Is it sinful to have a crush?
You're really attracted to that person, but how do you know if it's love or lust?
Originally published on 412teens.org
Being attracted to someone is not a sin. What we DO with those attractions is what defines for us whether it is lust or simple attraction to someone you find handsome or pretty.
But it sure can be difficult to separate those feelings, right? Is it a crush or is it love? The heart is a tricky, fickle thing and often sends us mixed messages about what we're supposed to be doing and what we should or should not act upon. Emotions can be fleeting or come to us in a flush of sensations, but that doesn't mean there's always truth or reality to what they point to. Crushes are often self-centered and pleasure-driven with little to no focus on the wants or needs of the other person.
For the Christian, the first thing we need to realize about any romantic interest is that they should be looked through the eyes of one who is looking for a future spouse. I know what you're thinking, "It's just a crush!" And you're right! That's why it may be better to step back, take a cold shower, then reevaluate the emotional response you're having. It's OK to be attracted to someone, but it's really NOT OK to get so obsessed about them that you cause harm to your (or anyone else's) heart.
God's view of relationships
How God views our relationships with others is quite different from the world's view. As His children, we should strive to align our view with His. God cares most about a person's innermost character—who they really are when no one is looking (1 Samuel 16:7). We should strive to discover the innermost character of the person who has caught our eye before we decide to make a commitment of the heart.
Does this person strengthen your relationship with Christ, or do they compromise your morals and standards? Have they accepted Christ as their Savior (John 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15)? Are they committed to becoming more like Jesus (Philippians 2:5) or do they lead a selfish life? Do they show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, which are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?
Don't know any of these details? Then either make efforts to befriend them to find out and/or go take your cold shower, because these are the kinds of considerations you want to make when deciding whether to move forward with someone you're attracted to.
Is it infatuation?
The dictionary defines "infatuation" as "an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something." Basically, a crush. How can you tell the difference between an infatuation or true love? The number one way is to truly examine WHY you're drawn to this person. Deep down, where does your attraction stem from?
One of the most tragic biblical examples of infatuation happened in King David’s family. David's son Amnon became obsessed with his gorgeous half-sister, Tamar, and made himself sick with desire for her (2 Samuel 13:1-2). Amnon lured her into his bedroom with lies (vs. 5-6), but when Tamar arrived, thinking she was going to care for her sick brother, he raped her (v. 14). The next verse, 2 Samuel 13:15, shows us exactly what the difference is between infatuation and true love: "Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her." Godly love does not behave this way. Amnon never loved Tamar; his drive was rooted in infatuation and fueled by sexual lust.
If you find that you're only attracted to the person's exterior beauty or the fact that they just happen to be friendly to you, then that's not actually enough to go on. If you find that your thoughts of them are predominated by sexual fantasies, then it's extremely likely what you're feeling is a temporary physical infatuation, coupled with lustful thoughts. This kind of infatuation is dangerous and should not be entertained beyond the first fleeting thought.
Or is it godly love?
Godly love is driven by commitment and patience in God's timing. True love looks to serve the other person and do what's best for them first and foremost (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). True godly love develops the fruit of the Spirit—peace, joy, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
On the other hand, an infatuation or crush is usually driven by emotions, impatience, and satisfaction of one's own needs and desires. Infatuations can be the spark that ignites sinful thoughts, such as lust, discontent, and covetousness. Painful longing after a crush causes us to act foolishly, not caring about anyone but ourselves and demanding fulfillment of our wants.
Crushes come and go, but love never fails
If you find yourself attracted to and caring about the innermost beauty of a person, perhaps because they're kind to others, they love God, they treat people with respect, etc., then you are indeed attracted to the heart. This could possibly be at least friendship love and may lead to something more if God wills it (James 4:14-15).
If your attraction does develop into something more serious, that is, if you've become committed to this person in a romantic relationship, remember to keep God as the most important Person in your life (Matthew 10:37). Believers should never place anything or anyone over God because that makes them an idol (Galatians 5:20; Colossians 3:5)—even if you mean very well and love the person unconditionally.
Strange as it sounds, having God as the main focus of your life will help you to love other people even better.
Dating and relationships are such a complicated and varied topic, but we can still use the Bible as our guide to help us sort out feelings and show us how to evaluate our emotions about others (2 Timothy 3:16). As always, if you are ever in doubt, take a moment to ask God for wisdom about your specific situation (James 1:5). He has your best interests in mind and sees the whole picture of your life. If it doesn't work out with your crush, then rest assured that this is a part of God's perfect timing and plan (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Psalm 27:14; Ecclesiastes 8:6). You never know what God has in store for you down the road.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" —Jeremiah 29:11
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