Relationship in the context of this seminar does not refer to “the way in which two or more people are related by birth, adoption, or marriage, or the fact of being related by birth, adoption, or marriage”. Rather it is “the connection between two or more people or groups and their involvement with one another, especially as regards the way they behave toward and feel about one another”. It also includes “emotionally close friendship, especially one involving sexual activity” (Encarta Dictionaries, 2009).
What makes relationship acceptable or not acceptable is the way those involved “behave and feel one to another” (Prov.18.24).
Unacceptable relationships and Consequences
The Word of God condemns any form of intimate relationship between a believer and unbeliever because of the unwholesome fruit it must always yield (2Cor. 6.14-18; 1Cor.15.33; Psalm 1.1). Even among blood relatives, the Lord cautions against any close emotional involvement between the believer and unbeliever that will breed sinful compromise (Math.10.37; 1Sam.2.29-31; Lev.10.1-6). Whether between believers, or believer and unbeliever, the Lord abhors intimacy between opposite sexes that are not legitimately married because it will breed corrupted emotions and acts that defile His temple (Prov. 7.6-27; Prov. 6.23-33; Prov. 5.1-14; Gen.34.1-3, 31; 2Sam.13.1-20. Also see Rom. 13.14; James 1.14-15; Matt.5.28; Job 31.1; 1Pet.2.11).
However, in the ‘modern’ world today (and in the ‘modern’ Church too) – especially among youth, it is common to find all shades of secrete and open relationships between opposite sexes, and even same sexes, the end of which do not glorify the Lord. Some say ‘we are in a relationship’, ‘he/she is my boy/girlfriend’ or ‘we are dating’. Others say ‘we go out together’, ‘we are just friends” or ‘he/she is my partner’. Yet others say ‘we are courting’ or ‘he/she is my fiancé/fiancée’. Some hide under the cover of ‘he/she is my relative- uncle, cousin, etc.’, ‘he/she is our family friend’, ‘we are from the same place’ or ‘he/she is my reading/praying partner, etc.’ In the social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.) and some websites; in the TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, novels, films, the GSM service, music, comedy, and advertisements generally; even informal educational curricula; programs, packages, shows, events, columns are designed to encourage all sorts of relationships with little or no reservations for godliness (1Jon.5.19; Matt.24.12; Psalm 82.5; Isa.5.20).
Youths who follow this trend, whether they are believers or unbelievers, soon lose their moral sensibilities and restraints, yielding themselves to pervasions including immoral thinking and imagination, lusting, nudity, seduction, flirting, pornography, masturbation, various forms of phone sex, paedophilia, fornication, prostitution, incest, lesbianism, homosexuality, bestiality, adultery, cohabitation, unwholesome marriages and divorce (1Cor. 3.16-17; 6.18-20; Rom.12.1-2. Also see Rom.1.24-32; Lev.18.1-30).
The Word of God is clear on the way of life a believer in the Lord Jesus, including the type of relationship he/she must keep. His/her life is based on heavenly values rather than on the trend of the world (Phil. 3.20; Col.3.1-2). He is not to be carnally minded nor sow to the flesh (Rom.8.5-7; Gal.6.6-8) but cut off from anyone/thing that will lead him to sin (Math.5.28-30). He must abstain from all appearance of evil (1Thes. 5.22) and hate even the garment spotted by the flesh thereby making a difference (Jud.1.21-23). In contact with unbelievers around him/her, his/her life is to be a practical demonstration of the righteous Gospel of Christ to them (1Pet.2.12; Math.5.13-16). In relation to fellow believers, he/she must not be a stumbling block but rather an example for them to follow (1Tim.4.12; 1Thes.2.10). He/she is to owe no man anything but (that is, have nothing to do with any man, believer or unbeliever, that is not based on) the pure love of God (Rom. 13.8-10; Rom.12.9-10; 1Pet.1.22; 1Jon.2.5, 15).
Relationships and Marriage
Beside immediate sensual satisfaction, many youths indulge in immoral relationships with the aim of finding a life partner (a wife or husband). But this is sheer mark of ignorance of God’s purpose for their lives and His way of doing things (Isa. 55.8; 2Tim. 2.19; Math. 22.29). When marriage is contrived through sinful relationship or process, it is likened to one laying the foundation of his/her home and future on quick, shifting sand (Math. 7.26-27). This is the major reason for the woes that attend marriages today (Prov.5.6; Prov.30.18-20; Prov.31.30; Isa.57.20-22).