george_hancockstefanAmong evangelical parents, some of the promises of God are held onto with the utmost tenacity.  Many believe the verse that says, “Train a child in the way he/she should go and when they are old they shall not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) With equal tenacity, parents hold onto the verse that says that the word of God will not return void, but it will accomplish what God has sent it to do. (Isaiah 55:11)

During one of my recent trips, a number of parents came to talk to me about their children. This father told me that he had a conversation with his children about lifestyles that he did not approve of. This father took them to Mass every Sunday and yet most of his children decided to live together with their intended spouses before they got married.  It is a sad reality that as many young people who have grown up in our churches – Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant – have decided to live together as those who have not grown up in the church.

As I was listening to the parents, I remembered another verse that King David wrote, asking God to forgive him the sins of his youth. (Psalm 25:7) I tried to encourage the parents that some of our young people will see that their ways are wrong, will ask forgiveness, and then walk on the right way.

Since I had a long connecting flight, I decided to read the Sunday’s New York Times.  As most people know, this magazine rarely presents conservative or biblical positions. Thus I was surprised when there was an article entitled “The Downside of Cohabiting before Marriage.”  This article demonstrates that the promise that living together before marriage gives young people a better chance to stay married is not scientifically based.

According to the article, women have different expectation for living together than men do which leads to many of them feeling used by their partners. Many of the couples living together do not get married. And of those who do that end up marrying, there is a greater percentage of divorce than of couples who do not live together and get married.


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Even though there is scientific proof that it is not working, the percentage of young people living together has increased by over 1500% within the last 10 years and the number of children born to single mothers has also drastically increased. Yet when one talks with the young people in the church, they think that they are pleasing God and those who do not attend church think that are kinder and more sensitive to their children than their parents were to them.

The author of the article was Meg Jay, who also wrote the book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now.  Yet as she comes to the end of the article, despite the amount of evidence, she cannot bring herself to say that living together before marriage is wrong. “I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake—or spending too much time on a mistake.”

As the intelligentsia of Rome and Greece accepted idols as real and authentic, so many people in our days accept wrong things as truthful because so many people are doing it. They are afraid to take a stand and say that these things are wrong.  Our Christian young people are caught up in this as well.

In listening to some of the parents, the catch all phrase from their children is, “Dad, Mom you just have to move with the times!”  But God does not change with the times. The same things that were considered sinful 2000 years ago are still considered sinful by God today.

In spite of how many people think that the wrong things are right, or how many people think that they best thing to do is to stay neutral, we still have to proclaim from our pulpits and Sunday School classes that the Word of God does not change, that our God is a holy God and that the God who condemned adultery and fornication in the Old Testament is condemning them still. God forgives; but God also wants his children, young and old, to live godly, not worldly, lives.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...