Infatuation is an intense feeling of attraction for someone or something. Often mistaken for love, infatuation can feel like the real thing but usually lasts only a short time. Infatuation is emotional and highly self-centered. When we are infatuated, we have that “over the moon” euphoria that makes everything seem happier. However, infatuation cares little about the needs or long-term best interests of its object; it only wants the feeling to continue. Infatuation can lead to long-term love but by itself is not enough to sustain a relationship. Does the Bible say anything about infatuation?
The book of Judges gives us an example of a Bible character who experienced infatuation. Samson had been chosen before birth to lead God’s people. But, like many in whom God has placed great potential, Samson got full of himself. He thought he should have whatever he wanted, and when he became infatuated with a girl who was not on the approved list, he demanded that his father get her for him (Judges 14:1–2). This was infatuation, not love; the Bible says, “He . . . saw a young Philistine woman,” and immediately wanted to marry her. He did not know this woman. He had not taken time to court her, introduce her to family and friends, or seek God’s approval. He simply saw her, and infatuation took over. During the course of his pursuit of this woman, he openly defied God’s command against touching dead things (verses 8–9; cf. Numbers 6:1–8) and consorting with the Philistines, God’s enemies (Deuteronomy 7:3). But infatuation doesn’t play by the rules.
Another tragic example of ungodly infatuation is found in the story of David’s family. King David’s son Amnon became infatuated with his beautiful half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1–2). Amnon almost made himself sick with longing for her and found a way to lure her into his bedroom under false pretenses (verses 5–6). When Tamar came, thinking she was to prepare food for her sick brother, he raped her (verse 14). The next verse gives us a lot of insight into the difference between infatuation and love. Verse 15 says that “Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” True love does not behave that way. It was never love that Amnon felt; it was infatuation fueled by sexual lust.
When we compare infatuation with love, we begin to see the differences:
– Infatuation is driven by emotion; love is driven by commitment.
– Infatuation cannot wait to be satisfied; love waits for God’s timing.
– Infatuation cares mostly about self-satisfaction; love cares mostly about the other person’s best interest.
– Infatuation spawns a host of other sins, such as lust, discontent, and covetousness; love spawns a host of godly qualities such as peace, joy, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
– Infatuation demands; love gives.
– Infatuation acts foolishly, not caring about anything except its object; love keeps a level head.
– Infatuation can end rather abruptly; love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Spiritually, people can become infatuated with the gospel. Jesus talked about this kind of “convert” in His parable about the four types of soil (Luke 8:4–8, 11–15). Many people flocked to hear Jesus. They loved the free food, the miracles, and the kind words. They were infatuated with this radical new rabbi from Nazareth. But Jesus knew they didn’t really love Him; they only loved what He could do for them (John 2:25; Matthew 10:37–39; Luke 9:57–62). That’s infatuation. Today, some think they want to become Christians because of the rush of adrenaline they felt during a worship song or because they are desperate to get rid of guilt. But they have no root (Mark 4:17), they are unwilling to take up their cross (Luke 9:23), and they don’t last long.
Although infatuation is an exhilarating feeling, we must be careful not to base decisions affecting our future upon its fleeting nature. Many people marry because they are infatuated, only to later discover they don’t really know the person they committed their lives to. Infatuation is a spark that can ignite true love and commitment, but, unless that spark is fueled with solid conversation, quality time, and a healthy dose of realism, it never becomes a flame. Infatuation can introduce us to true love, but it can never be an adequate substitute.