How can I help break an impasse between two young people?


I would, please, like to know your thoughts about a particular courting problem with which I am involved.

The problem is concerning two young friends of mine, a young lady and a young man. They're both serious disciples of Jesus, as are their respective families. They and their respective families each attend a different congregation. Up to the present time, the only way these two young people know each other (besides the grapevine) is from the young man's patronage of her father's small family produce store, where she works as a cashier clerk. The only interaction which these two young people have had with each other is the simplest 'hi,' 'thank you,' and 'bye' relationship between customer and cashier.

The problem is centered around three facts:  One, the young lady's naive sense of certainly that this young man was meant for her;  Two, her efforts to encourage him to initiate a personal relationship with her by 'flirting' at him (upon the advice of her young friend and female co-worker, who also is a serious Christian, and friend of the family);  Three, the young man's unwillingness to even consider taking the initiative so long as she is of a mind to put her heart out on a limb as a means of obtaining his companionship.

This young lady's father has taught her that it is not normal for women to take the personal initiative toward a man who she doesn't already know on a personal basis. This teaching happens to match her personality, and she is quite sure it is correct. So, she seems doubly-unwilling to initiate any personal conversation with the young man (and I'm not even sure it's in her nature to do so, she's so mild).

I know both the young lady and young man personally, and am a close friend to her father. I 'hang out' quite often at her father's store, so I see and hear things that happen there.

The young lady has become quite anxious about her prospect with the young man since she began 'flirting' at him two years ago. He has been shopping there for three years.

What advice would you have for this situation, and to whom would you address it?


It is a bit difficult because there is a slight inconsistency in the presentation of the situation. You tell me that the girl flirts and the young man thinks her to be forward, yet you also say that the conversation is no more than polite greetings and that she is too mild to initiate conversation. I take it that she is "flirting" only through body language.

Let's start with whether a man should always make the first move in a relationship. Since a man is required to be head of the family (Ephesians 5:23), it would make sense that a woman would look for a man who was willing to take a lead in a relationship. But there are times when men sometimes need a push in the right direction.

For example, in the story of Ruth, Ruth worked in the fields as a charity case to supply food for her mother-in-law and herself. Ruth didn't realize it, but the field she selected was owned by a relative of her deceased father-in-law. Boaz spoke to her, realized she was related, and made sure that she was protected (Ruth 2:8-13). He even asked her to join him for lunch (Ruth 2:14). Nothing more might have happened, but Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, told Ruth that at the celebration at the end of harvest to dress up. "Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do" (Ruth 3:3-4).

Many scholars have debated as to what this symbolic action represented, but the most sensible is that Ruth was indicating that she was willing to serve Boaz (willing to be under his feet). Boaz wouldn't hear of Ruth becoming a servant in his house. He was impressed that she had not chased after men as other women did (Ruth 3:10) and he realized that she had an excellent character (Ruth 3:11). Thus, Boaz realized that he wanted Ruth as a wife, not as a servant. Yet, Ruth had to give him a small push to make him realize that she was available and worthy to be his wife by offering to be his servant.

Therefore, we conclude that a woman dropping hints that she is interested is not inappropriate. But there another difficulty -- the young man's pride. He is unwilling to consider a relationship unless he first had the idea. It never crosses his mind that the reason this situation exists is because he is the one who has missed opportunities. It makes me wonder if he is ready for marriage or if this young woman would be happy with him. He sounds like he would have difficulty listening to his wife's suggestions and giving them proper consideration simply because he had not thought of it first.

The third problem is both the young woman and the young man are making decisions based completely on surface information. The young woman is certain this is the man for her, but it is based on only seeing him in the store and perhaps. if we give her credit, what others have told her about this young man. He is making his decision solely on how she is behaving when he is around. Neither has gotten to know the other.

What I would suggest is that you discuss these points with the young man. It is he who must decide if what to do. If he is truly and firmly uninterested in this young lady, the polite thing to do is to let her know in a gentle way, so she will be willing to consider someone else.