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Understanding True Love series
A good self-test on the meaning of real love.
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Lesson 11: Love is more than a Beautiful Feeling
Test yourself! Mark each statement “True” or “False.” Then check your answers by reading the lesson.
T F 1. A girl “owes” a fellow something for a wonderful evening.
T F 2. Necking and petting are okay as long as it does not go any further.
T F 3. The time to decide how you will handle a problem is when the problem comes up.
T F 4. Christian teenagers do not have the same temptations as other teens.
T F 5. Love at first sight is usually true love.
T F 6. If you have strong feelings of love for someone, you will always have these feelings.
T F 7. Saying “Yes” to a fellow and having sex with him will cause him to love and appreciate you more.
T F 8. It is not wrong to have sex with someone if you love each other and have a meaningful relationship.
T F 9. A good sex life is all that is needed for a happy marriage.
T F 10. It is easy to distinguish between infatuation and true love.
1. A girl “owes” a guy something for a wonderful evening.
FALSE! A date is time spent together to enjoy each other’s company. It is customary for the guy to take care of the expenses involved, but this does not entitle him to any special favors. Any fellow who spends a few dollars on a girl and then spends the rest of the evening trying to “collect” for it, is a cheapskate. If a girl enjoys the evening and wishes to express her appreciation, she can do so in two simple statements: “Thank you. I had a wonderful time.”
2. Necking and petting are okay as long as it does not go any further.
FALSE! Necking and petting are dangerous because they excite you sexually and lead you to do things you never intended. Like marijuana, they lead to stronger stuff.
3. The time to decide how you will handle a problem is when the problem comes up.
FALSE! Guys and girls need to determine beforehand what their standards are and then stick with them. You should set your standards by what God’s Word says, not by what other people are doing. Determine ahead of time that you will keep yourself pure for the one you hope to marry some day.
4. Christian teenagers do not have the same temptations that other teens have.
FALSE! Christian teenagers get the idea that they are immune to the problems that other young people experience. But they have the same sex drive that others have. They face the same temptations that others face. And when they fall into sin, they, too, have to suffer the consequences. Here is what one girl wrote to the editor of a youth magazine:
“In our church youth group I was supposed to be a committed Christian girl. Unfortunately, giving in to temptation changed my whole life.
“I guess I just had to learn the hard way…Maybe this could help some other young person faced with the same problem.
“Next week I will move to an unwed mothers’ home to spend the last month of my pregnancy and await the arrival of a baby I can never keep. If I had known all this would come from having a few minutes of physical ‘love,’ I would never have done it.
“I can say to teens anywhere, Christian or non-Christian, keep your virginity. Getting pregnant is like being in a prison—you are not free to date and have fun like others around you. When you see the harm you have caused your parents as well as yourself, you want to cry yourself to sleep every night.
“When I go to the clinic, I see these girls who already live at ‘the home.’ I see the hurt in their eyes they cannot hide. After this is over, I want to go to college and later marry, but I am sure I can never forget this baby.
“What does it do to a guy? I’ve seen him hurt, too. He can’t go out but one night a week and he has to pay all my expenses. It has put an extra burden on him and his parents. It isn’t any fun for either side.
“It takes from six months to a year completely out of your life and you just exist in your own little corner. You wish time and time again that you could live that day over—but you cannot and now you face the consequences. You live with a little human being growing inside you for nine long months, then have to give the baby up because you cannot take care of it.
“It does happen to Christian teens and God will not take that baby out of you because you say you are sorry. It is a problem you must face and pay for, even though God is in your heart.
“Maybe this letter will keep some other Christian teens from giving in to temptation when their emotions get high…
“I hope I have learned my lesson. I was one of the teens who said, ‘It can’t happen to me,’ and I also criticized others who got in that kind of trouble. I only hope to get my life back on track again.”
5. Love at first sight is usually true love.
FALSE! You cannot possibly love a person at first sight. How can you know someone at first sight? You may be attracted to a person at first sight. Your heart may skip a few beats, but that is not real love.
Many of the wrong ideas concerning love come from popular songs. One song says, “I woke up in love today ‘cause I went to sleep with you on my mind.” Another says, “Before the dance was through, I knew I was in love with you.” Still another song says, “I didn’t know what to do, so I whispered, ‘I love you.’”
These song writers are using the word “love,” but they are not talking about real love. What they are talking about is the feeling of romantic infatuation. Romantic feelings can be generated very quickly, but such feelings are not genuine love.
6. If you have strong feelings for someone, you will always have these feelings.
FALSE! Feelings are never permanent. Emotions or feelings swing from high to low and back to high in cycles. When you are on a “high,” you feel like you are on top of the world. A few days later, for no apparent reason, you may be in a “low.” Before long, your feelings change again, and things look bright once more.
Romantic feelings follow highs and lows. Even when a man and woman love each other deeply, the feelings of love vary. At times they are supercharged in their romantic feelings toward each other. At other times the romantic feelings may not be there. But this does not affect real love. Real love is based on commitment, not feelings.
An actress was asked why she had been married seven times. She replied, “You fall into love, but you also fall out of love. When you fall out of love, it is better to change partners and remain friends than to stay together and grow to hate each other.”
Real love does not act like this. You do not fall in and out of real love. Real love is a lifetime commitment.
7. Saying “yes” to a guy and having sex with him will cause him to love and appreciate you more.
FALSE! A guy may seem to love and appreciate you for the moment because you are satisfying his sexual desires. But that is not real love and it will not last. The following letter illustrates this point:
“I went steady for seven months with a guy I thought was the most wonderful person in the whole world. I thought I’d always stay decent. After a while we weren’t satisfied with just kissing.
“He asked me to prove my love. I thought as long as we planned to be married in a few years, what would it matter?
“I gave in to him, and I found out it mattered a lot. He lost all respect for me. He started going with other girls. He even talked about me to the other guys.
“Please print this for all the girls to see. Maybe it will help someone who is tempted to prove her love like I did.”
8. It is not wrong to have sex with someone if you love each other and have a meaningful relationship.
FALSE! Many young people accept this idea, but God says that sex outside of marriage is wrong. In fact, the Bible says that fornication is one of the most damaging sins a person can commit. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9,18.)
Sex is a wonderful gift from a loving God, but it is for the marriage relationship. God gives us rules concerning sex, not to keep us from enjoying it, but in order that we might enjoy it to the fullest and over the longest period of time.
9. A good sex life is all that is needed for a happy marriage.
FALSE! It takes more than a good sex life to make a happy marriage. There are 168 hours in every week. The total time spent in having sex for the average married couple amounts to less than thirty minutes a week. If you marry for sex, what will you do the rest of the time?
If you want a happy, successful marriage, look for a life partner, not just a sex partner. You need friendship love as well as sexual love. You need to like and respect each other as well as love each other.
10. It is easy to distinguish between infatuation and real love.
FALSE! It is NOT easy to distinguish between infatuation and real love. Most young people in this country grow up believing “The Wonderful Romantic Myth.” It goes like this:
She was a beautiful girl, though a bit shy. She was kind and sweet and unselfish. She had always stayed near home, helping with the housework, learning to cook and to sew, and always obeying her mother.
He was tall and handsome, with laughing eyes and the build of a star athlete. Girls were attracted to him, but he never seemed to take much interest in them. He was waiting for that one and only girl who was just right for him.
Then it happened! Though they had never seen each other before, it was love at first sight! The minute they met, they just knew that they were made for each other.
It was a whirlwind romance! Everyone commented on what a good-looking couple they were. In four short weeks they were married, and they lived happily ever after.
This is a beautiful story, but there is one thing wrong with it—it is not true. It is a myth—a make-believe story which we hear over and over until we think it is true.
Did you notice the last phrase in the above story? It was this: “And they lived happily ever after.” That is the way all fairy tales end, but life is not a fairy tale.
Real life is working hard day after day, paying bills, cooking meals, washing dirty clothes, changing diapers, getting up all hours of the night with a sick baby, and a multitude of other unromantic things.
How can I Get Him to Notice Me?
Elisabeth Elliot says that she is often asked the question, “What can I do to get him to notice me?” Note carefully the advice she gives.
My answer is, “Nothing.” That is, nothing toward the man.
Don’t call him. Don’t write a little note with a smiley face or a flower or a fish under the signature and put it in his mailbox. Don’t sneak up to him in the hall and gasp, “I’ve just got to talk to you!” Don’t look pitiful, don’t ignore him, don’t pursue him, don’t do him favors, don’t talk about him to nine carefully selected listeners.
There is one thing you can do: Turn the whole business over to God. If he’s the man God has for you, “...no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
Direct your energies to obedience, not to nailing the man. God has His own methods of getting the two of you together. He doesn’t need any help or advice from you.
Infatuation is based on romantic feelings
Infatuations start fast. A fellow may be attracted to a girl, so he smiles warmly at her. She gets the message and responds. The thought of being attractive to the other person builds romantic excitement. Before long, each is saying, “What is happening to me? I’ve never felt like this before. It must be love. I think I have found the perfect person for me at last!”
Such a person has not fallen in love with the other person—he has fallen in love with love! It is a wonderful feeling, to be sure, but it is all wrapped up in the person himself—“I have never felt like this before…I must be in love…I think I have found the perfect person for me.”
That wonderful feeling of being in love is NEVER a permanent condition. It is a feeling and feelings go up and down. You may be on the mountain top with a wonderful feeling, but if you expect to live there the rest of your life, you are in for a big disappointment. That feeling of romantic excitement will not remain constant. Emotions swing from high to low and from low to high in cycles.
There are two serious mistakes that people can make when they are infatuated:
They may become involved sexually. This can cause a great deal of heartache, not only for the couple, but for their families as well.
They may rush into marriage. Far too often a couple will marry before they have had time to determine if their romance is real love or infatuation.
If it is infatuation and they do get married, they will wake up one morning without those wonderful romantic feelings. They conclude that they no longer love each other. The fact is that they never had real love in the first place. They were simply fooled by all the wonderful feelings that go with infatuation.
Real love is more than a beautiful feeling
Real love is more than a beautiful feeling—it is a commitment. A commitment is a choice which is backed up by actions. The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives.” It doesn’t command a husband to have romantic feelings toward his wife. It commands him to love her.
When you marry, you make a commitment to love your life partner. You are to keep a commitment, whether you feel like it or not. In real love, the husband loves his wife, regardless of his feelings. He loves her, regardless of whether or not she is particularly lovable at the moment. The same is true for the wife.
There will be plenty of mornings when they will wake up with no romantic feelings, but they will not head for the divorce court. They are secure in their love for each other, regardless of the presence or absence of romantic feelings.
The amazing thing is that when a husband and wife are faithful to keep their commitment to love one another, the feelings of romantic love are never far away. Your feelings will follow the choice of your will. That is why it is so important to stick with your commitment and back it up with actions.
The test of time
The best test as to whether your “romance” is real love or infatuation is the test of time. Infatuations usually start fast and there are many “highs” and “lows” in the relationship. It is like a rollercoaster ride—it is great while it lasts, but it soon comes to an end.
Real love, on the other hand, starts slowly. Usually it is just a friendship at first. But the friendship grows, and one day you discover another element in the friendship—the element of romantic love. You realize that your hearts have grown together.
Real love will grow with the passing of time, but infatuation will fade. For this reason, time is your best friend in determining if your “romance” is real love or just a passing infatuation. Generally speaking, couples should know each other well for at least two years before getting married.
Expect romance ... and be patient
Sooner or later almost everyone is involved in a romantic experience. If romance has not reached you, just be patient. If it is God’s will for you to be married, your time will surely come.
Remember, there are two big mistakes that your strong romantic feelings can lead you into. They can lead you into sexual involvement which will mess up your life and greatly reduce your chances of having a happy marriage. Or those romantic feelings can lead you to rush into an early, premature marriage that you will regret the rest of your life.
Do not make either of these mistakes. Guard your affections! Wait for the right person, the right circumstances, and the right time.
17 and pregnant
No easy answer
by Penny Mathewson
“How can you know someone for an entire year and never really know them?” I asked myself that question as I looked at my boyfriend.
He just stared at me, his eyes void of any emotion. “How can you look at me like that?” I cried. “As though I were a total stranger! Don’t you care? Don’t you care that I’m breaking apart?” He looked at me for a long time, then said quietly, “I guess I just don’t feel anything anymore.”
I had to ask the next question, though in my heart I already knew the answer. Still, I had to hear him say it, or I would keep living my life with the hope of an empty dream. “Do you still love me?” He just looked at me with no expression and said, “No.” Then he walked out the door, and out of my life. I stared at the door, numb with pain. The person to whom I had given everything I had, just left me…alone and pregnant.
The following months passed slowly. Every day was edged with the sharp pain of rejection and the anger and bitterness that followed. Memories of his warm eyes smiling down at me pierced my heart; laughter and love that promised forever…promises that now lay broken at the bottom of my empty heart. The painful end of our relationship was tearing me apart, and I was filled with fear and loneliness as I looked ahead to the coming months.
“Oh, God,” I cried, “what am I going to do?” Being a mother at 17, and raising a child alone frightened me. And placing my baby up for adoption after seeing the miracle of this little life within me was too painful to even think about. I heard so many voices shouting the “easy answer,” but abortion would mean the death of my child.
I had already witnessed the death of a dream—to see my baby die as well would be too much. Yet to have the life from a lost love growing inside me seemed unbearable. Pressure to have an abortion began coming from all sides. Family and friends were overcome with grief on my behalf, and felt abortion would be the easiest way out of a seemingly hopeless situation.
There were times when, overcome by fear and pain, I would consider the “quick” end to this nightmare: “It could all be over within just a matter of hours.” “You could just forget about this whole thing, and start a new life.” “If you go through with this pregnancy, then it will never be over; you’ll either be stuck with a kid, or haunted by unanswered questions about your own child…a child that calls someone else ‘Mommy.’” “Oh God,” I cried again, “What am I going to do?”
Amidst the turmoil, I had somehow managed to make a decision; a decision that I was bound to live with for the rest of my life.
During the months of my pregnancy, I had decided not only to give my baby life, but to give him the best chance in life that I could. I chose adoption. I wanted my child to have a Mommy and a Daddy. Though in my heart of hearts, I wanted to raise him as my own, deeper still was a desire for him to have the best. I was beginning to learn that love meant self-sacrifice.
I had come in contact with a wonderful Christian couple just two weeks before Michael was born. We were introduced by mutual friends, and I knew in my heart that I had just met Michael’s parents. At first I felt apprehensive about knowing where he would be. I had always heard it was better to never know, never see…that it was better just to forget all about it.
But society had lied to me before, when it tried to convince me that abortion was right, so I decided to listen to the little voice inside my heart instead. The more I thought about it, the better I felt about this couple adopting Michael, so we proceeded with the legalities.
The day finally arrived…the day to check out of the hospital. The couple came to pick me up, and from there we would go to the lawyer’s office to sign the release forms and adoption papers.
Almost four years have passed since that day. So much within me has changed. As I’ve come to know God’s healing love, I’ve come to know the value that He places on each life. I don’t regret the choice that I made. Michael has life and love, and a family to share it with.