We’re doing a series on dating and relationships. Join the conversation! Are there any specific topics you’d like us to write about? (This article was originally written in November of 2015 for Project Inspired, a website that encourages Christian teenage girls all over the world. Thank you for reading!)
Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. (Song of Solomon 8:4)
Simply reading through the Songs of Solomon might get your palms sweaty, as it’s one of the most racy books in the Word. It’s a preview into the account of lovers, but with its message are several warnings. It’s important not to get caught up in the race to third base because you can miss out on the true importance of romantic and platonic relationships.
The above scripture is mentioned more than once—three times, to be exact—in the same book. It must be important, right? Why is it that there is such a plea to keep love dormant until the right time?
If you’ve ever been in love before, you can attest to the sexual desires that come with it. If you’ve got a pulse, I’m 99 percent sure that you’ve dealt with the temptations of lust. However, love and lust are not one and the same. I hope to help you determine which is which in this simple breakdown of one versus the other.
Here are a few telltale signs you might be in love…
- You envision a future with him. Being in love with someone will make your heart flutter, but he should also be someone you want to build a life with. You don’t necessarily have to want three kids and a white picket fence, but when you’re in love, you won’t be able to imagine a future without him in it.
- You fantasize about the qualities he has and how he can add to the relationship. Your partner will not complete you, as you both should be whole and unbroken individuals when you meet, but his character should compliment yours. For example, you may be on the shy side, but his open personality helps you to get out of your shell. Most importantly, your gifts in Christ should drive each other closer to the Lord. He might be an award-winning intercessory prayer warrior (I’m aware that’s not a thing), but you can see how you would be able to help with his understanding of the Bible.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
- You have many things in common. Besides being head over heels, you enjoy his company as you would a best friend. This doesn’t mean dating your personality twin. Sometimes being in love may look like hitting the road while listening to pop music on your way to your favorite sushi spot. (I know, that was very specific.) The key is truly enjoying his company. This should be a relationship you feel very comfortable in, where you have mutual respect for each other.
Here are some red flags that it could be lust…
- You’re with him for immediate gratification. If you’ve chosen this person mainly because he is available for hookups, then you’re both using each other and not being emotionally filled up the way you should be. We live in a throwaway culture that gets rid of clothing, cars and relationships because they don’t excite us or don’t fit our needs anymore. Relationships take work, effort and maintenance as you lay a proper foundation. Anything other than that is not a responsible use of your time and energy, and most likely it’s taking away from your pursuit to honor Christ.
- You fantasize about your sexual desires with this person. I think we’ve all been there. The guy at work with the wavy hair and charming smile can become the center of your daydreams. To be in lust, you don’t have to act on it in order for it to take up residence in your heart. Be careful what and who you meditate on. If God wouldn’t be pleased with your thoughts, be proactive about praying them away.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
- You don’t have much in common besides your off-the-charts chemistry. As much as the guy you’re wild about may think you’re the most gorgeous being who ever walked this planet, that’s not enough to build a lasting relationship. Over time, your taste may change and you both will be looking for the next thing that catches your eye. Common interests are important because when his eyes are not so sparkly, you’ll still have a blast going to your favorite karaoke place with him.