Cohabitation: Resources

This page provides a range of contemporary resources in relation to the ethics of non-marital cohabitation. They are best used alongside the resources on the theology and ethics of marriage. Most, but not all, of these are available online (some though requiring a subscription to be accessed).

Last Updated on 3 March, 2021 by Andrew Goddard

Contemporary Christian Discussions on Cohabitation



  • Another earlier book length study, more conservative, is Greg Forster, Cohabitation and Marriage: A Pastoral Response (Zondervan, 1994).  He also has a Grove booklet entitled Marriage before Marriage? The moral validity of ‘Common Law’ Marriage


  • Duncan Dormor, Just Cohabiting?: The Church, Sex and Getting Married. (DLT, 2004) offers a more popular and accessible study than Thatcher’s heavier book and also argues for a more positive Christian response. Much of the argument can be found in his October 2004 Conference Paper and his chapter (chpt 6) in Dormor, D et al (eds), Anglicanism: The Answer to Modernity (Continuum, 2003).

  • Christopher Ash, “What’s Wrong with Living Together Unmarried?”.  Fuller discussion in his Marriage: Sex in the Service of God in Chpt 11 (pp. 211-45) on marriage as “voluntary sexual and public social union” including discussion of cohabitation (especially pp. 222-6 and 232ff).



  • Richard M. Davidson the OT scholar whose work is referred to in the resources on marriage addresses questions relating to cohabitation in “Does Marriage Still Matter?


There is a range of older material which is still of interest including:


The main Church of England resources are:


For info on the situation in UK:

  • Rebecca Probert, author of major study, lectures on “The myths of history” (slides here)
  • The legal situation in relation to co-habitation and “common-law marriage” is helpfully summarised in a 2019 report here
  • The latest official statistics show a rise in numbers cohabiting – more details here.  A longer term perspective is given Anne Berrington and Juliet Stone in “Cohabitation trends and patterns in the UK” (2015).

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