What Is The Specific Catholic Church Teaching on Living Together Before Marriage WITHOUT Having Sex


I’m a 26 year old Catholic female. I’ve been Catholic for a long time but really started being Catholic a few years ago, which is around the time I was introduced to the Latin Masses. At first, I didn’t like it because I couldn’t understand it but I wanted to keep going because my soul was craving what it offered, actual prayer during mass.

I spent a long time praying & getting closer to God - praying to meet my soul mate. I received a message from the Holy Spirit telling me that the next person I enter a relationship into with will be the person I marry. Not too long after I began praying did I meet my current boyfriend but our relationship was turbulent at first because he wasn’t Catholic and was very much living an immoral lifestyle so I chose to walk away.

Fast forward to today - My bf has cut out watching porn, playing addicting violent video games, ogling other girls(ones dressed immodestly are the issue), internet searching for “hot girls” in compromising positions online(even the dressed ones), and even gave up lying and an inappropriate friendship he had with a female who he at one point was having sex with( she was also still very attracted to him - she was nasty to me and she didn’t like him having a gf). He does struggle with keeping custody of the eyes but he’s working very hard to change this behavior.

We as of right now, live together. He started classes to convert to Catholicism and our parish priest gave him a pamphlet stating that living together before marriage is always a mortal sin, the only thing it emphasized and explained was that premarital sex is wrong. It also read that living together out of convenience is not a reason to live together – which is not why we live together, our relationship is anything but convenient. It states that couples are attracted to living together to have more free to have sex – which we are actively abstaining from, it also stated that unmarried couples use sex as a way to avoid communicating real issues and dealing with them which leads to shallow communication and breakups because couples don’t talk their issues out - we talk about all of our problems and find solutions to them together, we’re definitely doing the resolving issues as they come. We even refrain from “heavy petting” as we understand it could lead to having to stop ourselves from having sex. We have both agreed that it is better to be abstinent. Our priest told him that even not having sex gives the appearance that we are - I have no problem telling people we are abstinent and that there are extenuating circumstances for the reasons we live together.

I moved from my grandparents house and I’m not able to live there anymore - not because of this because they know we’re abstinent but because my grandfathers mother may be moving in with so they can take care of her and they need the room I was using. I do not have any other options at this point.

Our schedule goes like this - My bf works from 12:30pm to 10pm - I clean the apartment, do my homework, and look for a job (I had a job but needed to leave it) - then I make dinner, when he gets home we eat dinner, talk about the day briefly, brush our teeth, pray, and go to sleep. We fall asleep next to each other but it’s honestly just sleeping, we don’t even touch each other in a way that could lead to anything else. We’re both old enough to understand what leads to what and refrain from doing that. We’re both committed to abstaining. I’d love to marry my boyfriend, I have expressed this to him. We’ve been together for almost 9 months and we are each other’s best friends. Part of the reason we aren’t engaged is because we are both undoing much of the damage that has been brought about from the unhealthy relationships we had before, we’re figuring out how to handle issues and how we can be better for each other and for God. Our relationship is very healthy and we care deeply for each other. He’s working on his relationship with God and I believe that with time he will understand the importance of marriage and want to do right by God, so far he has but he needs clarity on the marriage issue (he’s 24). He said that he would consider getting married eventually, as of now we have no plans but I know that with time that will change like everything else has thus far. So far, the Holy Spirit has been right with how our relationship would go and I continue to have faith in God. We’ve been attending mass every Sunday together. We do adore each other and look at each other with admiration. We are attracted to each other but we look at each other in a loving way not an animalistic flesh devouring way like the pamphlet and many people’s opinions on this issue seem to envision with this type of relationship. There’s a genuine goodness between us.

Our priest has asked him to tell me that I should refrain from receiving communion until we both sit down and speak with him about this next week. Will someone tell me where it specifically has been said not to live with someone even if you aren’t having sex or how it’s a grave matter when nothing is going on? I want to be able to describe to our priest that this relationship isn’t what he may think it is, I understand his concern however.

I’ve prayed about this and I asked someone close to me who is about to become a priest if it’s a grave matter if we’re abstinent and I was told there’s no grave issue because the act of sex without marriage is removed, simply living together isn’t a mortal sin. He did say that there could be near occasion’s of sin but we are proactively not being inappropriate, it’s really not even that difficult to not be inappropriate.

I have read it’s more of a preference of the priest that a couple shouldn’t live together before marriage even without sex. Most information I find on this topic is surrounded by two people having sex. Yes, we could easily have sex but we are strong enough to resist together.


In my opinion, any opposition to cohabitation before marriage is solely based on the issue of pre-marital sex, which is always in all situations, sinful and immoral (unless coerced in ways the will is absent, of course).

You living with someone you love, yet in a Godly and Christian manner, is without an issue I’d say. Of course, someone can say that this is an improper imitation of the married life, however you two are more or less living as brother and sister.


:thumbsup: I agree. When people get married before their Church annulment is finished, they are told to live together as brother and sister, as you are currently doing. Good luck and God Bless you two in your lifelong journey!


I agree with Loyal.

I was always taught that cohabitation is not a sin but not always a good idea due to the near-occasion of sin. I imagine the reason why your priest is asking you to meet with him is so he can confirm that you two are, in fact, living as brother and sister (otherwise, your situation could be a cause for scandal, and nobody likes that! :wink: ).

I do have to ask. Why is your boyfriend so hesitant being married? If he is responsible enough to move in with a woman (which I honestly never recommend to anybody considering it, but what’s done is done), I would reckon he’s responsible enough to at least see marriage in his nearer future and get engaged.

Age doesn’t mean a whole lot, if that’s his excuse. I was married when I was 22 and my wife had just turned 21.


Do as your priest asks. There’s a lot more to it than “show me where it says”. It’s for your own good. Living together has it’s own adjustments struggles and joys apart from sex.
Things happen in the proper order and in their proper time.
You are robbing yourself of some of these experiences of married life by jumping the gun so to speak. Living apart until marriage helps with the romance and intimacy, believe it or not. It’s not always just about sin. There’s a covenant that you have not agreed to yet. Not formally.
Meet with the priest. He’ll explain it better than I can.
God bless you both. It sounds like you want to do the right thing. Best wishes!


Although you are not intimate, there is an intimacy involved when 2 people live together, like when they share a bathroom and have to shower and dress and such. Laundering of underwear is something no one likes to have their neighbor take care of. It implies an intimacy. The scandal you bring to little ones by living together (younger brothers and sisters) is no small matter. If you told a 12 yr old that ‘we don’t sleep together’ they would roll their eyes. Jesus is very clear in the scriptures that it would be better that a millstone be tied around your neck and you be thrown into the sea than to give scandal to a little one.

God designed sex to be only within marriage because it’s a divine super glue that helps hold the marriage together when difficult times come, as they do to all marriages. When that super glue is applied to soon, it makes it very difficult to look at the person in a sober manner and discern what God’s will is for the relationship. Getting the hormones involved means you can’t think straight, and it forms a bond. It is better for us to maintain a certain distance when looking at the other person and discerning if they would be a good life partner.

When 2 people date and honor God with their sexuality, they are bringing a blessing upon themselves and being salt and light to the world that we are called to be. At this time in your life, this is how you should shine before the world. Right now, you look just like the world. This is an opportunity, in your singleness, that at the end of your life, you will be before God and say that you were faithful and built up the other believers and non-believers too by your example. If it’s hard to change things around at this point, God will see the effort. Don’t miss this very special opportunity and time in your life. You are called to be a light to the world. Come into that blessing!


You asked for Church teaching. You have received lots of well-meaning opinions.

Here is an actual Church document, a pastoral letter, prepared by the Bishops of Kansas, that is a good summary of Church teaching and why living together before marriage is not considered a moral choice - with or without sexual activity.


P.S. You call this person your boyfriend, not even a fiance. That’s not a good sign.


Catholic teaching regarding co-habitation concerns four different sins… The first three are fornication, lust and placing yourself in “near occasion of sin” (aka temptation). According to your two posts, you appear to currently have this under control.

However, the fourth sin (2nd part to the teaching) deals with the Sin of Scandal. Scandal is a sin that American society ignores, I believe partly because Protestants do not believe in mortal vs. venial sins, and because of our societal view regarding individual freedoms.

I lived with my wife before we were married, so I have some experience here. When I tried to tell people we didn’t have sex (even though we did) no one believed me. I also believe that my example helped lead my younger siblings and cousins to sin. I think it also opened the door for my mother-in-law to move in with her boyfriend and soften/changed the view of “living in sin” that my parents and grandparents had. Every now looks at the situation saying “it worked well for Phil & Kim, we can really see the benefits living together has.”

But the so called benefits do NOT outweigh the negatives. I don’t want my children to ever know we lived together. I’m also very concerned about the example my mother-in-law is now setting for my children.

When BF & GF are living together, very few people will believe that you are not having sex. The reason this is a problem (from a Catholic point of view) is because it contributes to the mortal sin of Scandal. By the two of you living together, your example it tells other people (young family members, older family members, and even strangers) that it’s not wrong for an unmarried couple to live together and act like a married couple. You are actually contributing to the removal of the taboo society once had regarding “living in sin.”

When your example helps lead another to sin, you are guilt of the Sin of Scandal.

Since scandal is a grave (mortal sin) the priest is going to ask you to refrain from communion because if God considers you guilty of the mortal sin of scandal, then by receiving communion in a state of sin, you will then be committing the mortal sin of sacrilege. Asking you to not receive communion is a safety precaution to prevent you from committing another mortal sin if God considers you culpable of the sin of scandal.

Therefore, please consider moving out on your own. But if that’s not possible, please do whatever the priest instructions you.

Finally, if the priest instructs you continue to refrain, please remember he’s doing because he’s trying to protect your soul. And if he allows you to receive, I would personally recommend that you NOT receive often. Remember, while we are supposed to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy day, we only need to receive Communion once a year, at Easter time.

May The Lord bring you peace and understanding.
Amen and God Bless


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