Are Crushes Okay?
There is one question that has been asked on this blog more than any other—are crushes okay? It seems that many of you are serious about your commitment to remain physically pure until your wedding day, but that hasn't stopped your heart from racing when a certain fella walks into the room. And you're wondering, Are these feelings okay?
I've read your questions and I realize that this is an important topic for many of you, but I've stayed silent for one big reason—I wasn't sure how to answer. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that I feel as conflicted as many of you seem to.
One young woman recently emailed me about this subject. My reply didn't seem to satisfy because she wrote back, "I was a little disappointed that you didn't have a way to instantly get rid of a crush." I'm disappointed too! That secret would surely be worth a million bucks.
The truth is, the Bible isn't as clear on this as we might like it to be. There is no 11th commandment that says "Thou shalt not have a crush." And while we know that God's standard for our purity is that there not be even a hint of sexual sin (Ephesians 5:3), this can be difficult to define when it comes to our thought life.
Just in case you're starting to feel even more discouraged, I am happy to report that the Bible does give us some guidelines that I think apply here. Let's take a look together.
First, I think it is important to point out that the attraction felt between a man and a woman is God-given. In Song of Solomon, the king and his bride share their mutual admiration for each other (including physical attraction) as they prepare for their wedding day. That attraction only intensifies after the wedding.
And while it is certainly possible to avoid being physically intimate with someone before marriage, outside of an arranged marriage it doesn't seem possible to avoid all feelings of affection for the guy you wed. At some point before you reach "I do," I hope you start to feel gaga for the guy God has for you.
But even before you are ready to fall head over heels with your future husband, you will probably experience butterflies in your stomach for some of the other guys from your school or church. For your sake, I hope those feelings are targeted at a guy who is a Christian. Otherwise, there's no opportunity for them to blossom into a God-honoring relationship (follow this link to my post about dating non-Christians). But what if you happen to have a crush on the totally awesome guy in your youth group who loves Jesus, has spiritual depth, and even volunteers in the church nursery? What do you do with the feelings you have toward him?
Here are the guidelines I've come up with based on truth from God's Word.
1. Clearly, lust is not okay.
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus gives a strong warning against lust. In fact, He says that a man who looks at a woman with lustful thoughts in his heart has already committed adultery. I think we can apply this same principle to our own lives. This is serious business. But what is lust exactly?
Dictionary.com gives five applicable definitions for lust. I've listed them below:
- intense sexual desire or appetite.
- uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
- a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.
- ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish.
- to have a yearning or desire; have a strong or excessive craving.
The first few seem like common sense. If your thoughts toward your crush have turned sexual, you've got a problem. If you find yourself fantasizing about a romantic, physical encounter with this guy, Jesus says it is the same as actually committing the act of adultery. This is not a gray area; if your crush has turned in to lust, it's time to steer your thoughts in a different direction.
But definitions 3–5 give us some more food for thought. If your crush has turned in to an "overmastering desire" (in other words, it's taken over your thought life) or become obsessive, it's gone too far.
2. Be self-controlled
Galatians 5:22–24 actually has a lot to teach us about this topic. It reads, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
If we are Christians, these qualities are the fruit that will hang from our lives. Self-control seems particularly applicable to crushes. You may be having some very strong feelings toward a certain guy, and it's necessary to practice self-control in order to keep those feelings from bursting into flames. And there's help. The end of this passage tells us that Christ's death provides the strength for us to lay down the passions and desires of our flesh.
Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we have the ability to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." That includes our thoughts about that cute boy in Sunday school!
Your thought life may seem like a raging forest fire that is totally beyond your control, but that's not what Scripture tells us. God helps us to be self-controlled even in the way that we think.
Do you ever pray for your crush? Have you asked God to give you wisdom to understand how He would have you to think, act, and interact in this situation? Have you asked God to help you be self-controlled in this area? It can only help.
3. Watch the clock.
There is another important principle that I rarely hear applied toward crushes—stewardship. Stewardship is a word we throw around in the church a lot in regard to money, but God really encourages us to be wise stewards (or make good choices) about all of our resources, including our time.
When we apply this to crushes, it is important to realize that if you are spending too much time thinking about, talking about, or interacting with your crush, you've probably crossed over the line into an area that isn't so God-honoring.
Ask yourself, How much time am I really spending thinking about my crush? Am I still being a good steward of my time or has a preoccupation with this boy led me to neglect other responsibilities? Does the amount of time I spend thinking about this boy indicate an obsession?
I realize that putting these guidelines into practice is easier for me to say than it is for you to do. I have been happily married to the man of my dreams for almost eight years, and while I still have a mega-crush on him, in many ways my parameters are different than yours here. But I do remember what it is like to get weak at the knees at the sight of a certain someone, and I want to encourage you that it is possible to have those feelings and still remain emotionally pure.
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