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A recent poll conducted by LifeWay Research found that 58 percent of Protestant pastors would perform marriage ceremonies for cohabitating couples; 31 percent would not, and 10 percent were not sure.

"If I believed them to be in sin, why wouldn't I help get them out? The apostle Paul addresses that; if you're having trouble keeping your hands to yourself, then marry her. Basically, I think it's over-scrupulous—overly pietistic—to refuse to perform a ceremony that gets someone from a morally questionable situation into an honorable estate."

"I will most likely officiate at a wedding for a couple who has been living together. The arms of the church need to be open, giving them an opportunity to know the grace of Christ and hopefully to become a part of the congregation. What I do with people is that when they come with a situation where they've been living together before they get married, I talk with them about engaging with the church. There are a lot of issues that we could worry about in the world. For me, that's just not one that's high on the list for me. I just want to have the arms of the church embrace them and I want them to sense the grace of God."

"Under most state law, cohabitating couples have no legal protection from such things as abandonment, adultery, property protection, or financial support, so marriage is clearly the best legal option to protect the person you love. So if a pastor refuses to marry the couple based on moral grounds, the couple is robbed of the benefits of marriage in a sense. However, social science research shows that cohabitating couples actually sabotage their chances for a lifetime of happiness by their premarital ...

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Should Pastors Perform Marriages for Cohabitating Couples?
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October 2011

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