What to do if a woman hits on a married man

Over at Sigma Frame blog, Jack gives three things you can do if you are married man and a woman signals that she wants a relationship:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Acknowledge and escalate
  3. Acknowledge and reframe the situation into something redemptive.

Of these, Jack rejects the first two. But underlying all of these options is a key assumption: that a man should want, should desire, should seek out, or should expect that this might occur. It turns out that many men are so undesirable to women (that are not their wives), that it would take a miracle for them to receive such interest. To that, I say, “Good!” A Christian should live his life in such a way as to flee temptation and sin (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Thess 5:22; 2 Tim 2:22). The way to prevent sin is to ensure that the temptation never exists: don’t tempt a woman.[1]

There are many ways to do this. I wear a wedding ring. I dress like a father (e.g. wearing my “World’s Okayist Dad” t-shirt in public).[2] I often take my wife and/or kids with me when I go places. When I’m on business trips alone, my personal casual conversations almost immediately include side mentions my wife and family.[3] It is nearly impossible for a woman to not know that I am happily married, often within moments of meeting me. I have neverover many years of marriagehad a woman indicate interest in me. If she did, it would mean she was a woman of ill repute.

But what if you are one of those attractive men that are magnets for women of ill repute? Let’s dive into some hypothetical situations and see what the Bible says to do about it.

If a Christian woman from my church hit on me, I could follow the instructions laid out in Matthew 18.[4] The first step is to immediately point out that she has sinned and call her to repentance. Failing that, a phone call to the pastor (or perhaps a male family member) is the next step. Assuming my church is typical and won’t rebuke wayward women, the last step is to treat her as I would pagans and tax-collectors, that is, as an unbeliever.

Unbelievers are lost. Jesus spent a lot of time with the lost for the purpose of pointing out their sin and calling them to repentance. So it seems that in all cases (believer or unbeliever), the appropriate response is to call out her sin and call her to repentance. If she refuses to repent, then she should be treated as you would treat any willfully unrepentant sinner.

The problem with the above is that signals of interest are often subtle and plausibly deniable. Any attempt to call out her attempt at seduction is almost certainly going to cause a scene, potentially resulting in significant consequences for one or both of you. You can and should try ignoring her (i.e. shunning her) and hope she goes away, but this may not be successful. Trying to find a way to confront her may be very difficult. While avoiding her interest in the first place is by far the preferred choice, if she does show interest and you cannot confront the sin, you must recognize that she is lost, forgive her sin against you, and FLEE![5] Do not associate with her.

[1] This is the reasoning behind the ‘Billy Graham Rule’, the Amish, and modesty rules. For example, a woman should dress modestly so as not to tempt men and it is just as wise for men to avoid tempting women.

[2] My wife buys or custom makes almost all of my many novelty t-shirts. If someone strikes up a conversation with me and mentions my shirt, I can just throw in that my wife bought it or made it for me.

[3] This is extremely easy to do. For example, it takes 5 seconds to say “Oh, one second. Let me check my phone to see if my wife sent me a message.”

[4] Matthew 18 is clear that sin is a debt. Any debt against you can be forgiven at your choice, leaving the ultimate debt of sin to God. If you wish to avoid the conflict resolution process, you can just forgive.

[5] See Genesis 39

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