The Problem: A Wrong Understanding of Kindness
What led to this false idea was a two year stint in a youth group that focused far more on “who liked who” than it did on Bible study. It was a group where we girls were far more interested in boys than we were our Bibles – and where merely talking with a boy was the same as being interested in him. So naturally, when my family started following a very conservative Christian ministry and my dad moved our family to a new church plant, I so strongly rejected my boy-obsessed mindset of the previous two years that I went headlong into the somewhat legalistic teachings of that new ministry (even going so far as adding my own self-imposed rules to the mix!).
Never again wanting to come across as boy-crazy, I determined that I would just never talk to the young men at our new church. After all, that should do the trick, right? Wouldn’t that tell everyone that I was a pious Christian girl, intent on never acting in a flirtatious or forward way?
Instead, I soon learned that my actions told everyone I was cold and standoffish.
The Solution: A Right View of Guys
Unbeknownst to me, my dad noticed my standoffish ways. He came to me one day and asked, “Bekah, do you realize just how rude you are coming across to those boys?” I replied that I didn’t want to be guilty of flirting or acting inappropriately towards them. His response was golden: “You are acting inappropriately right now. You are giving those young men, whom you ought to be treating as your brothers-in-Christ, the cold shoulder. There is nothing wrong with carrying on a conversation with them. In fact, you should be talking to them – you should be showing them kindness, just as you would anyone else.”
My dad’s lesson that day changed everything for me. I discovered I was guilty of a pretty common practice among Christians – a tendency to so reject the worldly way of doing things that we run as far the other direction as we possibly can, landing not in God’s way, but over in far right field, in the legalistic camp. Neither extreme – boy-obsessed or never talking to boys at all – is correct.
How then do we navigate these waters, and how do we know what healthy interaction between guys and girls actually looks like?
How to Practically Live This Out
View the young men around you as brothers-in-Christ.
This is the foundation. First remember that guys are people, too, not objects for marriage material. The day my dad called me out, I saw that my problem stemmed not merely from a desire for purity (which is good), but from a tendency to view young men at church as nothing more than marriage prospects, rather than as my brothers-in-Christ as I was called to do (1 Timothy 5:1). This was just as much an objectification of young men as the culture is guilty of regarding young women. My actions revealed a worldview where young men were viewed as potential husbands or objects for my romantic feelings (as if any guy in his right mind would be attracted to a cold, standoffish girl like I was!). When we view the guys around us in this way, it becomes incredibly difficult to then interact with them in a healthy, God-honoring manner. Viewing them as brothers-in-Christ is the starting point.
Don’t awaken love until it pleases (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4)
Though I didn’t always see it, there is a distinct difference between showing kindness and flirting. To flirt is to “act as if one is sexually attracted to another person, usually in a playful manner.” While this is great in other seasons of life (like in marriage!), we can see that this has nothing to do with regular kindness, and instead could be a case of awakening and encouraging certain desires before the time is right. Which leads us to…
Understand that it all depends on the heart, not a list of rules.
This mission to strike the perfect balance between inappropriate flirtatiousness and inappropriate standoffishness is ultimately a heart matter, not something that will find its answer in a legalistic set of man-made rules. The Bible never outlined a ten step program or a list of specific dos and don’ts when it comes to our interaction with guys, so neither should we. What we should be doing is asking ourselves questions which will help us get to the heart of the matter:
- What is my motive right now in talking to him?
- What are my feelings or intentions towards him?
- How does a sister treat a brother? Am I treating him in that way?
- Is my body language, facial expression, or the words coming out of my mouth dripping with flirtatiousness, or kindness, encouragement, and a desire for the guy’s best interests?
- What feelings are my actions right now arousing and can they be Biblically acted upon?
To close, let me leave you gals with this reminder – guys want to be friends with you (and God wants this for you both)! They want to interact with kind, gracious, godly girls. There is a rich beauty to be had in friendships with guys. Don’t deprive yourself of this gift through a misunderstanding of what constitutes as kindness. Look to the Lord, seek His wisdom, and delight in the friendships He provides for you.
Today’s post was written by Rebekah Hargraves, a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, blogger and podcaster residing in Tennessee. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey to biblical womanhood. You can connect with Rebekah on her website, Facebook, or Instagram.