoy dating properly and then if you so decide get married and enjoy married life. So many young people today can enjoy the true beauty and recreation of their youth if they can avoid the complications and darkness. Focus on your goals. e.g. your field of study and what you are working to excel at that you have an interest in. Focus on good enjoyment such as sports, decent movies and theatre, a good dinner and conversation on a date. Does anyone remember dating. Today’s “rebels” are the ones who are dating again and trying to remember what life was like when people actually enjoyed good things in life. :slight_smile:

Hope helpful. You sound sincere and I wish you very well.

No, that is not prolematic at all. The Church teaches against scandal (the appearance of sin), and we are urged to avoid it at all costs. And this notion that people who are romantically involved share the same bed without a probabibility of eventually committing a sin, BTW, is ludricrous.

Actually, it makes perfect sense and it has been understood by Catholics (and non-Catholics, for that matter) through the centuries to make perfect sense. The fact that you do not understand it or choose to disregard it does not render it senseless. It probably means that you should study the catechisms and the writings of the saints to develop a better understanding of this ancient understanding.

Again, the Church has been very clear in her teaching concerning scandal and the near occasion of sin. You may wish to deflect that teaching by trying ro say that it is too broad, but again, Catholics have been taught and understood this for many centuries. Some may choose to reject it, and may try to make a clear teaching sound ambiguous, as you are doing, but the teaching remains the truth. The repeated use of the “having the same front door” verbiage is another example of sophistry, as you try to use a slogan to create doubt in people’s mind.

We certainly agree that the problem is related to culture, but not in the same way. The cultural component here is that our culture now accepts sinful things (e.g., fornication, abortion, contraception, homosexual activity, eugenics, et al.) that it previously considered immoral. In other words, society has changed.

The statement that society used to assume that immorality existed when a couple cohabitated, but no longer does so, is correct, but again, it is not because people today assume that no fornication is involved, but because fornication, particularly involving a “steady” relationship, is considered acceptable. Hence, it is not that people today assume that there is no sexual activity–on the contrary, is is assumed, expected, discussed openly and the advertising industry targets it–it is that they accept it as moral.

Any reading of various editions of the catechism speaks about the importance of avoiding scandal and near occasions of sin. But when someone wishes to base moral and spiritual positions on scientific studies and forensic discourse, as do you, then I expect that no Church document, no matter how authoritative, will convince you.

This is all news to me. Every cohabitating couple that I know shares the same bedroom and the same bed.

Then you’re making an assumption. The sin isn’t cohabitation, it’s fornication. You’re making the implication that cohabitation is necessarily associated with fornication. That’s a big jump.

If I know of a couple that I know for absolute certain is cohabitating - different bedrooms and all - but not fornicating, do you believe they’re living in sin? If so, isn’t the assumption that all cohabitators are living in sin against the principal of charity, where we are obliged to always assume against sin when it is not known?

The Church does not deal with “more applicable arguments.”

This is an attempted diversion because of a lack of rebuttal. The case was not what the Church teaches, but rather the generalized argument against cohabitation.

have frequently heard that there is a correlation between the two, whether or not the word correlation was actually used.

Semantics, and incorrect semantics at that. The term “correlation” is actually vague; it implies a relationship in variability. In actuality, what is claimed is not correlation, but a cause/effect relationship as evidenced by correlation.

No one claimed that the two are completely correlated, but the argument is frequently made that there exist a correlation, and therefore that the there is a cause and effect relationship. My assertion is that any such analysis is, at best, flawed without the examination of a saturated latent order model that considers a common antecedent (i.e. that correlation between divorce rate and cohabitation exists not because of a cause / effect relationship but because of an underlying latent variable that manipulates both.

Having responded in the appropriate academic language, let me also say that the Church’s moral teachings are based on Our Lord’s teachings, scripture, natural law and Sacred Tradition. They are NOT based on scientific studies of any sort.

That being said, has the Church explicitly and infallibly proclaimed that cohabitation is a moral sin? I’ll even take an opinion piece directed at the mortal sin of cohabitation with a nihil obstat. I have yet to see proof of that, only opinion pieces about the problems of such a relationship and how one should be approached.

It’s dangerous to tell people they’re in mortal sin when they’re actually not. You’re potentially denying someone of Communion without cause.

And this notion that people who are romantically involved share the same bed without a probabibility of eventually committing a sin, BTW, is ludricrous.

What’s ludicrous is that your entire argument is predicated on the assumption that two individuals living in the same house are fornicating. Further, that you’re sharing the same bed. This logic jump is unwarranted, and therefore invalidates your entire argument.

If I can prove to you (Ignore how I would prove this, but assume I could), without a doubt, that two individuals are sharing the same front door (which is used because, as an outsider, that’s all you can see), but those two are not fornicating or committing any sin whatsoever outside of sharing the same front door, do you still believe these two are living in sin? Should they not receive Communion?

From The Catechism Of The Catholic Church

2353 “Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.”

2396 “Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.”

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. 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.
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.” 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.

What Kinds Of Offenses Against God Constitute “Grave Matter”?

In the Bible, St. Paul gives us a list of grave sins. He states that anyone who commits these sins shall not enter the kingdom of God. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-20). Paul also tells the Corinthians, “know you no that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor railers, nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). These sins constitute grave matter, and if they are committed willingly and with full consent, constitute mortal sin.

From “”A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love In Scripture” by Scott Hahn (pages 61 & 62) – I think it portrays very well the covenantal concept of marriage in the book of Genesis.
Sages comment on how God formed Adam’s covenant partner in the proper way: not from his feet, to be used as a doormat; not from his head to be put on a pedestal; but from Adam’s rib, to be at his side, close to his heart. (Those sages were right!)
Truly, Yahweh had saved the best for last – and Adam knew it. Holding nothing back, Adam let the whole world hear how he felt about this wondrous splendor: “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’”……

His line “flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones” echoes the language of covenant solidarity used elsewhere in Scripture (see Gn 29:14; 2 Sm 5:1; 19:12-14). Even more it is the language of marital love and romantic ecstasy, heard for the first time at the dawn of history……

Of course, we don’t know exactly when they tied the knot, since Genesis doesn’t always narrate events in terms of strict chronology as modern historians do. The event may have been set in forth along with symbolic elements – which is not to say that it’s not in history. Ancient Hebrews would write about historical realities in figurative terms for the purpose of conveying the deeper religious meanings or significance of the events, not just the events themselves.

There’s no reason to suppose that Adam lived a long time as a bachelor. In terms of narrative time, his second day began when he woke up from his deep sleep, which also happened to be the Sabbath Day sanctified by God. So Adam’s first full day may have been both a day of Sabbath rest and betrothal, for Eve and himself. From a narrative perspective, the Sabbath may be seen as the sign of two closely related covenants: between God and creation, and Adam and Eve


From The Catechism Of The Catholic Church…

Again, that’s for fornication. Two people, living together, not fornicating. How is that, in itself, a sin? Ignore what you assume is going on. Ignore what is probably going on. How is living in the same house a sin?

Because it could possibly give rise to the occasion of sin? Like I said before, if they have separate residences, and the man goes to visit the woman at her residence alone, that presents the same temptation. Would they have the same occasion of sin if they lived with a third person that never left them alone? No. So in that case, being isolated together is the occasion of sin, not cohabitation.

Because “that’s what we always understood”? We’ve “always understood” many things that are actually more to do with social circumstances or knowledge than with Church teachings. Look at evolution, for example. 200 years ago, you would have been told that you’re mortally sinning to believe in evolution. Is that because of Church teaching? No, Church teaching actually leaves room for evolution. It was because “everyone understood” that in Genesis, those are 7 literal days. So just because “everyone understood” cohabitation was wrong 50 years ago doesn’t automatically make it a dogmatic teaching.

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