November 14, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 8, 2014.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Is ‘Shacking Up’ a Good Idea to Test Compatibility for Marriage?” 

Genesis 2:24

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

The ancient Jews took engagement (a.k.a., betrothal) as seriously as the wedding itself.  After Mary was engaged, she was already called Joseph’s wife even though they wouldn’t live together and consummate their relationship for another year.   And it would require divorce to end it.   In this manner, by the time the couple was married, they really knew each other.   This, of course, is not what many young people do today, which is readily reflected in the movies that we watch.  

My wife and I watched the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail” because it featured two very popular actors: Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. While it was a good “date movie,” I had reservations about heartily recommending this to impressionable young people, many of whom think nothing of “shacking up.”   

In the movie, the characters played by Hanks and Ryan end up exchanging e-mails in anonymity while they are both living with someone else.   Hank’s father and grandfather also have live-in girlfriends.  So, every couple in the movie is unmarried.  I wouldn’t have objected to “shacking up” had the characters struggled over whether it was morally right or relationally helpful, but the sun will freeze before that angle is ever written into a Hollywood script!  

Nevertheless, the movie does show that there is no commitment in shacking up:  Ryan and her live-in decide to split because they no longer love each other; the live-in girlfriend of Hank’s father leaves him with no choice since she runs off with their nanny; Hanks splits from his live-in after finally realizing that she is a capitalist without any heart.  

So a thumps up or down?  I gave it a thumbs up for truly showing that “shacking up” before marriage is not the same as trying out a pair of shoes before deciding to buy it.  Experiences in marriage as opposed to cohabitation (both in commitment level and benefits) are as different as using your I-Phone under a binding contract as opposed to prepaid.   While prepaid certainly gives you the freedom to “check out” at any time, you will never experience all the benefits of a contract: unlimited, faster 4G, simultaneous voice/data, available in all areas and personal hot spot.  Marriage is like that as well.  

So if you are serious about someone, don’t shack up.  Instead, get to know him or her better particularly through shared activities with others and in the church.  Seeing his or her interaction with all types of people and responses under different circumstances will give you a better idea whether this is someone whom you want to spend the rest of your life with.  And if you are already married, have fun, and stay faithful.   Plan to do something fun with your spouse today!

Prayer: Lord, we are truly sorry that we act as if we are smarter than You by ignoring Your blueprint for life.  May we be wise by submitting to Your design for life and Your right to rule over us.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Philemon 1

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