Ethics: Male Friend has Lunch Frequently with Female Coworker

What would you do Wednesday!

While out at lunch one day during the week you spot one of your friends from church. You walk over to his table to say hello. Spotting an empty chair with a half eaten lunch, you ask if he is having a business lunch.

He is having a business lunch with a coworker. He mentions that the coworker is a manager in another department. He admits, “I am hoping to build some goodwill with the manager. So, for the past three months we have had lunch together a few times per month.”

Just as you are about to walk away to get your own lunch, the manager – a professionally dressed attractive female – sits down. Your friend introduces you and you are on your way.

Sunday morning rolls around. You go to say hello to your friend and his family. You mention that it was nice running into him at lunch last week and you hope all went well.

His wife says, “Oh, you didn’t mention that to me. Did you have a business luncheon?” He replies, “Yes, it was just lunch with a coworker. No big deal.”

As soon as the wife walks away, your friend whispers not to mention details of the lunch or that his coworker was female because, “she just wouldn’t understand.”

What would you do? What would you say?

Here I blog…


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JackGandy July 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm

The Word clearly admonishes us to shun the very appearance of evil. For this guy just to have lunch with this co-worker is a violation of that principle. And for him not to want his wife to know anything about it leaves little doubt that there is probably more going on here than merely a business lunch. I would not say anything to his wife, but I would definitely share my concerns with him.

2 GraceForSinners July 25, 2013 at 9:28 am

Not sure the “appearance of evil” passage is a great argument. I’m guess you’re using KJV. The appearance of evil is all kinds of evil. My problem is this guy is being dishonest w his wife.

3 Mark Lamprecht July 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

JackGandy While I would certainly share my concerns with the man, there may come  point that I would also share with his wife if he is unwilling. I’m not sure about the appearance of evil application which seems to express that simply having lunch with someone of the opposite sex appears to be evil.

GraceForSinners Yep, my problem is him keeping the luncheon from his wife. I’d wonder why.

4 GraceForSinners July 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

Completely agree. I’d gently prod him to share what he’s doing w his wife and then not so gently if he refused.

5 Joshua T July 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

Straight forward and very dangerous. Not that sin is occurring but flags should always go up when we compartmentalize our lives in secrecy.

6 vickiannS July 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

The big problem here is the one he has with his wife-if he doesn’t want her to know what he is doing in this matter, I wonder what else he is hiding. Honestly that question has to be answered before we delve into whether he should have lunch frequently with an attractive co-worker.

7 Darrin July 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

It’s not a good idea for a married person to spend a substantial amount of time alone with a person of the opposite gender, whether their spouse knows about it or not. Emotional attachments can form quite easily, for some people more quickly than others. I also believe that the “appearance” issue does hold value, whatever translation you are using. Christian prudence should guide us. It’s risky and it doesn’t look right.  I don’t believe it is worth whatever we think we might gain by doing it.

8 ksherrill July 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

Without knowing more I cannot assume anything is wrong.  The concern here is “WHY” does he not want his wife to know.  Is it because she has trust concerns and is likely to over react?  Is that because he or she has strayed in the past so she would likely assume that things are not on the up and up?  Is he actually straying now or planning to?  If he is a friend I would ask why we needed to keep this from her and let him know that it is not healthy to have secrets or tell half truths in a marriage. 
I also Strongly Disagree with the thought that just because someone has lunch with someone other than their spouse that there is reason to assume there is some form of infidelity.  I travel a lot with my job and I have lunch and dinner with women; if they are part of a project I’m working on it may be 5 to 7 nights a week several weeks in a row when I travel.  Be careful what you assume if you make assumptions based on how a situation may look isn’t that the same a judging them?

9 Joshua T July 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I need to reply and correct myself since I didn’t answer Mark’s questions.There are many ways to minister to this friend. “Building goodwill” can occur with accountability. Encouraging him to be open about the importance of his integrity could go a long way with the manager. Recommend they have no future lunches alone.
At the same time, the marriage relationship is the most important human interaction a man can have. It must be clear in our minds and the minds of our spouse that our work will never trump them. I’m actively rejecting any concept of him being unfaithful in this situation. I would instead minister by saying that a promotion or transfer is not worth secrecy from a spouse. If they can’t support you in the path you’ve set then 1) you shouldn’t do it or 2) you need to heal and mend the relationship so that you recieve support.
More could be said but this is a more complet answer than my previous shortness.

10 navychristian July 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Tell him that, if he’s bothered by his wife knowing, then he’d better not do it. If I see it again, I’ll be bringing it up again. Find another way to build a professional relationship…not one that can be mistaken as a date.

11 Andrew Wray July 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

run away run away

12 Bennett Willis July 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

If it was with a “homely” co-worker, would it be better?  There seems to be quite a bit made of the situation that the co-worker is attractive.

13 Mark Lamprecht July 26, 2013 at 10:06 am

Bennett WillisI see only two people mention the attractive part – me in the post and one comment. The same could be said either way regardless of the woman’s looks, but it adds tensions to the seeming dilemma. Such tension is normally part of these types of questions.
What is your answer – If it was with a “homely” co-worker, would it be better?

14 Bennett Willis July 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Mark Lamprecht Bennett Willis Homely is in the eye of the beholder.  I don’t think it should matter.  Also, there is emotional infidelity and physical infidelity–and of course sometimes both. 
I tend to think that navychristian has it right (comment below).  If you would not be comfortable with the spouse being at the dinners, it is a bad idea.


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