Crushes. To some degree, we all have them. Whether it is the cute senior quarterback, the freshman seminary student, the farmer down the road, the lead singer of the latest group, the star of the most recent movie, or the son of your mother’s best friend’s sister’s cousin. I received an absolutely fantastic question in an e-mail recently:
“How do I draw the line between crush/admiration and lust?”
That question, posed by a seventeen-year-old girl, made me think of the last decade or so of my life, and all the ‘crushes’ I have had throughout the years.
I grew up in the era of boy bands. There was the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, 98 Degrees, Hanson (yes, I just laughed out loud). On the Christian scene, there was Relient K, Across the Sky, and Plus One. In response, many a Christian and non-Christian girl I knew had some guy’s name scribbled on her notebooks or his face emblazoned on her pajamas. I distinctly remember a classmate of mine having a pair of shorts with Matt Damon on them.
I went on to Christian college, where the pressure is on to meet your mate. That joke about the MRS degree (which I have affectionately defined as “Masters of the Ring by Spring”) is so true. Both in the Christian college I first attended and the Bible school I attended afterward, there was this overwhelming emphasis on marriage. Obviously, in that type of pressure-cooker environment, it is easy to latch your affections onto one man.
In the years since, I’ve still had them. Strong feelings of attraction toward different men- men in my church, within my circle of friends, friends of friends, ministry partners (single ones), Christian speakers, etc. The way I count it, I probably have close to 14 years of ‘crushing’ under my belt.
Still, I would have to say the whole area of ‘crushing’ is a rather gray one. Crushes can range anywhere from the passing thought of “he’s real cute” to the obsessiveness that leaves fans tearing off their clothes or weeping in the airport. Somewhere in there, a line is crossed. The attraction itself is not necessarily wrong. The degree of that attraction is wrong.
While the line may not be clear-cut and defined, here are some thoughts that may help make it a little clearer.
1. Attraction is not wrong. It is not wrong to find a man attractive. A man, just like women, is a creation and a masterpiece at that. As a woman, at the risk of sounding like a freak, I think men can be beautiful (er, handsome?). The way they are made; the way they think; the way they work. It absolutely fascinates me. It attracts me.
I think, without being objectifying, that men can definitely be ‘sexy,’ ‘hot,’ whatever you call it. People get upset and say just to call them ‘handsome,’ but I have to be honest, there are many men I find ‘handsome’ but few that I find attractive.
2. Attraction can be wrong. It is one thing to find a man attractive; it is a completely different thing to imagine yourself sleeping with him. It is also one thing to be attracted to a single man, and a completely different story to be attracted to a married man. It is one thing to hang out in a group with a guy in order to get to know him better. It is entirely different altogether to dress and act in a way that specifically draws his attention to you.
3. Admiration is not wrong. We can respect and admire people. We can admire qualities of people, characters traits, or even their contributions to society. We can admire their vocal abilities, their bodies, their talents, the list goes on.
The other Sunday in church, our worship team sang Amazing Grace a capella, and the bass. Oh the bass. I was absolutely breathless. Nothing gets me like a good bass (knowing God’s humor, I will end up marrying a tone-deaf tenor). As a woman who loves to sing, especially harmonies, I admire that man’s ability to stay on pitch and carry that rich, deep harmony.
4. Admiration can be wrong. There is however, a difference between admiring a man’s singing abilities and waiting in an airport for two hours just to catch a glimpse of him and weeping when you see him, as if Jesus himself just walked off the plane. That is exactly the problem: admiration can quickly morph into idolatry. It is one thing to admire, a completely different thing to worship.
This is more the case when the object of attraction is someone famous who we actually don’t know. When you go from saying, “Oh, he has a nice voice” to actually wearing his face on your clothes when you go to bed, and making sure you spend extra money to buy the notebook with his face on it for school, I would say you are crossing a line. If anything generates more devotion in your life than Jesus, it might be time to reconsider your priorities.
In the next post, I am going to pull apart the guidelines a little more by posing some questions you can ask yourself.
Do you see where the lines are? It’s not just one solid line that says, “Everything on this side is right and everything on this side is wrong.” I picture it more like a maze, “Well, you were fine, until you made that turn. Go back and try again.”
I will explain more in the next post, but I, for one, think ‘crushes’ can give us great insight into our own thoughts and desires, and can be a good teaching tool.