Seeking a Spouse

Proverbs 18:22; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Exodus 2:1; Numbers 36:6‑7; Proverbs 31:10‑12; Proverbs 5:3‑5; Ruth 2:8,21; Genesis 2:24; 1 Peter 3:2‑3; 1 Peter 3:4  •  39 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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Perhaps you’re thinking: Adam had it easy! He didn’t even have to look for a wife. God gave Adam the most amazing, stunningly beautiful girl that one could ever imagine — at least, I don’t believe that it’s unreasonable to assume so. Furthermore, Eve didn’t have to wait for a husband; there he was! Before we get too carried away with how simple it all was for Adam and Eve, let us remember what happened next. Within a short period of time, days perhaps, Eve was anything but a help to Adam, and worse still, Adam had failed in his headship. How quickly sin came in and marred this beautiful relationship established by God.
Despite the weaknesses of our forebears — which weaknesses we inherit — God’s promise to the man remains: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). Find implies a search. Though we walk by faith and not by sight, still, we walk. Faith is not inactive. Pursuing our own wills is not faith; but taking a step in dependence on the Lord is faith. Peter may have sunk, but at least he got out of the boat. He had little faith — and a good deal of self-confidence — nevertheless, he stepped out onto those stormy waves.
I have no doubt that God knows all, including the one we will marry, but this does not mean to say that the individual will be delivered to our doorstep in brown paper packaging tied with red ribbons, or white tissue paper and pink bows. No, with life there are deep exercises, missteps and perhaps even tears, but in due course, if we are leaning upon the Lord, joy and happiness in the morning. I encourage you to read the Song of Solomon1 to see how true this is, both of our spiritual lives and also of natural things. And so, young men, if you desire a wife, then prepare to step out onto some waves — it won’t all be smooth sailing!
What about the girl? Proverbs — from where we just quoted — is, in many respects, directed toward the young man (Prov. 1:4). The first nine chapters is especially the guidance of a father and mother for their son. But does Scripture say nothing of the girl desiring a husband? Certainly it does, and we shall consider some examples later. For now, I offer this verse: “She is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). From this we can conclude that the woman is going to make a choice — whom she will. From a scriptural standpoint, her role may be more passive, but it is not entirely inactive either. Her behavior will be key as to whom she attracts. The steps she takes will be just as important, and she will require just as much faith as the young man if she is going to meet a husband of God’s approval.
How to Begin
The search must begin in prayer. Perhaps that sounds rather cliché, but it isn’t. I can hear some say: But I’ve prayed for a suitable marriage partner for years, and nothing ever happens! There are many reasons why the Lord does not answer prayer just the way we would like. Perhaps it is a lack of dependence. Are our prayers mingled with faith? Are we looking for the right reasons? Maybe we are not ready for marriage. Is there a needs-be in our lives that must be taken care of first? It could even be that God has other plans for us. I would suggest to anyone that finds themselves in this position to pray earnestly, in all sincerity, and to ask: Why hasn’t my prayer been answered? “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Prayer is either for real or it isn’t. Too often prayer is made and no answer is expected. We can also pray with the attitude that we already have the answer. In this case we are not really praying at all, but just seeking some indication to confirm our belief. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).
Young men, “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14). If you want a prudent wife, then it must be from the Lord. By the way, prudent doesn’t mean prudish; it means wise, intelligent and skillful. Maybe there’s the attitude that a spiritual, intelligent, responsible girl from the Lord will be no fun. And so there might even be a reluctance to ask the Lord for guidance. If you are entertaining such thoughts, then it makes me wonder about the readiness of your heart. Stop and think for a moment: could God ever give us the wrong answer? Besides, what sort of spouse are you seeking; is it someone to love and to cherish, to respect and honor? Or is it someone upon whom you can fulfill your lusts. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to say again: God knows our needs, and He knows how best to satisfy those needs. But God wants us to satisfy them within a loving marriage relationship, not a self-willed union. Incidentally, the girl who is all over you physically before marriage often does not know how to behave within marriage. Everything she knows about sexuality relates to getting a man, and there is no comprehension of the beauty of godly intimacy.
Though much of the preceding paragraph has been directed towards the young man, there are common principles that are also applicable to the girl. Be equally skeptical of the guy who is physical; is he really interested in you, or is it just your body? There must be a stronger connection than the physical for a marriage to work. “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1).
God is rather blunt when it comes to our own choices: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Prov. 28:26). Many a person has been delivered from misery by yielding to God at the last, though having begun in self-willed independence. It is better, of course, to both begin and end the search in dependence upon God.
In the Lord
A Christian should never enter into a marriage with one who is unsaved. “She is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). A Christian who does not date an unbeliever will not marry an unbeliever. Don’t underestimate your susceptibility. “Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Let’s be clear; God will never lead us into such a union. It is easy, especially when we are deeply attached to someone, to think that the Lord could be using us for their salvation or to lead them to the assembly. It is, however, dangerous to mix emotions of this nature with a desire to evangelize. As genuine as our desire may be, our sight is easily clouded. Furthermore, we need to recognize that a marriage in the Lord goes far beyond merely finding a Christian spouse. It means that the couple desires to fully acknowledge the Lord’s authority over their relationship.
Where we look will eventually determine the one we marry. If we look at the gym, or work, or college, we open ourselves up to trouble. I do not say that it is impossible to marry someone we meet at one of these locations, but should we do so, we immediately create a difficulty before the marriage has even begun. Starting with the assumption that they are a Christian, where do they worship? What do they believe? How were they raised? All these things must come together in a marriage.
In the book of Exodus we see God’s principle for finding a wife. “There went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi” (Ex. 2:1). And for the women looking for a husband: “Let them marry whom they please; only they shall marry one of the tribe of their father, that no inheritance of the children of Israel pass from tribe to tribe” (Num. 36:6-7 JND). In the second case, this ordinance specifically referred to a family with daughters and no sons. Since the father’s inheritance passed to the daughters, they were not to marry outside their tribe. In this way the land was preserved within the tribe and not lost through inheritance. Perhaps there is an objection: we are not under law. That is true, but an important spiritual principle remains. When one marries someone outside of the assembly, all too often that couple will leave the assembly. Sadly, as these cases frequently turn out, the spiritual heritage of that individual is lost to the children.
How do we know if someone is a Christian? If they cannot give a clear confession of their faith, then this is most certainly a poor beginning. Furthermore, what type of Christian are they? Just because they are in the assembly, or even if they are at the Lord’s Table, sadly, it may not mean much. Do they pray? Do they read their Bibles? Do they understand what they read, and if they don’t, what do they do about it? If an individual is struggling spiritually, this will not end after the wedding; instead, their partner will be drawn into that struggle. Ever since our childhood we have sung:
Read your Bible, pray every day,
Pray every day, pray every day.
Read your Bible, pray every day,
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.
Is this something real? Are we growing? If we don’t read our Bibles and pray every day — and I don’t mean for hours at a time, quality is more important than quantity — then why should we imagine that we will attract someone with these traits? Naturally, I am assuming that one is looking for someone with these attributes. Keep in mind, we usually find what we are looking for.
God expects the man to be  ...  well, a man! “Stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). It’s all very well to marry a man who has pecs like a body builder, but physical strength fades; what about his spiritual strength? Is he a heavy lifter, or is he content to be a lightweight?
What Are You Looking for?
A spouse! Yes, I get that; but let’s try this simple mental exercise: imagine the guy or girl of your dreams. If you’re not the visual type (and by the way, even if you are) think of the qualities that are high on your list — after all, qualities should be more important than looks! Now, ask yourself honestly: Where has my focus been? Has it been on my needs — those things that will fulfill me; that which will make me happy? Before we get any further, let’s be clear: your spouse will not fulfill you and you will not fulfill your spouse. Based on the scriptural principles laid out in the first section of this booklet, God created men and women to form a complementary relationship; we need to look for someone who is going to complement, not fulfill. Now, instead of asking what’s in it for me, how about asking: What’s in it for my prospective spouse? Or more importantly: What’s in it for the Lord? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). “That God in all things may be glorified” (1 Pet. 4:11). Is marriage not included in these verses?
Marriage is not about me. Until we get out of this selfish mode of thinking, a great partnership is just a romantic dream. At the wedding day, I have no doubt that both bride and groom are subconsciously thinking about what’s in it for them. Oh, I’m sure they wouldn’t put it that way — but the underlying thought is there. Quite frankly, unless they’ve been through it before, they really have little idea as to what the other’s needs really are. Despite the fact that we — men and women — live on the same planet, for as well as we understand each other, it sometimes seems that we come from different worlds. Of course, this is not true — we have one Creator who knew very well what He was doing. Nevertheless, the fewer assumptions we make about the opposite sex and the more we are willing to learn from one another, the happier we will be. Don’t assume that if I am satisfying my needs, then clearly I must be satisfying hers (or his) — wrong!
Does the Bible have any pointers as to what we should be looking for in a spouse? Absolutely! Let’s begin with the girl. What qualities should she look for in a man? Since the husband is to be the head, then surely one should look for qualities suited to this role. Bossy men make for poor husbands — headship is not dictatorship. Look for someone who will provide spiritual and practical guidance in the home, who will be able to lead and direct, and, when called upon, make the hard decisions. Interestingly, many of the qualities required by an overseer and deacon represent desirable traits in the husband. In fact, one who is a poor husband and father is not spiritually qualified to take a role of oversight, or even of servitude, in the assembly. “The husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Tim. 3:2-3). Think about the man described by these verses — and the one who isn’t.
Scripturally, the husband is to provide for his wife and children. That does not mean to say that the wife cannot help — indeed, she may well do so, particularly before children come along. Nevertheless, the Apostle speaks strongly concerning the man’s responsibility: “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). In Proverbs we read: “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house” (Prov. 24:27). I would question the motives of a young man who is pursuing a girl when he has no means of supporting her. Who is this about? Him, or her? The words that Naomi spoke to her daughter in-law come to mind: “My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1). Naomi was not looking for a rich husband for Ruth, so she could laze about with servants waiting on her hand and foot; that’s not the rest she sought. The bride in the Song of Solomon describes that rest this way: “Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir” (Song of Sol. 1:16-17). He was handsome and kind to be sure, but in addition to that, he provided rest, security, and shelter. For some women this may translate into stature and strength. I trust, however, that you are wiser than this; physique is a poor assessment of a man (or woman for that matter).
And what about the man; are there similar verses which describe what to look for in a prospective wife? Most assuredly there are. Proverbs 31 immediately springs to mind. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:10-12). Now, that’s a help meet! If chapter 31 of Proverbs describes the woman to look for, then the 5th chapter describes the one to avoid. “The lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell” (Prov. 5:3-5). The word strange in this context does not mean weird. Without question, this woman has plenty of natural charm. She is strange because she has nothing in common with the godly young man.
We find similar warnings and exhortation in the New Testament. “Withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim 5:13-14). Though it may not be the primary role of the wife to provide for the family, what is she doing while she remains single? Is she a meddlesome gossip? “Occupy till I come” should be true of all God’s servants — male or female (Luke 19:13). The virtuous woman, of Proverbs 31, is industrious, supplementing her husband’s income as she is able; her hands (or palms) are mentioned seven times. In this modern economy, such activity may be mental more than menial — there is nothing unscriptural about this.
There are many, many other verses that we could turn to in regards to both the prospective husband and wife. If you are seeking a godly spouse, Scripture provides a detailed portrait.
Falling in Love
So far, I’ve not said a word about romance or falling in love. Perhaps some are asking: Shouldn’t we follow our hearts? Despite the fact that this line has been used countless times in popular media, the short answer is no! “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Having said this, however, it doesn’t necessarily follow that there will be no romance, nor that one won’t fall in love. It would be a sad relationship if everything was conducted as if it were a business transaction — there’s a list of requirements, certainly qualities that must be met, and the deal is sealed. In fact, if there is no affection, if the heart is not engaged — if there isn’t any chemistry, as people say — then surely something is missing.
In the Song of Solomon, the Shulamite is so overwrought by her feelings that she says: “I am sick of love” (Song of Sol. 2:5) — or as we would say: I am lovesick. It is a state that she does not wish to disturb: “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (vs. 7). The three times where we find this latter expression in the Song of Solomon, it marks the close of a scene. In each instance, however, a time of renewed activity follows, and we see further development in the bride’s affections and understanding of the bridegroom. As much as we may desire it, one cannot go about in a state of euphoria, without appetite, and unable to sleep. Ultimately, reality must return and rational thoughts must guide us.
Unfortunately, lovesickness often accompanies infatuation, especially when the feelings of one are not reciprocated. One believes that they cannot live without the other; that the individual is the only one who will ever make them happy. Without them, one is incomplete — they make me a whole person. Such feelings are not only misplaced, but they are unhealthy. God alone can make us complete; He alone is all-sufficient to meet our needs. The world portrays such love as a lofty ideal. It is the Romeo and Juliet type of love, love worth dying for.2 Such feelings, nevertheless, are not representative of true love. This type of love is shallow and selfish, like a cloudburst amidst the flashes of lightening. A girl or young man in such a condition is not at all rational; indeed, they bear the characteristics of one whose mind is clouded by alcohol. As a result, actions are misinterpreted, strengths and weaknesses are misjudged, and the infatuation thrives upon its own delusion. True love runs deep like a river overflowing its banks.
Most are aware that the Greek words for love, agape and philia, occur frequently in the New Testament. There are in fact two other Greek words that also mean love. The first rarely appears in ancient Greek and would be unfamiliar to most, whereas the second will no doubt be recognized by all. Eros is passionate love with sensual desire and longing; it is also that love-at-first-sight, the infatuation that we have been considering. The English word erotic derives from eros. It is informative to note that eros never once appears in the New Testament. This does not mean to say that husbands and wives should not feel passion or desire towards one another. Nevertheless, when such feelings are conveyed in the scriptures, alternative forms of expression are used in place of eros.
When the nature of true love is so misrepresented, then the desire to fulfill that love will be misguided. Lovesickness of this nature can lead to very poor choices. Amnon the son of David believed that he loved his half-sister Tamar; her beauty captivated him (read 1 Samuel 13). He was so tormented by her, that he fell sick. He desired Tamar for himself but could see no way to obtain her. Unfortunately, Amnon had a friend, Jonadab, who knew exactly how to prey upon Tamar’s feelings. Appealing to her feminine compassion, Tamar is enticed into Amnon’s bedroom where he lay pretending to be ill. Alone with Tamar, he forces himself upon her. Having obtained his object, Amnon’s hatred for Tamar exceeds his earlier passion.
There are numerous lessons to be learned from this story. This type of love is not to be trusted. It is selfish, whereas true love is about the other person. Who would ever knowingly hurt someone they loved? Amnon’s hatred in the end is not atypical; having satisfied his lust upon Tamar, he has no need for her. Guys — never for one moment believe the lie that girls secretly desire to be manhandled. Tamar’s, No! should have been enough — and surely it would have been for any man that truly loved her. David should have protected Tamar; instead he sent her to Amnon. On her part, Tamar should have left the room with everyone else, as Joseph had done (Gen. 39:12), rather than be left alone with Amnon.
In this story God reveals the ugliness that lurks in the recesses of man’s heart. Some may feel that this is an extreme example, and that infatuation doesn’t typically end in rape — and I would agree. Nevertheless, let’s not ignore the many principles to be drawn from this account. God in His wisdom records it for our learning. Even when such ardent passion doesn’t end so terribly, it is misguided and will lead one down a dead end; do not confuse it with true love.
Some Biblical Examples
Not only can we find plenty of verses that give us the qualities that should characterize the husband or wife, but we also have Scriptural examples of individuals seeking a spouse — thankfully, some happier than the story we just considered. Unfortunately, space does not permit a thorough examination of these accounts, but a cursory overview to confirm the principles that we have established is in order.
We begin with Abraham’s search for a wife for his son Isaac (Gen. 24). The modern take on this story is that, although it was appropriate for the culture of the time, it does not translate into this present day. Contrariwise, I believe that the principles contained within the account are every bit as applicable as when they were written. In this instance, the father sends his servant to seek a wife for his son. Now, I’m not about to suggest that we, as parents, arrange marriages for our children. That being said, it is most appropriate to pray for our children, both to seek their welfare and that they might be guided to a suitable wife or husband. The servant’s quest begins with godly counsel and prayer (Gen. 24:3-14). It was very important to Abraham that the girl be from the same family — in our instance, that would mean one from the family of God. Upon his arrival at the city of Nahor, the servant takes time to observe the girls at the well. Rebekah is noted to be industrious, kind and generous. Furthermore, if we interpret the water in its typical application, then it could speak of the Word of God — this was her occupation. Rebekah’s statement as to her family is clear and concise: “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor” (Gen. 24:24). When an individual cannot give a clear confession of faith, this is a clear warning. And, as if all this weren’t enough, Rebekah was beautiful and pure. Rebekah was some girl! No wonder the servant was left completely astonished (Gen. 24:15-21).
When we come to Isaac and his son Jacob, we don’t see the same level of concern with either the father or the son, and the outcome reflects it. “Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother” (Gen. 28:1-2). The initial instruction bears similarities to that given by Abraham; however, when Jacob meets Rachel, the only quality that we read of him observing is: “Rachel was of beautiful form and beautiful countenance” (Gen. 29:17 JND). Jacob was smitten by Rachel’s figure and good looks. I don’t believe we ever read of Jacob seeking God’s direction; in fact, in the previous chapter he is fearful in the presence of Jehovah and thinks he can strike a deal with Him.
Infatuation is not a good indicator of a successful marriage. In the very next chapter, Genesis 30, we find Rachel making unreasonable demands of her husband, and an angry Jacob responding without empathy or concern for his wife. Rachel was idolatrous, dishonest, deceitful and envious (Gen. 30:1; Gen. 31:30-35) — not exactly desirable traits to discover in your wife. Nevertheless, Jacob, a man of the flesh, found what he was looking for. I don’t mean to imply that this match wasn’t in God’s will for Jacob, nor that Jacob didn’t really love Rachel. Jacob had much to learn about himself; he was blind as to his own faults, and his infatuation with the attractive Rachel blinded him to hers as well.
We get quite a different perspective when we come to the story of Ruth. Before we go on, however, there is a point to be noted. The primary intent of these scriptural portions is not to instruct us in finding a mate. Ruth forms an important link in the lineage of David and hence the Messiah. The book is also prophetic; Ruth typifies the restoration of Israel. Nevertheless, the incidental details in each of these accounts present us with Godly principles that we can follow in connection with our subject.
From the outset we learn much about the character of Ruth. The story begins with her faithfulness to Naomi and her God — “thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Though a Moabitess, she had entered the fold of Israel through faith in Jehovah God (Ruth 2:12), and as such, grace made her an eligible partner. Likewise, one saved out of an ungodly condition, and who is to be found in the assembly, is likewise eligible. Nevertheless, whenever there are significant differences in background, these must be worked through. As with Rebekah and Rachel, Ruth does not sit idle in the home; she goes out into the field to glean. Although the practical side of things is important, if we again recognize the typical teaching — of one gleaning spiritual things, especially in the assembly — the lesson for us is even more significant. For his part, Boaz is not ignorant of Ruth; her good reputation has preceded her (Ruth 2:11). Boaz is kind and thoughtful; he gives Ruth food and water, and extends his protection to her. In so doing, he comforts this stranger, for he speaks to her heart (Ruth 2:8-14). Truly these are the rare qualities to look for in a suitor. Ruth responds to Boaz’s encouragement and she sticks fast by his maidens throughout the harvest (Ruth 2:23). It is interesting to note that Boaz had said, “abide fast by my maidens,” but Ruth quotes him as saying “keep fast by my young men” (Ruth 2:8,21). Perhaps she was hopeful of meeting a suitable young man and considered Boaz out of her reach. Don’t sell yourselves short; you could make an unwise match! Naomi wisely responds: “It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens” (Ruth 2:22). For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it to my readers to familiarize themselves with the full story. However, one might wonder why Naomi, who had been so careful about Ruth’s character, would instruct her to go down to the threshing floor. She was to go there after the men had eaten and drunk at the close of the day. When Boaz had lain down to sleep, Ruth was instructed to uncover his feet and lay by him. In this instance, I believe, it is now Boaz that needed some encouragement. Keep in mind, he was much older than Ruth, and quite conceivably he feared that this pretty young girl would not have him. Ruth not only gave him the prompting he needed, but she also reminded him of his obligation to her under the law (Ruth 3:10-13).
On the negative side of things, we also find examples of men and women in the Bible who followed their hearts. “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well” (Judges 14:1-3). Young men, if you go searching for a woman of this world that pleases you well, you will find one! Samson rejected the counsel of his parents and he got his wife. It’s not long, however, before she’s given to another man. Samson then takes up with a harlot before he finally settles on Delilah — yet another Philistine (Judges 16). The story of Delilah is infamous, and I don’t think that there are many places in this world where her character is not known. If we are going to be driven by the lust of our eyes and the lust of the flesh, why should we expect a better outcome than Samson’s? We only read of Samson praying twice — and both times he was in an extremity (Judges 15:18; 16:28). What a difference it would have made, if he had prayed earlier and if he had listened to the advice of his parents.
We find a similar sad tale with Dinah: “And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her” (Gen. 34:1). As with the man, if a girl looks for a guy in this world, she will find what she’s looking for. Men of this world find Christian girls attractive — and why shouldn’t they? They would be fools if they didn’t. A Christian girl should have all the qualities that naturally attract a man — they are pure, kind, caring, committed, honest, industrious, and the list goes on. I pray that you won’t sacrifice your life to an unequal yoke; things may be pleasant at first, but in the end there will be grief. When we walk in disobedience to the Word of God, the outcome cannot be avoided.
Young Men, Take the Lead!
In the Biblical examples that we have considered, it is the man who takes the initiative to seek a wife. Not only do I believe that this is right and proper from a scriptural perspective, but when men and women accept their God-given responsibilities, they grow and prosper. Young men, if you want to see a girl respond, then woo her! The bride expresses it well in the Song of Solomon: “Draw me, we will run after thee” (Song of Sol. 1:4). Conversely, a young man that refuses to take the lead — to act the suitor — demonstrates a lack of maturity. The verse: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife” (Gen. 2:24), is found four times in Scripture. The young man must be ready — spiritually, emotionally and practically — to step away from his former ties, to take his place as a husband and the head of a new household. Isaac was quite old before Abraham, his father, sought a wife for him. By this time he was ready, both emotionally and also practically, to support a wife. Some men, when they are young, get themselves involved in girlfriend relationships that can clearly go nowhere — except, perhaps, trouble! The hormones are far ahead of their maturity — there is still a lot of growing up and development that needs to take place before they are in a position to have a wife.
Clearly not every young man is the forward, go get ‘em, type-A personality. Some are shy and reticent. I understand this. It can take a good deal of courage to approach a girl. Regardless, at some point, the guy must show some initiative. Don’t assume that leadership must always be characterized by the aggressive drive associated with the type-A temperament. In fact, that can be a real turn-off. There are other styles of leadership. A servant-leader puts others first, helping them to grow and shine according to their unique abilities. What girl wouldn’t respond to that?
I have already said it, and I will say it again: Guys, begin on your knees! Secondly, observe. Take note how a girl behaves in her family, in the assembly, at Bible conferences and at other activities. If a girl is disrespectful or dismissive of her father, or even her brothers, it is a strong indicator as to how she will treat men in general. Group settings are a relaxed way to interact with other young people without giving the wrong impression. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. If the first interest that you ever show a girl is expressed by the question: Will you go out with me? She’ll probably look at you with a puzzled expression and ask Why?
Talk doesn’t come easy to some guys — at least not chit-chat. For a shy person, conversation may even be a deal breaker. When words fail, the tendency is to fill in the gaps with talk about one’s self. There may be no intent to sound self-absorbed, but it can easily come across this way. Take an interest in the other person, ask about them — but don’t interrogate. Take their lead in the conversation and ask questions that show a genuine interest in what they are saying. If you can’t show an interest in another, how do you expect to spend your life with them? Clearly, two shy people together is a painful sight to behold! Sometimes the focus on having to come up with something to say is just too much. Try doing an activity together, it can serve to break that awkwardness. In all your conversations be open and honest. Do not lead a girl on or misrepresent your intentions.
Certainly not all guys are reticent. No, there are plenty who go to the other extreme. They will seek to chat up any pretty young girl that comes their way. The search for a wife is not a sport! Hearts are involved; maybe not yours, but quite possibly the girl whom you are trying to sweet talk. To lead a girl on is neither loving nor kind. A wise girl will guard her heart and not fall for the tongue of the flatterer: “a flattering mouth worketh ruin” (Prov. 26:28). I do not mean to suggest that one cannot talk to a girl unless she is the right one, but it should be done in a way that clearly states your intentions. If it is just to be friendly, keep it that way; don’t flirt!
On a more general note: be a gentleman! This is not especially fashionable these days. Acts of kindness, once considered right and proper, have not only been given up by men, but in many cases, they are rejected by the woman. Nonetheless, regardless of modern etiquette (or the lack of it) women respond to thoughtfulness. Holding a door open for a girl, or offering to carry a heavy load, these indicate that you care. “Be kindly affectioned one to another” (Rom. 12:10). I would suggest to the girl, that such things work best when they are not demanded; on the other hand, show your gratification when a gesture is appreciated. Teasing can be fun, but only if both parties are enjoying it. For all of us, there are things that are off limits; learn to read the other person and don’t joke about things that are hurtful or unkind. Guys, pulling pigtails (literally or figuratively) went out in grade school; such behavior is immature and, while it may get a girl’s attention, it will not endear her to you. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted” (Eph. 4:32).
Girls, You Can Help!
The girl certainly has a say as to her future husband — after all, she is the one who gets to say, yes or no!Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go” (Gen. 24:58). Nevertheless, it is out of character for a girl to be the pursuer. Her role is attractive whereas his role should be active. So how does one go about attracting a suitable companion?
“Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee” (Ruth 3:3). Appearance and deportment are important. That may sound shallow, but quite frankly, a book is first judged by its cover. Guys are visual; they respond to what they see. Girls clue into this at a young age, but although they get it, they seem to have little comprehension as to what’s really going on inside the male brain. We live in a day where girls are exposing more and more of their bodies. Unquestionably, this will provoke a visceral response in a guy, but is this really what you want? While it may seem paradoxical, seductive styles that tease are just as provocative — more so even — than styles that expose. Incidentally, the latter is a turn-off for any man going on for the Lord. Seek to be beautiful, not sensual — there is time and place for that within the sanctity of marriage. Scripture is clear as to a woman’s dress: “In like manner also that the women in decent deportment and dress, adorn themselves with modesty and discretion, not with plaited hair and gold, or pearls, or costly clothing” (1 Tim. 2:9 JND). In case you think that Paul3 had a dim view of women, then listen to Peter — a married man: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel” (1 Pet. 3:2-3). This may seem so outdated and unfashionable — but I don’t think it needs to be interpreted that way. Scripture doesn’t tell you what to wear, but it does describe the character of what you should wear. Remarkably consistent with these verses, surveys tell us that men are not fond of heavy makeup or excessive jewelry — though I realize that tastes vary considerably. Should you desire further scriptural guidance as to style, then long hair is definitely in! “If a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her” (1 Cor. 11:15). As far as the guys go, it never went out of fashion! Of course, for a godly woman, dress and hair length go far beyond fashion or being attractive — it is a question of obedience to the Word of God and doing that which is pleasing to the Lord.
Though the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 was anything but dowdy, she concludes: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). A book will be opened, and ultimately it will be judged by its contents. A beautiful woman with a contemptible spirit is a miserable companion. You may be able to dress up, but you can never hide inner spiritual turmoil. Conversely, a godly woman who is at peace, and is walking confidentially with the Lord, will glow with a beauty that cannot be replicated through dress. Ruth didn’t just dress herself, she also washed. There was a condition of things that went along with her appearance.
So how does one put these things into practice? A plant will look faded and spent if it never gets much water; one must begin with prayer and reading. In both instances, the quotes I gave above are incomplete. Paul goes on to say “but, what becomes women making profession of the fear of God, by good works” (1 Tim. 2:10). Peter adds: “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:4). I imagine that some girls (and guys) are picturing a mousy woman who’s afraid to show her face — but is that consistent with the scriptural examples we find? Consider: Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Rahab, Mary, Priscilla, Phebe — and the women who “received their dead raised to life again” (Heb. 11:35). If you intend to be a help meet, you will need to show a little fortitude. If we contrast Peter’s words with Proverbs 7 — “she is loud and stubborn” (Prov. 7:11) — then, I believe, we begin to see something of what he is speaking. Would you rather be, “loud and stubborn,” or, to be known by your “meek and quiet spirit?”
Don’t seek to impress the guys. Mind you, this also goes for guys seeking to impress the girls. Whenever we set out to impress, it invariably flops. Acting like a guy won’t make you liked by the guys — after all, they are looking for a girl! Naturally a man has the need to be useful. If you have no need for a husband, then why would a man look your way? The stories of a damsel in distress, rescued by the handsome prince on his steed, don’t come out of thin air; in some way they reflect our God-given psyche. One positive observation that we can make about Jacob is that he lifted the stone off the well and watered Rachel’s flock (Gen. 29:8-10). Gallantry was alive and well in those days. If you wish to encourage a young man, perhaps ask him for some help! It may be spiritual — and wouldn’t that be wonderful, especially if it were genuine! But it could also be practical. On the other hand, don’t make every phone call, and every text message, an occasion to express your problems. You want him to be excited when you call, don’t you? Don’t throw yourself at a man. On the other hand, if you don’t offer any encouragement, it will send the message — you’re not the one for me.
A woman desiring a husband won’t closet herself away. She will be at the assembly meetings and at Bible conferences. She will be busy seeking to serve the Lord in whatever capacity she is able. There is a story at the close of the book of Judges that offers guidance for both young men and women (Judg. 21:16-23). The men of Benjamin sought wives. They were encouraged to go to Shiloh at the time of the feast of Jehovah. It was there that God had placed His name in Israel — the tabernacle could be found at Shiloh. Surely this would be a good place and occasion to find a wife. The men of Benjamin were told: “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; and see  ...  Behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh.” This may sound funny and quaint but it sums up, I trust, what has been said. Guys look where you’ll find godly girls; then observe them. Again, where are you hanging out? Is it in the vineyards where fruit can be borne for God? Girls, if your life for the Lord shows out in a joy for all to see, you will attract the right kind of man. Finally, young men, show some initiative and go after that girl!
1. Incidentally, the Song of Solomon does not describe a pre-marital relationship; it is the restoration of the spouse into the full confidence and love of the bridegroom; the intimacy described is within marriage. If we keep this in mind, then the lessons it contains will be correctly interpreted.
2. Romeo and Juliet were a couple of immature, impetuous teenagers.
3. Such views concerning the Apostle Paul are at variance with the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Paul did not write based on his prejudices; we receive the Scriptures in their entirety as God breathed (1 Tim. 3:16).