Is living together a mortal sin?

I often hear people say that it’s a sin to live together. Or you’ll hear people in these forums asking for help about what to do about a friend / relative who is “shacking up.”

The assumption seems to be that living together is a sin – possibly even a mortal sin that should prevent them from taking communion.

I don’t see that at all. So here’s my argument as to why it’s not (assuming they aren’t having sex, which is a separate issue). How would you argue otherwise?

  1. Premartial sex is a sin. But living together is not specifically (as far as I know).

  2. People argue that it is a “near occasion of sin,” but if a couple knew they were strong enough to not be tempted, or if they had an apartment where they could have separate bedrooms, that wouldn’t be true.

  3. I’ve also heard people say it creates scandal. That might be; but the catechism says scandal is only a grave offense “if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.” I would assume the motivation to live together is something other than deliberately leading others astray, in which case, it would be venial at best.

  4. People will say “well if they’re living together, they’re probably having sex.” But aren’t we required to give people the benefit of the doubt in such situations?

So why do so many people think those who are living together shouldn’t take communion?

Living together as man and wife before the vows have been said is to put the cart before the horse.

  1. Premartial sex is a sin. But living together is not specifically (as far as I know).

Romantic couples shouldn’t live together prior to marriage because, first, they are setting themselves up for failure - spending the night with someone you’re romantically attracted to generally doesn’t end well at the best of times, and not having any place to “go home” to when temptation is too much can only lead to total failure.

Second, if you are not ready to marry the man, or to have the man’s child, then why should you be doing his housekeeping? The couple need to become friends, and build up the experience of having been friends, before they take up the work of running a household together.

Corollory: if you aren’t ready to marry the girl, and you aren’t ready to raise her child, then why should you be the one paying her bills, taking out her garbage, and doing her handyman chores?

So why do so many people think those who are living together shouldn’t take communion?

Mostly because we assume they’re having sex. (And if people don’t want their neighbors to assume they’re having sex, that’s yet another good reason not to live together.)

But there are other good reasons why couples who aren’t ready to get married, aren’t ready to live together. There is more to being married than sex, and there is more to living together than sex - and the relationship needs that period of time when both are single and free to lay a groundwork of friendship before all that other stuff - whether it includes sex or not - gets started.

Those are some solid reasons for why it might be better for the relationship to not live together (blatant sexism aside :stuck_out_tongue: ) but it doesn’t really address the “is it a mortal sin” issue.

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Honestly, I can’t really argue or disagree with anything you said here. If it’s true there really is no sex going on, then no, it wouldn’t be a mortal sin as far as I can tell. There’s nothing intrinsically immoral about living under the same roof as someone of the opposite gender. At least, I’ve never read anything in Church teaching that says otherwise. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

Is it prudent? I say no. Some people might have incredible self-control to be able to stay chaste while living in the same house as their significant other. But I don’t know…If I was in that situation, I’m not sure I could handle it.

Is whatever benefits cohabitation has (which studies have shown are actually pretty much non-existent as far as strong future marriages go) worth putting you and your loved one’s soul at risk? That’s something to consider seriously. We shouldn’t be getting as close as possible to sin without crossing the line, but running the opposite direction.

But anyways, to answer to your question, is it automatically a mortal sin just to be under the same roof as someone you love but aren’t yet married to? I don’t think so. I can’t see why.

But that doesn’t make it harmless.

P.S.

You’re right that it’s not technically scandal. Most folks when they think of scandal think it’s when someone thinks you’re doing something wrong, (whether or not you really are) and then get offended. Then they say they are “scandalized.” But no, that’s not it. Scandal is much more serious. It involves leading someone to sin by our actions.

Now if you were a youth minister or something, and you had teenagers looking up to you, then I could see how scandal could enter into the equation. You could be leading them astray by your actions if they found out you, whom they’ve always trusted, are living with your boyfriend.

But other than that, I don’t see how scandal is part of the issue.

No, the relevant issue I think is the near occasion of sin. Is it worth the risk? That’s the question.

Cohabitation without the benefit of marriage is wrong. Whether it is a mortal sin or not depends on the usual conditions.

Yes, it is a mortal sin.

  1. It is a grave matter.
  2. The person knows that it is wrong.
  3. The person freely chooses it anyways.

If those 3 things are satisfied, then the sin is very serious.

Whooa…I’m editing. This is a bit of a catch-22 question your posing, you know.

When people say “living together”, you know as well as I, it’s generally understood to mean being under one roof with sexual intimacy involved.

Literally just “living together” gives scandal often which is a sin that varies in its degree.

But if there’s no sex going on though, then why? I can see why it’s not a good idea, and can LEAD to sin, which itself may be a problem. I just can’t see where the sin is in simply being under the same roof?

Can you help me see what I’m missing? Is there any church teaching on the subject? All the stuff I’ve seen deals with classic cohabitation (doing everything a husband and wife does.) without being married.

Sharing a household is part of the gift of marriage. Setting up a household is one of the functions of a family. The family is created when vows are exchanged. To cohabitate is to take part in one of the “benefits” of marriage without actually being married.

Is there any church teaching on the subject?

I am sure there is. But the fact that you even ask the question is kind of mind-blowing. Just a few decades ago, this would have seemed as nonsensical as asking why you shouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute. It’s just common sense, not to mention common decency.

As an example of Church teaching, here is something published by the Bishops of Pennsylvania. While it is primarily concerned with “classic” cohabitation including sexual activity, it also address why it is wrong to cohabitate for other reasons such as convenience and money.

catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/marriage/cohabitation-and-churchs-teaching/

Hello.

Here’s something about scandal from the Catholic Catechism:

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

To me personally I can’t grasp why anyone would want to live with someone of the opposite sex anyway. I’ve only observed fighting and attachment to others when we should be attached to God’s will and what he wants us to do. I live alone and always will if I have anything to say about it.

:slight_smile:

No one is so strong that they are never tempted.

I think it’s hard to say exactly what the benefits of marriage are here sometimes. Most single young adults these days have roommates. Roommates divide chores up. Some roommates shop and cook together, either to save money or because they enjoy it. Often one roommate has a car and drives the others places. What makes things cross the line to sharing a household?

Only if the three conditions are met +++

I see what you’re getting at, and I agree for the most part. My only stumbling block here is that this seems to say that not even friends can live together then, since they are setting up a household, which is a function of family.

I really think it depends on the intent. If a couple is really just “test driving” for marriage by living together, I agree that’s wrong. Because it cheapens marriage.

But if a girl suddenly has nowhere to go and her boyfriend offers her his spare room in his apartment until she can get back on her feet, I can’t see a problem with that, if they are chaste. Even if they have to live together for a few months. Which proves to me it’s not really the living arrangement itself that’s immoral, but the intent behind it.

I am sure there is. But the fact that you even ask the question is kind of mind-blowing. Just a few decades ago, this would have seemed as nonsensical as asking why you shouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute. It’s just common sense, not to mention common decency.

As an example of Church teaching, here is something published by the Bishops of Pennsylvania. While it is primarily concerned with “classic” cohabitation including sexual activity, it also address why it is wrong to cohabitate for other reasons such as convenience and money.

catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/marriage/cohabitation-and-churchs-teaching/

Oh don’t get me wrong, I agree with everything the bishops say here. I’m not saying cohabitation is a good thing. I actually think it’s stupid and harmful for future marriages. But I only hesitate to say living together is always objectively grave matter, if there’s no sex involved, because that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

If they’re trying to test out what it’s like to be married, that’s one thing. But if one is just trying to help the other out, that seems ok to me. Again, it’s all about the intent.

You talked about people being strong enough not to be tempted. By that, I assume you mean strong enough not to give into temptation, because if you are romantically involved, you will be tempted. If you are not tempted, then you are just friends. The problem with being certain you will not give in is that many feel that way and do give in. At a minimum, living together makes it difficult to not do more sexually than you should.

Regarding scandal, part of the problem is that most folks will, indeed, assume a couple living together is having a sexual relationship, whether they should assume that or not. The problem is when some other person who is struggling with this issue and sees you as a Catholic Christian living with a romantic partner, if that person respects you, he could easily decide it is also ok for him to do. And maybe he won’t be so strong when it comes to temptation, or even convince himself that as long as he loves, premarital sex is ok. That is how you lead someone to sin.

It also leads to gossip, as people speculate on whether or not you are having sex or make judgements about you for living together. I know of folks who lived together and claimed they were not having sex. I can guarantee it leads to gossip. If you truly love God, you love His people and don’t do things without good reason that will lead to gossip. This is one of those areas where it is easy to avoid leading others to sin through example or gossip…just don’t live together.

You asked if it’s a mortal sin. It really shouldn’t matter if it’s mortal or venial, if you put God first you want to avoid even venial sins. To knowingly and willingly commit venial sin is to deliberately act against God, too.

I think that if a couple wants to live together without sex, and they don’t want people to get the wrong idea, they need to be upfront. They need to tell their friends and family what they’re doing and why. The youth minister in your example needs to tell the kids about the living situation, and explain that he/she would never want them to get the wrong idea about premarital sex.

This would go a long way in negating rumors and scandal. It would also be a really positive example for how to diplomatically and honestly deal with life’s tricky issues.

Avoid even the appearance of sin (or evil)

no as long as they are not involved sexually it is not a sin.

however it is playing with fire… I believe most couples no matter how “strong” they are, if they are deeply in love they will be tempting themselves… all the time…
There was so much passion my husband and I had before we were married I honestly couldnt see that as a possibility.
So I believe no to sin… yes playing with fire… every single… day
why not have a very inexpensive wedding and get married? Thats what we did and Im so happy we waited cuz it just feels wonderful to really see the full difference between being individuals before and then living together as one. <3
PS- Although I dont think its a good idea dont let people judge you… especially because they are assuming the sexual status of your relations. They have no right so just ignore any of that and live your life as you believe God intends you to.

:eek: :eek: :eek:

What planet would these people be from is what I want to know???

No, it is not a sin.

Pope St. John Paul II said that two people could live together as long they live as brother and sister.

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