It is important that we think about how our motivations and behaviours impact those around us – especially when it comes to the possibility of romance.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This is a common question from young people in church youth groups who are feeling attracted to a Christian young man or young woman who might even become a godly wife or husband in the future.

Recognise others in the group as Christian brothers and sisters.

It is easy to let emotions and desires run away with us. But before all of this, God requires that we treat fellow Christians, whether potential marriage partners or not, with ‘brotherly (or sisterly) affection’ [1]. In fact such affection must be entirely independent of whether they are pretty or handsome, rich or poor, attractive to us or not.

‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.’ [1]. This verse encourages us to recognise other young people in the group as brothers and sisters in the Lord and part of the one family of believers in Jesus Christ. We are united to Christ, they are united to Christ. He loves them and He loves us with the same love, and so we are to love them with this type of affection.

Brotherly affection also means being careful with the feelings of others. In mixed company, you will need to be especially careful to avoid giving a false impression that your brotherly affection is anything more. This could lead to months or years of disappointment and heartache for the other person.

How does this impact the world of going out?

Wanting to maintain such affection will determine your actions when you are going out or thinking of going out with someone.

Such affection requires that you seek the best for each other. This will mean that you will want to hold back from anything that would damage that person, including, especially if you do start going out, sexually provocative behaviour before marriage. Girls should be particularly careful not to dress in a sexually provocative way and, therefore, make it more difficult for a young man to get to know her as a person, rather than being constantly distracted through sexual attraction to her body [2]. This does not mean girls should be unfeminine or old fashioned in their appearance, just appropriately modest. Boys should also be careful not to allow their sexual desires to spoil their own or their girlfriend’s purity [3].

Such affection also means that you need to apply self-control to your emotions and desires about someone you might be interested in, until you have established a meaningful sister/brotherly relationship towards them and got to know them better [4]. Have you considered what encourages and helps them in their Christian life? Try to be sure that your thoughts and concerns about them are based on their needs rather than your own selfish agenda.

Selfless brotherly or sisterly affection is not only a great basis for a marriage, but also an important basis for romantic involvement which may lead to marriage. Selflessness and sacrifice are at the heart of marriage. Husbands are asked to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and wives are asked to submit to their husbands in the security of that love. (Ephesians 5:25-28) Christ’s love cost Him everything and a husband’s love in marriage is intended to be a picture of that love.

  1. Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.”
  2. 1 Timothy 2:9-10(NIVUK) “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
  3. Ephesians 5:3 (NIVUK) “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
  4. Proverbs 4:23 (NIVUK) “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

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