A Better Way - Part 1

A Pastoral Letter to the People of God in the Province of Kansas Addressing Cohabitation before Marriage

By the Kansas Catholic Conference

INTRODUCTION

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” From the very first moment of the life of the human race, God has loved his people. God loves us not only as a human race, but he loves each of us as an individual, as his own unique creation.

Whether we be a man or a woman, God has a plan for each of our lives. For many, that plan includes the joining of man and woman in the sacramental bond of marriage. This bond is a sacred covenant of love involving a man, a woman and God. Saint Paul expresses that this bond of marriage between husband and wife symbolizes the bond that exists between Christ and his Church. This sacred covenant cannot be dissolved throughout one’s earthly life. Therefore, each person entering into that special covenant of marriage needs adequate preparation to be certain that one is ready to marry. Moreover, all entering marriage must be as certain as possible that their spouse is the person to whom they can make a lifetime commitment of love.

Today many couples (those who are engaged and those who are not) prepare for their possible married life together by cohabiting, or “living together,” before marriage. Their reasons for doing so are many and varied. However, a view that is commonly held is that couples who live together before marriage can more adequately determine if their lifetime commitment to one another as husband and wife is possible. Two generations ago living together before marriage was viewed as scandalous by our society.Young people were strongly discouraged from cohabiting. As a society, that view has been greatly challenged today. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of couples seeking marriage in the United States today are living together. Many people see cohabiting not only as permissible, but even as necessary to attempt to diminish the possibility of divorce or marital unhappiness later in the life of the couple.

The Church does not believe that cohabitation before marriage is a moral or acceptable preparation for this sacred bond.Rather, the Church sees cohabitation as a threat to the marital happiness that engaged couples so desperately seek. Cohabitation as an actual
threat to marital happiness has furthermore been borne out in recent research studies done by today’s social sciences, as will be quoted in the following section.

This pastoral letter is an attempt to encourage couples contemplating marriage not to live together before their wedding day. Moreover, this pastoral letter is a challenge to all Catholics to support engaged couples as they prepare for a lasting marriage. The letter is intended to stimulate further reflection in the hearts of believers addressing Judeo-Christian marriage as a special vocation to be lived in an increasingly secular world.Perhaps most important, the letter is an invitation to all engaged couples and those contemplating engagement to realize that the Church seeks the same end that the engaged couples seek: a commitment of love expressed in the vows by the bride and groom on their wedding day to be strengthened continually day by day throughout their lives as a married couple.

The marriage preparation offered by the Church is not to be seen as a list of rules and regulations, but rather as an investment into the lives of the engaged couple and the life of the Church. The Church recognizes that marriage and family are vital components of a society. Thus, good marriage preparation is an investment into the future of the individual, the engaged couple, the future children born of that union and of the entire body of Christ.

--- To Be Continue.............

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