Department

Seminary

Degree

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Chair

Vernon M Whaley

Primary Subject Area

Sociology, Individual and Family Studies; Sociology, General; Religion, General; Religion, Biblical Studies

Keywords

cohabitants, cohabitational relationships, common law living, partnering, precursor to marriage, shacking up

Disciplines

Biblical Studies | Christianity | Ethics in Religion | Family, Life Course, and Society | Practical Theology | Religion | Sociology

Abstract

Cohabitational relationships are a firmly entrenched and social phenomenon in Trinidad and Tobago and have become of great concern to pastors since an increasing number of cohabiting couples, or at least one party in the relationship, regularly visit church services and, in some cases, express their desire to enjoy the full benefits of membership. This dissertation critically examines the causative factors of cohabitational relationships, provides effective counseling strategies, and recommends approaches based on sound Biblical exegesis. The research requirements are satisfied through extensive study of pertinent literature, surveys conducted locally, and a case study of the New Testament Church of God. This research confirmed the need for education in counseling cohabiting couples, developing a practical model to guide pastors, and helping said couples transition to full marital status. It is concluded from this research that churches generally take the traditional judgmental approach in dealing with cohabitational relationships and consequently lose great evangelistic opportunities. The argument proposed, therefore, is that of an urgent need for a Christ-centered model that patiently and faithfully works with cohabiting couples with the goal of leading them to Christ, encouraging them to become married, and building strong families.