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Questions for pastors/church leaders concerning cohabitation.

 
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Post Questions for pastors/church leaders concerning cohabitation. FLRon
What are your thoughts on unmarried couples who live together yet attend church? Do you consider them to be living in sin? Is this a form of “fornication”? Do you ever preach or teach on the subject?

Taking this a step further, would you permit such a person to receive communion in your church? Would you permit them “on the platform” of your church?

Lastly, would you consider someone living together in an unmarried state to be eligible for church membership in your local church?

I ask these questions because there are an increasing number of such relationships in the church. Interestingly enough, some of this is attributed to each person receiving some sort of check or financial assistance that would be reduced should they marry.
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Leonard Ravenhill
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9/9/21 7:56 pm


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Post Re: Questions for pastors/church leaders concerning cohabitation. Quiet Wyatt
FLRon wrote:
What are your thoughts on unmarried couples who live together yet attend church? Do you consider them to be living in sin? Is this a form of “fornication”? Do you ever preach or teach on the subject?


They are living in the sin of fornication, yes. I’ve lost several couples who had been attending my church over this. The Bible is clear as can be on this. I’m not saying a marriage license is necessary in order for God to recognize their union as valid; but at the very least, scripturally there needs to be an exchanging of marital vows between them, recognized by the church. That being said, whenever I hear folks say the license is “just a piece of paper,” I always ask, “Well then, what would it hurt for you to get one then?”

Quote:
Taking this a step further, would you permit such a person to receive communion in your church? Would you permit them “on the platform” of your church?


No, they would not be allowed to partake of communion. I would definitely never allow them to be in any leadership role in the church unless and until they repented and got married.

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Lastly, would you consider someone living together in an unmarried state to be eligible for church membership in your local church?


No, not until they repent and get married.
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9/9/21 10:38 pm


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Post Yes to Quiet Wyatt's ... Mat
Yes to Quiet Wyatt's answers.

I will add, in our quest for the "economics of scale" as related to the model of mega/large local churches, we (well some) avoid such direct answers and allow talented individuals on stage who are not living for the Lord, but can give a great performance.

I know two families related by marriage, where the son of one family married the daughter of another. It is an open secret that the son is an un-repented bisexual.

They, the married couple, live in another state and attend a large church with all the the multi-services and large "professional" staff can offer. From time to time the son, who has a beautiful voice, sings at the church. When I look at social and see all the "cool" things the church is pointing to, I think of this singing son.

I think there are people, besides his wife, in the congregation who know the truth, but .... he sings so good. Why should he repent, he's already in a ministry role, what could be wrong?

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Mat
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9/10/21 8:36 am


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Post FLRon
It’s reassuring to read both of your responses. It is a challenging subject for sure, but one that the Bible is clear about, at least as I read it. I personally know of several such couples in various COG congregations where they are treated no differently than a married couple.
They are permitted to hold key positions, receive communion, and participate in the service as they see fit. I am unclear whether or not they are members in their church however.
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Leonard Ravenhill
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9/11/21 4:45 pm


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Post I've preached that it is fornication roughridercog
I never purposely aimed it at a couple, but if it was present in the portion of Scripture I was dealing with, I never ducked the issue. Years ago I had an article published in the Evangel: Living Together--The Counterfeit Marriage.
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9/14/21 4:02 pm


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Post Re: Questions for pastors/church leaders concerning cohabitation. Link
FLRon wrote:
What are your thoughts on unmarried couples who live together yet attend church? Do you consider them to be living in sin? Is this a form of “fornication”? Do you ever preach or teach on the subject?

Taking this a step further, would you permit such a person to receive communion in your church? Would you permit them “on the platform” of your church?

Lastly, would you consider someone living together in an unmarried state to be eligible for church membership in your local church?

I ask these questions because there are an increasing number of such relationships in the church. Interestingly enough, some of this is attributed to each person receiving some sort of check or financial assistance that would be reduced should they marry.


Something that concerns me is how often church leadership just lets this happen and doesn't do much, leaving it to people in the church to exhort the people to get married. Like my wife, or myself. I've seen this a couple of times. One family where the couple wasn't married attended a church where the pastor said if a gay couple came in holding hands, he'd tell them to leave. I think he did talk to the normal couple about marrying. They had a wedding. the church people attended.
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9/16/21 10:37 pm


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Post Some thoughts... Aaron Scott
Yes, it's fornication. (Of course, it is possible that people live together without having sexual relations, but even the law assumes--so I hear--that a couple living together are engaging in sex.)

Communion? Yes, I would tend to allow them to partake. But I usually preface communion with the importance of not taking it if you are living in sin, and the potential consequences of it.

I think Quiet Wyatt's point is well-taken. But on my part, I figure that there are no doubt plenty of folks whose behavior only SEEMS righteous. So I leave it with them.

On the platform? Depends. Sometimes, a person is being drawn by the Lord to the church, and allowing them to participate is part of the process. Other times, a person is just wanting to, say, "jam" with other musicians. I would want to try to discern which way it leans.

Remember that woman who washed Jesus' feet? Jesus said that her "sins are many." And yet...He allowed her to do what she felt to honor him. I try to keep that in mind. Sometimes, someone whose sins are many is utterly sincere, doing what they feel to do for the Lord.

If God brought someone through a bout with COVID, say, and they wanted to come to church and testify and give $1000 in the offering, I wouldn't say no, of course (even though that's not the same things as playing in the band or the such). ANYONE who truly wants to lift Jesus up, I think Jesus receives it.

And anyone who would think that I am promoting fornication because I allowed someone some level of participation, well, I'm probably never going to make them happy. Because if you get right down to it, NONE OF US is truly worthy to worship.
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9/20/21 11:36 am


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Post More.... Aaron Scott
I would not allow membership. While worship is spiritual, and above our paygrade to accept or reject, membership is something that we can deal with for the most part.

If a couple is living together in celibacy for financial reasons, I cannot fault that on its own. However, the damage it can do to one's testimony...the potential for temptation, etc., are all good reasons it should be avoided.

I heard Candace Owens say that other day that before LBJ's attempt to eradicate poverty by making it more lucrative to NOT be married than to be married, African American illegitimacy was around 25%. Today it's around 75%. So I can see why people might not want to marry. But as far as I'm concerned, they should have the church recognize it (even if we cannot marry them) AND there should be a contract or such that ensures the same benefits toward each other as a married couple (i.e., inheritance, shared property, etc.).
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9/20/21 11:41 am


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Post THE LOVE OF GOD
My husband will NOT marry anyone without the marriage license. He has to have possession of the license and we mail it in ourselves. I know an elderly couple who purchased a license, got married by their minister (a friend). The minister intentionally gave it to the groom. He put it in the safe and one day, she found it. She got SS and would not have received it if she was legally married. The husband (?) told her she only got a small amount which in essence, she got about 3 times the amount he said. Needless to say, he defrauded her. She left him. Not necessary for a divorce as they weren't legally married since he or the preacher did not mail in the license.. There was other issues buy that was the straw that broke the camels' back.

I like what someone on here said, it is only a piece of paper and their reply was so good. “Well then, what would it hurt for you to get one then?”
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9/20/21 12:53 pm


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Post FLRon
I feel like it places the minister between a rock and a hard place, which of course is familiar territory. People living this way still need to be ministered to, same as everyone else, and condemnation is hardly an effective ministry tool.

Bottom line though is if a shepherd cares for the sheep as he should, he has to address the issue. Silence is consent, or so they say. Besides, how can we say we love them if we don’t love them enough to tell them the truth?
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9/20/21 10:28 pm


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Post Preacher777
I would not be comfortable having people in that situation on the platform or receiving membership in the church. I agree with FLRon that it puts us between a rock and a hard place as condemnation is not a great way to win people to Christ. Therefore, I would go out of my way to extend friendship and whether at a lunch, dinner or even better invite the person to our house for lunch or dinner. I would do my best to deal with the fact that people receive more when they know we care about them which is why a house invitation may help. I would explain that we care enough about them and others in the church to tell the truth. It would be important for people to understand that God has the power to set people free but sin entering in individually or corporately hinders the presence and move of God.

We like to pray with the worship team and emphasize that it is not a performance but a way to seek God on our own and corporately together. We teach people that worship is not about talented people playing for us but every person joining in together.

I believe that if we are bringing people into the Kingdom on their terms rather than following Biblical commands it will be hard to see change later. Flesh always wants it our way before and after salvation. None of us are free from sin but I encourage worship team and people in the congregation to seek God before we enter corporate worship and deal with any sin in our lives.

I do not see how a person can read I John and then desire to lead others while living in sin. Jesus never avoided showing people what it meant to follow Him. People can learn that the basic of Christianity is to love God with all of our heart and love others which means not demanding our way with God or others.
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9/22/21 7:37 am


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Post Re: Some thoughts... Link
Aaron Scott wrote:
Yes, it's fornication. (Of course, it is possible that people live together without having sexual relations, but even the law assumes--so I hear--that a couple living together are engaging in sex.)

Communion? Yes, I would tend to allow them to partake. But I usually preface communion with the importance of not taking it if you are living in sin, and the potential consequences of it.

I think Quiet Wyatt's point is well-taken. But on my part, I figure that there are no doubt plenty of folks whose behavior only SEEMS righteous. So I leave it with them.

On the platform? Depends. Sometimes, a person is being drawn by the Lord to the church, and allowing them to participate is part of the process. Other times, a person is just wanting to, say, "jam" with other musicians. I would want to try to discern which way it leans.

Remember that woman who washed Jesus' feet? Jesus said that her "sins are many." And yet...He allowed her to do what she felt to honor him. I try to keep that in mind. Sometimes, someone whose sins are many is utterly sincere, doing what they feel to do for the Lord.

If God brought someone through a bout with COVID, say, and they wanted to come to church and testify and give $1000 in the offering, I wouldn't say no, of course (even though that's not the same things as playing in the band or the such). ANYONE who truly wants to lift Jesus up, I think Jesus receives it.

And anyone who would think that I am promoting fornication because I allowed someone some level of participation, well, I'm probably never going to make them happy. Because if you get right down to it, NONE OF US is truly worthy to worship.


It seems like there are some parts of the New Testaments most Pentecostals just don't practice. I find this a tough issue to think about.

There was a couple in Corinth in Paul's time. A man had his father's wife. Maybe the father died and he took her as wife, or maybe the father divorced her, or they could have just shacked up. It says in I Corinthians 5 'that a man should have his father's wife.' Maybe they were considered married. But in Leviticus 18, it this is one of the types of sins that caused Gentiles to be driven out of the land. It was a type of fornication.

Paul said not to eat or keep company with such a person, and wrote about 'keeping the feast with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth'. Communion was instituted during Passover, so there is some kind of connection there. It is possible Paul has what we call Communion in mind in this passage, but 'with such a man no not to eat' would include it. They would have meetings back then where they would eat the Lord's Supper as an actual meal back then. Paul would correct them for not sharing and for drunkness several chapters later.

In I Corinthians 5, Paul warns that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. The church is supposed to be an unleavened lump of dough. Letting this fornicator in their midst contaminates the lump. They were to expel the leaven. This was not just for their own good to keep sin from spreading, but also so that the man's spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Could it be that the reason some churches experience a lot of fornication among the youth, adultery among the old, frivilous divorce and remarriage and other things like that is due to not confronting and dealing with sin in the congregation? Of course, sexual sins are not the only sins. Paul also mentions idolatry, swindlers, and greedy as types of sinners in the passage.

He doesn't say just to let everyone be concerned about their own sin. The individual's sin affects the community. If we look at the Old Testament, Achan sinned, and 3000 other men died in battle because there was sin in the camp. Israel had protection from God in battle if they were keeping covenant. Because Israel had this one man's sin in the camp, the congregation had sin.

Jesus was merciful toward the woman accused of adultery, toward the sinful woman who kissed His feet. He went to Zacchaeus' house and by the time he left, the tax collector had shown signs of repentance. He came to seek and to sake that which was lost. But concerning His own church, His own assembly, He gave instructions that if one sinned against another that the one sinned against confront the one who sinned, if he will not hear to take two or three others, and if he will not hear the church, to let him be unto you as a heathen man and a publican.

Regarding the purity of the love feasts, Jude called false brethren 'spots on your love feasts', and Peter wrote of false prophets who were 'spots and blemishes while they feast with you.' 'Spots and blemishes' were something a sacrifice was not allowed to have. Peter wrote about, "precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot". I believe the love feasts were what we call Holy Communion. They are associated with Passover, where a Lamb was slain which was without spot or blemish. We have fellowship/oneness with that bread, with Christ, when we partake. Peter and Jude did not want these love feasts contaminated by the false brethren and false teachers he described.

I do not think these are necessarily the same type of people as the fornicator in I Corinthians 5, but Jude and II Peter should make us reconsider that if the church, collectively, has a responsibility to keep our love feasts pure.
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