Who can deny that we live in an overly sensuous culture? The popular media have done a very effective job of awakening sensuality even in children. I’ve seen G-rated, family movies where pre-teens shared mouth-to-mouth romantic kisses. Such displays are the natural and normal course that romance takes, but are these actions appropriate for that stage in life? Where can a romantic relationship go at the age of 12 or even 16? The awakening of romance at this age is often a futile road that can lead more to lingering pain than to long-term pleasure.
Let’s look at a few warnings in the Song of Solomon and examine some reasons why teens need their parents to help them cautiously guard their hearts, not only their physical purity.
“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the swift gazelles and the deer of the wild, not to awaken love until the time is right.” (NLT) Song of Solomon 2:7
“Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe and you’re ready.” (Message Bible)
“… do not stir up love until the appropriate time.” (Holman Christian Standard)
After studying these verses and several others from the Song of Solomon, (3:5, 8:4)
a common theme stands out – beware of awakening romantic love before it is time.
Romantic awakenings lead to thoughts, accompanied by feelings that lead to actions.
It is God’s wonderful plan for romantic love. However, if these awakenings happen during a season when they can’t be righteously fulfilled, they often lead down a path of hurt and regret, not only a loss of virginity.
What are some of the dangers of awakening passions before the time is right?
No matter how passionately a teen wants to serve God, crushes can happen. Attraction is a normal and healthy gift from God; however, dealing with those feelings, while trying to stay emotionally and physically pure can be a challenge. The teen needs a parent to help stay accountable, to help deal with feelings and to be encouraged that with God’s help he can stay pure.
I’ve seen girls try to help their girlfriends get their focus off of a guy only to find themselves having a crush on the very same guy. This doesn’t just happen with girls; it also happens with guys. What about friends who find themselves liking the same guy or girl? What about guys or girls who are attracted to more than one girl or guy at the same time? I’ve seen examples of all these happen and harm good relationships.
In a teen’s life, these are not laughing matters. Serious hurts and wrong patterns of relationships can hurt young hearts. Seeds of unforgiveness and jealousy can hound a young person for years.
A guy and girl in the same youth group or Bible study may grow to be very close friends. That is a natural product of sharing the same values, pursuits and goals. However, sometimes that friendship goes in the direction of romance before the couple is in a season of life where they can follow through with a serious commitment. Moving back into the direction of friendship is sometimes tough and even hurtful as one or the other teen begins to back off the intensity.
Another danger of early romantic awakenings is that they can become a stumbling block to a young person’s passionate pursuit of God.
In the years I have worked with youth, many young adults have told me how they wished they had spent their teen years more effectively seeking God and serving Him without these distractions and the pain of broken hearts. Many young people look back and grieve about the time they wasted and how some of their plans to pursue their life goals went by the wayside. We need to think about how we can help the next generation to awaken to God, before they awaken to untimely romantic passions that sometimes serve only as decoys to God’s best plans.
Teenagers who passionately want to pursue God will need a lot of help navigating through our highly sensuous culture that screams romance and even lust through every medium of sight and sound. The greatest support they need is someone who will gently help them steer away from romantic distractions and back to using their time and energy preparing and pursuing their life goals until the time they can pursue a relationship. Without teasing or scolding, parents should be the ones offering this kind of graceful support and guidance. How can we do that?