A mother wrote to us with the following question:
“I have a 15 year old daughter who is a young woman trying to live by biblical principles. Do you have some advice for us regarding this stage of her life where she is very aware of young men and noticing their biblical qualities and character but also being in the season of still growing up, maturing, finishing school… that season of ‘marriage is in the future’? How can we help her guard her heart? Keep her emotions in check?”
As my mom always reminded my sisters and me: liking boys is normal! God made us to be attracted to the opposite sex. And as a young girl grows into womanhood, these desires will certainly become more pronounced.
And how wonderful that your daughter is attracted to godly character in young men and not simply enamored with outward appearance or personality. That is a sign that she has been trained by her parents to discern what is truly admirable in a man.
However, we also have the poetic and yet solemn warning from the Song of Solomon: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (S of S 3:5, NIV), followed by the holy assumption in 1 Corinthians 7 that “the unmarried…woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit” (1 Cor. 7:34).
In the teenage years, the fact that God has created us as women to be attracted to men, and the biblical admonition to guard our hearts until the appropriate time, must remain in constant, healthy, tension. And your daughter will need your help to do this!
For starters, my mom initiated an ongoing conversation with my sisters and me about guys; consistently asking who we were attracted to and why. “Being attracted isn’t a sin,” she told us. “But indulging in thoughts about them, going out of your way to be around them, allowing them to distract from your pursuit of God and service of others is wrong.”
Purity was to be our constant pursuit; for Scripture exhorts us to “flee youthful passions” (2 Tim. 2:22). Through constant conversations about our hearts, helping us to avoid situations that would tempt us to impure thought or deed, and a steady diet of God’s Word on this topic, Mom and Dad were our greatest help in our quest for purity.
However, it wasn’t only about “fleeing passions.” Mom helped us to see that in addition to fighting for purity we must also be busy pursuing the things of God. Sitting around trying not to think about a guy will only have limited effectiveness; but a young girl who is busy serving Christ won’t have much time left to indulge her emotions. So let me encourage you to help your daughter find ways she can use her spiritual gifts, serving in the home and in the church.
Finally, until a young man had expressed an interest in us, Mom helped keep our feet firmly planted on the ground: “Think of him as someone else’s husband,” she would say. “You wouldn’t consider it appropriate to daydream or fantasize about a married man. And most likely, this guy you like will be married to another woman someday. Assume he is not going to be your husband unless he makes his intentions known.” And for your fifteen year old daughter, that time will probably be some years away.
There is so much more that could be said on this topic. I’ve barely even started, and this is already a long post. We cover purity and courtship in some detail in our book, Girl Talk. But in case you haven’t heard of them, I want to highly recommend Joshua Harris’ three books: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, and Not Even a Hint.
I pray these few thoughts, but more importantly, these helpful resources, will serve you in helping your daughter walk the path of purity throughout her teenage years!