living together before marriage


I know the statistics of failed marriages that live together before marriage. And I know that it is a sin if a man and a women (in a relationship which is not brother/sister as in friends) live together before marriage, but is this a venial sin or a mortal sin? I was thinking it was a mortal sin but a fellow Catholic friend thinks that it is venial. Any help!


Is it grave matter?
Is it entered into with full knowledge?
Is there full consent?

well, yes, sex outside of marriage is grave matter.

Do the couple know that living together is a serious sin?

I assume that no one is forcing them, or they feel compelled by outside forces.

It would depend a lot on full knowledge, I guess.


Thanks for your response. The issue I am having difficulty with is deciding if it is indeed grave matter or not. They are not having sex out of marriage. But they are living together and sleeping in the same bed, they aren’t even fooling around. They are, however, putting themselves in an occasion to sin, and they are causing scandal to their neighbors by sleeping in the same bed with the door closed which leads others to believe they are sleeping together. I guess my real issue is there are tons of reasons why the should not do it, but is this sin a venial sin or a mortal sin?


Scandal—Scandal is an attitude or behavior that leads another to do evil. If someone is deliberately lead into a grave offense, that person’s tempter commits a grave sin (CCC 2284 and 2285). Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

I would think the key would be if it is deliberate. Probably this couple would never dream of leading another to a grave offense. But, the line would be so close…I think a priest might be able to give a better answer.

I just don’t know. My personal opinion is that it is grave matter.


They are placing themselves in the occasion of sin. It maybe only venial if, knowing it was wrong, changed their ways. The fact that the Chuch’s teaching is explicit on this and that the occasion of sin is about a grave sin, would in my opinion make it grave (unless they did not know it was sinful). It would be like me going to a strip club with my friends to look cool, not trying to look at the strippers, but each time they invite me, to go with them anyway. One is playing with fire and this is clearly rejecting God’s call to repent. It is saying we are strong enough and do not need you God in a consistent matter, when we are clearly weak in these areas (sleeping next to one another poses a grave risk for all and there is almost no excuse for it unless one is married or weird and strange circumstances that do not need to be elaborated upon). It is grave because they consistently reject God and place themselves under the occasion of the mortal sin of fornication. I will include them in my prayers. May God’s work of mercy flow through you!


I don’t suggest living together without marriage. However, there is NO official church teaching against it. There is no scripture against it. Can/does it lead to sin ? Yes Always, NO !!


Most people are never going to believe that a romantically involved couple that shares a bed is not having sex. The trouble with this is that they add to the impression that it’s ok to cohabitate, and even have premarital relations. The fact that they add to an already corrupted cultural perception of sex and marriage is a grave enough matter, in my opinion, whether they are fooling around or not. If they’re actually going to get married, they’ll have the rest of their lives to share a bed. Why place themselves in a scandalous–and also very tempting–situation?

As to your quesiton of whether it’s mortal or venial, it’s true that a mortal sin places a person’s soul in greater danger if that person does not repent, but just because a sin is venial, doesn’t mean it’s ok to commit it. We should avoid all sins. The couple in question still shouldn’t be living together before marriage.


Thank you all for your responses and comments. Little Rose, I am glad you said that because I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. I think that most people today only worry about not commiting mortal sins out of fear of the punishment of hell - but are ok with venial sins because the punishment is not as severe. This represents a total misconception of what it means to serve the Lord and to abandon ourselves to His will. I couldn’t agree with you more that we should avoid all sins whether it be mortal or venial. But as a follow-up I found a site from that claims that cohabitation is a mortal sin. I found it suggested on several sites that it is a mortal sin, but nowhere did I explicitly find the statement “cohabitation is a mortal sin.” Anyway this link confirmed my intuition. I think all of us agree that it is a sin irregardless of the degree of sin, and this should be enough to make us avoid commiting it. Sadly in our times it is not enough, and I was looking for solid evidence to support my ideas. Again thanks for everyones help. I’m not closing this thread or anything, if anybody still has anymore comments to make I’d be glad to read them. Here’s the link.


But what if there is no other alternative, basically. One partner working part time only, not making enough for rent and utilities. Live in a rural community where housing options are slim. Also, no transportation for that same partner? Perhaps the couple are uncomfortable with the situation because they KNOW what the appearance is and wish it were otherwise, but can’t figure out what to do, how to change things?!? :confused:


I don’t think its right. It can create other conflicts, too like for instance they eventually get married and have children…one day those children will grow up and will find out their parents lived together before marriagea and I dont think the children will beleive that they never had sex…therefore, that places the children and parents in a difficult situation in which they might want to do the same thing based on example…even if nothing happened…they might say something like “well, you did it…therefore…their is nothing wrong with it…you guys have a wonderful marriage…why can’t I” or somehting like that

However, my true advice is for you to ask a priest.


A single link on a website does not inspire confidence in me as being authoritative.

Personally, regardless of whether it is sinful or not, I would say it is not a good idea. It definitely constitutes an occasion to sin. Particularly if a couple is sharing a bed. I could see situations where living in the same house might be ok, particularly if there were other people in the house as well. But under no circumstances would sharing a bed on a nightly basis be a good idea.



A sin is a sin and in the eyes of God, living together is a sin. I have many friends who say it is alright. Our culture has made us feel like we need to live together first. Most of the time people live together and say they will marry later and we both know that won’t happen. Unfortunately some never marry and go about their lives like nothing. Be obedient to His word.


In a situation like this, referring also to the OP’s situation that was presented, I’d say sleep in separate rooms. Would they possibly have friends or family near? I’ve talked to a priest about this, and he said that he would never advise a couple to live together, but he’s counseled couples who were already living together and didn’t appear to have any other options (b/c of the reasons you listed) and he told them to sleep in separate rooms so temptation would not be so great. However, I think situations such as these are pretty much the exception and there’s usually alternatives that should be sought out.


I am going to go out on a limb and say that it is entirely possible to sleep (as in resting) in the same bed as your significant other without having it be “sinful.”

I mean, the sins of lust are the real problem, not specifically the sleeping arrangement.

As far as “leading other to sin”, I don’t buy it. People presume that if you’re in a relationship for more than a few months, you are sleeping together whether you are living together or not. Also, it’s been my experience that most people are very open about their non-sex lives who are in that situation to avoid that kind of confusion.


Get married.


One stays with friends/family - someone they know has a spare couch or piece of floor for a sleeping bag. If they are strangers who know no one in town, call your Priest, and ask if he knows someone in the Parish who will take in a lodger until the marriage takes place.

Only one car? Well, the one with a car can pick the other up on the way to/from work. Or look for a co-worker to carpool with. Ride a bike, walk.

There is ALWAYS a way to do the right thing. It is very easey to justify living together in the mind, and take the easy way out. The narrow gate leads to salvation!


No matter what don’t allow yourselves to be tempted into thinking nothing is going to happen. Temptation is ugly and satan looks for the weaker sex to have his way. Sin is sin. Our culture tells us we can try something first and if it isn’t what we want trade it in.



These responses have been informative and helpful. The people in the situation have been praying and some things are begining to work out for the better, but, as yet, nothing has happened to enable the person to move out. No family or really good friends in the area who have available space. It is a difficult situation.:frowning:


It does not have to be a really good friend - call your Priest and the DRE at the Parish, call the KofC and the Pro Life group - someone in your Parish will take in a boarder until the marriage takes place. Perhaps a room in exchange for some work?

I find it hard to believe that not one aquaintence will lend a couch until the wedding… if that is really the case, then, ask the Priest to marry this week.


And you would be absolutely correct.


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