Seduction is Not Love

Popular media and our society often confuse and corrupt the concept of love.  God has given us the Bible to clearly teach us about love, in passages such as 1Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 5:22-33, and 1 John 4:9-11.  These verses describe a relationship that is based on self-sacrifice, respect, and caring for the good of the other person. Take a moment to read these important verses:  

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres.       (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)


Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….     (Ephesians 5:25, NIV)


This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.        (1 John 4:9-11, NIV)

In our society, love is often falsely portrayed as lust, codependency, or seduction.  Seduction means leading someone astray, tempting them, or enticing them to do what is wrong.  Seduction could cause a person to get involved in something that is not in their best interest, to do what is wrong in God’s eyes, or to go against a healthy boundary they are trying to maintain.  More broadly, seduction is a conditional offer or promise of benefits, based on selfish motives. The serpent seduced Eve by deceiving her with promises of rewards and by leading her to believe that she was missing out on something good (Genesis 3).

In Numbers 25, the Moabites and Midianites tried to use seduction in order gain power over the Israelites.  The Moabite women invited the Israelite men to indulge in sexual immorality, parties, and idolatry.  This brought sickness and death to the Israelites.  In Numbers 25:16-18 God calls those who use deception and seduction enemies. 

Seduction can entrap us in harmful or abusive relationships by deceiving us to believe that we are being offered love, or by seeming to promise us something we want or have been longing for.  Perhaps this might be the prospect of marriage, a home, security, pleasure, sex, or escape from loneliness or need.  However, seduction is relationship with a price tag; it is counterfeit love.  It may give short term enjoyment, but ultimately results in harm. As God points out in Numbers 25, those who would seduce us are our enemies.  Seduction could entrap us in a domestic violence relationship.  A relationship might start out looking like it offers us many benefits, until abuse and control creep in, or we feel trapped in a difficult or unsafe situation.  Seduction is based on manipulation and control, and so is domestic violence.  Many domestic violence abusers are masters of manipulation.

In dating, we need to be alert to seduction.  Be on the lookout for those who make attractive offers for their own selfish purposes, or to get something from us.  (If it seems too good to be true, it may be just that.)  We, on our part, must not lead others to do what God says is wrong, or try to use others in order to get something for ourselves.  We should not tempt or tantalize others, whether it is with seductive clothing, trying to “buy” someone’s favor, or giving in order to get something in return.

In dating or forming new relationships, watch out for these clues to seduction:

  • temptation to go against what God says in the Bible (e.g., premarital sex)
  • questionable compromises (e.g., “Let’s skip church today.”)
  • appeals to an area in which we feel needy (e.g., “I’ll take care of that for you.”)
  • offers that could have ulterior motives (is there some kind of “deal” going on?) 
  • any form of deception (e.g., “It’s not mine, I’m just storing it for someone.”)

  As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, real love is not self-seeking; it is offered freely, without demanding to receive in return.  It is respectful and has the other’s best interest in mind.  Real love does not lead others to violate God’s ways.  It seeks to protect from sin and harm.  It is how God shows His love to us, and how He asks us to love also (1 John 4:11 ).


Discussion Questions:

1)      Do you think you may have ever been seduced or deceived by an abusive person?

2)      Abusers may tell their victims that they love them, even as they hurt them.  How do the actions described in 1Corinthians 13:4-7 contrast with what is often seen in domestic violence?

3)      Think for a moment about what you want or need in your life right now.  How might someone possibly take advantage of that need for their own gain?

Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy