Duke Jeyaraj

    Janani K writes the following lines for India Today about India’s most googled person and one of the most-watched-via-video person of 2018: “While Priya Prakash Varrier's famous eyebrow dance and her flirtatious wink are still winning the hearts of the people…Priya shoots a kiss to her romantic interest, Roshan, using her fingers in the shape of a gun and the latter is melting in love. The duo's adorable glances and their innocent chemistry is reminiscent of our high school days” (India Today, Feb. 14, 2018). Priya Prakash is perhaps sending this message thro’ her famous video/movie teaser: high school romances are cool and bring great happiness, so one should go for them! What would the Bible say about this? Before that you must listen to this real story which follows below:

    Hyderabad was stunned as the decomposed body of Chandini Jain, a Class XII school-girl, was discovered in a hillock few kilometers away from her home on 12 September 2017. She was in love apparently and went to the hillock to resolve issues with her lover, also a teen like her. Little did she know that she would be killed as she walked alone into the hillock with her boy-friend that tragic Saturday. Cyberabad Police Commissioner, Sandeep Shandilya summarized the crime this way: "On Saturday, 9th September, Chandini left her home on the pretext of meeting her friends and met the boy. They hired an autorickshaw and got down at Madhavapuri Hills in Ameenpur near Hyderabad, India. While discussing their relationship, the argument heated up and she slapped him and she also threatened that she will commit suicide. This provoked the boy and he punched her head after laying her down and throttled her to death. He then dragged her body to the cliff and fled the scene, throwing her cellphone in a pond" (see the article from the cover page of the Hyderabad edition of the Deccan Chronicle, 14 September 2017 and an additional article on page 6). Telangana Today, a local newspaper published out of Hyderabad, noted, quoting police investigation sources, that Chandini attended an inter-school event in a hotel during September 1-3, 2017, an event she learnt about via social media. The participants were supposedly given hotel rooms and booze-access in this event, according to certain reports. Though the killer-boyfriend wasn't there in this event, his buddy was there. One of the reasons for the couple's heated argument concerned Chandini's participation in this event. Heart-breaking!

    This sad story led me to a Bible truth for every teen and parents/well-wishers of every teen. That truth is this: romantic love can wait when you are younger.

    The Bible teaches this through EDICT as well as EXAMPLE.

    Let's start with the EDICTS (commands). The Bible book of Song of Songs is straight-forward when it offers counsel for the younger generation: "Don't excite love....don't stir it up, until the time is ripe....and you are ready". This is mentioned three times in this book (2:7; 3:5; 8:5).

    A Bible teacher made this comment about that repeated verse: "It has been suggested that the statement is a warning against forcing love to develop prematurely." Premature birth of love! It is happening all the time. In one's teenage years one's might generally be oscillating emotionally. One may not be steady. So it would be extremely unwise to take any major decision - especially that of choosing your life partner - in that period. It is better to postpone that decision when you are older, more mature and emotionally stable. It is advisable to make that make that critical choice after taking the counsel of older people, at a later time.

    In an another Bible book, the book of Ecclesiastes we read this: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven....a time to love..." (Eccl. 3:1,8). So when you are in school-college, focus on your books - don't get carried away anyone's looks and get hooked to a love affair! So when you are in your teen years, be all ears when your teacher/professor teaches and have no distraction whatsoever. Don't fall in love so very early!

    Don't say, "I can manage both - romantic love and my academic pursuits!" Someone smartly said, "If you chase two rabbits - both will escape!"

    If you fall in love, when you are still in your teens, you set yourself up for at least a five to seven year romance before marriage. That can be emotionally exhausting. Romantic love will sap your energy and take your time. This practical life truth is known by all married couples and attested by God in Scripture (married state is "an extra burden" according to I Cor. 7:28, J. B. Phillips Version).

    The Story of Two Holes: One In Your Heart & One In Your Pocket
    Let me narrate a familiar story (You may have heard me spin-this-very-often-very-true-yarn many-a-times in the Q & A sessions I have with youth): Two teens are in love. The boy steals/borrows from his dad and gifts a sleek mobile phone to his girlfriend. The boy also recharges the girl's phone! They talk long hours each night. If the boy misses out on calling the girl on a particular night, "madam" gets mad. Furious. She asks, "Whom have you been talking of late....? Which girl is more attractive than me to you...? Have you lost interest in me...?" After five years of energy-sapping, emotions-draining, romance, this girl finally decides to marry a boy who had a better job and greater salary than her long-standing friend. This poor boyfriend of the girl has two holes - one in his heart and one is his purse! This story is not narrated to put down the fairer sex! In-fact, you can re-narrate this story by swapping the boy's role with the girl's! Why will a teenage boy/teenage girl get into this needless, self-invited trouble, by falling in love, when they still studying?!

    Let me now move to an EXAMPLE from the Bible that warns us from falling in love early: The example of Joseph. When he was 17 or thereabouts, a woman was after him (Gen. 37:2). But he ran away from her. He knew there was a time for everything. God gave him the daughter of Potiphera as his wife when he was much older (Gen. 41:45). I see that as a reward for having said 'no' to Mrs. Potiphar! It is God's job(joy!) to 'settle the lonely in families!' (Psa. 68:6). Let's us give God the time to do that! Let's us not hurry things up and do things like Abraham did - sleep with the maidservant (fall in love early without thinking)! If we did that, we will have to live with Ishmaels (face the consequences - a marriage that often drives you to tears of regret/loss of life like it happened in the tragic case of Chandini Jain perhaps).

    While you still studying, instead of spending all your time with a "boy-friend"/"girl-friend", be friends with everyone in your class. Talk to that boy/girl whom no one talks with, the person everyone routinely ignores because of that person's weight, nose-shape or complexion. Go the extra-mile to be nice to the ignored folk in your class. Through that gesture you will have brought Jesus into your campus, in a small yet significant way!

    Whom should we marry when we become mature adults? An anecdote about John Chau, the missionary martyr to the North Sentinel Islands, gives us a clue. He refused to get into romantic relationships deliberately in the years that ran-up to his fatal mission in 2018. The Quint (28 November 2018) reports “His friend, John Middleton Ramsey, claims Chau was so obsessed with the island that he even avoided “romantic attachments because of his planned mission.” He knew that it would be extremely unfair on his part to fall in love with a girl when he was about to go on a dangerous mission for God. Or, it could be that he knew “the one who takes you to bed, will influence your head”. So, if he married a materialistic girl, there was a good chance she would talk him out of his plans to go as a missionary to North Sentinel Islands.
    If God has spoken to you about a group of people you have to reach as fulltime missionary or a tent-making missionary (I am sure God would lead every serious believer to one group or many groups to be a missionary – fulltime/tent-making missionary – to them), how have you go about the task of choosing your life partner? If you are single, you must choose someone who is as feverish like you about that mission, like you are! “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” the Bible asks us in the book of Amos (Amos 3:3). Marriage is a life-long walk and you must find some agreement about your life goals with the person you will marry. I was very particular that the person I married, would have committed for full-time ministry prior to that person’s romantic interest in me. Evan and I became romantically interested in each other in our mid twenties. But both of us, in different venues, under the influence of different preachers, committed for fulltime ministry when still in our teens! It was because of this very reason, it was not tough for Evan to tell me to stop working in the Corporate World when she knew it was too much for me to do “full time ministry” and still have “full time corporate job” on the long run!

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