Like, Love or Lust?
By Joey & Carla Link
February 19, 2020
I still remember the time when I was in 2nd grade and I was handed a folded up piece of paper from a classmate next to me that said on it “Pass to Sally.” The teacher grabbed it and read it aloud. The note said, “I love you, do you love me? Checkthe box yes or no. Signed Mike.” That stopped notes being passed in our class room, but it didn’t stop the feelings between these two second graders.
It’s normal for boys and girls to start liking each other, but when and where do they learn what love is? In 2nd grade the love they know is what they see and feel towards their parents and siblings. When a member of their family says “I love you” it makes them happy so when a friend makes them happy they will say it to them too. What then is “like”? Liking someone is having affection for them. “Liking” develops when you enjoy being around someone and friendship is the result.
When teens say “I love you” to a member of the opposite sex, do they mean it? Perhaps, however, while they may enjoy being around this person, when they think of love at this age guys are often confusing it with lust.
Teen girls allow their feelings to get carried away with wanting to have a boyfriend and all that entails. They may be coming from a home with divorced parents and are looking for someone to replace the consistency of having their dad around. Once their feelings get to a certain point, they confuse it with love, then girls are vulnerable to physical intimacy.
Most people think of lust as an uncontrollable craving for sex, but lust can also be a strong and powerful craving for anything, including money, popularity and beautiful things. It’s the parent’s job to train their kids to learn to control their desires from toddlerhood, so when lust kicks in, regardless of its origins, they have the mental tools to control it.
Parents have many opportunities to work on kids’ lusts from an early age through teaching them self-control on issues like:
- Going to their parent when called and saying “Yes Mommy, I’m coming!”
- Picking up their toys when told to do so
- When they want to eat more than they should
- When they are playing with a sibling and the sibling is not playing fair they want to verbally or physically lash out at them.
- Getting their schoolwork and chores done without reminders
- Saving up money to buy what they want vs. giving it or loaning them the money to buy it.
- When they want to wear clothes that are more revealing than you think they should wear.
Teaching kid’s self-control in areas like these are steps to learn to control lusting for things that hover out of their control. Focusing on a relationship between kids of the opposite sex, how can kids know if they are in lust, love or like? It’s like Paul said In I Corinthians 13:7 (TLB):
“If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.
You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him,
and always stand your ground in defending him.”
Love will wait but lust needs to fulfill its wants and desires immediately. Love seeks the best in others and never violates others like lust does. Lust has to please its own craving and ultimately only takes and has little left to give.
For teen guys: One of the best verses you can have your 13 (and up) yr. old teen boys memorize to help them with the lust of their eyes is Job 31:1 –
“I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
Why is this verse so important? Guys get stimulated through what they see visually. So exposing themselves to images that will make them think immorally is something they need to work on. Here are a couple things I (Joey) shared with our son when he started the puberty years.
- I always wore baseball caps when I left the house. When my son started looking at girls with a new awareness, I told him to never leave the house without a cap on. Why? When pulled low it blocked your view. I also told him to stare at the ground when he walked in a place where the temptation was great.
- I always taped football games and fast-forwarded through the halftime show. He understood why.
For teen girls: When I (Carla) took our teen girls shopping when they were in middle school and high school, I found a way to get them to see for themselves if they were dressed modestly or not. When they put on an outfit I would have them look down at the ground and close their eyes and when I counted to 3 look at the mirror and tell me where their eyes went first. I told them that is where boys eyes would first look when they walked by them. I asked them if that was where they wanted them to be looking and they always decided for themselves where exactly they wanted guys’ eyes to go. Our daughters, now young adults tell us that they still do this on occasion when trying on clothes if they are undecided about the modesty of an outfit.
Have your teen girls memorize 1 Timothy 4:12 –
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
Mom and Dad, how well have you taught your kids to control their desires and emotions? To learn to do this (along with lots of prayer) will give them the best possible chance at victory in this universal temptation.