Post # 1
Hey bees! This is my first post – and I would love some feedback, but really just went to vent.
A little background – my fiance is military and moved so we did long distance for 18 months. Then, in October he proposed and I was offered a job where he lives (14 hours from where I used to live). In December, I moved down and we decided, after much prayer and discussion, that it was best if we live together. I didn’t know or have any friends here and most places would not allow a less than twelve month lease without a significant upcharge, plus all my stuff had already been moved into his house months before (when my previous lease ran out and I was looking for a job, we moved my stuff down, but I stayed up at my old job and lived with a friend). To be out in the open, we asked our parents and grandparents if they had any issues with cohobitation and we were given their blessing. We now live together, but have boundaries. I have my own room and bathroom and we do not go into each other’s rooms or bathrooms and keep the doors shut, don’t walk around scantily clad, etc. It is not ideal, but it works for us and we have been making sure to receive support from others to keep our beliefs and actions in line.
This weekend we attended a marriage (pre-marriage) retreat with the church we have been attending and were hoping to ask the pastor to marry us. Unfortunately, it came out that he refuses to marry any couple that is cohabitating. I’m heartbroken because we like this church and the pastor and no one will even hear us out on our decision. I feel so judged and unsupported, espeically because he wouldn’t even hear us out before he made a decision. So now, we have to decide if we find a new church, I move out, or we just search out a new pastor for the wedding but not a new church.
We’ve been through so many hurdles to get to this point, from finding a church to get married in (out of town) because we’re not members of that specific church (not just the denomination), to deployed relatives, fiance finishing at this post and preparing to move to next post (a few months after our wedding). . . So I guess I’m just sad . . especially because it means so much to us to get married in a church, by our pastor and share that covenant with others.
I just feel like we’re working so hard to make the best of a situation while staying true to our Christian beliefs, but the Church has abandoned us.
Vent over. Thanks for listening.
Post # 3
I’m not a Christian, but I understand how important this is to you and think it’s admirable the strides you two have taken to keep boundaries during your cohabitation. It’s very sad that the pastor won’t even listen to what efforts you are making and decide based on that.
Would it be possible to invite him to your home so he can see firsthand the efforts you make – see your individual living spaces – and then you can explain to him in your home what you just said here, about how much this means to you for it to be your pastor in your church that performs the marriage ceremony?
You might also try writing a letter, which can be a very persuasive form of communication.
Post # 4
Definitely not an easy place to be… Here’s my biblical advice…
I would simply find another pastor to marry you or move out so that you can be married by your pastor, but not let the stance of your pastor & church cause any offense in your heart or relationship…. that is NEVER the way to leave a church.
Working in ministry myself I can definitely understand your pastor’s stance on it, and I know it may be hard, but him sticking to his conviction & scripture (there are those that talk about even giving the image of sinning & even a very known story of Jesus’ stance on cohabiting) is something to take note of him being a good leader & teacher.
It does sound like ya’ll have created some great boundaries to keep yourselves pure & that is commendable, but like I said I can understand your pastors stance.
Sorry that it’s been so much trouble… hopefully you two can get it worked out quickly….. Have you talked to your pastor as to the why behind his conviction? It may help you better understand his stance so that you don’t feel “abandoned”.
GL to you.
Post # 5
Aw, hun. This makes me sad for you because I know you guys are trying so hard to uphold your convictions.
I promise you that there are plenty of churches and pastors out there who do support you and won’t abandon you. Although my husband and I didn’t live together before marriage, our pastor never asked. So I think it just really depends on each individual pastor.
Are there any other pastors at this church? Associate pastors, maybe, who have a different approach?
Post # 6
That is hard and I can completely relate to you. My fiance and I, because of jobs and because we felt like God asked us to, moved about 12 hours away from where we are from to another state together. We lived sort of separately (I with my grandma and he in her motorhome next door haha) at first until we could get settled in with jobs etc. As we looked for alternative housing options, the best way was to move in together. Financially and everything it just made a lot more sense.
So now we live together since August or so of last year and we got engaged in September. Our wedding isn’t until November of this year. Yes, we are Christians, in fact I am going to school right now to be a pastor. So as you can imagine, some people have expressed their issues with this to me.
However, you know yourself and your fiance better than anyone else. I wouldn’t want to be in a position of leadership while living with my fiance because it sets sort of a bad example. But no one knows what we do in our house. In fact it is probably better living together than if we had to strive to find alone time! And people judge us, and you, thinking that you are sinning. I disagree. You know if you are sinning or not, they don’t. And even if you do, refusing to marry you only makes matters worse. Getting married would be the way that living together wouldn’t be a sin to them, right? So they should let you get married! I think it is dumb that this pastor won’t marry you.
I say, find another pastor. If the church is making you feel like crap too, then find another one of those as well!
Post # 7
” I feel so judged and unsupported, especially because he wouldn’t even hear us out before he made a decision.”
This behavior by the pastor is one of the reasons that people have stopped attending church in droves. This pastor probably teaches communication, and he won’t even give you a chance to explain.
No matter what his beliefs, he still needs to learn communicate, not dictate.
Post # 8
Thanks ladies for you feed back.
@jocember That’s a great idea to invite them over. Even if it doesn’t change their minds, it could at least open up some conversation even if we agree to disagree. My fiance and I are definitely going to at least schedule a meeting to talk to him about it.
@amnystik I appreciate your response and point of view, especially from ministry. While he did not flat out explain his position, I believe some of it is based on the 1 Thesselonians 5 command to avoid the appearance of evil (although, there are several theologians that say the translation is not correct – in that it should just say “avoid all forms of evil” but that’s neither here nor there). In addition, I would argue that our transparency at our situation and willingness to talk to anyone about how we are living and how we make it work should dispell any appearances we might be giving. I am glad he has such strong beliefs and stands by them. What I struggle with is his inability to hear us out thus far and to truly teach and lead us. Overall, I understand we have made an unpopular choice to many Christians, and I could agree to disagree about it, but the lack of openness for discussion and hearing of our hearts is where I struggle.
Post # 9
As a pastor, it is his job to uphold godly standards, so I don’t blame him for not compromising his position. While it is great that you and your FI have rules to remain pure while living in the same house, it is still not the ideal situation for how Christian couples should live before marriage. His decision has nothing to do with you as people, it has everything to do with his standards as a pastor. You shouldn’t take it personally, and you shouldn’t expect the pastor to compromise his beliefs for your wedding. Could you really respect him as a pastor if he didn’t stick to what he believed? If there is no way you can live somewhere on your own, I would just look for a different pastor.
Post # 10
@MrsFortuNate: my FI and I have had similiar discussions because I know in a lot of premarital counseling courses, a lot of personal information is expected to be shared, and it made my FI really uncomortable to answer the questions.
I say that there are plenty of pastors out there, and each one has a different way to approach pre marital counseling. He may not be the best fit for you, and thats ok! I absolutely LOVE the pastor that is marrying us, but because I have known him for so long and really respect his opinion, I opted to not go to him for our pre marriage counseling, because I know that some of the questions can be difficult, and I wanted a perspective from someone who didn’t used to coach my middle school basketball team! 😉
Just keep in mind that Christians are people, too… and people do things that contradict what they say they believe all of the time. What goes on in your household is between you, your FI and God.
Post # 11
Thank you all for your responses. I appreciate all of the perspective you have given, and I will continue to pray over and consider what we will do next.
I’ve been through quite the emotional journey the past few years in serveral churches in addition to all of the current changes (new state, home, job with long hours, wedding planning, deployed brother, finding new friends/church/everything, etc.) and sometimes it’s nice to just have different perspectives and support to talk through and contemplate everything so I appreciate each of you for offering that.
I know we will find the right pastor to marry us, whether it be this one or another, and it will all work out in the end.
Just to put it out that – I do not blame this pastor for holding fast to his beliefs, I’m just struggling with how it played out and working on coming to terms with that, but I don’t expect him to change his mind or think that he’s completely wrong.
Post # 12
Oh man I’m really sorry that you’re in this position! My boyfriend and I are very strong Christians and are very involved in our church. We plan to marry in October but have been living together for the past 6 month or so. We really did not want to but it just wasn’t practical not to. He’s a firefighter and works 10 minutes from my place and he was previously living an hour away from me and his job. So we barely got to see each other due to our busy schedules. We still don’t split bills or combine money as if we are married and he didn’t move all of his stuff in. We have and will contine to be celibate until our wedding day. You would think it would be hard to do living together but it’s really not considering we have been doing it for so long. I understand the whole concept of “fleeing from the appearance of evil” but we are doing to the best we can and I feel in my heart that God will honor that. I’m not sure what our Pastor will say once we go begin pre-marital counseling, but I may be in the same predicament as you because he does preach against co-habitating. I will keep you in my prayers and I hope everything works out for the best! 🙂
Post # 13
@nikole.powell.np: I think that is the best advice. The pastor should want to get you two married as soon as possible, not turn you away. I am a Christian and I love the Lord but often find myself avoiding people from Church simply because they are so quick to pass judgement. What ever happened to reaching out? I don’t believe this is at all a Christian-ly thing to do and would honestly reconsider the church you’re at.
Post # 14
@MrsFortuNate: Well that’s good to hear that you’re understanding of his stance. I guess then I wonder what the point of him “hearing you out” would be…. I know usually if I am trying to “plead my case” or “clarify” something it’s in hopes that the other person changes their stance….. idk I guess I’ve always just seen it as a way of justifying myself. *shrugs shoulders*
I do hope that he wasn’t rude about it though… Maybe just firm & unmovable? Like no reason to hear it out b/c his stance wasn’t changing?
Like I said, I do hope you can get it all worked out, and maybe in talking to him you could take the angle of you two trying to get married so that you aren’t going against those particular beliefs & b/c of the relationship y’all have with him you’d really like him to be part of that part of your lives… rather than going through the justification of why you two live together or the boundaries you’ve set up.
I want to commend you again on your heart on this matter… from your posts it really does sound like you’ve really done a good job of while being disappointed not letting that offense stay & you’re trying to let God work it out in you! YAY! I’ve seen people leave churches b/c of offense & sadly it blocked their growth in so many other areas as well as what they could’ve grown & learned in the whole thing that started it. Just remember that God is always a 2x/3x fold God and while there are some things your pastor could learn in HOW he establishes his convicitons there’s always ways for you to grow to. Thank God we are ALL a work in progress. lol
GL and definitely keep us updated =)
Post # 15
Our pastor sounds a lot like yours. I hope it works out! I do understand pastor’s taking a strong stance for their congregation based on living together…. however, not every situation is the same and I’m not sure this is accounted for in every church. DH and I were living together for different reasons and carried it out much in the same way you and your fiance are doing right now. I hated being judged many times by people who thought we couldn’t keep it together. I remember even getting scolded by DH’s grandmother who was upset we were watching a moving in my room and he fell asleep on the bed at 10:30 at night. *rolls eyes* As with anything, some people struggle with certain temptations and can assume others struggle in the same way when they are really doing nothing against God or each other.
Stay strong and keep your head up. If you’ve prayed about it and feel a peace in what you are doing, don’t let the judgemental remarks or actions get to you. Everyone is different. You are certainly not ‘living in sin’ as some may put it. Every couple is different. A kiss on the cheek may be too much for some, but for others living together can happen in complete purity.
Post # 16
I’m not Christian, but it sounds like you two have really worked hard to maintain your morals and beliefs- good for you!. If I were you, I’d find another pastor. This one is obviously inflexible and judgemental.
There are many non-denominational but strongly christian officiants out there. I’m sure one of them would be happy to work with you two.