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.
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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).
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