In college my baseball coach was a strong Christian who understood the confusion for young people surrounding the topic of dating. Without compromise he boldly took 25 hormone-run college baseball players down a road few have dared travel – and none of us had ever been before: A 6-week study on Biblical Dating & Marriage by a former North Texas quarterback-turned-pastor named Tommy Nelson (Denton Bible Church).
We started the entire study with a simple exercise: Write down the top five qualities you want in a wife – and hand them in to coach. As he read some off out loud the first two or three qualities most chose was akin to terms like, “hot”, “nice body”, or like most Texas boys dream of, “Cowboys fan.” In effort to tell coach what he wanted to hear, several of us were sure to write down “Christian” or “Believes in God” on number four or five. Typical.
What happened over the following six weeks would change our lives and lists forever because something got through the thick fog of our superficial desires (some may blame hormones) and into our wayward hearts – the Word of God.
The Bible has plenty to say on who we should date because it has plenty to say on who we should marry. Therein lies the truth behind real dating which is that we date for marriage, not to test drive sexuality, play house, or because parents say we’re “old enough” to do so – whatever that means.
When I was young, cool, and 20lbs lighter back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, Beyonce was telling women to be independent and not to depend on men (still doing this), porn was telling men that women are objects for their pleasure (still doing this), ESPN taught athletes that ego was sexy and that physical appearance was everything (still doing this), and music culture told us promiscuous sex with strangers is the ultimate adventure (still doing this). Not much has changed in the way the world views relationships and nothing has changed in the way the world views other factors as well. The Bible? Boring book for virgin prudes. Parents? Old school kill joys. The pastor’s opinion? Legalistic and irrelevant. Could there be a more backwards way of thinking?
Married couples who have followed the Bible’s plan for dating, along with married couples who have lived to see God’s grace work wonders in spite of their foolish sin, long to see the next generation of believers thrive in God’s design for dating and turn their back on culture.
If you don’t believe the Bible is the final authority on sex, dating, and relationships, you’ll find the rest of this blog to be useless information. But if you are a believer who wants to experience the joy and blessing of God’s plan for dating, the lists below are a good place to start.
You can add to this list, or change minor points to clarify one way or another but one thing is for sure, if you’ll do things God’s way, you won’t be rolling the dice of divorce by betting on the world’s system. When you walk the aisle, you’ll be saying “I do” with someone who will fight for your marriage because they love Christ even more than they love you.
First, to single men:
- CHOOSE A WOMAN GROWING AS A HELPMATE
Genesis 2:18,20,22 – “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”…20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there not found a helper suitable for him. 22 And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.”
God Himself said it – don’t you forget it fellas. What’s best for you is a HELPMATE. You don’t need to marry Miss Independent who can do it all herself or any other worldly idea of Mrs. Right. Miss Independent gets old quick because she doesn’t submit to anyone but herself. Prom queens grow old and turn into queen mothers, legs for days will turn into calloused feet, cute in hat will wear a hat because she didn’t wash her hair, and the girl next door who loves your football team is going to turn into mom of your four kids who will shut off football and tell you to mow the lawn! You need a helper suitable for your God-given role because everything superficial will fade. Marriage is hard enough as it is, choosing for a helpmate based on the wrong qualities puts your relationship way behind the biblical starting line.
So what does a helpmate actually look like?
Here’s five qualities that your future helpmate will be growing in:
- She plans to care for her future children and the home if applicable
Commentators all agree that based on the context of Genesis 2, God is referencing “helping” in a broad sense, that can refer to bearing/rearing children, and tending to the home front. The bottom line is that some women will have to work to help make ends meet during certain seasons but God’s design is that her primary goal will be to pour into her children – not her career. If she does want to work, make sure there’s agreement on boundaries, or an expiration date on her corporate ladder dreams when children come. If she plans to let day care or her mother raise your kids for those crucial early years then study the bible on the topic and make plans by faith. In most cases when a man can provide from his sole income, dual incomes just means more money – and that’s a big deal to people. You may not be a home owner as quickly if you sacrifice for a season, but your real home will be blessed. If a girl your dating repeatedly scoffs at this idea, say goodbye. Thousands of other Christian women are waiting and won’t take chances with the spiritual well-being of your future children.
- She has a biblical and balanced view of money
Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” It will be painful to provide for the needs of your home if you married a dollar spending diva who doesn’t know how to honor a budget. On the flip side to that, a fearful woman who holds too tightly to money is no better. A woman without a biblically balanced view on money will seldom trust God for provision, or spend more than is earned. She’ll nag and worry when you’re learning to budget, and won’t celebrate generosity as a cheerful giver. Discuss this early on in any relationship that’s heading for marriage. If it’s a struggle, don’t dump her yet. Go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and set up some meetings with your pastor. If she still thinks money belongs to her and God deserves the scraps, politely show her the door.
- She seeks wise counsel concerning her conduct
Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored” A young woman is shaped by those who raise her and if in the picture, primarily by her mother’s conduct and father’s love. Today, the family is hardly in tact so young women often need biblically wise counsel by older, wiser women in the church who are not their own mother. A woman who refuses to submit her life to this process, will not submit herself to a husband. Accountability tests teachability, humility, and submissiveness to Scripture. If she arrogantly avoids this verse, you’ll be pulling teeth to encourage her to listen to the rest of the Bible. Also, Ezekiel 16:44 rings true as a proverb that, “so is the mother, so is the daughter.” Take a good look at her mother’s strengths, weaknesses, emotions, worries, doubts, patterns, words etc… – that’s what you’re going to have to lovingly shepherd in your marriage. Can you handle it?
- She is getting her masters degree in “what matters to you.”
Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones.” She’ll know your passions in life and encourage them in godliness. She’ll jump in the kitchen to ask your mom about your favorite meals. She’ll make your favorite meals even if she doesn’t like them. She’ll strike a conversation with your father by boldly asking about how she can best come alongside his son. She’ll remind you of your successes when you fail, remind you to be humble when you succeed, and she will take initiative and ownership concerning the things that matter to you. She’s a woman of prayer who who seeks the throne room of God on your behalf. She majors in being a helpmate to you, for the glory of God. If you’re extra “blessed”, she may even decide to cheer for your sports team – but don’t count on it.
- She is fiercely loyal to God’s Word.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” A high view of God and Scripture will govern her worship, gossip, fidelity, and more. Marriage is hard enough as it is when two sinners come together under Christ to become one flesh. A man has chosen well when he finds a woman who will bow her will when she hears, “The Bible says….” on any issue in life.
Next, to all the single ladies:
- CHOOSE A MAN WHO IS GROWING IN HOLINESS
Genesis 2:23-24 – “And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
God’s perfect design is for a man and his helpmate to come together as one flesh. Both created by God as spiritual equals with a role and a purpose that brings Him glory. Eve had it all, a garden, exotic pets, a stud hubby, and prior to sin – no split ends! Even still single ladies, you’ve been given one thing that Eve didn’t have – the choice of your Adam! Whoever says that God’s design for relationships is chauvinistic has never understood that women have the power and freedom to choose or lose a man before walking down the aisle.
As a preface to your list ladies, remember: Ephesians 5:25-28 instructs men on marital love that models Christ’s love. Two clear commands in this verse identify the job of your future husbands: 1) He must sanctify you 2) He must purify you, and do so by the Word. So how will do that if he doesn’t use the Word? How will he present you holy if he is not growing in holiness himself?
1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’”
Ladies, if you want a marriage blessed by heaven that will last on earth, choose a man who can execute Ephesians 5:25-28 because he lives 1 Peter 1:15-16.
Here are five biblical signs of a man who is growing in holiness:
- He is preparing to leave and cleave physically AND emotionally
This is covenant right here! God says marriage is to be like no other relationship you’ve ever had on earth. Mama’s boy and daddy’s boy are done away with. A holy man knows what the Bible says and is preparing to be “her man.” You can depend on him to cut the emotionally unhealthy ties that many mothers and fathers try to keep attached. Ladies, if he doesn’t behave like a man around his mommy, then that’ll be a little boy standing at the altar for you. Ask him early on if he cringes at the thought of telling his mom the following four statements: 1)”Mom, you cannot show up at our house at 9pm on a Friday night” 2)”Mom, you cannot decorate our kitchen, living room, or any other room in my house for that matter without my wife and I consenting.” 3) “Mom, I will not pick up your phone calls every time you call, or the four times you call after that.” 4) “Mom, you cannot be in the room when my wife delivers our first child…we’ll see you when my wife is ready to see people.”
- He is a proven provider
1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Don’t confuse hard work with proven provider. Hard work is subjective and can be defined however a man wants to define it. Some guys think 8 hour days obeying the boss is hard work, while others don’t even consider it a work day unless their daily goals were met and 10 solid hours were put on the clock. Neither are right or wrong – it’s what his work produces that defines it as provision. A farmer can work hard farming the wrong way all season and produce nothing! A man must produce to provide. Ladies, ask him about his job, his last annual review, and listen for how or even if his boss talks about him. Is he excited about his job and new projects? Or does he keep getting fired or quitting because the boss man just “doesn’t get it”? How much time does he spend playing Call of Duty on Xbox Live vs. reading his bible or seeking employment? Ditch the head-set wearing toddler ladies. A warrior-man awaits!
- He is a spiritual protector
You’ll know you’ve found a warrior who can protect you because you can’t miss his shiny armor – if you’re lucky, there might even be some of Satan’s arrows stuck in his shield of faith. He’ll be girded with truth, confident in salvation, protected by righteousness, unpierced because of faith, walking in Gospel power, wielding the sword of God’s word! Ladies if he’s not wearing shiny armor don’t wear his shiny ring (Ephesians 6:11-18). Here’s a question before your first date: “So tell me, are you a Bible-man?” If you’ve already dated him for a while ask him that question at your next dinner date. If he says “No, but I’ll start today”, introduce him to your pastor or small group leader. If he scoffs at God’s Word and His armor, order ice cream to go, dump him politely, leave your church’s info, and text your girls to pick you up. That’s constructive dumping – lovingly evangelistic and obedient to Christ.
- He is a selfless lover
Sexually speaking, you hopefully won’t know exactly how this one plays out until your marriage kicks off, but biblically speaking, that’s about all the mystery there should be. Has he proven to be selfless in numerous ways that don’t involve anything sexual leading up to marriage? Is he thoughtful, sensitive, and compassionate towards you and others? Is he courteous? Chivalrous? Opens your door? Fights to pick up the check? Respected by those in his life? Can you already picture him being the sensitive husband who spends three hours just “talking” with you, or caring for your emotions when you’re having a difficult time? (1 Peter 3:7). Those are all vitally important questions to answer before putting on that wedding dress.
- He is a self-controller
Every guy will hang their head on this one because who hasn’t done or said something that lands them in hot water? But ladies, don’t lower the bar because he’s a handsome smooth talker. Leave the bar biblically high – it’s good for him, and for you. Men need to be held accountable to growing in holiness when it comes to self-control and the number one way to spot his growth in this area is that big gaping hole just under his nose! How does he talk to you? Is he encouraging or demeaning? Is he passive aggressive or does he objectively express his emotions? All of these are things you will want to work through prior to walking the aisle.
James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious but yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”
God graciously gives you His word on dating, and shows you the joyful blessings that come from walking in total obedience to Him. He’s an amazing Father who has your best in mind. Choose His will. Choose with the end game in mind – His glory.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. Go ahead, make your list.