Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:4

Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.   1 Thessalonians 4:4, NIV

Talk about sloppy agape. Or maybe it was slobbery agape. Four-year-old Megan thought it was just plain slobbery.

A herd of relatives had piled into Megan’s house for Thanksgiving. Megan’s older cousin, Stacy, even came home from college, bringing her boyfriend, Jared. Stacy snuggled in on the couch next to Jared to watch a football game. He smiled and slid his arm around her. Megan didn’t like that one bit. She bounced onto the couch and tried to pry open a spot between Stacy and Jared.

Mom picked up Megan and took her to the kitchen. A minute later Megan ran back into the room. She squealed. “You’re in luuuuuv. Mommy says so.”

Sometimes Christians make it sound like being “in love” is bad.

The Bible doesn’t bash romance. Listen how positively the story of Jacob and Rachel paints it, even in a culture in which parents arranged marriages and a husband paid for his wife with cows and camels: “Rachel was beautiful in every way, with a lovely face and shapely figure. . . . Jacob was in love with Rachel. . . So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days” (Genesis 29:17-18, 20).

Jacob thought Rachel was kind of cute. And as you grow up, you’ll discover that the magnetic pull between guys and girls is normal. It’s how God designed you. But like Paul told the Thessalonians, that attraction needs to be pursued within the boundaries of honor and holiness.

Romance is wonderful when it’s built on agape love. It looks like this:

• You like each other for much more than your looks.

• You stay pure, keeping physical closeness for marriage. (If you need more info than that, ask your parents!)

• Your parents approve of your relationship.

• Your relationship doesn’t get in the way of school or other friends.

• Your friendship with each other helps you both move toward Jesus.

“Hey,” you might say. “I don’t even like boys [or girls].” That’s fine! But when you do get interested, these are some of the big rules. Any questions?

TALK: Is romance bad? When is it right?

PRAY: God, thanks for giving us hearts that get excited about each other. We’re glad you created love.

ACT: How can you put agape into action right now in how you treat boys and girls?