On two occasions during the last year I have been asked this precise question.
Time was when nobody even considered this matter of too much importance. Many normal, non-homosexual, men simply chose to live with a close friend at certain stages during their lives; it was rarely a life-long thing though the friendship might have been enduring. But that is all it was: a strong, abiding, friendship.
Maybe there was no woman in the lives of such men for a period of time, or maybe there were several women but neither man desired marriage. This was really not that unusual. Indeed, such men (or women) often even referred to their friendship as a "parternership" and even shared the same bed (after all, do not two brothers or two sisters sometimes share the same bed? So why not close friends?) Today, however, times have greatly changed. Nowadays any same sex couple choosing to live together, and especially referring to their friendship as a 'partnership' (to say nothing of sharing a bed!) would be assumed to be homosexual. Yet in times gone by, I can think of several people in this category (choosing to live with a member of their own sex) who were certainly not homosexual nor even ever suspected of being such! They had decided, perhaps, that marriage was not for them but did not see this as a reason to be lonely.
I actually think that today it is very, very sad that such couples who might choose to live together would now probably be regarded as quite possibly homosexual. Indeed, in the face of the likely prejudice, it has now become quite a rare practice.
It is, of course, the aggressive 'gay coming out movement' of the last ten to twenty years which has led to this state of affairs. As I recall writing elsewhere, there were always a very few homosexual men and women in society but the older sort of homosexual seemed to know that they were sinners in the sight of God and did not attempt to influence others to the point of view that homosexuality was 'an acceptable alternative life-style' (indeed, they often did not believe this themselves), they did not petition for 'equal rights' with married couples, neither did they petition for the right to place thousands of depraved leaflets in public places! They kept a very low profile, seemed able to find long-term partners of the same tendency and, overall, probably did very little damage to anybody. Alas, times have greatly changed!
It is as a result of the aggression of the newer sort of homosexual, that a kind of 'homo-phobia' has developed in which two same-sex people living together are now immediately viewed with suspicion. Some have even claimed that homosexuals amount to 10% of the population (plainly ludicrous: more seasoned and unbiased experts put the figure at between 1% and 2%), and all of these things (including the recent lamentable tendency for revisionist historians to scan history and label almost anybody who never had a happy marriage as "probably homosexual") have amounted to a sort of super-sensitivity on this topic.
It is for these reasons that two Christians during the last year (both older men who simply choose to live together but are not homosexual) have asked me about this. They are starting to be viewed with suspicion even by fellow-Christians in their church congregations! In one of these cases, a deacon took one of these individuals aside and quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:22,
'Abstain from every form of evil.'
It is a little debatable that this Scripture is fully applicable here and very likely the deacon had in mind the old King James version of this verse, which states,
'Abstain from all appearance of evil.'
But the point he was making is the perfectly valid one that Christians must ensure that their standards are markedly different to those of this morally degenerate society in which we live. Christians should not unwisely cause the Gospel to be badly spoken of by unwise behaviour or actions (although we truthfully all fall short on many occasions); we should be utterly discrete not to even give an improper impression. But having said all of that, we can take this approach much too far. I am not sure that this is a sufficient reason for two perfectly normal men (on this occasion one being a divorcee and the other a widower) not to live together under one roof if they are happy and contented to do so.
So my advice would be, don't be naive about this. In this day many may assume homosexuality, but we can never entirely fashion our lives so that we appear as perfect moral specimens to everybody at all times, and I think we can take such concerns too far. Some same-sex couples who live together may find that they would be more comfortable living separately because of the possible wagging tongues of gossipers, but others - with an entirely clear conscience - will not be disturbed by what a few may say. But why not turn this whole thing around and show others that it is a perfectly fine and decent thing for such people to live together. Such people could show in all manner of other ways that they are quite normal, that they have a healthy interest in women (or men in the case of ladies), that they are outgoing, caring and masculine (womanly in the case of ladies, of course) and reliable and caring members of the community.
Robin A. Brace