To Flirt or Not to Flirt

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian | 02.21.12
Twitter: @MaryKassian

11 comments

The “look.” The tilt of the head. The flip of the hair. The sway of the hips. The deliberate caress of a curve. The cross of the legs. The leisurely forward lean. The titillating exposure of skin. The brush of the bottom lip. The cat-like stretch. The lingering touch . . . by the time a female reaches adulthood, she’s typically been well-versed in all the classic flirt moves.

Recently, I hit the street near the University of Notre Dame, and asked college-aged girls what they thought about flirting:

Is flirting really just a game? Everyone’s doing it! Our culture upholds it as innocent fun—even the five-year olds in the toddler beauty pageants are taught how to playfully writhe and pose in a seductive way.

More than Just a Game

The Sage Father warns his son about women who try to capture guys with their “eyelashes”—that is, with their flirtatious, coy glances. (Prov. 6:25) And in Isaiah, the Lord soundly rebukes His daughters for their provocative body language—outstretched necks, wanton looks, wiggling hips, and mincing feet. (Isa. 3:16)

The New Testament repeatedly identifies “sensuality” as a sin (Gal. 5:19, Rom. 13:13, Mark 7:21-23, 1 Pet. 4:3). It’s a behavior that Christians are to repent of and turn from (2 Cor. 12:21). Seductive body language could have been one of the sins Paul had in mind when he told the believers in Ephesus, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity . . . because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Eph. 5:3)

What’s the big deal? What’s the problem with flirting and showing off your womanly wares? You might defend your flirtatious behavior by claiming that you don’t intend to seduce a man to have sex—you’re just playing and are not really serious. But suggestive body language implies or hints at something improper. A woman who gives any man (other than her husband) a “come-and-get-me” look is in effect telling a lie. She is thumbing her nose at God by hinting that illicit sex is desirable and exciting. She is sinning by willfully enticing a man’s thoughts away from the path of virtue. Body language that implies or hints at a wrongful sexual act is just as offensive to God as performing that sexual act.

Not Even a Hint

The Bible’s perspective on the sin of sensuality includes more than just the type of seduction that leads to illicit sex. Seduction is ANY behavior that purposefully leads another person in the wrong direction. It’s any behavior that falsely hints that evil is desirable or exciting. It’s any behavior that entices someone to think about something improper. Even if she’s just playing, the woman who turns on her sexual charm clearly wants men to think that sex with her is an alluring idea. That’s seduction. And that’s sin.

Nowadays, Christian teachers routinely address the problem of sexual sin in regards to men looking at porn and lusting after women, but they rarely address the problem of women inviting men to lust with flirtatious, provocative body language.

The disciples were aghast at the seemingly impossible standards Christ upheld. Jesus told the guys that looking at a woman lustfully was just as sinful as having sex with her. So I’m sure He’d tell you that giving the look to the stranger across the room is just as sinful as jumping into bed with him.

There’s no getting around it. The woman who deliberately sends the invitation to look and think about sex is just as guilty as the man who accepts it.

Keep Your Body Language Holy

But is ALL flirting wrong?

Body language is part of the romantic “dance” between a couple. The glances, the smiles, and the playful interaction are important elements that signal interest and move the relationship along. Nonverbal communication is an important part of all face-to-face interaction. Some psychologists say that it conveys fifty-five percent of the overall message. The point of paying attention to our body language is not to get rid of body language, but to make sure that what we say with our bodies is just as holy as what we say with our mouths.

What do you think?

  • Is the idea that women should be careful about flirting outdated and prudish?
  • How can you tell when your body language crosses the line from sending an “I’m interested in you” message to sending a “Wouldn’t it be fun to have sex with me?” message?
  • Do you agree or disagree that “the woman who deliberately sends the invitation to look and think about sex is just as guilty as the man who accepts it”?
  • Is flirting ever okay?

(The video above is one of the dozens of short “conversation-teaser” videos on the Girls Gone Wise DVD)

Comments

  1. As Beth Moore encourages, once married, flirt all you want--with your husband! ;)
    posted by Nancy
    on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 10:47 am
  2. I think a little flirting is OK, if what you're trying to say is "I like you back and I'm interested in a relationship with you" but if you're trying to get them to think about you sexually then that's different.
    posted by God's child
    on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm
  3. Mary,
    Thank you for addressing this "touchy" subject so thoroughly. I have long been bothered by the very obvious and the very subtle ways that women flirt, be it with their language, their dress, or their body language.

    While it may seem "outdated" to be concerned about flirting in our culture, it is a topic that definitely needs to be addressed. The truth is, that it has become such a common and accepted way of life for many people, that they don't see the danger of it, and the hurt and sin that it can lead to.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your statement - “the woman who deliberately sends the invitation to look and think about sex is just as guilty as the man who accepts it”. We women need to stop putting all of the responsibility on the guys, and start helping them out by being discreet, modest, and sincere.

    Another thing that I have noticed - in your video clip, most of the young women who were interviewed seemed to feel that flirting is fine, as long as it is not done with a married man, or someone who is "attached". I have observed, though, that when someone makes a practice of flirting as a single person, that they often continue to flirt after they are married. I think it's so important for Christian moms to teach their daughters (and sons too!) how to interact appropriately with members of the opposite sex while they are young, in order to instill the values of not flirting.

    Additionally - it is impossible for us to know how our "little bit of flirting" may be read by someone else. What we think is perfectly fine, may send a message that we aren't even intending to send!

    Thank you again Mary. I appreciate your willingness to address this issue!
    posted by Melissa
    on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm
  4. Flirting is not alright and young men should be taught to ingore young women who flirt with them and look for the young women who are virtuous in their behavior.
    I know of one cult church that has a "flirt to convert" program and uses their young women to entice young men into a relationship and then to join their church. It is not an innocent gesture, it is a stumbling block for young men who are trying to follow God's Word.
    posted by Cate
    on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm
  5. When I was young, having sex was the last thing on my mind and the last thing I actually intended when I was flirting. I simply wanted attention from a young man. I agree with the majority of the post. However, I think you will find that very few girls are thinking of sex when they are flirting, nor would they be consciously trying to get a man to think about having sex with them. In order to convince young ladies that their flirtations are serious, you may need to spend more time connecting the dots between seeking attention through flirting = inviting sex. Again, I agree with the post, but as a young lady I don't think I would have understood it without a lot more dialog or explanation.
    posted by Pam
    on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm
  6. Good morning, Mary:

    Thank you for your thought-provoking post. You ask,
    "Is the idea that women should be careful about flirting outdated and prudish?" I looked up the word "flirt" in two dictionaries. Here are some definitions that I read: "to behave amorously without serious intent; to show casual interest; to make playfully romantic or sexual overtures; to act so as to attract or provoke."

    To answer your question, it is NOT outdated and prudish to be careful about flirting. Men cannot read our minds, but they CAN read our body language, and we just need to be so careful about what our body language is conveying. The key to guarding our body language is to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23). I agree with Beth Moore--flirt all you want---with your husband! Even if you are single, my personal conviction is to stay away from flirting...the risk is too high that you may be misunderstood by the man. God made man the initiator in a relationship. A woman does not need to be batting her eyelashes, swinging her hips, etc. to be drawing attention to herself. If she is interested in a man, commit that to the Lord,and if that man is God's will for her, I trust that God will bring them together without her taking matters into her own hands by "flirting."

    Blessings,
    Arlene
    posted by Arlene
    on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 9:13 am
  7. Oh for the day when we would appreciate "pretty," self controlled, and modest women.
    posted by Melissa
    on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm
  8. "There’s no getting around it. The woman who deliberately sends the invitation to look and think about sex is just as guilty as the man who accepts it." This is just like with Adam and Eve--they were both in on it together.

    I personally think that flirting think that flirting is totally acceptable--with your husband. Other than that, it is sin. I'm a teenager and I used to subconsiously think that flirting was OK. But God has shown me that flirting is NOT the right thing to do. I got to(and am at there now still) the point that I'd rather not flirt at all--let GOD attract someone to me for who I am because in the end I want God to give me the right guy anyway. Why shoot for something too soon?
    posted by KJ
    on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm
  9. I am so encouraged by both the article, as well as the responses. I feel there has been such a dramatic "swing" in the church today as regards moral purity and virtue, even amongst those who communicate sincere devotion to Christ. What happened to our biblical call to holiness anyway? Does living in God's grace dismiss that in some way?
    Discussing the area of modesty would be an added interest related to this article. Thank you so very much~ SJ
    posted by Susan Jacobson
    on Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:49 am
  10. My wife and I have been married 14 years, and she is a sweet, honest lady. She is such a sweet, nice lady that her personality can be seen as being a flirt. She told me that she likes the attention. We have 6 kids under the, 13 & under. She had worked so hard in her life to be a great mom and wife. She is more attractive today than 14 years ago. She deserves as many compliments about her as she gets. It makes me very happy for her when other men notice her, it doesn't go to her head. It also doesn't come in between us. I believe a lot of men don't appreciate the woman in their wife. Mine knows my opinion of her, and am proud she can feel good about herself. Many moms are so discouraged it wouldn't take alot to get to push them over the edge.
    posted by Shaun
    on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm
  11. I am presently divorckng a woman who wont or cant stop seducing men in my presence let alone behind my back. It has been the worst torment of my life. She finally confessed kissing some of them on the mouth for fun. I am well studied in Gods word and dont believe there is any such thing as a true christian woman who flirts. She could not violate the Holy Spirit in her withiut real heavy shame.
    posted by Douglas Nicholson
    on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 11:54 pm

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