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Christians must be critical of cohabitation

by
17 February 2011

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From Canon Peter Burch

Sir, — I am most concerned about the article “Just cohabiting?” (Feat­ures, 4 February). Those quoted largely condone the growing trend of cohabiting, which is strongly con­demned in the Old Testament and the New Testament as fornication, as sexual intercourse between unmarried persons.

Also, in personal and group dynam­ics, it is most important to have very clear boundaries to avoid tension, complications, and break­down in relationships. This applies generally speaking, and especially in respect of marriage and sexual intercourse.

If the clear boundary is not marriage, then, as happens now, sexual intercourse can be a matter not just of being prior to marriage, but of one-night stands, promiscu­ous sex, and having different part­ners from young teens or any age. As it is known, this results in many teenage mothers who have to look after their children, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Within the Christian Church, we should strongly emphasise that the far better way is to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage, whatever the pressures, and be pro­perly prepared for full Christian marriage, as many clergy do, so that they can enjoy long-lasting, happy marriages, and the joy of uninhib­ited sexual intercourse in the secur­ity of marriage.

Christian marriage also reminds us that we all need, as fallible hu­man beings, to have the real and uplifting influence of God in Jesus Christ for our greater love and last­ing unity and not end up in break­down and divorce. Too, we should appreciate that marriages and fam­ilies are the basic unit of society. They should be soundly based for the real benefit of adults and chil­dren and the nation.

PETER BURCH
6 Jordans Close, Willersey
Broadway WR12 7QD

From Dr Christopher Shell

Sir, — Thank your for your report “Just cohabiting?” Regrettably missing were the standard secular statistics grouped together in Bel­mont House’s Marriage or Cohab­ita­tion? — though the rise in cohabi-dating which Professor Scott Stanley observes will have further escalated instability and flight from commit­ment.

These statistics show that co­habit­ees come out 50 per cent higher than married people on post-marital separation and divorce; 130 per cent higher on smoking during pregnancy; 900 per cent higher on serial relationships and 250 per cent on concurrent; 300 per cent higher on abortions; and 60 per cent higher on neurosis, anxiety, and depression. They profile sim­ilarly to single people.

A critical, non-compliant attitude to all this is not “sectarian”, but aca­demically mature. Nor need one be a biblical scholar to note Jesus’s opposition (like any Jew of his day) to both fornication (Mark 7) and adultery (Mark 10).

CHRISTOPHER SHELL
186 Ellerdine Road
Hounslow
Middlesex TW3 2PX

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