Girls can be placed in an awkward position when they are asked out. How should a girl turn down a guy? Can a woman serve her brother in Christ who goes out on a limb to ask her out on a date? The apostle Paul tells us that whether we eat or drink, we should do everything to the glory of God. This does not exclude the moment when a girl is faced with the decision to say no to a pursuer. Thankfully, there is a biblical way to turn a guy down for the glory of God. Christ can help us even in the most uncomfortable of moments.

Compassion: Decline as you would want to be declined

One biblical truth to apply to this situation is “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Declining a date doesn’t have to involve only pain. It can also be an opportunity to build one another up. There is a way to build up your brother when you decline his date. Even if he totally caught you off guard when asking you out, let him know that you appreciate the offer and are thankful for him.

Clear Intentions and a Concise Response

Many girls feel badly they are saying “no” to a guy. In order to lessen the blow, they will often leave the door open for the future. I know of some very kind girls who unintentionally offered hope that romance might be kindled in the future even though they had zero interest in a future relationship.

Even though it is hard, it is loving to seal the door shut if you are not interested in the guy romantically. When declining a romantic relationship, it is important to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:25-29).

If you are really not interested, then do not give a hint of a future possibility. Be clear with your intentions state that friendship is the only thing you are interested in. If you are tempted to keep talking in order to break the awkwardness of the moment, talk about something else besides romance. God is kind to give us wisdom and grace to be slow to speak.

Being clear and concise is like ripping a band-aid off quickly – it may hurt but it is only for a few seconds and doesn’t leave any gooey residue. You don’t want to an awkward saga that drags on for weeks when it could have been handled in a few seconds.

Ask for grace from God to be honest in your communication. It is important not to hide behind an excuse that really isn’t truthful.

“It is not God’s will for me right now” – While this statement may have good intentions, it actually places the blame on God and dodges ownership. It is more helpful to be upfront and say that you are not interested in romance and friendship is the only option on the table.

“It is not the right time” – Only say this if you want to be asked out again next month by the same guy. It would be more helpful to say that you are grateful but it is not going to work out.

“I’m not ready to date anyone yet” – If this is true, then it is good to be humble and admit this. However, this can also leave a kernel of hope for the guy to nurse on for the next several months. If you truly are not ready to date yet and also happen to know that you would never date the guy who asked you out, you should be upfront and not use this as an alibi. It is better to tell him you are not interested in a relationship with him.

What if they ask for a reason? 

This is inevitably going to happen: A guys asks you out and catches you a little off-guard. You agree with everything I just said above and try to say something that is compassionate, clear and concise. You say: “I am thankful for your offer. That is very kind that you would ask me. I am going to say no, but I am thankful for you as my brother.”

There is an awkward silence and then the guy asks for a reason. He wants to know why you are turning him down. What should you do? There is a time to speak and there is a time not to speak. It depends upon what would be most loving to tell him and what would serve him long term.

Depending upon the situation and the nature of the friendship, we can image a scenario when it is loving to explain why you are not interested. Perhaps he is immature in a particular area spiritually and could really benefit from hearing a compassionate reason why you are not interested in him romantically. You will need to exercise wisdom before responding. Does the guy have a soft heart and ears to hear? Would he benefit from knowing about a particular area so that he can grow and be helped? If so, this may require an extra measure of boldness, but you can treat him as your brother in Christ.

No one wants to be turned down, but everyone wants to be treated with compassion and truthfulness. If you are going to turn a guy down, God will give you grace to do so in a way that glorifies Christ. Ask the Lord for help during those uncomfortable moments and seek to honor your brother. They will appreciate your kindness and value you all the more as their sister in Christ. Whether you eat, or drink, or decline a date – do it all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

The content for this post comes from an edited portion of Letters to a Romantic: On Dating which will be released in September, 2017 by P&R Publishing. 

Sean Perron is married to the lovely Jennifer Perron. He is the Conference Director of ACBC and blogs regularly at Unspoken