Grace and Truth
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 10 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Grace and Truth)
IS TEENAGE LOVE REAL LOVE?
"Oh, that's just puppy love."
"I felt that way about a lot of boys when I was your age."
"You'll get over that; it's just a passing thing." "I know how you feel; I was your age once." "You're not old enough to love really; it's just teenage infatuation."
These are statements every teenager has heard many times, and most teenagers hate to hear them. A few days ago I was talking with one of our teenagers and this subject was brought up. The young lady asked me if a teenager could have real love or is it true that all love by teenagers is puppy love? I answered that I definitely believe that a Christian teenager can have real love. I do not agree for a second that a teenager cannot have the real thing.
I proceeded to talk with the young lady about teenage love. Now, I am not talking just about love for a boyfriend; I'm talking about love for God, love for friends, and, yes, love for a boyfriend or for a girlfriend. I do believe that a teenager can have the real thing.
What is the difference between the love of a teenager and the love of an adult? The difference is only in the quantity, not necessarily in the quality. Two people can be drinking orange juice. One can have a small 4-ounce glass; another can have a large 12ounce glass. They have the same thing quality-wise, but there is a difference in the quantity. The teenager can have the same quality love as the adult. Of course, with the passing of years he can increase his quantity of love. The teenager's devotion to Christ, to his friends and to his family can be just as real as it will be in adulthood. He will find, however, that he will get more of this real love as the experiences of life allow his container to become larger.
Many times I ask young folks to wait to get married until they are out of their teens. This does not mean that it is impossible for them to love the young man or the young lady with real love. It does mean that it would be better for them to wait until they have more love to offer each other. This is why the writer wrote, "More love to Thee, 0 Christ." He did not write, "Better love to Thee, 0 Christ." To be sure, there are many people who have "puppy love," infatuation, etc., but these people can be adults as well as teens. All of us need to be sure that we examine our love for its quality, but this examination should not be conducted only by teenagers; it should be conducted by people of all ages.
Yes, teenager, your love for Christ, for your family and for your friends may be immature, but it does not have to be. You can love Christ with a love as real as the love I have for Him. You have the privilege before you of having your cup grow larger so that you can give to love's objects even more of that pure love which you now have.
This means that teenagers should refrain from certain expressions of love such as holding hands, kissing, embracing, becoming engaged, getting married, etc. until they have as much love as possible to offer love's object. It does not mean, however, that we should minimize the love of a teenager because the quantity is not at its fullest.
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