What does the Bible say about flirting?Question: "What does the Bible say about flirting?"
Answer: The Bible does not specifically talk to us about whether or not flirting is wrong, but it does have some principles we can apply. First, we need to define what fliting is. According to Merriam-Webster, flirting is "a) to behave amorously without serious intent, or b) to show superficial or casual interest or liking." It is synonymous with the word trifle, which is something of little value. The next thing we should examine is what people are usually trying to accomplish when they flirt. Are they trying to get attention from others, whether it is negative or positive? Are they attempting to show sexual interest or attraction? Do they see it as "innocent fun," even if they or the other person is involved with someone else, even married?
Having casual contact with someone while purposely entertaining sexual undertones can be dangerous for us spiritually. Although most people believe that as long as nothing physical takes place, what goes on in our minds is irrelevant, the Bible tells us otherwise. "But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). James says, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:14–15). Our thought lives matter to God, and our thoughts also eventually lead to our behaviors.
Sin begins in our minds and then moves to our hearts. Matthew 12:35 tells us that "a good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart." It is a fact that whatever we surround ourselves with, whatever we indulge ourselves in, and whatever we fill our minds with is what we will become. This is why Philippians 4:8 says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
Although flirting is almost always described as "harmless," it rarely, if ever, actually is. Flirting may bring about enjoyable attention, but the interest shown to that person is almost exclusively sexual and will likely lack any sense of respect. Flirting can also damage a person's reputation, which can damage both current and future friendships and romantic relationships. Flirting may feel fun in the moment, but it produces a false intimacy that leaves a person feeling empty when there is no real relationship behind the flirtation.
Another consideration is the person being flirted with. It is possible that a man or woman who is being flirted with has been struggling with lustful thoughts themselves. When a person of the opposite sex is hanging on them, winking at them, touching them, or showing off their body to them, it will make the person's struggle all the more difficult. The Bible strongly warns us against tempting others to sin (Matthew 18:7). We should do all we can to bring others into God's Kingdom and never do anything that would cause a person to stumble in his Christian walk (Romans 14:21).
The Bible tells us that we are to be a good example, showing others the love of Christ through our behavior (Ephesians 5:1-2). Christ's love is real and deep. It is pure and intended for the benefit of the other. Rather than flirt, we are to love others with a godly love. First Corinthians 10:31 reminds us, "Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God."
Recommended Resources: The Ten Commandments of Dating by Young & Adams
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Questions about Relationships
What does the Bible say about flirting?