What Does the Bible Say About Flirting?

what does the bible say about flirtation

Matthew 18:7

You’re single, you’re walking with the Lord, you want to be married, and you start liking a guy or girl who also loves the Lord. The problem is, that person doesn’t seem to be showing the same interest.

What should you do? Pray harder? Fast about it? Just let it go and move on? Or maybe just go have a serious, heavy heart-to-heart conversation with that person? Pull them aside in the church foyer with puppy dog eyes? Write a long letter expressing all the inner workings of your feelings about this person?

Certainly prayer and fasting are never a bad idea. Doing nothing and moving on might lead to missing out on something good. The heavy heart-to-heart conversation might be awkward unless you already have a close friendship with this person. Plus, after that conversation the friendship will never be the same if that person does not reciprocate your feelings. The classic foyer-pull-aside-conversation is usually an epic fail. Lurking around to talk is not always appealing to some. The long letter option, well, often times it can come off a little creepy and distant . . . stalkerish if you will.

What about flirting? I know the word has a negative connotation in the Christian community. And certainly the traditional meaning of “flirting” is usually a worldly, sinful activity that should be left alone. But it’s my belief a lot of Christian singles would be on the road to marriage if they learned how to let others know that they are interested. What if flirting could be used to accomplish this specific goal but be performed without sin?

So what does the Bible say about flirting? Should Christian be flirty or should this be avoided at all cost?

What Is Your Definition of Flirting? Does Your Type of Flirting Contradict Any of God’s Commands?

To me, the first place to start is with how we are defining the word “flirting.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “flirt” as a verb which means, “To behave amorously without serious intent. To show superficial interest or liking.” Another definition reads, “To behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.”

If this what we mean by flirting, Christians should avoid this in all contexts. Christians are not called to have sips of romantic interactions with zero commitment with random people of the opposite sex.

So perhaps we will get ourselves into trouble if we use the word “flirt” since it typically means something different than what I am talking about here. What I want to say to Christian singles is that there is value in letting someone know that you like him or her by showing greater interest through joking, complementing, and being obvious that your like someone.

It seems Christian singles often feel there are only two options when they like someone who is not showing interest back. A.) Do everything the same except pray more and hope more. B.) Get super serious with the person and bare your heart for them to see your every emotion. I propose there is a middle ground that can be accomplished through flirting in ways that don’t contradict the Bible.

The value of flirting with someone you like is that you are sending a signal that you’re interested without making the situation too serious and scaring off the potential suitor. Sometimes people are clueless when it comes to relationships (especially guys. I am a guy so I can say that. I’m not clueless. Just other guys are). Sometimes people need a little nudge that if the opportunity presented itself, you would be interested in dating for the purpose of seeing if marriage down the line would work between the two of you.

Why Are You Flirting?

The Bible does not say anything directly about flirting. But there certainly are commands and principles in Scripture that should guide our understanding of flirting. Throughout the Bible, we are told to examine our motives. Therefore, when it comes to flirting, we must first ask why you are doing this.

Here are some reasons not to flirt: For your self-esteem, to make yourself feel better, to make yourself look cool in front of your friends, because you are physically attracted but not really interested in commitment to someone, and others reasons like this.

It would take all day to list the bad reasons to flirt. In short, any motive contrary to Scripture or any actions that would lead to temptation for you or another should be avoided. Matthew 18:7 says, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” If flirting is synonymous with temptation for you, don’t flirt.

But, if you are in a season of life where you feel you are ready for marriage, you like a godly person, but this person is not showing interest, then showing some obvious but light-hearted interest in that person might just change everything.

I remember a friend who told me about a girl at work that he thought probably liked him but he did not like her back. A few months later, I find out he’s now dating her and eventually they ended up getting married. When I asked him what changed once I found out they had started dating, he said they were at a bowling alley with friends, and she sat just a little closer to him than friends normally would. Nothing scandalous or anything. She just made it clear, “I like you.” Something clicked for him in that moment. He started liking her too. He then asked her out and the rest was history.

His story reminded me of Ruth Chapter 3. Ruth had to show some obvious interest in Boaz. Once she did, he took it from there!

My wife, for example, is five years older than me. Because of this I just assumed I had no chance. But she let me know in subtle but clear ways that she was open to my advances. Without any interest on her part, I would not have had the courage to pursue her. I did pursue her, I was the one who initiated our dating relationship, but she helped me out by letting me know in classy ways that it would be a possibility.

She invited me to spend time with her and her friends. She made it clear that she thought I was funny. She went out of her way to make me know she admired my walk with God. There was still risk involved for me to pursue her, but without her subtle signs of interest I’m really not sure how it would have turned out. Thank God she helped me out a bit!

Who Are You Flirting With?

This is the next question to ask when thinking about how the Bible can lead you in flirting righteously. If you show romantic interest in a married person, a person who is dating someone else, or someone you know is not marriage material, you are sinning.

The Bible makes it clear that Christians should not marry unbelievers or someone you would be unequally yoked with (2 Corinthians 6:14). Therefore you should only flirt with someone if you genuinely believe they meet the requirements of a godly spouse. I believe dating to date rather than dating for gauging marriage possibilities is unbiblical. Dating should have a focus and purpose, and that purpose is to determine whether marriage should or should not happen between two people.

If you learn through dating this person is or is not your future spouse, either way the dating process was successful because you found the answer to this question. Failure in dating is not breaking up but staying together when you know you are not going to ever get married.

Therefore, when flirting, don’t flirt with “men” or “women.” Rather, respectfully flirt with “a man” or “a woman” that you like and see marriage potential in. If you flirt thoughtlessly with people of the opposite sex just for fun, this is not right. But if you like someone who loves the Lord but that person doesn’t seem to be noticing you in a romantic way, it’s my belief that flirting is a viable, non-sinful option if done in the correct way.

How Are You Flirting?

This is perhaps the most important questions when talking about what the Bible says about flirting. Here’s some Bible verses that can shape and direct any efforts you put forward in letting someone know that you like him or her in a flirtatious way:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29)

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:6-8)

“The Lord said:Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go,tinkling with their feet, 17 therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.” (Isaiah 3:16-17)

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Adorning is a verb that means “to make more beautiful or attractive.” Flirting through dressing provocatively is sinful. Flirting that has sexual undertones is sinful. Flirting in a way that shows a lack of self-control, respect for others, or that brings shame to Christ in any way is evil and should be avoided.

A general principle that I believe will help guide godly flirting is to put the emphasis on the other person, not yourself. To exalt yourself, to reveal more of your body, or to be like the women described in Isaiah 3:16-17 is to miss the heart of what we are saying here.

But to encourage someone you like, to verbally let her know that you thought her answer at Bible study was really well put, to complement someone’s outfit in a respectful way, to laugh a little louder and longer when he makes a joke, or to sit just an inch or two closer than your normally would are all ways to let someone know that you like him or her.

Summary: What Does the Bible Say About Flirting?

In summary, don’t do anything you think is sinful. Even if other people wouldn’t think it is sinful, if your heart is convicted, then don’t do it. For anything that is not by faith is sin (Romans 14:23). But if you like someone that you believe would make a great godly spouse, sitting on your hands and doing nothing is not always the best option. Likewise, making a scene and going full blown “I really, really like you!” mode is also sometimes unwise.

So, if you like someone who loves the Lord, show some interest. Flirt a little. As long as your motives and actions to not violate the guidance God has given us in the Bible, go for it and see what happens. You never know what could happen until you try.

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One thought on “What Does the Bible Say About Flirting?

  1. Good article, Mark.

    I agree with you on flirting that there is a middle ground when it comes to how flirt. I believe Christians should be able to flirt without excess in order to let the other side know that they are interested in him or her. I think flirting also allows to be indirect that in many cases helps the flirting pair to send the right signal back without hurting the other flirting person (in case one is interested in the other and the other is not interested in). It is also culturally appropriate. In some societies baring your soul to a person of other gender is similar to transgressing the right boundaries (especially if the other person is not intimate with you). But flirting allow to keep right distance and still communicate the message.