Majority of Americans OK With Cohabitation, Barna Study Finds


A recent nationwide study shows that a majority of Americans now believe that cohabitation between unmarried adults is perfectly acceptable.

After asking Americans from coast to coast what they thought about the pros, cons, motivations and effects of people living together before marriage, the Barna Group revealed that its findings indicate people have shifted away from biblical morality when it comes to intimate relationships.

Gravitation toward cohabitation

“Cohabitation is the new norm,” Barna reports. “Shifting gender roles and expectations, the delay of marriage and a secularizing culture are leading more American adults to believe that moving in together before tying the knot is a good idea.”

Despite a majority of Americans believing that living together before marriage is not wrong, many still adhere to Christian ethics when it comes to living arrangements.

“Though its acceptance is widespread in American culture, there are still large pockets of resistance to this changing ethic among religious communities and those who adhere to more traditional values and premarital expectations,” those conducting the study revealed.

However, numbers show that that approximately two out of three American adults give cohabitation a thumbs-up.

“Two thirds of adults (65 percent) either strongly or somewhat agree that it’s a good idea to live with one’s significant other before getting married, compared to one-third (35 percent) who either strongly or somewhat disagree,” researchers divulged.

But those strictly adhering to religious beliefs saw things a bit differently concerning cohabitation.

“Most Christian teaching on pre-marital relationships encourages abstinence and other boundaries that tend to exclude cohabitation, and the data reflects these beliefs,” Barna explained. “Practicing Christians [those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their lives and self-identify as a Christian] (41 percent) are highly unlikely to believe cohabitation is a good idea, and the stark contrast with those who identify as having no faith [including agnostics and atheists] (88 percent) further demonstrates the acute impact of religious belief on views regarding cohabitation.”

Disagreements over the issue — due to generational and ideological differences — were also noted in the study. It was observed that Millennials — born between 1984 and 2002 — are maturing into adults as the American culture continues to become more secularized concerning gender norms, marriage expectations and career trajectories.

“It is no surprise that Millennials (72 percent) are twice as likely as Elders [born in 1945 or earlier] (36 percent) to believe cohabitation is a good idea,” the study found. “These divides are equally as stark when looking at the conservative/liberal divide. Liberals, with a more progressive ideology, are more than twice as likely as conservatives, who value a more traditional view, to believe cohabitation is a good idea.”

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Michael F. Haverluck

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