Q: What can you say about separated people – not legally divorced or annuled – finding someone to love again. Is living together without marriage a sin? What can you say about this?
A: Thanks so much for your note to TruthBook. We are always happy to hear from both readers of The Urantia Book and those who have just come by as visitors. You don’t mention which you are, so I hope you’ll follow this link to The Urantia Book if you are not familiar with it. My reply will be based on those teachings.
You want to know whether partners in a failed or failing marriage can find love with another before their marriage is officially ended, and whether it is sinful for two people to live together without being married.
Before I give my answer, you should know that marriage is a subject that gets a lot of attention in The Urantia Book. Marriage is so vitally important because it is the basis for the creation of a home which is suitable for the rearing of children and the furthering of civilization: “the family is the master civilizer… ”
The function of marriage in evolution is the insurance of race survival, not merely the realization of personal happiness; self-maintenance and self-perpetuation are the real objects of the home. Self-gratification is incidental and not essential except as an incentive insuring sex association. Nature demands survival, but the arts of civilization continue to increase the pleasures of marriage and the satisfactions of family life. (68:2.9)
Many noble human impulses die because there is no one to hear their expression. Truly, it is not good for man to be alone. Some degree of recognition and a certain amount of appreciation are essential to the development of human character…Of all social relations calculated to develop character, the most effective and ideal is the affectionate and understanding friendship of man and woman in the mutual embrace of intelligent wedlock. Marriage, with its manifold relations, is best designed to draw forth those precious impulses and those higher motives which are indispensable to the development of a strong character (160:2.6)
The marriage institution has evolved over many, many centuries. It is a human development that insures the existence of a stable home and family life for the children, and in that respect, it has been the very best thing to happen in order for civilization to progress in a safe and nurturing atmosphere.
Having said that, you should know that marriage is not necessarily a divinely sacred institution, in spite of what some religious philosophies may teach:
83:8.2 The likening of human associations to divine associations is most unfortunate. The union of husband and wife in the marriage-home relationship is a material function of the mortals of the evolutionary worlds. True, indeed, much spiritual progress may accrue consequent upon the sincere human efforts of husband and wife to progress, but this does not mean that marriage is necessarily sacred. Spiritual progress is attendant upon sincere application to other avenues of human endeavor.
It is easy to see this truth demonstrated on our planet, as there is a failure rate of about 50% in America, and even higher percentages in some other countries…if marriages really are “made in heaven,” I suspect the success rate would be far higher; however, the ideal marriage IS humanly sacred…
83:8.5 Nevertheless, there is an ideal of marriage on the spheres on high. On the capital of each local system the Material Sons and Daughters of God do portray the height of the ideals of the union of man and woman in the bonds of marriage and for the purpose of procreating and rearing offspring. After all, the ideal mortal marriage is humanly sacred.
And so, anything having to do with either the creation of, or the dissolution of a marriage should receive proper attention and respect.
When a marriage fails—for whatever reason—the most important consideration for the partners of that marriage should be the fate and welfare of the children. Their safety, progress, and stability should be the highest priority.
If a marriage is in the process of dissolving, it might be tempting to find another partner and start over even before the divorce is final; however, this may not be the best thing to do. I would suspect that a lot depends upon the attitudes of both parties. Every situation is different, but oftentimes there are hard feelings on one or both sides, and even though one may be divorcing, it is good to remember that this soon-to-be-divorced partner was once a great love. It seems only common courtesy to be discrete and considerate in this period of transition—and this is true even moreso if there are children involved… In addition, trying to recreate a love relationship with another too soon, before one has reconciled the causes of the failure of the present marriage—may be a recipe for another failure. Divorce is one of those life-changing events that require a good deal of adjustment and reflection. One may need to take some personal time before plunging into a new situation.
As to whether living together without the benefit of marriage is sinful, this is something about which I cannot presume to make a judgment. Sin, as defined in The Urantia Book, is
“…deliberate disloyalty to Deity. There are degrees of disloyalty: the partial loyalty of indecision; the blockquoteided loyalty of confliction; the dying loyalty of indifference; and the death of loyalty exhibited in devotion to godless ideals.”
This is something that only the individual can discern for him or herself. This situation might fall under the category of the “mores,” which are simply customary and accepted ways of doing things. But again, common sense—and moral sensibility—should color all such decisions.
The most important component of any marriage is the family aspect—the existence and welfare of children should be the main determiner in weighing the morality of both dating another while still married, and living together when not married. If there are no children, then the decisions become somewhat easier, but again, practicing the “golden rule” is always the right thing to do in all relationship with another. Never treat another in a way that you would not want to be treated yourself—even if that other is an estranged partner.
I hope that this reply is helpful to you today and I hope you’ll want to explore the subject of marriage a little deeper. As I said, it is a subject that gets a lot of attention in The Urantia Book. I am giving you a link HERE for our topical study on Marriage.
Thanks again for writing to us with this question. Best wishes, and please feel free to write back anytime!