Young Persons' Interrelationships
These thoughts were put together by a few here, for a sister in another city who had asked some questions. Thought it might be helpful as we sort through this Life we are living! Consider it, too, from the perspective of young men, by substituting the gender... : ) —Mary
“Hi, we were hoping to get some advice, if at all possible, regarding our young teenaged daughter who has talked with us about some “romantic” thoughts she has been having. She has confessed to liking the attention boys give her and such. We have talked with her about talking with Jesus about it, and walking in the light with it when it happens. Because of it, we have been more careful about the circumstances she may find herself in.
One thing we have done, living between a bunch of neighborhood boys, is to consider the specific scenarios that may come up day to day, and avoid them! But we don’t want to just change her “external behavior.” We want to give her God’s way of thinking, so she can have her own convictions and be changed on the inside. We’ve seen too many teens her age be told what to do, squashed into a “religious” or “moral” mold and then when given the opportunity they throw themselves into the arms of the boys and the world and music or the peer pressures of “going along with the crowds,” or whatever the topic may be.
So our questions are, when our daughter walks in the light about struggling with romantic thoughts and unhealthy thoughts about boys, do we or should we have her tell us the details of those thoughts each time? Or would that only start those thoughts flowing more? We don’t want her to keep thinking about them...so would saying them specifically be the best way to put the thoughts to rest or help direct them? And as for her circumstances, how can we help her be different “on the inside” and not just be “told what to do”—changing for a time externally but then lusting after and falling prey to the junky stuff later on? Don’t know if this makes any sense, but if you have any thoughts, we would appreciate it. Thanks for any help in this area.”
Hi......First of all, Thanks for caring enough for your daughter to SEE and CARE for her in this whole area. So many people categorize the flirtatious, giddy, attention-craving phase that can happen between teens as “normal” and part of “sowing their wild oats” and “getting it out of their system.” However, that is NOT a part of God’s plan for his young people in the house of God. It sounds like you have already thought of a lot of this, but here are some things that you may just want to keep in mind as you continue to help her through this somewhat tough time in life. : )
Yes, DO Be Specific...
Yes, please make sure your daughter knows that if she is having a difficult time in this (or any) area, that she can talk with you or with someone who can help her get a proper perspective on things. Let her know that she can (and sometimes should) be specific about what’s going on inside. When we walk in the light as He is in the light, we experience real fellowship (instead of the fake, social thing) and we experience cleansing by God’s Spirit. A young woman with these questions, temptations and struggles is no exception to that. God will honor those who are honest and open about their sin, not hiding in shame or fearing “what others will think.” Being specific cleanses and strengthens you. Being super specific may not always be the best idea, but most of the time, being specific is a key that God gives to unlock a door that will show you who you are, as well as what He wants you to be. Ask general questions of her, perhaps, to get her talking, rather than, “Did you think this specific thing?”
Let her bring out what’s on her mind. Provide the opportunities for that. If you feel like you can’t see the way, look for someone who can. Encourage her to talk to Jesus about it and to others who know Him well. Let her know she should choose wisely who she talks to, and why (not just gossiping to “peers” because of being “more comfortable” in that conversation, or looking for reasons to validate her thoughts). But she mustn’t bury her thoughts and temptations because she’s ashamed or embarrassed or skip it because it’s “too personal” of a subject.
On how to keep it from being “conforming externally” but being “far from God” on the inside? Make them aware of God’s thoughts on the matter, not just giving them a new “moral code of conduct” or a new set of “rules for thinking” to live by. They need to see Jesus, the person, and that He has very real and pertinent thoughts about her situation!
The Yuckiness Of Worldly Thinking
Here’s some perspective on the subject as you sort it out with the precious young ladies....Beware of the world and the self-centered picture of everything it paints. The more intimate relationships are no exception. In the area of “romance”, dating, marriage, and “falling in love”, the world promises such happiness and fulfillment...you see it all over the t.v. and movies, books , magazines, glamour stories and such. The world’s picture of romance looks so rich and appealing, but its basis is shallow and elusive. People are drawn and driven by externals such as physical appearance, having “things” in common, how he/she makes me “feel”, my “needs”, my emotions, my lusts and the fantasy of “romantic moments”. The bait that lures is fleeting and only produces the ungodly babies of jealousy, envy, lust, idolatry, comparisons, immorality, possessiveness, disappointments, bitterness and factions.
Relationships and romance the way the world paints them may look so fulfilling and desirable, but when you arrive in that fleeting place (if you ever do at all) it’s gone and often the process itself wrecks people’s lives. Like tempting candy, that “sugary sweet” is quite appealing and enjoyable—for a time. However, if you tried to live on a diet of it, you would die. It does not have what a body needs to function properly. The candy may temporarily “fill” but in the end you will suffer greatly for it. Sin is like that. It doesn’t usually reveal itself as the gross, disgusting, twisted, maiming monster that it is. Sin lures us in with things that appeal to our flesh and then destroys us.
(James 1:14-16) “...but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.”
In most societies it’s nearly always been considered a worthy pursuit to desire a mate for different fleshly reasons, but it is deadly to our spiritual welfare. It is sin to pursue a mate because of his looks, his physique, his money or personality or position on the social ladder. It is sin to pursue men for the sake of getting attention and flattery. Males are not on the planet so women could get pumped up on a bunch of gunky emotions and so “I can have someone who would love me and give me all I ever wanted”. That ain’t it. Those motives will cut you off from the Life of Jesus. Basing relationships out of emotional appeal is sin—a kind of sensual indulgence.
Plant A Marital Garden On The Inside
In a desire to “find a mate” it is so important to keep our hands and hearts open for God to do as He wills and not grab on to anything else. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for disappointments and unfair expectations of others and of God. He can be trusted to give us all we need. He will point the way and open the doors in His time, and in His way. And you can bet it won’t unfold in the way the world deems “important.” In the meantime, a young lady can “seek first His Kingdom” by serving the saints in her life through acts of self-sacrifice and kindness and love. And on the inside, she can be planting a “marital garden” by prayerfully and quietly finding out what God wants for a woman of His and how to function. Not with a bunch of gabbing or being consumed by it, but with peace, quietness and a submissive attitude. There is plenty of work to be done on the inside, for any young woman who desires to be God’s kind of bride, pleasing to Him.
(1 Peter 3:3-4) “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
(1 Timothy 2:9-15) “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterwards he made Eve. And it was the woman, not Adam, who was deceived by Satan, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing and by continuing to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.”
(2 Tim 2:22) “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
(Col. 3:5) “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.”
(1 Thess. 4:3-8) “God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion as the pagans do, in their ignorance of God and his ways. God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
Don’t Spoil The Fun By Running Ahead
God knows our needs better than we know them ourselves. As a young woman, don’t get ahead of God and the Way He wants to do His business. Instead, be busy about the Work that God wants you to be focusing on. Enjoy being a young person, watch Him work, with patience and wonder. He knows what you need! There will be lots of springs and summers and autumns and winters to enjoy and live in. Don’t “spoil the fun” by chasing after the packages and gifts that aren’t yet ready to be opened!
Consider this picture...Imagine that a mother wants to do something very special for her daughter. She wants to give her a special treat out of her love and generosity. So she stashes her daughter’s favorite ice cream in the back of the freezer, waiting for that perfect moment to pull it out and surprise her. Finally, that perfect time arrives. You can imagine how eager the mom is to see the look on her daughter’s face. She goes to the freezer, and when she reaches for the ice cream, she finds it half eaten! The daughter helped herself to the ice cream! All of the anticipation and joy for the mom was stolen and ruined. And sadly, because the daughter helped herself, she missed out on receiving a gift of love. You see the point....when you run ahead and take something for yourself, you rob God of the wonderful gifts He wants to bless you with. And more importantly, you miss out on growing close to Him through trusting and worshipping Him, in patience and love.
So, if you find yourself “looking at the boys”, gravitating toward them, thinking about them, craving their attention, enjoying their attention, please STOP!! That is not God’s will for your life to have “goosebump mania” through the sensations of your flesh and emotions. If you find yourself distracted by the lust of your flesh and emotions, calm your soul. Our emotions and hormones and feelings need to be laid on the altar for His purposes, reined in and reserved for Him.
She Needs To Be Protected, And Within The Walls
The precious young ladies of God’s people, whether born again or not, are made for Jesus, not for the eyes and lusts of the world and its pagans. As young princesses growing older amongst God’s people, they need protection—from the world, from its cares and affairs, and from its deadly influences, not to mention the danger, crime, immorality and lust of a wicked and depraved generation. Our young princesses are vulnerable and need covering and nurturing in a special way. Her heartthrob needs to be that of a handmaiden, pursuing Jesus whole-heartedly. She can wash Jesus’ feet through the serving of the saints, through obedience to her parents, through loving authority and by being a bright spot to the people in her life, sowing good seeds generously, every day, towards Him and towards His people!! Learning to fall in love with all that He loves and hating all that He hates—falling in love with HIM, as her heart’s desire.
To be a woman of noble character is her aim—within the walls of God’s People, serving His house with diligence, kindness, industriousness and love. This description in Proverbs 31 is a picture of the life of a woman in the midst of Israel, a type of the church of Jesus, where all the people are bought by His blood. It is not in the context of the world that she pursues this picture that is described. A few snapshots from the proverb....
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life....She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for profitable trade; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy....She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions....Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”
And in Titus...
(Titus 2:4-5) “These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the Word of God.
Practical Problem Areas
Here are “problem areas” which will hinder a person from becoming that woman of noble character. You may want to look them over with your young lady.
1. Appearance—A lopsided, unhealthy value placed on one’s clothing, hairstyle, facial features, body parts. If you are overly concerned and preoccupied with “how you look”, you have a misplaced priority and possibly a misplaced affection. Are you...noticing how your clothes “feel” on you all the time? Lingering in the mirror examining your face? Comparing your body to someone else’s body? Pride in yourself or jealousy of others? Always thinking about what you’re going to wear? All of these things are telltale signs that you have a misplaced priority about your earth-suit that robs you of being beautiful where it counts—on the INSIDE! “It is not outward appearance that makes you beautiful, but the inner self.” Do you believe that—for REAL? If so, work hard to make yourself beautiful on the inside with good choices, a yielded heart and by rejecting the temptations to primp and gaze in the mirror and be overly concerned with clothing, makeup and hairstyles.
2. Clothing—If it is important to you that you have the latest trends and styles, you’ve got an idea that comes from worldly thinking. If anything, we want to steer away from the trends of the world! Not that we should stand out as being weird—we don’t want that either. But to mimic what “they” do with clothing, shoes, eyeglasses and other apparel is dangerous territory to tread on. Here, the important question is: why do you wear and buy what you do?? Because you “like it” may not be a good idea if it smacks of the world. Just because it is so plentiful on the racks doesn’t make it a good idea. Sometimes it requires very conscientious work and effort to find clothing for a young woman in the kingdom which covers and is appropriate. Not trendy yet not monastic. It is quite a balancing act sometimes, but don’t worry, we can figure it out together! The important thing is to approach the whole area with a very loose hold, learning to prefer what is becoming and proper for a disciple and laying down preferences for certain “cuts,” necklines, flimsy or clingy materials, tight clothing and the like (all of which you will want to get rid of as you see the importance of covering and guarding the “lines” and “shape” God has given you.) Your body doesn’t belong to you, but for another, in the future. And it doesn’t belong to the world for pagan men to gawk over! Keep it safe, okay?? Take special care.
3. Magazines, books, catalogs, movies, t.v.—What you allow to pass into your head through the media, and printed material is VERY important. It WILL eat you away on the inside to take in bad seed in these forms. Worldly novels, stories that emphasize “good looks”, romance, self-centered relationships, and other worldly values will only serve to make it a priority in your own life. If you look at teen magazines or tabloids, they are out-of-bounds for a disciple—utter trash. Not some legal thing to “not read magazines”—but just because there is NO value in them for anyone who wants to be more like Jesus. Many magazines emphasize and value everything you don’t want to become! Looks, makeup, weight and figure, dating, primping, social pursuits...all these things are the opposite of God’s desire for your life. It is the world’s way of “training” you. God wants your priorities to be HIS and so, the seeds to sow will best come from His Word in all its many forms, others’ godly influence, and turning away from worldly sources.
4) The opposite gender—Take special care, as a young person to not position yourself in tempting, tough situations. Going towards boys or standing in places and in ways where you’ll be noticed is not usually a good idea. Flirting and being “chatty” are bad news! The “dating game” of the world is OF THE WORLD! Don’t fall prey to its lure. “Dating” is, as one brother in California is prone to say, preparation for divorce, not preparation for marriage. It is WRONG building to participate in the “dating game” approach to “courting”. “Dating” cultivates a wrong sense of priorities and desires and habits, and introduces great dangers that never need be there for a young person, OR an older person.
There is a better way—a JESUS way—to meet and begin to know and find God’s Heart if He would have you have a marriage partner. “Make no provision for your flesh” by setting yourself up in bad situations, or closing your eyes when others are doing so! Better to “stick with the girls” (or, for the guys, stick with the guys) in a lot of cases, or with those who have a watch over your life. There is NO real reason for ever segregating by “age” or isolating in “opposite sex” private situations, anyway. NOT if we are trying to get to know JESUS and those that are His, and to hear His Voice, anyway. If we have other motives and mammal instincts we are pursuing, we’ll do it the way the world does it, without even questioning it. And we’ll let others “bully” us with, “Everyone ELSE is doing it! Don’t be such a shrew. You’re being overly protective. You’ll smother them. You have to let them expand themselves. You have to let them make their own decisions. Blah, blah, blackmail, accuse, insult, pressure to conform to the patterns of this world.” There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death, and 60% divorce rate in the “churches”. THERE IS A WAY THAT IS GOD’S for discovering if Father intends you to have a marital partner, and, if so, who that may be. And it is NOT “dating”.
Build Right In ALL Relationships!
Keep in mind too that the only good foundation for any relationship is to build because of what Jesus is currently doing—and NO other reason. If you choose and build because of external reasons or desires of your flesh, you will find yourself very empty, very frustrated and very alone. The only kind of relationship that brings Peace and Life and good fruit to you and those around you is to pursue people based on who they are in Jesus. It’s got to be a relationship that has Jesus and Truth as its total basis. The whole reason you are in it is because of Him and His House, and nothing else. Be attracted by what attracts Jesus. Be attracted by those who are serious about pleasing Jesus and who want to be changed into His likeness and who respond to the Word of God with obedience and respect.
Choosing your friends because of their age or social class or where they live or the kind of job they have or because they look pretty, or have a funny personality is building “after the flesh”. To “like” people because you have common interests or because they give you flattery and enjoy you so much, is self-centered reasoning and improper building for a disciple of Jesus. Let the measurement of the value of a relationship be how it is helping you grow in Jesus and how your relationship helps others grow in Him as well. A genuinely God-centered relationship with someone will ALWAYS benefit other people. It will NEVER, ever, ever be exclusive, revolving around two people only, sucking one another towards themselves. Ask Him to purify your motives and desires in the relationships He’s placed you in. Allow Him to fill you and reject finding fulfillment anywhere outside of His will for your life.
Remember that you will become like those you hang around. “Bad company corrupts good character.” Be careful who your closest friends are because you’ll become like them. Don’t spend your affection, desires, time and energy on those who value the world’s ways, affections and priorities. Steer clear of choosing and forming relationships based on worldy junk! Don’t be rude or unkind to those who are without Jesus or who are immature in their lives, but don’t desire affection from or buddy up to those people either. Pursue godly examples, and be a godly example.
To sum it up, followers of Jesus are bent on one thing and that is to love Him, to serve Him, and to adore Him only; to become increasingly buried and submersed in His Life and His thoughts and His priorities. Deeper and deeper into the Life of Jesus, to the Glory of the Father, through the leading of His Spirit. Now that’s a ROMANCE that is very worth pursuing!! It sounds good, doesn’t it? : )
If Father has Plans for you—to remain single, as He did His Son Jesus, and His servant Paul and many others, that is WONDERFUL also! Don’t be bullied! Don’t be afraid! Many pursue these things out of selfishness, or loneliness, or hormones, or pressures from peers or parents, or foolish thinking, or pride (not wanting to be labeled) or laziness (wanting someone to serve them and meet their needs), or desiring affection, or an undisciplined mind, or discouragement, or being unclear of their Mission in Life. WEAK! YUCK! Don’t be like this, like the animal kingdom, but “Be TRANSFIGURED by the renewing of your mind!”
And IF He desires marriage for you, in time? Don’t be afraid of that either! It is in the Father’s heart, you know, if HE has authored it as a Gift to you! The picture of a beautiful young woman preparing herself for her one and only, is a reflection of God’s desire for His betrothed! Looking with hope and perseverance to being prepared in heart and mind and character is God’s heart for His people, His Bride. The purity of love, a marriage, procreation, and the beauty of the “cord of three strands”—as well as the close quarters training ground in godliness and self-sacrifice, is in fact, buried deep in the Father’s Heart. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just that it is meant to be given by Him, not chased after by His children. He is the one who birthed the idea of a man’s deep love for others, and expressing that as a shadow of the Life and Love of Jesus. But it is HIS to Give and not ours to take or grab after, or to build as we choose. “Let the Bride and the Bridegroom come OUT of their chambers” and “seek FIRST the Kingdom”!! And your Heavenly Father, who knows...! Come, Lord Jesus, for Your Bride!