Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. 1 Thessalonians 4:7
KRISTIN SOUNDED feisty. “Some Christians make it sound like romance shouldn’t exist,” she fumed. “I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for six months. We’re staying pure physically, my parents love him and his parents love me, we try hard not to let our relationship get in the way of school or other friends, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to my spiritual life. I admit it: I’m ‘in love.’ How can that be such a horrible thing?”
Physical attraction and sexual desire between guys and girls are natural. It’s how God designed us. Solomon’s poem, Song of Songs, celebrates the physical delights of marriage. The love story of Jacob and Rachel also puts physical love in a positive light, even in a culture where marriages were usually arranged by parents: “Rachel was beautiful in every way, with a lovely face and shapely figure …. Jacob was in love with Rachel” (Genesis 29:17-18).
Proverbs 5:18-19 is blunt: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth…. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.” The writer of Hebrews declares, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (13:4, NIV). Make no mistake: In the Bible, falling in love, being in love, and enjoying the sexual dimension of love within marriage are gifts from God.
Physical love only becomes a problem when it is misused. Physical desire was designed to work best within God’s boundaries. Even though a dating couple feels a huge pull of physical attraction, sexual activity is meant to be saved until marriage. Desire for someone other than a person’s spouse must be turned away and not acted upon, and sex outside of marriage is sin (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
Here’s why: Physical attraction and sexual desire aren’t a sufficient foundation for a lasting, healthy relationship between a man and a woman. Sexual attraction can fade over time, and even the ability to perform sexually can quit because of illness or injury. A marriage dependent on erotic feelings and good sex is bound to fail. If a relationship is to succeed as a Christian marriage, it has to grow to include friendship and unselfish agape love.
“Hey, I’m not exactly thinking about marriage right now,” you might say. That’s fine. But if you’re relating to people of the opposite sex, the same principles apply. In fact, if you put agape into action in your guy-girl relationships now, you’ll be ready when marriage rockets to the top of your agenda.
REFLECT: When is romance wrong? When is it right?
PRAY: Tell God what you think of his gift of romance.