kaiwen asked this question on 7/19/2000:

Following up on a previous question, I'd like to explore the Church's position on cohabitation a bit more.

What arguments -- besides the obvious -- can be made against cohabitation?

I reside in Taiwan. Like in the US, cohabitation, especially amongst young adults, is quite common. Unlike the US, however, this is usually for pragmatic reasons. Rarely is there any sort of sexual activity between cohabitants; they are simply roommates.

Absent sexual relations, what objections are there to cohabiting?

Lee Kai Wen


mscperu gave this response on 7/20/2000:


When I read your post I thought: Oh come on! Does original sin not exist any more? What happened to good old concupiscence?

Then I apologized to you in my heart. It is possible that this type of "sexless" cohabitation might exist. Might!

You ask for additional reasons to those as observing the sixth commandment, protect the temple of the Holy Spirit and understand only what those who understand can get at.

Additional reasons:

Somebody constantly near the fire becomes careless and easily burns himself. Let’s assume that she forgot to lock the bathroom door. Let’s assume you had some drinks and he o she sits despondently there desperately needing consolation. I could multiply the "innocent" occurrences.

Next reason:

Mt 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 "And it was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

No unchaste thoughts ever because of cohabitation? Oh come on!

Next reason

Suppose the other part of chaste cohabitation enters in a serious relationship in order to marry. Would it be easy for the future partner to accept that nothing happened? He-she would be suspicious all his-her earthly life.

Next reason

Even saints should not undertake "chaste" cohabitation.

Saint Teresa de Avila (she’s doctor of the Church) said:

"Entre santa y santo pared de cal y canto". Well it rimes and means: Between a she-saint and a he-saint a wall of stone and... (I don’t know the translation).

Next reason:

All spiritual masters of all times urge that you should not expose yourself needlesly to temptation. It is a sign of the love of God to ovoid even the possibility. Can you imagine so strong a love?

Last reason (for now)

I am an old man and thought that passing the 50s there would be no temptation against chastity any more. Then I hoped that a 60 the battle would be much easier. Now I am waiting to get 70 but I have not much hope regarding this point. Only the celibate are tempted? Oh come on!

Why don’t your cohabitate with a male room partner? No temptations!

Oh, come on!






kaiwen asked this follow-up question on 7/24/2000:

Thanks for your response.

I’m sorry you’re so sceptical about the possibilities of sexless cohabitation, but I assure you it’s quite common here. Generally, it’s more of a communal situation than the one-man one-woman cohabiting I understand to be common in the US -- say four or five college students sharing a house.

I certainly do agree with you about avoiding the near occasion for sin, and that would be a good reason for not cohabiting. But the few times I’ve been involved in such a situation, it frankly wasn’t a problem. Generally speaking, I tended to see more of my female classmates than I did my female roommates; given our disparate schedules, it wasn’t uncommon to go a week or more without seeing my roommates. If it had become a problem, I would have bailed.

Just by way of my clarifying my original question: by "other than the obvious" I meant, of course, sex and the temptation to sex. You provided some good reasons and quotations— reasons which are hard to argue against—but they all boil down to sex and the temptation to sex.

Are there any other arguments against cohabitation?

Thanks for your time.

Pax Christi,

Lee Kai Wen





Thank you for your message.

I think we are having a normal interchange of opinions, aren’t we? That means we are discussing situations not persons, right? So there is no judgment concerning your person.

So let’s focus on the situation.

If I remember right most experts’ answers you received were talking about possible temptations against chastity. You can say that I (we = those which provided an answer) misunderstood your question. Sex is not the issue. So far so good.

May I provide a comparison? Theoretically you can propose the following question. Taking care that they won’t endanger each other what other arguments are there against cohabitation of tigers and lambs and snakes? Do you get the trend?

Your question basically tries to show that there are no arguments against cohabitation because

- it’s for financial reasons (nothing bad here)

- it is very common and there is much less sex than in the USA (good for you)

- it means living in a (big?) house (very reasonable)

- the different schedule causes the encounters to be not numerous (very satisfactory)

- and when there should be real danger everybody bails out (good).

I am not sarcastic. I am detailing the sequence of your logic.

To say it an other way: if sex is not deemed a problem, what other arguments could there possibly be? There is no problem. So cohabitate! That’s your reasoning.

I grant you that geographical and cultural ambient can be very different. But there exists a tendency that is global. Physical sexual activity begins 5 years earlier than 30 years ago in my lifetime. If it is not so in your culture be happy. But I should say: not yet. I presume that TV in your country is suffering the global influence of American movies and series and sitcoms and talk shows and the "wonderful" American way of life. Other developed nations do the same. They are guilty too. But the dollars is pervasive. Nowadays there isn’t a movie that doesn’t invite the watchers of all ages to observe in detail what goes on in the bedroom. Children are conditioned that way. They try it at four! How is it in your country?

But I question the point of depart of your reasoning: sex is no problem. I will not speak for the others. But if I affirm cohabitation without temptations is only an abstract possibility and you say it’s a real one then our discussion is moot. Our presuppositions are different.

I gave you a very important argument against cohabitation even if there aren’t even the probability impure thoughts: the future partners of those that have cohabitated. Don’t you think that for a Catholic couple it is a wondrous thing to be virgin before marriage? The donation transcends from virginal chastity to married chastity. All in a liturgy in sanctity. Will the future partners just confide? So I say: don’t cohabitate because of your future marriage.

I can’t resist ask you a question! Are there any other arguments against cohabitation of male students unless of latent homosexuality?

My last argument: If in 10 000 cohabitations described by you only one in 1000 years commits a sin because of cohabitation that is reason enough to advise against it. Do you think the percentage is lower in your ambience?

Remember I do not judge you. You say you were chaste in thoughts, intentions and deeds. God has blessed you. Others that are not so blessed read this open discussion. So let’ help them.

Finally I don’t know if you have studied logics and metaphysics. Do you know that excluding the main argument and asking a negative question passes the burdens of argumentations and not on you.

My argument is precisely that the excluding the main argument changes your question in an abstract exercise in reasoning.

God bless you.

P.D. I hope I have not offended you. There is an old saying: Fortiter in re suaviter in modo". It seems I have to learn the last part of it.



PD. Forgive me if only now I present to you a silent partner in all these debates you have had with your friends in order to justify your way of thinking and doing. Who? Don Luci!