Dating can be so hard.
Many are asking the question, How do I know who is right for me?
And a lot of people are answering that question with, I guess I’ll date around to find out. If I date six people before I find the right one, then I’ll really know what I’m looking for.
But are we asking the right question? The central question shouldn’t be “How do I know who is right for me?” or “What qualities should they have?” Rather, we ought to be concerned with preparing ourselves for marriage. Now is a great time to ask yourself questions like, Am I trustworthy? Do I serve others? Am I responsible?
More importantly, are you in a place with God that would indicate you’re ready to date? Are you treasuring Christ above all? In Philippians 3:1-11, Paul gives us an example of what it looks like to treasure Christ. He says he counts everything that was valuable to him as loss in order that he may gain Christ. But how is Christ gain? What does it look like to treasure Christ?
Paul’s answer: the surpassing worth is found in knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. In other words, it’s an all-satisfying relationship.
Your dating relationships will fail unless you realize your satisfaction is found in Christ first. Otherwise, both people will be seeking fulfillment in one another, and will be disappointed when their partner fails.
You were ultimately made for a relationship … with Christ! Being in the right relationship with Christ is the only way towards the truest form of satisfaction.
So let’s make sure the most our attention is on our personal growth, but then it’s time to consider some qualifications to see if this person is the right person for you to date.
It’s vital to focus on your own spiritual vitality at this point in your life. That being said, it’s also important to choose to date someone that has certain characteristics. You must choose wisely the sort of person you will love and serve in lifelong marriage commitment.
Three qualifications before we start.
- The qualities that I will list are simply the attributes of a Christian man or woman. In other words, if you love Jesus, you need to be looking for someone else who loves Jesus. All we’re doing is giving qualities that ought to exist in real male and female followers of Jesus.
- “Trajectory” is the keyword here. These are ideals, but you also have to be realistic. You aren’t looking for perfection; you’re looking for a person who is growing, wants to continue growing, and will continue to grow. We’re offering guidelines.
- Each of these statements says, “Look for someone who has this quality.” But that gives the impression that you’ll be looking for someone on your own. This is not the way the process should go. You should not independently select and begin dating someone. Instead, this whole process of “looking” for someone to date-unto-marriage is a family and community affair. Parents should be consulted, as well as other trusted believers, and wise friends and mentors, about a prospective date (“Is this the type of girl you would choose for me?”). It is also good to be in close communication with the parents of the person you’re pursuing (which means for guys, yes, you ought to know the parents of the woman you’re pursuing!).
Looking for the Right Woman
1. She loves Jesus above everything (and everyone).
The central demand of God for all who would follow Jesus is this to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
This is the most important. You need to find a girl about whom you can say, “There is no doubt, based on her life, that she loves Jesus most.” Her greatest passion is not her looks, her family, her relationships, or her popularity. Rather, it’s Jesus. Everything else in her life is underneath him in terms of what she values.
Many Christians think it’s fine to date a non–Christian. This is, to be blunt, wrong. So many Christian young men are content pursuing girls who go by the title “Christian,” but live for everything but Christ. We can promise you that this will not work out.
So this is first, foremost, central, of vital importance. You can’t toss this one out the window. If this is in place, all the other qualities will be present at least in seed form.
2. She is devoted to prayer and God’s Word.
In Romans 12:12, Paul writes, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
The prayer-life of all Christians is very important. But there is a unique call upon women to be devoted to regular and consistent prayer. In the beginning, Eve was created as a helper that perfectly fit Adam’s needs. As such, one of the roles a wife plays is that of support to their husbands. One central aspect of this support is prayer. She is going to be your helper who prays for you for the rest of your life.
Look for a woman of the Word. She should love God’s Word and devote her time to understanding it and hearing it preached on Sundays.
3. She loves the church more than the world.
In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” All true followers of Jesus have a special love for other followers of Jesus.
Does the girl you hope to pursue exhibit this love? This mainly has to do with her friends, who she likes to hang out with. Does she love being around and serving God’s people?
Or would she prefer to be alone with you all the time, or with people who are not Christians? Where is she naturally drawn? If she wants to be around unbelievers, is it because she wants to talk to them about the gospel?
Look for a young woman who is all about being with other people who love Jesus. And yet look for a girl who is all about doing ministry to those who don’t.
4. She focuses on her gentle character more than her outward appearance.
1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Is it wrong to braid your hair? No. Is it wrong to wear gold? No. Is it wrong to wear nice clothing? Certainly not! But Peter is saying that these aren’t what is precious in God’s sight. He’s saying that God values what is interior and internal to a woman rather than her external features.
Men, do not pursue a girl whose main focus is her outward appearance. Don’t pursue a girl who’s willing to trade modesty of dress for a desire to make herself noticed.
A lot of ladies are willing to work really hard on their outward appearance, right? There is amazing pressure in our culture for girls to live up to a certain standard of so-called beauty. But this beauty is so short-lived, so artificial, and only skin-deep.
What’s the alternative? A girl who focuses her time and energy on cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight, as 1 Peter 3:4 says. But what is this gentle and quiet spirit?
The gentle and quiet spirit is about your heart’s attitude. You can have a girl who is very talkative who is truly gentle and quiet. And you can have a girl who is not very outgoing who does not have a genuinely gentle and quiet spirit.
A woman who has a gentle and quiet spirit is humble, submitted to God’s will, does not crave attention. She is someone who exemplifies the willingness to follow the godly leaders in her life (her father and her elders).
5. She is spiritually rooted and has convictions.
The same God who demands a gentle and quiet spirit also says she “she dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17) and “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come” (Proverbs 31:25).
Look for a girl who is gentle, yet firm, strong, and bold. A girl who knows who she is and knows what she believes with conviction. She lives with purpose and integrity.
She doesn’t change her mind with every new idea or belief. She isn’t swayed by those around her. She’s firm, bold, steady, and anchored in the Lord. She says what she means and means what she says.
She’s also strong in that she is not driven by changing emotions. Titus 2:3-4 says that “[Older women] are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled . . .” Self-control is such an important quality for women. Some women (and a lot of men!) can let unbridled emotions drive their decisions. Self-control is the quality that keeps emotions submitted to God’s will.
6. She respects her parents.
Don’t look for a girl who is on the edge. Don’t look for a girl who likes to push the lines.
Look for a girl who has respected and loved and submitted to her parents. A woman’s relationship with her dad will tell you much about how she will treat you.
Pursue With Caution
Dating is not a game. When you’re dealing with someone’s heart and soul, we ought to be exceedingly careful and serious as we pursue spouses for marriage. Men, you will have to give an account for the way you treat the women in your life. If you see them as inferior, lesser-than, or people you can manipulate to get what you want, the Lord will discipline you according to your folly.
And this is true for husbands, too: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Think about that: your prayers will be hindered if you fail to treat your wife according to the grace of life you have been given. God cares about his children.
If there are any women reading this, please don’t follow this list simply to attract men. Do it because it is faithful to God and faithful daughters are precious to God.
Dating for Marriage
So hopefully we have provided you with some helpful guidelines to help answer the question, “Who is right for me?” There are so many other factors involved in choosing a spouse.
It’s important to remember that our culture looks very different from the cultural setting in which the Bible was written. The Bible doesn’t address the specific ins-and-outs of modern day dating. But, God has promised that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). As you grow to know God better through his Word, he will provide you with the wisdom and guidance you need (Psalm 73:24). And his Word is sufficient for every situation you find yourself in. Seek God through his Word as you date.
Also be serious as you date. The Bible does talk a great deal about marriage, and tells us that it’s a profound mystery (Ephesians 5:32). God designed us to give a lifelong commitment physically, spiritually, and emotionally to one person, solidified by a covenant. Remember that the person you’re dating is one of two options—your spouse, or someone else’s. Treat them in a way that if you end up not being their spouse, their spouse would thank you for the time you spent with them.
Finally, be prayerful. In Romans 12:9-12 we find an exhortation for how to treat our fellow believers. It’s a wonderful passage to pray for you and the person you’re pursuing as you date:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)