QUESTION: What do you think Jesus means when He says man and woman must be "married" to live together? There are many "common law" marriages among good Christians.

ANSWER: Thanks for the question Barney.

Actually, scripture does not record where Jesus says “man and woman must be married to live together” in those exact words, but His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well gives a clear picture of how he feels about it.

In John 4:16-18 we read:
 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”   “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus makes clear, the man she now has [is living with] is not her husband.

Matthew 19:1-6, we observe Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce:
Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

A man and woman who chooses to live together outside of marriage lives in sin, in a relationship that dishonors God's word and His intent for intimate relationships.

A number of scriptures address the sins of ‘fornication’ (sex between unmarried persons) and ‘adultery’ (married person in sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse). In every instance, the teaching is to abstain, don’t engage in this behavior; it is sin.

Couples engaged in ‘common law’ living situations may be ‘good people’, but they are not good Christians. Good Christians do not choose a lifestyle of sin, but rather pursue a life of godliness that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.

Don’t sell yourself short-—if the relationship is good enough that you would consider living together, get married. God will be honored, and you will be blessed.

Hope this helps. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Please comment on my rating of you as it applies to Common Law Marriage as it pertains to God as the Head of that marriage.

Hi Barney, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

You may need to re-submit your follow-up question. I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Regarding 'common law' marriage, that is a man-made concept, and not God-ordained. In a common law living situation, God is clearly not the Head, in fact He has nothing to do with it.

There are three basic institutions which God has created for mankind: Marriage, Government and the Church.

We learn about the creation of the first institution (and I believe, the most important) in the book of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. There we learn, God created mankind as male and female (Gen. 1:27), separated the woman from the man (Gen. 2:21-23), and then united them in marriage in the Garden of Eden, making them one flesh (Gen. 2:24, 25).  

Since the GOD Himself founded marriage according to His will, no one has the right to alter marriage in any way (this includes common law living situations). Many other scriptures throughout the Bible refer us back to the Genesis account when talking about marriage.

Men may devise laws to justify living in sin, but these do not represent God’s institution, and thus, not marriages.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenda Rucker


My area of expertise is Women's Ministry primarily, with a good grasp of general biblical knowledge as well. I look forward to sharing with our readers!


Writer and publisher of women's bible studies; also seminar and workshop speaker for women's ministry events; am also Sunday School leader for senior high youth

Western Baptist Bible College National Alumni Association Book and Writers online community The Writer's View online community National Women's Missionary Society

local newspapers, God's Unique Calling to Women, self published study for women, New Era TRUMPET magazine, I am Director of Publications at

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Post-grad studies Western Baptist Bible College, M.A. degree in Religious Studies Park University, B.A. in Communication Arts and Religious Studies

Awards and Honors
Park University, Summa Cum Laude Western Bapt. Bible College, Magna Cum Laude Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, Christian Woman of the Year, 2010

©2017 All rights reserved.