Flirting is a dangerous game of “how close can I get to the ledge without actually falling off of it.” This is a game that is played way too often in relationships, and when it comes to pastoral relationships, a game that is often unintentionally played. As pastors, we have this kind of blind trust from those we lead. When we hug, or joke, or look at someone a certain way, it can be easily misconstrued as an advance. What we want to ask in this blog is how can we avoid the temptation to flirt, and compromise our position and integrity?
First, it is important to remember that in pastoral relationships, that godliness is sexiness. There is pure speculation, as I have no exact scripture that references this concept. However, speaking from a seat of experience, I have seen and heard many pastors fall into sin because of it. Here’s the deal: a pastor who lives a godly life, is in a position of authority, who seemingly has it all together and is someone who speaks into the lives of a congregation or individuals, is given a certain admiration. Think of it almost like a teacher/student relationship. There will always be some students who have crushes on their teachers. Authority can do wild things to a person. Godliness and authority is an even bigger deal
Second, then the temptation to flirt is there, flee. When we look at the story of Joseph in Genesis 39, we see a godly man who is put in a position of authority. When Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce him, Joseph ran out of the house with her clutching his clothes. He wanted to avoid temptation, even if it meant running naked through the streets. This is a literal example of God providing a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Joseph wanted nothing to do with this woman or this situation. He fled. He fled because he had a pure heart and was attempting as best as he could, as best as we should, to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace (2 Timothy 2:22).
Third, the affair starts when… your heart has been given over to it. Certainly there will be people who argue by strict guidelines, whether that is a sexual line or an emotional line. The point here is that it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that an affair starts when a single action step has been taken that leads to an affair. What does that look like? It’s the asking of another person out on a date when that situation should be avoided at all costs. It’s the phone calls, emails, and texts that are continuous when a simple reply would suffice. It’s the constant thinking of another person other than your spouse consumes you. That is your heart being given over to it. When you pursue that which is not yours to pursue.
So let’s ask a few questions:
- If you are a leader, then how are you protecting yourself and those you lead?
- If you are being tempted, then what is your escape plan?
- If you are moving towards an affair, then what must be done?
God is pursuing you with an undying, unending, ever-faithful love. Do the same for Him, and the flirtation to pursue that which is not yours to pursue will fade away.