How to talk to girls in church
JH Kwek // June 1, 2019, 10:48 pm
We met in the children’s ministry. After serving for about a year and helping out in a camp together, we started texting. Things were going great and I was enjoying the casual, mildly flirty friendship that we were having until I realised that she was developing real feelings for me.
On the contrary, I didn’t have strong romantic feelings for her. So being the sensitive, mature, God-fearing man that I was at 18 years of age, I decided to ghost her.
Please do not follow my example.
Two weeks into my foolishness, God convicted me that ghosting her wasn’t a loving thing to do. So I met up with her, apologised, and we talked through what each of us was feeling and how to move forward from there.
It was only by His grace and His Spirit’s working that I can say we’re still friends today.
There are plenty of issues with the situation described above, but I’d like to focus on just one: The enjoyment of that “casual, mildly flirty friendship”.
Grey-zone friendships are some of the most common friendships I see in church, even among young adults. Girl meets guy, they start texting, start flirting… And then?
It’s at this point that the crux of the issue arises: We’re comfortable flirting without clearly expressing our feelings or intentions.
It’s incredibly addictive (as someone who struggles with porn, I do not use this term lightly) to have someone to receive romantic affection from, especially when that relationship comes at no cost to you. After all, you haven’t actually verbalised your feelings or intentions. If she falls for me, isn’t that her fault? I never said I liked her.
You get to enjoy the romantic sentiments of someone of the opposite gender without the commitment, care or concern that is rightly warranted by such affections. In other words, her words and affections are objects for your selfish consumption. Think about what this means: You treat her like you do online pornography.
What does the Bible have to say about the kind of relationship that men and women within the church should have?
This phrase from Song of Songs is no doubt familiar to most of us:
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or the does of the field,
That you not stir up or awaken love
Until it pleases.” (Song of Songs 8:4)
It occurs three times throughout the book (Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, 8:4) and stands as a warning to young women to keep watch over their hearts, to ensure that their affections are given wisely and not beholden to every fleeting passion of the flesh.
So what does this have to do with men? Or rather, what role do men have to play in this biblical instruction to women?
If you do not intend to pursue the possibility or marriage with her, then why have you awakened her heart?
Below are a few verses that sum up its relevance:
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
If we know that we’re to encourage and build each other up in our Lord Jesus Christ, then keeping each other from sin should be of foremost concern.
If you do not intend to pursue the possibility or marriage with her, then why have you awakened her heart? Why are you comfortable with her heart pining for you? Below are a few questions that might be of help to you as you think through these things:
- Do I care if she sins?
- How comfortable am I pointing out sin in her life?
- Do I care if she gets hurt?
- Am I willing to lay down my rights/pleasures to protect her heart?
Your answer to the above question will reveal whether you see her as a sister-in-Christ to love and encourage, or as something to consume for your own selfish pleasure.
“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.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Our intentions must be pure when we interact with one another. Flirting comes as second nature to many of us, which makes this command in Scripture particularly hard. Yet the Bible commands us to be pure in our interactions with one another. Again, below are a few questions that might be of help:
- Is what I am saying helping her love Jesus?
- What kind of reaction am I expecting from her? Is this a godly expectation?
- What is my intention within this relationship? Is she aware of this intention?
You might have noticed by now that all I have said is from a male perspective. Of course, this applies the other way around as well.
Everyone is to encourage one another and build one another up. Everyone is to encourage one another in all purity. All I’ve done is contextualise it within a familiar situation – guy meets girl (and in this example, I am that guy).
This topic is close to my heart because I know how hard it is to let go of a “casual, mildly flirty friendship”. The excitement of knowing you can receive that kind of romantic affection on a regular basis is unparalleled. The heat that builds up when you see her typing, the flush of pleasure that comes when she sends a flirtatious text.
Yet all these things I enjoy at her expense. These romantic pleasures are amazing gifts from God, but they are meant to be enjoyed between two committed, covenanted individuals, or at the very least those working towards it. It was not meant for clueless people too selfish to make their intentions clear, too afraid of real marriage to confront the sham before them.
The language the Bible uses is incontestable in its implication – we’re all family in Jesus. His blood has made us all members of His household (Ephesians 2:19). The way we speak to the women in our church is but one way this blood-bought bond is expressed.
How have you treated your family today?
The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.
THINK + TALK
- Have you ever been caught in a grey-zone friendship before?
- How did you sort out your feelings and intentions? Was it in a godly manner?
- How can guys and girls in church have healthy boundaries while getting to know each other?
- When and how should a guy and girl move beyond friendship to courtship?