EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION: I recently met this amazing guy at church and we are becoming good friends. He makes me want to be a better person, more ladylike, and a better daughter of God. I tend to call things out a little too soon, and I know it's only been a few months, but I am especially interested in him. My close friends really like him, too, and they all agree that there is definitely chemistry between us and that he is interested in me. I see it too, even though it's hard to decipher whether or not he really is interested. 

When he suggested that we meet up one afternoon, just the two of us, I was sure that he was interested. Then I realized that he often refers to himself as my brother in Christ and to me as his sister in Christ. I love how devoted he is to God, but it also leads to my question: How do you go about the "brother and sisterhood in Christ" and pursue a relationship with someone? It seems tricky and almost like a strange thought.

HE SAID:

When the term “Brothers-in-Christ” among men or “Sisters-in-Christ” between women is used, it is often stated to signify a closer than “standard” friendship type of relationship, more of a spiritual connection between the two.

However, what I have noticed when the same term is used as an “introduction” to describe the connection between opposite sexes, in some situations it seems to take on an almost contrary connotation.  Occasionally it is used in a sense to say, “We’re friends because we are both believers, but we’re not in a relationship.”

Since this guy has been asking you to spend time together, this doesn’t appear to be the case in your situation.  He may in fact really like you and is just using the terminology to protect his emotions, and your friendship, in the event you don’t have reciprocating feelings for him.  

When it comes to dating within the church environment, some guys get sort of “gun-shy” and are slower to pursue especially when the whole “church family” gets involved.  The expectation of a budding relationship often takes on a life of its own when many people are “praying” for it to happen.

Encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In any event, it sounds like you have found a solid Christian man, someone who brings out the best in you (which all relationships should do for one another).  Continue to challenge him to be a more committed believer and encourage him to grow personally and spiritually, as he does you.

Discover what he feels called to do so you can help to inspire and pray for him.  As your friendship grows, there will be an opportunity for you, if he hadn’t made it clear by then, to inquire where the relationship is heading.  

It is not out of line for you to ask, “Where are we headed with ‘this’?”  You have a right to know.

SHE SAID:

I certainly cannot venture into the waters of “whether or not he likes you” – your girlfriends will have to do that! However, there are a few things to be said for your question of pursuing romance while being “brother and sister” in Christ.

First of all, we are not mind readers. It has long been the business of human beings to try and read each other’s minds, but most of the time we’re not very good at it. You may not be able to gauge his interest until you have a conversation about it. Don’t be too quick to assume “he likes me” or “he doesn’t like me” unless he has specifically told you. That way you don’t get your heart set on something prematurely.

That being said, it’s so wonderful that you’re pursing a relationship with this godly young man. He sounds like a man you enjoy and respect, although to you it seems strange when he expresses interest in you while simultaneously referring to you as a “sister” in Christ. As you admitted, it could be because he is not thinking of you in a romantic light. Plenty of people grab coffee together without romance even crossing their minds (I’m a guilty party, here). 

However, it could be because he is just trying his very best to respect you and his vocabulary just strikes you the wrong way. 

In 1 Timothy 5:2, Paul tells Timothy to treat younger women “as sisters, with absolute purity.” The biblical image of the Church is usually of a family or a body. God is a big fan of family. And, if you think about it, what are the most distinguishing things about how you treat your family? You work together. You love them no matter what. And you stand up for their honor (trust me; ask any big brother about his little sister!). I think this is a reason why many young men refer to young women as their “sisters” in Christ. It’s probably much harder to disrespect girls in word, deed, or thought if he remembers that you are a beloved daughter of God, just as he is a beloved son.

HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

SHE is …  Debbie Wright, Assistant Editor for Family Content at Crosswalk. She lives in Glen Allen, Virginia and is an avid writer, reader, and participant in local community theatre.

DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!). 

GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.

Publication date: September 27, 2012