As we counsel teens and young women at Genesis, we find ourselves in a conversation about their relationship with their boyfriend. We often ask, "What is your relationship like with your boyfriend? What is love and how does one express it?"
The answers we receive from such questions are often quite revealing about our clients' understanding of what love is and how their boyfriends show it. The first thing we do is have our client read aloud the "Love Chapter." In addition, we have a flyer which we share with her that describes 1 Corinthians 13 in God's Word in a practical sense. As we look down through the various characteristics of love, we often ask our client if her boyfriend also shares these characteristics. Does she in turn share them with him? The look on her face often informs us immediately that this is not the case. Let's look at some characteristics of real love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Love is patient and kind. They should be willing to wait for God's perfect timing and be willing to control their desires. If she is having sex with her boyfriend, neither is exhibiting self-restraint. Are they being kind to each other by stealing the gift of sexuality before marriage? Are kind words always exchanged? What about their actions toward one another? Are they both patient and kind toward one another, or do they show impatience and unkindness?
SOME OF OUR CLIENTS DO NOT KNOW WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE IN A RELATIONSHIP.
Love does not envy or boast, nor is it proud. Couples should be content with getting to know each other and be happy to observe the blessings of others. They should have a humble attitude and not be arrogant or overbearing. We encourage our clients to think less of themselves and to rid their lives of the pride that may be destroying them. Prideful behavior may have very likely led them into a sexual relationship. Pride may also lead them into an abortion clinic or convince them they can't place their child for adoption.
Love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. Are they courteous and kind or discourteous and rude to one another and to others? Does one find fault with the other in front of their friends? Do they use good manners? Please and thank you are never out of style! Do they think of others first? Do they reach out to assist someone else in need, or are they greedy and selfish? Does her boyfriend always put himself and his desires first? What would happen if they no longer had sex? Is he easily angered? Has he ever threatened her or struck her? Some of our clients express that boyfriends have been abusive. How does that reflect true love? Others have faced various forms of abuse in their homes from parents or relatives. Some of our clients have not experienced a loving family environment; therefore, they do not know what love looks like in a relationship.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Forgiveness is the key. Does either of them bring up old disagreements and hold it against the other? Do they really forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us?
Love does not delight in evil. We often wonder how many of our clients are tampering with Internet pornography or R-rated (or worse) movies. This plague on our society has promoted much violence, sexual deviancy, and other sinful activities. While counseling with clients, we often come to the conclusion that many simply delight in their sins and have no desire to change. Many of our clients' boyfriends have been or are in jail for drugs, assault, rape, etc., and often our young ladies are not overly concerned about this. We help our young ladies to see that biblical love does not delight in any form of evil.
Love rejoices with the truth. Many of our clients indicate their boyfriends have not been truthful to them about various topics, such as other relationships, drug or alcohol use, and even a history of crime. A relationship with secrets is not a good, open relationship!
Love always protects and trusts. A real man will protect his girlfriend and certainly a child that is conceived in that relationship. He will not push her into an abortion. Yet that is often what we see happening in a relationship. Either he is forcing her into an abortion or he has abandoned her and the child in hopes that she will abort or not come after him for support.
REAL LOVE ALWAYS HOPES!
Love always hopes. We share the Gospel with every client so that they will have hope for the future. The greatest hope we can give her is the hope of eternal life. Taking her to Romans 3:23 assists her in recognizing herself as a sinner. The Ten Commandments give further evidence that she has broken most if not all the commandments. We sin by doing what God has commanded us not to do as well as by not doing what God says we should do. Romans 6:23 helps her see that the penalty for sin is death or separation from God. Romans 5:8 takes her to the cross. Ephesians 2:8, 9 instructs her to see that all of her efforts to be good or to work her way to heaven will simply fail. Romans 10:13 instructs her to "call on the name of the Lord" to be saved. In order to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, she must repent of her sins and put her trust in Christ alone as the only hope of eternal life. God's promise of eternal life states "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). Real love always hopes!
Love perseveres and never fails. We encourage our clients to persevere in building a strong relationship that will lead to marriage. But they must abstain from sexual activity and not continue a lifestyle of sin. With real love in the picture, as described in Scripture, that love will last a lifetime.
We find many of our clients are very responsive to the "Love Chapter" teachings. Even if she is not yet a believer, she can relate to these aspects of love. In fact, this is often the first time anyone has ever explained to her exactly what real love is! She is grateful as she leaves with a Bible with 1 Corinthians 13 clearly marked and the flyer that helps her better understand this Scripture. Perhaps when she lies down to sleep that night, she will reflect back on her visit with us and think about what love really is as reflected in God's Word.
Dianne Pomon, a registered nurse, has served as a CPC director for about 20 years. She and her husband have five children. Her heart's desire is to see biblical counseling and evangelism become an integral part of all pregnancy care centers.