Since our daughters were very young, Mahria and I have instilled in them a family commitment to courtship. Our girls will not "date" before they are married. We see no biblical precedence for "trying people on for size" or being in relationship with a member of the opposite sex because it is pleasurable or "something to do." Courtship is a family affair. The purpose of courtship is to prepare a young man and a young woman for marriage.
Mahria and I understand that the day will come, probably soon, when three godly men (one for each daughter) will seek our daughters' hands in marriage. During a time of family devotion several years ago, the subject came up.
At the time, Michelle (my oldest, and now 26) had been reading Sarah Mally's book, Before You Meet Prince Charming. One section of the book offers a family activity in which each person (parents and daughters) makes a list of essential and preferable qualities of a husband. We decided to do the activity and discuss the results.
What follows is my original list of essential qualities for a man who would seek to marry one of my daughters. I've updated and expand the list for the re-posting of this article. The list that follows is not exhaustive, although some of you may become exhausted reading it. With the exception of the first entry on the list, these essential qualities are in no particular order.
The man who will marry my daughter must...
...know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(Note to any potential candidate who may read this: if this first essential quality is not true in your life, you need not bother reading the rest of the list. You may be a wonderful young man, but you are not the one my Lord and Savior has chosen for my daughter.)
...not be an adulterer in any form, including pornography (Matthew 5:27-28).
...open car and building doors for women whenever given the opportunity. Chivalry is not dead (1 Peter 3:7).
...understand and accept his biblical role as head of the home and his wife (Ephesians 5:25-32).
...be able to provide, financially, for his wife and family (1 Timothy 5:8)--with the understanding that a man and woman are to remain married in times of plenty and in times of want.
...be able to physically protect his wife and family (Matthew 10:26-29; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10)--with the understanding that a man and woman are to remain married in sickness and in health.
...must leave his parents and cling to his wife (Ephesians 5:25-33). While a man should honor his parents, he must not allow his parents to come between him and his wife. No "mamma's boys" need apply.
...be able to teach/lead his family, spiritually. He must be knowledgeable and discerning when it comes to the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
...have a biblical understanding of the Church and is actively participating in a local body of believers--submitting to the authority of the leadership therein (Acts 2:42:47; Hebrews 10:24-25).
...love my daughter more than he loves his own life. He must be a 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and a John 15:13 man.
...aspire to the spiritual qualifications of an elder, even if the Lord does not call him to serve in that capacity. He must be a man of biblical character (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
...understand and practice biblical evangelism, in keeping with his own God-given personality. No, he doesn't have to be an open-air preacher like his future father-in-law. But he must love God enough to obey his commands to reach the lost with the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
...be able to look me in the eye and respectfully say, "Dad, I disagree." He must have a spine (1 Corinthians 16:13).
...not a coward (Revelation 21:8). He must have an enduring and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. The man who marries my daughter must act like a man, live like a man, and if necessary die like a man. My son-in-law won't quit.
...be be a good steward of his finances (Matthew 6:19-24) while being generous with the same (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
...be teachable, respectful when receiving counsel, and able to make decisions after seeking God's counsel and will through the Scriptures and prayer (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Philippians 4:6-7).
...exhibit the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24, while fleeing from the sins found in Galatians 5:19-21.
...choose his recreation and entertainment in light of the holiness of God and his personal pursuit of holiness. He must not be a hypocrite with his eyes and his ears (Matthew 5:29-30; James 4:4).
...not have been a party in an unbiblical divorce. He will not make my daughter an adulteress (Luke 16:18).
...understand that if he ever lays a hand on my daughter, only the terrible wrath of Almighty God will be worse than facing me.
...receive my consent to marry my daughter. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a thief.
Now, I understand that no one is perfect. I understand that sanctification is a process and that no man will attain perfection in this life. But any young man who finds this list too much to bear, who is unwilling to try to live up to the personal qualities described in the above list, should examine himself to see if he is even in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). You may have bigger issues than whether or not you will marry my daughter.
Well, there you have it. I hope the above list is both helpful and encouraging to many. I don't expect everyone to agree with my list. Frankly, I don't care. Michelle, Marissa, and Amanda are my daughters, not yours.