By THE SET APART GIRL TEAM
Flirting – it is such a common, accepted practice. Many people would even say it is a perfectly fine and sometimes necessary way of relating to the opposite sex. Some might say that having a forward, provocative demeanor is the best way to be attractive to guys. This mindset has also crept it’s way into the church. In fact, the vast majority of the flirting I have seen in my lifetime has been in Christian circles. Even I, who grew up in a conservative Christian home where it was by no means condoned, was guilty of it more than once.
Why is it that flirting so widely accepted? Is it really as harmless as people make it out to be?
Let’s contrast the description of two different kinds of women in the Bible. We’ll start with the “forbidden woman” or adulteress. We see that she is “loud and wayward” (Prov. 7:11), that she uses “smooth words” (Prov. 7:5), and she speaks with a “bold face” (Prov. 7:13).
Now, let’s look at the description of a godly woman; she “opens her mouth with wisdom” (Prov. 31:26), she has a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4), and is “reverent in behavior” (Ti. 2:3).
Although flirting may be accepted, it is certainly not found in the description of a woman of godly character – it is just the opposite! What comes to our mind’s eye when we think of a flirtatious woman would probably align more with the character of, well … the adulterous woman. Now, although most flirting does not go to that extent, it most certainly does not lead us toward godliness. The outcome of it is not greater purity, greater honor of our spouse (current or future), or greater love for the Lord.
How do we, as women who love God and desire to please Him in our actions and words, combat this mindset of flirting as harmless in our own lives as well as in the church at large? Here are some ways we on the Set Apart Girl team have allowed God to shape our hearts and minds in this regard, and some practical things that can be done to guard against it.
One thing that I often heard after observing too-comfortable interaction with a guy is, “so-and-so is like an older brother.” Having grown up with one older brother and three younger brothers, something didn’t sit quite right with me about that statement. There are a couple of things that don’t match up; first, he isn’t your brother. There are ways a sister can interact with her brother that are not appropriate with guys they aren’t related to. And second, they weren’t really acting toward them like sisters usually act toward brothers. As a sister, I never tried to attract my brother’s attention by forward actions, loud and joking speech, or inappropriate mannerisms.
1 Timothy 5:1 says, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (emphasis added). Although this is speaking from the perspective of a guy, it has a lot we can apply to our own lives when relating to young men. Does flirtatiousness fit into the category of treating them as brothers “in all purity”? Our desire and motive for what we say and do around guys should be for their attention to be directed to Jesus, not to us. We should never distract them from pursuing the Lord, but rather spur them on toward Him. This is a good gauge for testing the purity of our actions and words.
If you’re not sure how you are coming across, it can be helpful to ask a godly woman (either a peer or someone older) to observe the way you interact with young men, and hold you accountable to maintaining purity in your friendships with them.
One of the things that attracted me most to my husband, Ben, before we were married, was the way he interacted with the young women around him. His conversations in mixed groups were always marked by honor and purity; I never once saw him engage in flirtatious and playful behavior with a girl.
Remembering Ben’s pre-marriage friendships, makes me feel loved and cherished, because he was mindful and considerate of my feelings, before he even knew that he would marry me one day.
That is what we are called to as Christians. To consider others as more important than ourselves, and place their needs above our own. That is the exact opposite of what flirting is. In essence flirting is an unhealthy way to attract attention to yourself in a desire for approval from the opposite sex. When you send flirtatious texts, participate in playful physical interaction with boys, or post inappropriate pictures of yourself on Facebook, your desire for attention takes higher priority than the glory of Christ, or the purity of young men. You are placing your need for approval above the command of purity. Flirting is rooted in selfishness, and entirely without the humility that we are called to walk with. A flirtatious attitude screams: ”me, me, me!” and “take,take take!” while Christ’s love says “others” and “give.”
Flirting does not honor God, your future husband, or the guy you are flirting with. You are wanting candy, without calories; you are wanting the joy of something that is only meant for marriage, without the commitment that the marriage covenant requires.
Instead of following the world’s pattern, allow God to transform the way you interact with the young men in your life to display the honor and purity of Heaven!
Sitting at a wooden table tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop, Giselle sat talking with dashingly handsome Joe. Giselle playfully toyed with her hair and gazed into his hazel eyes while fluttering hers. “Oh, Joe, you’re so smart!” She gushed and sputtered through a giggle as she bounced up out of her seat. She pranced over to the barista counter to fetch her iced chai with yet another giggle and a wink to boot.
Let’s be honest. We all know what it means to flirt. And though this scene was very obviously flirtatious there are yet other ways that a flirtatious “available” spirit can be communicated to the opposite sex. Flirting is the attempt to allure the opposite sex by flaunting yourself – whether it be your wit, your charm, your figure, your smarts, your anything – rather than Jesus Christ. It is to behave in a manner that expresses your attraction and attempts to induce interest and elicit a response from the opposite sex.
Check Your Motives
Why do you frequent the coffee shop on certain days at a certain time? Why do you get dressed nicely and dolled up for church? Why did you join that particular small group?
Is there anything that you are doing to “put yourself out there” in attempt to draw the eye of a guy? If so, this is a silent and subtle evidence of a flirtatious spirit. Ask the Spirit of God to check your motives and reveal any ways that you might be putting yourself in situations in attempt to attract attention of the guys around you. Instead of “putting yourself out there” trust that God will be faithful to guide this area of your life and will bring along your Handsome Man to “find” you when the time is right. (See Proverbs 18.22.)
Carry Yourself with Class
What is the antithesis of flirting? Carrying yourself with class and mind your own business. God’s Word says that we are to seek to lead “a quiet and peaceable life” (see 1 Thessalonians 4:11) and this includes the area of guy/girl interaction. Rather than joining in the game of flirting and teasing, resolve that you won’t allow your eyes to wander about to see if there are any good-looking guys in the room. Decide that you won’t allow your peaked interest to steer your heart and mind off course, but rather choose continual surrender to Christ. If your eyes wander all around and your heart is continually a-flight with overwhelming attraction, what will change when you are in a relationship? What is practiced today becomes the fruit of tomorrow.
A set apart young woman bears the fragrance of Christ at all times and bears the marks of faithful surrender upon her life. Carrying yourself with class doesn’t mean being cold, blank, or boring. You and I can certainly carry on nice friendships with other guys – our job is to be yielded to the Spirit of God, guarded of heart, and centered upon Christ in our interactions. Prayerfully commit this area of your life to Jesus Christ and allow Him to lead your words, actions, and expressions. He will be faithful to guide you in His paths of righteousness as you trust and obey Him.
Stand Your Ground
“Here’s how to send him the message that you are attracted to him…” And “. . . if he does this or that in return, you’ll know he likes you back.” With mixed emotions of disgust and grief, I could hardly believe what I was reading as I recently leafed through a modern “Christian” book about relationships. Flirting these days is considered an art form to be studied, practiced, and perfected. It’s true, even in our “Christian world,” flirting is something that has been earmarked as a good, right, and normal way for guys and girls to interact and “test the waters.”
Because of this twisted mindset, it can seem obscure for a young woman to resist caving to the pressures of our culture, church society, family, and friends. Refusing to “put herself out there” or “give him a hint” is seen as completely prudish. Rather than seeking advice from people that don’t hold a high standard in this area, seek out like-minded godly people who will encourage and strengthen your stance in waiting for God’s best.
Remember that you are not alone in seeking God’s best in this area of life. Though you may feel like a tiny minnow swimming upstream in a raging river, continue on with joy and full persuasion that this is the way that God has called you. Stand your ground and hold on to God’s timeless promises to strengthen your heart – “…be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you…” (Josh. 1:9).
Even today, you and I can be faithfully committed to the man that God has chosen for us by first being fully committed to Jesus Christ and His glory in our lives.
Prayerfully (and as necessary, continually) surrender this area of your life to Jesus Christ. If you are faithful to surrender all to God and seek His Kingdom first, there is no need to wallow in worry about how to interact with the guys of your life. As the King of all kings moves into your heart and purifies your life, honorable interaction with the opposite sex will be an outflow and demonstration of Christ’s reign over this area of your life.
God’s Grace Awaits
Even as set apart young women, we likely cannot claim peaked perfection in our interactions with the opposite sex. Though being set apart does not mean being perfect – it does mean fully surrendering to the One who is – and allowing His transformation and nature to take over and brilliantly shine in every area of our lives – guy/girl interaction is no exception.
As God touches on this area of our lives and gently guides us in His purity, our required response is to yield to His pruning and ask for His grace to walk upon the higher road of heavenly honor. Upon our whole-hearted plea, God’s grace awaits to take us by the hand and lead us onward in His strength!