rebelling against low expectations

10 Lies Culture Tells Teens About Love, Sex, and Romance


We live in a culture that is constantly talking about love, lust, sex, and romance.

It’s hard to get away from, honestly. You can barely turn on the TV, walk around the mall, or glance at a billboard without being assaulted by it. Of course, the mere fact that culture is vocal about it is not the problem. It’s an important conversation to have, for sure. The Bible itself frequently talks about it, revealing God’s concern for it.

The problem is what culture says about love, lust, sex, and romance. Unlike Scripture, culture is driven by a sinful and emotional perspective which feeds us lies that damage and pervert this beautiful gift. Here are 10 of the dominant lies culture tells us.

1. Love is lust.

The picture of true love that culture paints for us is nothing more than a cheap Polaroid of lust. Watch a modern sit-com or rom-com, and you’ll see this spelled out plainly in the portrayal of our hookup culture and the ubiquity of sex before marriage. Love is not steadfast, faithful, and forever. It is selfish, fickle, and feeling-fueled.

2. Romance is eternally satisfying.

Romantic love is idolized as a god that brings deepest satisfaction. Culture tries to convince us that relationships are what fulfill us and that significant others are saviors. But humans are sinful and incapable of satisfying our restlessness for meaning, purpose, and acceptance. Romance doesn’t have the power to save.

3. Boundaries are legalistic.

To our society, purity and abstinence are retrograded, prudish words for an ancient world. We are modern. We are liberated. That means boundaries are obsolete. Legalism has no place in love. Yet they don’t realize that boundaries are actually an expression of love. Boundaries exist to protect. Boundaries exist so purity can flourish and thrive. Boundaries are for our good.

4. Follow your heart.

Perhaps no lie is so pervasive or destructive as this one. We’re told: if it feels good, do it. Take a risk, take a chance, live in the moment. As long as you’re doing whatever you want to, you’ll be happy. Surely the prophet Jeremiah would disagree: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

5. Sex doesn’t have any consequences.

You can give your body and mind completely to another person – and walk away like it never happened. This is a subtle lie woven throughout many of culture’s narratives (think movies, shows, books). Yet sex is an act God created for one man and one woman to participate in within the sacred confines of a covenant marriage relationship. Two become one flesh, a physical union to represent the emotional and spiritual one. Despite culture’s cry, sex has long-term consequences, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

6. You have to date a lot.

To find “The One,” society expects teenagers to date and date and date until they find them. Dating is what we do. It’s pushed and pressured. There’s a lady at my church who has been half-jokingly asking me for years if I have a boyfriend. The answer’s still no. I’m convinced that teen serial dating is not the path to true romance.

7. Marriage is the Ideal.

Singleness is sad, culture says. If you’re not in a relationship, you must want to be in one. And of course, everybody wants to be married. That’s the ultimate, the pinnacle, the moment you’ve reached life perfection. I’ve even seen this lie steal into the church. Marriage is idealized and idolized and the important season of singleness minimized. That’s neither fair, nor biblical (1 Cor. 7:8).

8. Parents shouldn’t be involved in your love life.

It’s so uncool for young people to have their parents hold them accountable, talk to them about love and sex, or put restrictions and guidelines into place. How stifling. How babyish. Yet this is exactly the model Scripture gives us – parents training their teens to grow up and pursue healthy romantic relationships. Culture would want you to be ashamed of your parents’ involvement in your love life. God would want you to be gratefully joyful of it.

9. The Bible doesn’t speak into modern love.

Culture considers the Bible’s norms and instructions regarding love, sex, and marriage to be repressive and tyrannical. It speaks into ancient relationships, fine, but it has no place in the contemporary world. What a tragically flawed view. The Bible speaks into every area of life – even, dare I say especially, love.

Read the Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ruth, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians. Read the whole Bible, and you’ll find principles and practices and failures and instructions on godly love and relationships. Romance is a pretty big deal, and God is not silent on it. Don’t let culture tell you otherwise.

10. You were made to love (people).

That sounds good, right? That we were created for the glorious purpose of loving others? It likely sounds good because it’s got some truth in it. God did create us with the capacity and desire to love others. But first and foremost, He created us to love Him. We were made for God, not humans. The deeply-rooted, unfailing, everlasting love our hearts crave is only found in Him.

No matter what culture says.

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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • This is a great article. So many people don’t realize so much of this stuff. Thank you so much for bringing this to light for everyone to see.

  • This is so great! Most people don’t see the lies that our culture is feeding us. Thank you so much for writing this!

  • Really good article. These lies are all so prevalent we barely even think about them anymore, but it’s so easy to let them get a foothold in our mind. Thank you!

  • Yes! Something I’ve been learning lately is how much these lies can creep in unseen, and we can unconsciously fill ourselves with them from the books we read, the movies we watch, and the songs we hear. I’ve realized that even some of the ‘cute, sweet’ love-songs assume that we should get our complete fulfillment from another human, or that our heart is the ultimate standard… which are troublesome things to plant in your mind when you are already enough of an emotional teenager! 😀 Thank you for this!

    • Yes yes yes. You are so dead on. I’ve recently been thinking about some of the exact same things – especially how these lies can creep into our lives so quietly. Sometimes I can be tempted to focus so much on culture that I miss where I’m being infected by its lies. This is so important to remember. Your comment was such an encouragement! Thank you, friend. 🙂

      • Yes, the difficulties of balancing being in the world but not of it! :/ And it’s rather troubling when you realize that the most dangerous things for you aren’t the big, blatant, ugly, sinful things, but the little lapses that can sneak in. So, basically, yes, courage dear heart, stay vigilant! 🙂
        Well, you’ve always been such an encouragement to me, so the least I can do is return a little bit of the favor. 😀

  • Thank you Jaquelle! Like @BelleIngalls:disqus I have been learning similar things! This was a much needed article for me. Thank you for your concise, no nonsense way of stating the lies of Satan (-:

  • This is fantastic, Jaquelle. Thank you for standing up and exposing the lies of our culture that I for one am often far too ready to accept.

  • I’ve read several pieces written by Jaquelle and shared them on my FB page (as I will w/ this one too).
    Most articles are specified for young people, but I have found that they’re also very applicable to older and gray-haired people, who still “drink milk” like babies. Especially in the romantic love!
    Your parents did an excellent job in raising you, Jaquelle. Must’ve leaned wholly on God’s teaching while teaching you.

    • Thank you, Tiet. And I can only echo your assessment of my parents – they are amazing, and everything good from me comes from them, by the grace of God. They are incredible examples of submitting themselves to God and being faithful in parenting. 🙂

  • I don’t mean to judge but I’ve always know that the world’s view of all of these things is wrong because it’s a fallen world and of course the world’s view of marriage is going to be messed up.

  • Well marriage isnt really the ideal. I completely understand where you are coming from, but most people hold marriage as cheap, divorcing after a few years or not bothering with the whole thing entirely before giving themselves to someone. However, I do see that you are trying to explain how the importance of being single is minimized. Maybe a better caption would be “Relationships are Ideal”.

      • I think the world wants it but they may not want it in the way God wants it for us. You also have to think about how many people might not even know or think about God and if He loves marriage. Satan’s goal is to mess up God’s plan, but he can do that even in a good marriage that is not based on Christian standards. I think the world thinks marriage is temporary. It is something you can say you are just to fit in and then when you get tired of it you can just get a divorce. Marriage in the world is messed up because the world wants it in the wrong way and doesn’t want to do it God’s way. That’s one way Satan has attacked marriage.

    • I think you’re right. Its like that in the UK. Marriage is seen as unnecessary and binding outside of the church. But in certain circles within the church, there is the pressure of a view that marriage is the ideal and it’s not always helpful.

      • Yeah. I think the church is trying to combat the co-habitation idea that is now so common, but are going about it the wrong way. Also, especially for women, marriage was seen as God’s purpose for every good believer; either marriage, or single and “married to God (devoting yourself entirley to Him)”. Which is quite true, those are the two Biblical paths, only the first is often stressed at the expense of the latter.

  • First of all, great article!
    However, there is one point I feel inclined to disagree with.
    7. Marriage is the Ideal

    I agree with you that culture makes a bit more of it than it is, but what about Genesis? (English is not my mother tongue, so sadly I can’t really remember the verse)
    But we have to multiply right? We have to fill the earth! I agree with you that some people are called by God not to be married,(Paul, Peter etc.) But nonetheless, marriage is something we should strive for, (the way God meant it to be of course, Holy in Him)
    But overall this was a great article.
    (I note that I may be a bit late lol, most recent activity is a month, but I only saw this article today, and boy I just told myself I had to check it out!)
    Great job!

    • Yes, I agree! God is actually a fan of marriage and love. He wants people who want to get married, to actually pursue it His way, rather than the cultural’s way. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have culture (both secular and believers) discourage people from being interested in marriage such as the guy who wrote, “How I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” Teenagers and Young Adults shouldn’t feel ashamed in wanting to get married. They just need a parent or a trusted adult who will tell them how to pursue a spouse the correct way without losing their purity and without getting their heart broken.

    • First of all, please read 1 Corinthians 7 (specifically verse 8). I think that God has a specific plan and purpose for each and every one of His children. That may mean singleness, and that may mean marriage. Either way, the point of what I’m saying is that you should do whatever you feel God pulling on your heart to do. I have a good family friend who is not married but has done amazing things for God because of that. God uses you where you are and although He is the Creator of marriage, that does not necessarily mean that He is going to have every one of His children get married. It is not always His ideal for some of His special children. Over all, God may have you meet that special person, or He may tell you to wait or not get married. Either way, God will use you in great ways if you listen to Him.

  •  Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Rom 13:1-2 NIV.
    God calls us to have that peice of paper.

  • Thank you so much for stating the lie of dating. My teens are ridiculed for their desire to date purely. They want to save themselves for marriage. They date to find a spouse. So dating just to date is not for them. They have to put up with peer pressure from others. We are blessed to have a church that supports them as well as a great group of friends.

  • Jaquelle, I am a Biblical Counselor and I have had the privilege to spend time with many teens. I found your article to be very well written and so very spot on in identifying the tension between what our culture promotes to our developing young adults (and those not so young).
    Thank you for the Godly direction that can serve as a solid resource!

  • This is an amazing article bringing to the light the lies society has been feeding to us. Thank you so much!!

    P.S. I read your book This Changes Everything and it has really helped and encouraged me in my walk with God! Thank you!

  • This is a really good article. It is very much a wakeup call for our society!

    There was one thing I wasn’t sure on. I know that the verse you cited in “Marriage Is The Ideal” does say that singleness is good – but aren’t there verses about how we’re designed for marriage?\

    Genesis 2:18 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

    And then He made Eve, the perfect companion, and they married, right? So right from the beginning, in the perfect garden, marriage is an ideal. I believe that for some, singleness is the best route – especially if you’re dealing with something that might make it difficult. But marriage is still an ideal, right?

    Just wanting some clarification! I really loved the article though.

  • Thank you for writing this, Jaquelle! I read through the other comments closer to the bottom. I would like to hear what you have to say about what people are wondering. I wrote what I think and what I have been taught, but it would be nice to hear what you have to say. Over all, this was an amazing article! Thanks again!

  • First of all, please read 1 Corinthians 7 (specifically verse 8). I think that God has a specific plan and purpose for each and every one of His children. That may mean singleness, and that may mean marriage. Either way, the point of what I’m saying is that you should do whatever you feel God pulling on your heart to do. I have a good family friend who is not married but has done amazing things for God because of that. God uses you where you are and although He is the Creator of marriage, that does not necessarily mean that He is going to have every one of His children get married. It is not always His ideal for some of His special children. Over all, God may have you meet that special person, or He may tell you to wait or not get married. Either way, God will use you in great ways if you listen to Him.

rebelling against low expectations

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