Written by Gina Lee, Contributing Writer
Last year around Valentine’s Day, our youth group hosted a ‘love panel’ of several married couples and one engaged couple who answered questions that had been previously collected from the youths regarding love and marriage. My husband & I were honored to be on this panel, and in preparing for the discussion one question in particular caught my attention – “When am I old enough to ‘fall in love’?”
I saw at it’s root this question having two parts:
1) Is a certain age required to ‘fall in love’?
2) What exactly is ‘falling in love’?
The young man or woman who asked it was most likely looking for reassurance to engage in romantic type behavior with the opposite sex with the coming of a certain age. But the answer I encountered in Scripture was far from a ‘green light’ to hold hands or kiss a special someone when you turn 16.
First, let’s explore the idea of ‘falling in love’. While there are obviously such things as butterflies in your stomach when he catches your glance, or sweaty palms when she chooses the seat near you, the Bible is pretty clear that these emotional responses are not the true definition of real love, or even that they reveal whether true love is present. Just a quick search for ‘love’ in scripture reveals a much different idea.
John 15:12 instructs us to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Romans 12:10 reveals that love gives precedence and honor to others more than ourselves.Galatians 5:13 relates love to serving each other. Ephesians 4 & 5 use the words humility, meekness, unselfishness, gentleness, mildness, patience, enduring, esteeming, and delighting when talking about love, as well as reminding us to love as Christ loved us by giving His life up for us. 1 Peter 4:8 says “above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins (forgives and disregards the offenses of others).” (added emphasis mine, all scripture from the Amplified Bible)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, yet it still reveals that Scripture considers love to be much more than butterflies and sweaty palms. Real love, God’s love, and the love God desires us to have, is deeper and richer and stronger than something any of us could ever ‘fall’ into. It requires action. It requires devotion and desire, and is all consuming. And, for us, love requires choice. (I think the only love we could ever ‘fall’ into would be the love of Christ, since it is all powerful, all surrounding, all encompassing, and always catches us when we stumble.) Our human nature is focused inward, while love is focused outward. Loving like Jesus doesn’t come naturally for us, it takes effort.
Now to address the other part of the question – is a certain age required to ‘fall in love’? Hmmm….let’s rephrase this, based on what we’ve just explored in Scripture about love. New question – is a certain age required to choose to be in love? Well, aside from cultural norms, which vary depending on the the culture you live in, there is no magic age that makes you qualified to love. What does matter, as Scripture shows, is how you view love. If you can grasp that love is more about putting the other person above and before yourself and your own happiness, then you are probably old enough to ‘fall in love’ or, more Biblically speaking, choose to be in love.
So, what about you, how old where you when you first chose to be in love? Is your current relationship based more on your own happiness, or on what is best for the other person?