My daughters frequently remind me that they think that I have control issues when it comes to their relationships with young men. It is probably true due to remembering well my own gorilla-like heart as a young man. Chuck Swindoll uses a great word-picture when giving away his own daughters in marriage. He compares it to entrusting an exquisitely beautiful and expensive Stradivarius violin to a gorilla.
Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about this question: What should parents of a young woman expect and hope for in a young man who is dating their daughter? Here’s my attempt to speak to any young man who has interest in seriously dating one of my daughters.
1. I expect and hope that you will truly and fervently love Jesus more than you love my daughter. No Christian man alive will ever do this perfectly, but an important question to ask yourself is: Do I love Jesus more than I love her? My prayer for you both is that you will maintain a simple, pure, and undistracted devotion to Christ (1 Corinthians 7:35). I desire more than anything for my daughter to find a man who fervently loves Jesus more than he does her. I do hope and pray that the gospel will be the fixed center of your relationship. Continuing to learn how to proclaim the gospel to your own hearts and model the gospel with each another will make for a beautiful relationship. Loving Jesus more than her will enable you to lead her well.
2. I expect and hope that you will delight in and cherish her and never try to change her, but leave that task to the change-agent of the Holy Spirit. I see many couples – young and old -working hard to change one another in fundamental ways. However, I do want you to think about how you will you make her a better person and servant of Christ. I will challenge her to consider the same for you.
3. I expect and hope that you will serve as her loving leader… and that you will avoid the two extremes of passivity and heavy-handed authoritarianism…. This means that you will protect her from her emotions and your passions. She will need a strong leader who also knows when and how to be tender. I believe all of us men struggle with balancing tough love with tender love.
4. I expect and hope that you will initiate guarding the physical purity of your relationship. This is what I mean by “protecting her from your passions.” Many young couples for whom we do premarital counseling typically come to their wedding day pure only because of the moral standards and vigilance of the young woman. As men, we must take the initiative to lead in the pursuit of purity and holiness.
5. I expect and hope that you will not tell her that you love her until you are emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and financially ready to ask for her hand in marriage. At this point, you are probably saying, ‘you’ve got to be kidding.’ Well, I realize this is a stretch. However, it is very tempting to woo a girl with words that you know she wants to hear. The Song of Solomon reminds us not to awaken love before it’s time. If I would have heard all this as a young man, I am sure that I would have thought my girlfriend’s dad was crazy. However, biblical agape love is a sacrificial commitment of the will to serve the interests and needs of another. I don’t really believe that you can know that you love someone until you have sacrificed yourself, your resources, and your time for them. Honestly, you can’t truly love someone until you have studied them long enough to know their interests, passions, gifts, weaknesses, and needs. This will take you both a significant amount of time together. I would encourage you to enjoy the journey and adventure. These are exciting days to savor.