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.

Countless teens who have fallen into romance too soon have given away their hearts only to have them broken. Others have been victims of self-deception, confusing infatuation with love. These situations create several questions for parents trying to help their teens avoid the heartbreak and deception that early romantic awakenings can bring. For parents, the questions which seem hardest to navigate in our overly sensuous culture are: When is the right timing for romance? How can I encourage my child to wait for the appropriate season? These are important questions to ponder since most of our children will eventually “fall in love” and marry someday, unless they are called to be single.

Within the Christian community there seems to be a myriad of opinions and stands on this matter. Books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and I Gave Dating a Chance nestle together on the very same shelves of our local Christian bookstores. As I stated in my last column, my intent is not to prescribe a formula. Instead, I want to ask questions that will help parents reach their teen’s heart in dealing with the topics of love, sex, romance and purity.  Most people associate purity with virginity only. They believe that as long as teens remain virgins, that they are walking in purity. While this may be true at the physical level, as Christian parents, we must be concerned with our teen’s emotional integrity and spiritual wholeness as well. A teen who has been through various breakups or has been the victim of someone’s selfish flirtations, sometimes has as many regrets as a teen who has lost her virginity.

It is every mom’s privilege to help her daughters and sons walk through romantic feelings with wisdom and grace from God. How that is accomplished is a very personal and unique task that requires a great deal of patience and understanding of each teen’s spiritual maturity. As we walk our teens through this process we need to lead them into asking a question that arises from reading the Song of Solomon: What are some of the dangers of awakening passions before the time is right?

Crushes

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.