Boy Meets Girl

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  • Posted on: 4 February 2016
  • By: Andrew Smith

{I am currently writing this as a single man. However, I base what I am about to write on the bible and so submit to you that I am qualified to share what I have learned because it is scriptural. If we do not hold things which are from God’s word to be the highest authority on these matters, we are betraying our well-hidden view that the bible is not sufficient to understand Gods view of relationships and marriage. If reading it in the bible is not enough, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The word of God is sufficient in these matters, we have what we need in the bible. My marital status does not change the eternal truth of God’s word and Christ work}

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
(Genesis 2:15-25)

God made us in His image and likeness, to live in loving relationship the way the Trinity does. God Himself says that it is not good for the man to be alone, and it seems that Adam agrees because he literally sings a song when he sees Eve; climaxing in the first wedding. Notice the sequence: a man leaves his parents, and is joined with his wife and has kids (Genesis 1:28). God’s intention and plan for most humans is just that. The problem is that just after this passage, sin enters the world and affects everything and we see its effects on marriage through history and, in particular, on dating today. The resultant effect of this sin on the western world can be seen in 2 prevalent attitudes toward marriage. The first is one of fierce independence, that is, not getting married or having kids so that there is nothing in the way of fulfilling your own hopes and dreams. I have even heard commencement speeches from university deans encouraging students to follow their dreams instead of marrying too early. The second attitude is one I have experience in churches both subtly and abrasively: being treated like a second class citizen if you are not married and have kids. Most churches are set up to be “family friendly” and so without a wife and kids there isn’t really a place to serve as a single guy, or any leadership roles to play. Both of these attitudes are idolising a man-made idea and so firstly it is important for the christian man to have his focus on his relationship with God, as opposed to fleeing from marriage to serve yourself, or using marriage to climb the cultural ladder. So, the first thing that is required for any kind of a relationship is walking as a faithful christian.

The second issue we have to be conscious of as christian men is whether we are listening to the God’s word the bible or to culture & society when it comes to plotting a course in the realm of relationships. Over the course of my single life, I have lost count of the number of pieces of advice people have given me that are not only unbiblical, but which follow the pattern of non-christian dating. Most of this advice has left me discouraged and feeling worthless, as in that system, things are all a matter of chance or competition. Thankfully, because nothing is ever about chance with God and nothing is about how good you are in yourself, these experiences have ended up pushing me back to what God says about how to go about “dating” in His word.

The third issue that seems to rear its head in relationships, or worse, some years after the wedding, is whether you believe marriage to be about more than happiness; that marriage is actually for your holiness, to make both of you more like Jesus. Many married people will testify that you basically find out how selfish you are when you are married because you will start to step on each other’s nerves (as opposed to just toes). For the moment, let’s have a look at 4 different ways that dating is possible; one of which is definitely not biblical.

Pre-arranged Marriage

Most westerners recoil at this phrase, it was pretty common in the Old Testament (Genesis 24:1–67), and in Indian and African countries this is the norm. In Isaac and Rebekah’s case, his father trusted his oldest servant to judge the character of a possible wife for Isaac, from people he knew would be wise choices. The same applies for those who practice this today. I have a friend in Nigeria whose father prearranged his marriage to a woman he grew up with and got to know over time. They were married recently and I asked him how he felt about the process, now that he is married. He replied that he wanted a good start like his parents did, and trusted his father’s wisdom and that he is glad he did. He said that he was confident that both his parents and his wife’s parents were supportive of their relationship and would always work to resolve situations and help each other out. There seems to be a lot of wisdom and security in this sort of intentional combining of families, and since the goals of marriage include raising godly children and to become more like Jesus, they need all the support they can get.

Courting

In the 21st century, courting may seem outdated, but up until recently, it was the way a young man would be evaluated and found suitable as a husband for a woman. We shall see later that it is only in the last 100 years that this has changed. Courting is intentional and biblical, and we even have the bits and pieces of it left over in the marriage ceremony where the father gives away his daughter to her husband. Courting is where the young man gets to know the family of the girl at their house, getting to know her father and mother, and in time, in a safe environment, their daughter. This works well if the girl’s parents have godly wisdom and are close-by geographically. Of course, not all dads who say they love God are actually godly, and it is something to keep in mind as to the character of a girl and what she thinks a man is, if her father values her enough to be part of the decision making. This is not to say that one will automatically reflect the other, but value is often a learned thing. A father who is involved in the process honours the daughter and shows the kind of man that she is looking for.

Dating In the Non-Christian World

In 1896, the word “dating” was introduced as a lower class slang euphemism for the practice of paying for sex, while prior to this the term “girlfriend” in ancient Rome already referred to a prostitute. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, publications started coming out telling women how to be a real woman: “dress like this, buy these products and do these things in bed”. 1920s and 30s there was increased opportunity for younger people to go to dance clubs and movies and an increasing number of young men with expendable income and the ability to take girls out of the care and protection of their family home to parties and balls. Social etiquette had broken down by the 1940s to the point where boys were expecting a return on their investment in these women (clothing, gifts, dinners, etc are all expensive after a while), as some felt like they were constantly giving, only to be rejected. They started to expect sexual favours for their efforts, which if you think about it is a kind of prostitution in itself. By the 1960s, the cultural revolution had embraced that kind of trade-off, feminists and the sexual revolution encouraged both men and women to freely explore sexual territory, and Hugh Hefner began publishing Playboy with the courts finding no grounds upon which to convict him for selling indecent material (which set a president for future publications of that nature). You can start to see the beginnings of the culture in which we find ourselves today, with men in the 1960s getting their hands on pornography, taking women out, both men and women expecting females to dress like those they see in the pornographic and women’s magazines and expecting something in return for their efforts sexually.

The 1970s bring with them a get-out-of-jail-free cards for both men and women in the form of the birth-control pill, of legalised abortion and no-fault divorce so that if you do get married and don’t feel like it any more, you can get out no questions asked. All of this history shapes gender, sexuality, marriage and family in an inconceivable way. The resultant transformation may be what you and I are used to seeing every day, but it is really very new, and very Godless.

As we have seen in the first study on manhood, this culture shift has resulted in the promotion and extension of adolescence, particularly between the ages of 18-35. It is no coincidence that this is the age bracket that adolescence is marketed to the most, and the age that is emotionally tapped into for the sale of products to young males. It is interesting that Paul makes a distinction which we often do not make in our society:
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

As someone who deals with kids every day at school, I can see the attitudes of young boys. The problem is that there are way too many adult men who have the income and the means of a man, but have the attitude of a young boy. According to a poll conducted last year by the ESA, the average gamer is 35 years old and plays about 6.5 hours a week online (http://j.mp/35gamers). Men in particular are waiting a lot longer to get married. In the 60s, the average married man was 23, while today he is 27. The problem here is not the age, but in that these guys are living with women, sleeping with them and enjoying the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities. 33% of all births are to single parents, 41% of women are currently living with a guy they aren’t married to. Personally, I would say that every third child I deal with in a day come from a home that has an absentee parent, having only a mother or a father present all the time. Our culture today is epitomised by the ideas found in the Jay Z/Eminem song “On To The Next One”: hook-up, shack-up, breakup, on to the next one. It treats people like products instead of sacred images of their creator God. Sexually and emotionally it’s absolutely devastating, and people somehow think that this is normal.

Christian Dating

Now lets be clear, although this uses the term dating, what follows is a redemption of the idea, by biblical principles for people who love God. The purpose of dating as christian is found all the way back in Genesis: to get married. The purpose is to have a good legacy, to have children who will honour God and to be in covenant relationship with one another. This category is for those who are older, maybe 30s and 40s, or who live away from their parents, or who do not have Godly parents. Theres no point in doing what some churches do and trying to make courtship work for these kind of people, because let’s be honest, its like mixing custard with a slinky; is just weird and really ineffective. You have a church family that is useful for advice and council, but it should never be enforced.

“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.”
(1 Corinthians 7:1-10)

From this passage, it seems to be clear that there is no sexual activity before marriage. In fact it is pretty clear elsewhere that there should be no sexual activity outside of marriage among any of God’s children (Ephesians 5:3). This section in Corinthians also makes it clear that part of the idea of marriage is to sate the strong biological urges we as guys have, in loving relationship where you take care of each other. Notice that if there is one who is in need and the other isn’t you need to submit to each other and meet the need.

Paul again talks about the possibility of the gift of singleness. There should never be anything wrong with being single in the family of God and if you are content being single, that is God’s gift to you. Some people have this gift for a season, and others a lifetime. Others of us, have a deep desire and motivations to start a family and its very clear from this passage that we need to begin to take steps and make a plan to see this desire met in a God honouring way.

“If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.”
(1 Corinthians 7:36-38)

It’s pretty clear from these verses that if you are godly and mature and you have found someone who loves Jesus go and get married. You don’t need to somehow have some sort of artificial courtship jammed into the process, or wait for some mysterious sign. This passage also reinforces the idea that whatever you choose, whether to marry or remain single, make sure that it is decisive and results in honouring God in what you do. There are way too many guys who can’t act decisively, and can’t even choose what to have at a restaurant. It’s the beginning of a life of leading your family, to initiate and be decisive.

While You Wait, Take Responsibility For Others

We’ve previously talked a bit about this idea of being alone with God, but while you are single, make your singleness count for God. Study the bible, serve God in your actions and take responsibility for others around about you to maximise your time for others as we are called to as Christians. Each person needs to be aware of their limits, but as someone who is chronically ill, I can testify that there is still ample opportunity to serve in this way, even with limited energy and time. If you are in a season where you cannot be responsible for yourself and others, you are not ready for a relationship. In fact, there are 4 important indicators that we are ready for marriage, but we will look at those a little later.

This idea of responsibility, first for yourself and then others, and then if God blesses you with a wife and children, is an ongoing thread in the bible. Non-christian dating seems like a big competition: to try and outdo, people to make them notice you and to attract something we like the look of and someone who tickles our fancy. Remember though, that ultimately there is Divine purpose to marriage. Firstly, in Genesis we see the idea of raising children, training them for righteousness and godliness so that when they are ready they can go into the world to be good stewards of it for God’s glory (Genesis 1:28). The second purpose of marriage is found in the New Testament: as a living, breathing picture of the relationship between Christ and His church:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
(Ephesians 5:25-33)

It’s a tough call to make, but if this is the word of God, this is what woman should be looking for in you as a husband. Until a man is ready to give himself up for his wife and his family, he is not worthy of a godly wife. This is the correct biblical understanding of headship, a term which has been distorted and misrepresented by particular groups with their own agendas. Man is to be the head of the woman because that is how the bible sets it out. Man’s heavy responsibility as a husband is to lead his family as Christ leads the church, to take apart his own life so that he gives his family a chance at life, which is what Christ has done for the church. Don’t be too quick to desire this until you understand the gravity of it. It may mean life and death. It may mean being clay in the hands of God to do what He sees fit, not what you desire
(Romans 9:20-23).

Love Like Jesus, Not Like A Pagan

It’s a man’s responsibility to lead in love as the lead lover in the family. The first big problem we inherit from our culture is that we have this understanding that love is something that is uncontrollable, an overwhelming passion that directs and controls what you say and do and how you treat a person. There is this idea that there is an overwhelming force that draws you along and tells you what to do. We are always encouraged by media, by movies and books and philosophers to “Follow your heart” God has some rather striking analysis of the human heart in His word:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

My friend Alan Stanley makes a very good point about love. He says, imagine that you come home from work with a beautiful bunch of flowers and you are met at the door by your wife. She is really excited to see that you have something for her and says “Aww, thankyou so much. Why did you get me these flowers?” If you respond by saying something like “It wasn’t my choice, I was made to by a powerful force that is bigger than both of us”, she is going to be pretty ticked off. Why? Because they weren’t from you, you did not initiate or choose the flowers she likes the best or decide to surprise her on a Thursday for no reason after she had dealt with all the troubles of her day. If you reply with something like “These are for you because I love you”, it shows that you chose to buy her a gift, you chose the flowers that she liked the most, you want to know her and what her day was going to be like and you had planned to make things better. Love is a choice accompanied by emotions, for the benefit of the object.

The second problem with this idea is that, if love is some sort of overwhelming force that is a law unto itself, no marriage is ever safe. All of a sudden “love” dictates a change of events, a new person or a redirection of feelings, and so no relationship or marriage is safe from love. That is quite contrary to biblical love because Gods word tells us that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The lie of “romantic love" is based on the Greco-Roman myth, an idea that love for something or someone comes from the pagan god cupid. Although today we are all too sophisticated to attribute the occurrence of love to a mythical source, the root of this idea still holds sway, and its remnants leave us fickle, all the while curiously leading us to believe that there is some magical “one” in whom our search will end. The problem is that objectively you and I will never know for certain that someone is “the one”, and after a time when life gets difficult with this person, there is no objective guide to say this person is, or ever was, “the one”. When the thrill is gone, you begin to think you married the wrong “one”.

The third problem with this idea of love is that this isn’t transferrable. If a couple is expecting a child, they may genuinely wonder if they are going to have enough love for the child, or if they already have one already, enough love for 2 or 3; and what if they hate baby number 5? As an aside, this understanding of love has a knock on effect on our relationship with God because if we believe in this kind of love deep down, we start to wonder if God really loves us, because often we just are not “feelin it”.

Let’s look again at Ephesians 5:25. Christ is our model for love. Jesus loves the church because she is the church and she is His bride, not because she is pretty or because it makes Him happy. He chose and continues to choose to love the church. There wasn’t an overwhelming emotion that led to His sacrifice on the cross and the atonement. Jesus clarifies the core of this idea when He talks about love, making use of the already understood mosaic law:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
(Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jesus quotes:

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Jesus adds the concept of using the mind when you love. This is important, especially when the New Testament talks about how we are transformed by our salvation (Romans 12:2). Biblical love is an act of the will, a choice, accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object. Jesus demonstrates this in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39): He doesn’t feel like going to the cross, and yet submits to the Father’s will. Jesus chose to love His bride the church, His choice was accompanied by great emotion and it led to acts on behalf of His church. This is our model and substance of reliability and foundational strength. In this way, you Cannot fall out of love. Biblical love places the responsibility to love back on your shoulders, something can’t you fall out of.

Love is an act of the will: Love begin with a choice. In the Hebrew, references to your heart are references to your volition. What that means is that love isn’t the “current crush””emotional engagement”⇒”physical engagement”⇒pondering after the whirlwind has died down if this person is “the one”. If we invest that level of commitment without making the decision to love and to commit, it stands to reason that we will get to the stage of controlling doubt that seriously alters our objective decision making.

Darkness and Light

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;”
(2 Corinthians 6:14)

You can’t be any clearer

Don’t date a non-christian. This should be obvious, but it is spelled out Very clearly here. Remember even demons believe in God (James 2:19). If you are going to begin a relationship with someone with a view to marriage, they have to love Jesus. If they don’t, you can’t pray with them, read the bible with them or talk about God with them. Your children will be very confused about their divided parents who are walking in very different directions; who do they follow? It’s hard enough being married to another sinner when Jesus is the centre, but if Hes not, then you have people pulling in opposite directions. It is unhealthy for you and for your children. In case you are wondering if that’s a standard in the bible:

“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)

The idea of marrying “only in the Lord” is part of the deal, and really is assumed. You only get married “in the Lord”. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells that “Bad company ruins good morals.”, that you will be corrupted by being unequally yoked to the unbeliever. I have been in situations where I have been on the wrong side of this kind of thing and still prayed that God would bless something that he clearly commanded should not happen. I think often we ask God to bless our sin because we get this strange idea that above all, God wants us to be happy now. If love is just some overwhelming force, then it would stand to reason that God must be using the experiences we find ourselves in to satisfy the urges we have right now. The problem is that is pretty much syncretism, that is, mixing the pagan idea of love with ideas about God.

Remember, that the biblical concept of love is leading with the will, which means guiding yourself from people who don’t meet the biblical requirements for a believer in Jesus Christ. That means that you need to take time and usediscernment when choosing to pursue and love a person. Prior to a relationship, as a guy you, you need to keep some distance so you are not careless with her feelings by getting involved before you make sure that you are equally yoked and that both you and her are ready to begin a biblical relationship with the goal of a biblical marriage (Song of Solomon 2:7). There’s no point in just getting “friendly” because it feels good. If you are doing that, stop it now and until the girl comes along that fits biblical criteria, don’t get involved. If you are the issue, if all you want to do is mess around and work it all out later, you do not deserve a godly woman until you meet those criteria yourself.

How Do You Know You Are Ready?

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

As we’ve already talked about, the role of the man is to be the head of his family, but the question is, what does that mean? There are 4 things that a guy needs to be ready to do in order to be ready for marriage. The puritan Richard Baxter distilled these criteria into titles: priest, prophet, provider and protector. There is no particular age requirement for this, which we have previously discussed, as the whole idea of adolescence is a cultural construct that we have been conditioned into. Obviously you have to be physically and mentally mature enough to take on those responsibilities, but sadly there are some who are in their 30s and 40s who are still not mature in these areas. Of course, the reality is that there is plenty of growing up that a guy does when he gets married. However, these 4 attributes are the means of preparing for marriage.

Priest

“Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers' houses, according to their fathers' houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women. Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers. They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt.“ (Ezra 10:16-19)

This may seem like a strange passage to present, but Ezra was a priest of God and this shows how a priest conducts matters as a leader. Ezra went before the people to proclaim God’s praises, to do and to teach His law, and to hold the people accountable to God’s Word. He sat down with those who had needed to be held accountable and they examined the matter together. They asked questions and found the truth together and saw it through to repentance. If the man’s walk with God is consistent, he is ready to represent his family before God; which is the role of a priest.

Prophet

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

The order of this verse is fairly important. It first stresses the need not to incite anger, but to engage in discipleship and teaching of the truth of God and His word. God understands the waywardness of the heart, but also how to teach it as a father. If a man’s grasp of God’s word, doctrine and theology is firm and he is ready to teach (communicate) those things as leader of the family, a man is ready to represent God before people; which is the role of a prophet.

Provider

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
The bible is particularly blunt about this one. A man needs to be able to provide a vision for his family, to provide for his family’s spiritual and emotional needs and to provide for his family’s future. Remember that a provider includes fulfilling her expectations. If your wife is a woman who prior to marriage had a high standard of living and you cannot provide it when you are married, you will make it difficult to live with her. It is important to make certain you can provide the standard of living to which she has become accustomed. It is also good to consider whether you are prepared to carry a heavy load when you need to in marriage. If you begin a relationship that is already a heavy load, it will not get easier the further along you go. With all this in mind, if a man has a good work ethic, a job and has shown that he is ready to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of those who God has given him to be responsible for, he is ready to be a provider.

Protector

Back in Genesis, when God is questioning Adam and Eve about eating the fruit He had specifically told them not to eat, He went straight to Adam, calling out “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9). Right back in the garden, sin entered the world because of Adam. He could have stopped Eve and protected her from the curse God gave her regarding childbirth and a desire for power, but he did nothing and just went along with her idea to disobey God. A man needs to protect his family from false doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:3), from bad influences and people (Proverbs 13:20), protect his children from mistakes that will have lifelong consequences and his wife from carrying more than she is capable of. If the man is wise, has personal strength, determination and courage and would be prepared to die for his wife and children (just like Jesus) he is ready to be a protector. These are the indicators the bible gives for a guy’s readiness to take a wife. It is then up to him to make an act of will; to take a wife.

So, getting to it…

There are many passages in Proverbs that talk of what a godly woman looks like (Proverbs 31:10-31) as well as an ungodly one (Proverbs 7:1-27), but often guys take something like Proverbs 31 and make it the minimum requirement. Others say yes to the first girl that smiles at them. I am not an older wise man, but I will pass on those things that my father shared with me about the kind of godly woman to be on the look-out for. This will be helpful in having some sort of standard, but not setting the bar at utter perfection. To quote a famous songwriter, unless you are Jesus, “perfection isn’t you”.

“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding someone physically attractive (Adam sung after all when he saw Eve), and often women are much better at dressing well, looking good and smelling good than us guys. What you are looking for here are those things that come through the outworking of the Holy Spirit: “good works”, and most particularly love for those around her. This will have a knock on effect on everything in her life, including those around her. Take notice of who God puts in front of you. Don’t overlook the women that are right in front of you or serving alongside you. This could include a single mum as well as divorced woman who has continued to walk and grow with God in the meantime. Some women are just reserved and quiet, and you only get to know how enjoyable they are by getting to know them as a friend. The bible actually encourages us to look for such women of “grace, elegance and refinement” (Proverbs 11:16) and avoid those who are loud and obnoxious and who can never be at peace (Proverbs 7:11). You might be overlooking the obvious. In saying that, there’s nothing wrong with using the internet as long as you are honest and careful. It’s just another way to meet people. However, if you are in a club and interested in the girl that every other guy is staring at, you are probably going to be worried about them staring when you are with her too, for all the wrong reasons, and the outward appearance can be a good indicator of what’s going on inside (Proverbs 11:22).

Every woman is different and every woman has aspects of beauty and attractiveness that no other has. . Desirability includes not just a physical attraction, but an emotional attraction as well as the allure of her life goals and hobbies etc. Remember, if you are going to grow old together you need to be on the same page. However, one thing to keep in mind is that a date is not “dating”. One event does not mean a relationship. We are supposed to treat younger women like sisters (1 Timothy 5:2) and so we need to learn to interact like a brother and sister before becoming a couple, instead of thinking that one date means you are making plans for the children. A date needs to be somewhere that you can talk because that’s what women want to do (I know guys, but it’s the truth really). There will be lots of questions, and for the guy with nothing to hide this should never be a problem. It should be somewhere that feels safe, like hanging out with her brother. It is important to guard your heart and make sure you honour her, her family and her relationships. If you have nothing to hide this is not a problem. If you earn the favour of those who love her, you will have support when you are married. If a woman cannot feel safe around you, you have a serious problem with being responsible for yourself.

Real Men Risk Rejection

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:22-24)

You need to initiate. This is a guy thing and its the biggest complaint that a lot of girls have; that guys don’t initiate. It’s also very biblical. ASK. All the way. God set this idea in motion in Genesis. He leaves Adam to make the move. Adam doesn’t just flirt or suggest the possibility that she might like him, he lays it on the line and sets out his intentions for marriage. I can tell you from experience, this works, obviously not a first date topic, but being clear and intentional is the goal here. Remember too that ladies might say no, and that’s part of the deal. Rejection is part of being a man, and you need to respect the answer No. Don’t try and wangle your way around with her friend or whatever, because that’s what little boys do, often to get their own way with parents. If you are going to lead her in the relationship, she has to follow of her own free will.

Only date one person at a time. This honours the person, and shows her that you are interested in her and not just the benefits that come from a relationship. It also sets you on the road to understanding what this person would be like to spend the rest of your life with in marriage. Make sure she agrees with you on how the family operates. If, for example, you believe that your wife should be the one to stay at home and raise the children, there’s no point in going after a career woman whose main priority is her work and professional goals, because life is going to be conflict instead of being on the same team. The bible says that the husband is the head (Ephesians 5:23), and you have to know that she will be willing to be led and that you actually can lead this woman. It’s also important to consider how she plans for the future, because you will be working together for your future and the future of your potential children (Proverbs 19:14). Ultimately, you are looking for someone who will help you (Genesis 2:18), and you would be proud to introduce to your friends.

Now, with all this talk of loving like Jesus, it needs to be stressed that you and I are not Jesus. Yes we need to love like Christ has loved the church, but we have to remember that we are not Jesus. We do not go hunting for someone who is a fixer-upper, who we think we can save. That is not our job, and will only leave us trying in our own strength to do something that only Jesus can do. Only He has the power to save and to changes hearts and minds. You or I can plead and convince and get emotional all we like, but unless God changes a person’s heart, there is no way that a person not displaying the fruit of the spirit, love, can change (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 15:5).

But Wasn’t Jesus Single?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

There is an argument suggesting that because Jesus never married, we should be encouraging men to be more Christ-like instead of encouraging young guys to prepare for marriage. You can see that this argument is specious, as being Christ like and preparing for marriage are actually one in the same. We are called to love our brothers and sisters as Christ loved the church, and even to love our enemies in this way. So then we see that preparation for marriage is actually about becoming a mature christian, one who takes responsibility for others as Christ did, one who loves others as Christ does and one who is willing to sacrifice for others to share the gospel. If you really want to get technical about it, the church is the bride of Christ and in the course of history, “the marriage of the lamb” has not yet happened. Really, preparing to be a groom is preparing to be a representative of Christ. Even if, for some reason, you have the supernatural gift of being single, nothing has been lost because you are ready to encourage and teach others, to make disciples as Christ has called us to do in the great commission.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Sweet Emotion

Now, let’s be clear, love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion. There is no excuse for a complete lack of expression of emotion. Even the most stoic guys will get emotional about the football, or design, or tools or painting, or about whatever he is passionate about. You should be passionate about her and her wellbeing. This irresponsible idea that if you treat a girl like a dog, she will keep coming back for more is definitely not biblical as it is not based on a decision accompanied by emotion that leads to acting for the benefit of the woman. You should never be the guy whose love for your woman is based on her ability to satisfy you. You should be the guy who, if you have the privilege of being given a woman to care for, will be willing to lay down your life for her, like it says in Ephesians 5:25, to literally be willing to give up your life for her. A woman is not to be used for your own selfish desires and should never be expected to give in order for you to give back in return. Your love for her should be selfless, as Christ. Christ loved His church when they were dead, and literally brought them back to life in order to give them the benefits of being His bride. The church cannot hope to ever give Christ anything back that remotely resembles what He has given them, and that is our model for biblical love.

There is one little thing I would also say. If you are sure that those things are all in place, those criteria are present and you are ready, and there is no godly woman in sight, it is God telling us to wait and rest in Him. It’s interesting to note that back in Genesis, when Adam expressed his desire for a wife, he was literally created ready, but God did not act until he was asleep, resting. This is something I struggle with doing, and it is not some simple formula, but a sign of maturity that we are comfortable with God’s designs and timing in all things, including those things nearest to our hearts.

Biblical Love Is Real and Entirely Possible With God

The will is what will get you through your most difficult days of marriage. Bill Forward is a teacher from whom I have learned a great deal about God and about the bible. His wife Gladys was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at 50 and as Bill gets into the latter years of his life, he has had to take on more and more as he cares for his wife. She is in a wheelchair and he does everything for her, from the moment she gets up in the morning to the moment she goes to bed; cleaning her teeth showering her, dressing her. Although there are times when Bill is weary he never tires from reminding you that it is a great privilege to care for the one who he chose to love for all of these years and continues to love. He is determined to care for her every need, because God loves us unconditionally, and in Bills own words “God has put his love in my heart, and because I know How God loves me, that is how I can love my wife”. Their marriage is, without needing to be spectacular, a living breathing example of the relationship between Christ and His church. That is a choice, empowered and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling each believer.

I Can Never Do That, I Screwed Up

Jesus promises to restore those who have screwed up (Joel 2:25), to heal relationships and make us clean again (Psalm 51:7). If you have done everything wrong in this regard, you can be made clean, made like as if you have never done those things and become new. You simply need to repent to God, swallow your pride and admit that He is God and you are not and trust Jesus to forgive you and cleanse you (Acts 3:19-20). And that’s it, you can start the journey to healed relationships.


Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith's picture
Andrew is a science teacher, sound engineer and graduate of theology from Brisbane School of Theology. He enjoys teaching God's word in bible study situations, as well as seeking to create music which in unique and points to Jesus.