Everyone wants romance. Everyone wants love. It’s something so natural, something so human to want these things. Our desires and our bodies start telling us this since the time we’re eleven, twelve, thirteen. It’s not a bad thing. It never has been.
As a Christian, I’m well aware that God created the human body, along with all of the natural and even good desires that our bodies give to us. In his Theology of the Body, Pope Saint John Paul II described, in a most profound and beautiful way, how the bodies of men and women reflect who they are to themselves, and who they are to each other. Most importantly, our bodies have “sacramentality”: we have the ability to become a living, visible sign of what is invisible (e.i. we reveal God to ourselves and each other through our bodies, which were made in His image and likeness).
If God is Love, as St. John tells us, and we were made in God’s image and likeness, then we were made in the image and likeness of Love (I believe Christopher West said that).
Now plug all of that into being a teen guy. I’m made for love. My body (to a greater degree than a girl’s) is constantly reminding me of the fact that I’m made to love. And that’s good. It’s a part of who I am. God designed me that way.
However, I don’t believe that just because I have these God-given desires, I should fulfill them in the way I most immediately contrive them. Have I ever had a natural, but pure desire to just walk up and kiss a girl? Yes, I have. Have I ever wanted to have sex with a girl? Yes, I have. Was I just being dirty and lustful? Nope, just heterosexual and masculine. Have I ever wanted to date a girl? Absolutely. Am I just a bored teenager? Sorta. But there’s more to it than that.
Today’s culture does place a lot of pressure on teens. We are pressured to date. We are pressured to act like the characters we see in TV shows, movies, etc. Basically, if you sincerely look at a high school dating relationship, you actually just see two kids trying to act like adults. And I understand that; I understand where they’re coming from. They have “adult feelings”. But they’re not adults. They’re just kids. There’s a part of me that wants to jump into dating too. It’s something extremely exciting.
But especially for me, as a home-schooler, it’s not exactly a “pressure” feeling. I personally don’t feel pressured to date, and I believe that for most high schoolers, it’s the same way. Maybe there’s a little bit of pressure. But it’s more the fact that everyone is dating, the fact that it’s just so natural and normal to date at a young age. That’s the problem.
So why not? Why not date? I’m already aware of how I should keep my desires in check. I “Socrates-know-myself”. So why not just date and take it slow?
I am not good enough to date. I am not pure enough to give myself to a girl, even if we are just “taking it slow”. And I probably wouldn’t be able to control my desires enough to take it slow. I’m not trying to condemn any of the teens out there that are dating, but I’d be willing to guess that most teens shouldn’t be dating for these same reasons.
So what’s the answer? Repression? Just bottle up your desires?
No. Of course not.
First of all, meet chastity: chastity is the virtue by which we exercise self control and make sacrifices for the good of the person that we love. Basically, chastity and pulling out selfishness by the root and focusing all our attention on the ultimate, not the immediate, happiness of the person that we claim to love. And it’s loving someone as a person, not as an object. It’s understanding that that person has had a past, that they’re right in front of us in the present, and that they will have a future based upon how we treat them. Chastity is “placing yourself under the demands of real love” (Jason Evert). Now be honest with yourself: chastity is an awesome virtue.
But there’s another thing that we should be focusing on. Something, or Someone, that deserves our love, all of our desires, right here, right now. He’s also the Person that will help us to become the master of our God-given desires so that we sinful, little humans, will actually be able to love one another in the way that He designed.
Jesus is amazing. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. I mean He’s literally amazing. He’s been waiting for you since the eternity before you were born. He’s been with you since you came into existence. And He wants to be with you for every second of your life both now and forever. He’s that Friend that walks with you, that listens to you, that hears you, that lifts you up, that knows you, that understands you, and that wants you more than you could possibly ever know.
Jesus can satisfy that urge for a teen romance. There’s nothing wrong with that urge to begin with. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, the chaste decision, the decision that places us under the demands of real love, would be the decision to wait to date. Because we’re not good enough yet. We’re not strong enough yet. We’re not in control yet. We’d end up hurting the people that we’re actually trying to love. We’d “miss the mark” (which, by the way, is another definition for sin).
Jesus can take all of those God-given desires and order them. He can make it so that our desires fit our place in life. I’ll be honest; I’m not old enough to date. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a car. I don’t have enough time. I’m a student. I’m young. I’m dumb. And I’m selfish. I still have pure desires from time to time to give of myself to girls and to date them. But right now, the Person who can satisfy me, and will always be able to no matter where I am right now, is Jesus.
Recently, I was spending some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (I’m a Catholic, so I believe that Jesus is literally right there in front of me). And I felt that He gave me this piece of advice, and so I wrote it down. I feel like me reasons for how Jesus can satisfy the urge for a teen romance haven’t been so convincing thus far. Maybe you really just need to try it in order to understand it. But here’s what I feel like Jesus was telling me to understand:
There was never meant to be just one. There was always meant to be Two. It will always be you and Him. It always has been. Whether it’s Him through another person, this will never change. It is you and Him, walking this path of life, walking alone by the sea, the whole world before you. And you are content. Because He is your friend. And you have “found the one that you love”. You are His, and He is yours.
I’m just a kid. I’ve got to focus on being what I am in life. And I am a kid. We might feel like we should be in a relationship because everyone else is, or our desires tell us to. But no matter where we are, we are always supposed to be in a deep, profound relationship with God. So, because of where I am in life, I can devote myself entirely to God. It’s not like Jesus is the “fall back plan”. “Oh well, I can’t date, so I guess I should just focus on Jesus.” It doesn’t work that way. Jesus isn’t the “fall back plan”. He is and always will be THE plan. And He wants me right now.
“For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never about you and them [other people] anyway.” -Mother Teresa
See that picture at the top of this post? That’s you and Jesus. It always has been. It always will be, whether you like it or not. Whether you believe it or not. Now, at some point in your life, you might be walking with Jesus, and He’ll be at your side through another person. And you’ll love Him through that other person. That’s what dating and marriage should be like (I mean, all relationships too. But especially dating and marriage). But either way, all of this, everything, is about you and Him.
So, if you’re like me, why don’t you give yourself to Him right now? Why don’t you let Him purify your desires so that you can actually love the person you want to date? Why don’t you love the Person that has always loved you, that will always want you?
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”
Well, what do you guys think? I apologize if some of my explanations were incomplete. If you have any questions, or you think I was wrong about something, please comment.