Question: “What should I look for in a Christian boyfriend?”
Answer: Anybody can say they love Jesus, or that they’re a Christian. But how do you know, when you’re falling in love with someone, whether they are the real deal? The Bible doesn’t mention the kind of dating relationships we see today; in fact, the only romantic relationships portrayed are either marriage relationships or adulterous relationships. What this means is that a Christian boyfriend should be, first and foremost, a man you plan to marry or at least someone who would make a good Christian husband. A Christian woman should be looking for someone who is serious about God and serious about his relationship with her. A Christian boyfriend isn’t dating just for fun; he has marriage in mind.
The Bible is full of verses that describe what a Christian man should be like, verses that are helpful and trustworthy for a woman who is evaluating a potential husband. The following are some guidelines based on those verses. A Christian boyfriend should be:
Humble and teachable: The Bible tells us that a righteous man, or a wise man, will take instruction gladly, even when it hurts him (Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 9:9, 12:15). A righteous man evidences a willingness to be corrected by Scripture and a tendency to love and listen to those who can teach him from the Scripture.
Honest: Do his actions agree with his words? The Bible says that a righteous man is characterized by honesty in his personal and business dealings (Ephesians 4:28). In addition, when he makes a promise, a Christian man keeps his promise, even when it hurts (Psalm 15:2-5). In short, his character should be one of integrity.
Selfless: The Bible speaks specifically to husbands when it tells them to love their wives as they love their own bodies, just like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25-28). A Christian boyfriend should begin to exhibit this kind of care and love for his girlfriend long before marriage. Love is easy in the romantic beginning stages, but a Christian boyfriend should be the kind of man whose behavior and intentions will be loving in all kinds of circumstances (1 John 3:18).
Able and willing to provide: The Bible says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Provision doesn’t necessarily mean “bringing in a lot of money.” The issue is whether he takes responsibility for the welfare of his wife and children. It is important for women to grasp the seriousness of this verse. A man that doesn’t want to provide is very hard for a woman to respect, and if a wife struggles to respect her husband, marital troubles will go beyond the material. A woman’s respect for her husband and a man’s love for his wife are interdependent and life-giving to a marriage (Ephesians 5:25-32).
Willing to proactively protect: Both physically and emotionally, women tend to be weaker and more easily hurt than men. They need to be understood and protected and cared for in a proactive way. A good Christian boyfriend is a man who will look out for and care for his girlfriend and carry this passion for protecting her on into marriage (1 Peter 3:7).
Also, here are some negative things to watch out for: materialism (1 John 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 6:10), lying (Proverbs 12:22,19:22), sexual unfaithfulness (Ecclesiastes 7:26; Proverbs 7) and poor treatment of family members, especially his mother (Proverbs 15:20, 19:26, 20:20, 23:22). Usually a man’s treatment of his mother is a good indication of how he will treat his wife. Also, watch out for irrationally, controlling or jealous tendencies, as these often lead to violence (Proverbs 6:34; 27:4).
Finally, a Christian boyfriend is one with whom a woman is evenly matched. First, in the spiritual sense – a couple’s relationship with God should be the primary factor in any relationship, and they should be matched in that regard. Believers are commanded to marry other believers (2 Corinthians 6:14), so there is no reason to be dating an unbeliever. But a couple should also be evenly matched in the more practical aspects, having compatible temperaments, similar energy levels, and shared life-goals and interests. These things add tremendously to happiness in a relationship.
In addition to all this, if a man has a good sense of humor and a steady, cheerful disposition, this is wonderfully encouraging for his wife. Nobody can be “up” all the time, but a man who is characterized by the peace and joy of the Spirit is a real catch. Life is hard, and marriage is hard too. There will be times of sadness and there will be conflict. Because of this, a cheerful, encouraging spouse is a real blessing (Proverbs 16:24; 17:22; 15:30).
Question: “What should I look for in a Christian girlfriend?”
Answer: The sort of dating relationships that are seen today aren’t mentioned in the Bible. Marriage and betrothal are the only types of romantic relationships seen in Scripture. What this means is that a Christian girlfriend should be, first and foremost, a potential marriage partner. A Christian man should be seeking a woman to spend his life with, not just someone to have fun with. If a man is not ready to get married, he should not be pursuing a Christian girlfriend.
As a man looks for a girlfriend, the most important quality she must possess (as his potential future wife and a person who will have a great deal of influence in his life) is salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a life lived in obedience to Him. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. If a woman does not have faith in Jesus Christ, a Christian man would be foolish to consider her as a girlfriend and/or as a wife.
That said, just because a woman is a Christian, she is not necessarily a perfect match for any Christian man. It is important to factor in other aspects of being “equally yoked.” For example, similar spiritual goals, doctrinal beliefs and outlook on life are all extremely important considerations. In addition, it is wise to think through more practical things like energy level, common interests, and expectations about family and lifestyle. Many men marry women based on emotional or physical attraction alone, and that can lead to disaster.
The Bible provides some guidelines about the kind of character a man should look for in a Christian girlfriend. A Christian woman will exhibit a spirit of submission to the Lord. The Apostle Paul tells wives they are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24). If she is not able to submit to the Lord, she will likely not see the value of submitting to her husband when that time comes. It is important to remember that the character of submission is a spiritual quality, not a personality trait. A sweet personality does not necessarily correspond to a submissive spirit, and neither does an energetic or strong-willed personality necessarily correspond to a willful spirit. A woman will be submissive to the degree she is influenced by God’s Spirit, and she will be influenced by His Spirit to the degree that she loves Him and spends time in His Word.
A Christian woman should benefit and bless her husband. She is to be his helper, according to the earliest biblical precedent set for Adam and Eve. She should be a fit helper for his mission and call. If he is called to be a pastor or a missionary, for example, he should look for a Christian girlfriend who feels the same call. If he feels a strong desire for a large family, he should find a woman who feels the same way. But most of all, according to the call put on all of us to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), a man should choose a woman who will help, and not hinder him in this regard. She should exhibit a commitment to prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16), encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11), serving others (Hebrews 6:10) and the wisdom that comes from knowing God’s Word (Colossians 3:16). This is the kind of woman that will be truly helpful to a Christian man.
Question: “What should I be looking for in a husband?”
Answer: When a Christian woman is looking for a husband, she should seek a man “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The most important relationship that any of us have is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship comes before all others. If our vertical relationship with the Lord is as it should be, then our horizontal relationships will reflect that reality. Therefore, a potential husband should be a man who has his focus upon walking in obedience to God’s Word and who seeks to live so that his life brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
What are some other qualities to look for? The apostle Paul gives us the qualities we should look for in a husband in 1 Timothy chapter 3. In this passage are the qualifications for a leader in the church body. However, these qualities should grace the lives of any man who walks “after God’s heart.” The qualities can be paraphrased as follows: a man should be patient and controlled in his demeanor, not filled with pride but of sober mental attitude, able to master his emotions, given to graciousness to others, able to patiently teach, not given to drunkenness or uncontrolled use of any of God’s gifts, not prone to violence, not overly focused upon the details of life but focused upon God, not apt to be a hot-head or be thin-skinned so that he takes offense easily, and grateful for what God has given, rather than envious of what gifts others have received.
The above qualities describe a man who is actively engaged in the process of becoming a mature believer. That is the type of man a woman should look for as a potential husband. Yes, physical attraction, similar interests, complementary strengths and weaknesses, and the desire for children are things to consider. These things, though, must be secondary to the spiritual qualities a woman should look for in a man. A man you can trust, respect, and follow in the path of godliness is of far greater value than a man of good looks, fame, power, or money.
Finally, when “looking” for a husband, we must be surrendered to God’s will in our lives. Every woman wants to find her “prince charming,” but the reality is that she will probably marry a man with as many flaws as she has. Then, by God’s grace, they will spend the rest of their lives together learning how to be a partner to, and servant of, each other. We must enter into the second most-important relationship of our lives (marriage), not under an emotional cloud, but with eyes wide open. Our most important relationship, with our Lord and Savior, has to be the focus of our lives.
Question: “What should I be looking for in a wife?”
Answer: The most important personal relationship that a man can have, outside of his spiritual relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, is his relationship with his wife. In the process of looking for a wife, the highest principle is to look for a woman with a personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Unless a man and woman are in full agreement on this most crucial issue, a godly and fulfilling marriage cannot take place.
However, marrying a fellow believer does not guarantee the full experience of being “equally yoked.” The fact that a woman is a Christian does not mean she is necessarily a good match for you spiritually. Does she have the same spiritual goals as you? Does she have the same doctrinal beliefs? Does she have the same passion for God? The qualities of a potential wife are crucially important. Far too many men marry for emotional or physical attraction alone, and that can be a recipe for failure.
What are some godly qualities a man can look for in a wife? Scripture gives us some principles we can use to create a picture of a godly woman. She should first be surrendered in her own spiritual relationship with the Lord. The apostle Paul tells the wife that she is to submit to her husband as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24). If a woman is not surrendered to the Lord, she will not likely see submission to her husband as necessary to her own spiritual well-being. We cannot fulfill the expectations of anyone else without first allowing God to fill us with Himself. A woman with God at the center of her life is a good candidate for a wife.
Paul also gives some character traits for a woman in his instructions about leaders in the church. “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (1 Timothy 3:11). In other words, this is a woman who is not overly proud, knows when to speak and when to be silent, and is able to take her place beside her husband in confidence. She is a woman whose first focus is upon her relationship with the Lord and her own spiritual growth.
The responsibilities of marriage are greater for the husband, for God’s order places him as the head of his wife and his family. This headship is modeled after the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). It is a relationship grounded in love. Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, the husband is to love his wife as he does his own body. Therefore, a man’s personal spiritual relationship with the Lord is of supreme importance in the success of his marriage and his family. Willing sacrifice and the strength to choose to be a servant to the betterment of his marriage are the marks of a maturing spiritual man who honors God. Wisely choosing a wife based upon biblical qualities is important, but of equal importance is a man’s own ongoing spiritual growth and his surrender to God’s will in his life. A man who is seeking to be the man God wants him to be will be able to help his wife be the woman God desires her to be and will be able to build the marriage into the union God, he, and his wife desire it to be.
Question: “What are the roles of the husband and wife in a family?”
Answer: Although males and females are equal in relationship to Christ, the Scriptures give specific roles to each in marriage. The husband is to assume leadership in the home (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). This leadership should not be dictatorial, condescending, or patronizing to the wife, but should be in accordance with the example of Christ leading the church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Christ loved the church (His people) with compassion, mercy, forgiveness, respect, and selflessness. In this same way husbands are to love their wives.
Wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Although women should submit to their husbands, the Bible also tells men several times how they are supposed to treat their wives. The husband is not to take on the role of the dictator, but should show respect for his wife and her opinions. In fact, Ephesians 5:28-29 exhorts men to love their wives in the same way that they love their own bodies, feeding and caring for them. A man’s love for his wife should be the same as Christ’s love for His body, the church.
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:18-19). “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7). From these verses we see that love and respect characterize the roles of both husbands and wives. If these are present, then authority, headship, love, and submission will be no problem for either partner.
In regard to the division of responsibilities in the home, the Bible instructs husbands to provide for their families. This means he works and makes enough money to sufficiently provide all the necessities of life for his wife and children. To fail to do so has definite spiritual consequences. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). So, a man who makes no effort to provide for his family cannot rightly call himself a Christian. This does not mean that the wife cannot assist in supporting the family—Proverbs 31 demonstrates that a godly wife may surely do so—but providing for the family is not primarily her responsibility; it is her husband’s. While a husband should help with the children and with household chores (thereby fulfilling his duty to love his wife), Proverbs 31 also makes it clear that the home is to be the woman’s primary area of influence and responsibility. Even if she must stay up late and rise up early, her family is well cared for. This is not an easy lifestyle for many women—especially in affluent Western nations. However, far too many women are stressed out and stretched to the breaking point. To prevent such stress, both husband and wife should prayerfully reorder their priorities and follow the Bible’s instructions on their roles.
Conflicts regarding the division of labor in a marriage are bound to occur, but if both partners are submitted to Christ, these conflicts will be minimal. If a couple finds arguments over this issue are frequent and vehement, or if arguments seem to characterize the marriage, the problem is a spiritual one. In such an instance, the partners should recommit themselves to prayer and submission to Christ first, then to one another in an attitude of love and respect.
Question: “What should I do if I cannot decide who I should be dating?”
Answer: The Bible does not specifically address this topic, but it does give us insight into what we should seek in a potential spouse. The first, and best, advice is to pray about it. God will give wisdom and guidance if you ask for it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). The first question to ask is, whether the potential spouse is devoted to God. If he/she is not, they should not be considered for a potential spouse. On the other hand, just because one follows Christ, does not make them the right choice. Being “equally yoked” can also go deeper than just “Is he/she a Christian?” There are many different beliefs in Christianity, and this should be taken into account when choosing a potential spouse. Consider what marriage would be like with this person. Are your beliefs close enough to the same that you can agree to teach your children the same doctrines? This is of the greatest importance.
For men, it’s important to look at what a Christian wife is supposed to be. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Paul tells us that a wife is to be submissive to her husband, out of love. This does not necessarily mean that the girl you are considering a relationship with should submit wholly to you, but rather she should not be rebellious, but should submit herself to her father out of love. She should be willing to be led. Proverbs 31:10-31 tells us what the “wife of noble character” is like. She is hard working, generous and charitable, strong, and wise. You may not be able to find all of these traits in one person, but these are desirable traits and pleasing to God.
Another scripture describing a wife that is pleasing to God is 1 Peter 3:1-4: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” This tells us that a woman should be pure and living for Christ so that they can win a lost husband over without words. It also indicates that she should not be as concerned about outward appearances as she is about her spiritual life.
For women, there are a few illustrations of what a Christian husband is to be. Although the person you are considering a relationship with is not your husband, you should look for qualities that display this kind of love in the person. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Is he loving? Is he willing to lead people toward Christ, and help them to be holy and blameless? Is he a leader? A man should love God above all else and be willing to help his brothers and sisters in Christ to strive to be holy and pleasing to God. He should be humble, wise, and merciful, just as Christ was. Watch for these qualities in a man, because this is what is pleasing to God.
You will not find a “perfect” person with all of these qualities, but God will let you see if someone you are considering a relationship with is striving to be pleasing to Him. Just as with any other big decision in life, relationships should be treated with caution, wisdom, and handled with discernment and much prayer.