In this section I would like to talk about the types of things to look for in a man when considering marriage.
You see, it is to everyone's advantage to find a good man to marry because:
- For his own family he will be the one responsible for establishing the spiritual and moral level in the family and thus bring honor or shame to his parents and extended family.
- For his in-laws, he will be the one who will be responsible for the support, protection and leadership of their daughter and future grandchildren.
- For his future wife, he will be the father of her children and his quality of character will determine if Mother's Day, Father's Day and every other day will be times of happiness and thanksgiving, or ones of regret.
- For his Lord, he will either be a channel of blessing to his family or an obstacle to Christ's presence in their home.
It is extremely important, therefore, to find the right man to marry because there is so much that will depend on him for so many people, including the Lord. Of course, you will never find the right man if you do not know what you are looking for, or if you listen to the world and what it promotes as an ideal.
The Modern Ideal
Before we review what to really look for in a man, let us list some of the more popular things the world sees as desirable in today's 21st century male.
By far, the number one feature is looks. People say this is not so (usually to avoid appearing superficial), but according to what people do, looks is number one. I do not mean any particular look (muscular look, preppy look, rocker look, skater look, rich look, east coast look, Gap look, whatever). The point is that the number one thing we are told is that you have to have a "look" or you need to have someone whose got a "look." Of course this is nothing new, men have cultivated whatever "look" they thought would be attractive to women and vice versa. The point I am making here is that in the world, finding a man that has the right look is extremely important.
We measure personal value in this country by how rich, famous or how skilled a person is. Again, we like to deny this because it sounds so shallow, but a quick look at both the print and electronic media that reflect our values reveals that this is true. We will sit through numerous award shows that simply gratify the swollen egos of celebrities because we are enthralled by fame. We have endless books with outlandish praise lavished on people who drive fast cars or draw pictures. I am not saying that sports and art are not worthy of praise, what I am saying, is that we use movie stars and athletes as models for what humans ought to be. We value a person simply because they are famous. A sad example of this was Monica Lewinsky (the White House intern who had a sexual affair with then President Bill Clinton). She became famous for being immoral with someone who was famous, and continues to be a celebrity for this reason some 25 years later! Since most people lack the beauty or talent to become famous, we are encouraged to do so through the amassing of wealth and things.
What is desirable in all of this, therefore, is a man who has the potential to excel in one of these areas. We hope that the man we choose has, at least, a chance at being great, being rich, being famous or being successful. We love winners, in this nation, and a man who has what it takes to be one of these, this is the man to look for, a man with potential.
I suppose, in general terms, the world is really telling us to look for ...
A Post-Modern Man
Post-modernism is a fancy term that describes the attitudes and value system espoused by the ideal man of this age. Post-modern man is the absolute opposite of the "old fashioned" man and light years ahead of the modern man. The post-modern man is above all else:
- Tolerant: Does not judge anyone's lifestyle or actions.
- Secure: He likes himself and secure in his abilities.
- Balanced: He does not allow anything to overcome his sense of self, he is in control.
- Logical: Does not deal with questions that are not posed or answered by science and technology.
- Unisexual: The post-modern man cooperates with every effort to eliminate the differences between the sexes (whether it be social or biological).
- Areligious: The post-modern man is not against religion, he just does not see any role it can play in his life.
This cool, independent, flexible, worldly man is the one women are told to look for.
The Ideal Man
I could go on to describe what the world says the ideal man of this age is, but I think you get the overall picture.
Let me now describe an ideal man for every age. I could list a dozen characteristics but prefer to describe only four that can be seen, so that like the tip of an iceberg, the qualities that are visible suggest a solid base in the unseen regions.
Look for a Man Who is Honest
A false witness will perish, but the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.
- Proverbs 21:28
Honesty is the bedrock of any relationship whether it is with a spouse, a family, an employer, a friend, even with God. A man who is honest has an open heart to hear the gospel if he is an unbeliever. A Christian man who is honest is teachable and more able to grow in spiritual things, and he is also more likely to repent when wrong. One of the reasons that it is good not to marry too quickly is that it sometimes takes awhile to see if a man is truly honest.
One of the best ways to determine this is to see if he tells the truth in little things. If he is not truthful in small things, chances are he will not be truthful when it comes to larger issues as well. Look for a man who loves truth and who demands it from you as well.
Look for a Man Who is Kind
What is desirable in a man is his kindness
- Proverbs 19:22
Kindness is the doing of good for others, the focusing on another's needs instead of our own. Nothing is more beautiful and admirable in a man than a kind nature. Kindness lifts a man up from among other men who tend to be selfish and self-centered. Kindness identifies a man as a channel of God's blessings and God's character. Kindness is a window into the inner working of a man's soul, his true nature.
Women ought not to be fooled by looks or muscles, fancy clothes or a car. All of these things can hide or dress up a selfish sinner. But a man who is kind, regardless of his appearance or wealth, will know how to make someone else happy and satisfied in every area of life. Make sure you look for a man who is kind (in his speech, actions, attitude) not just someone who gives compliments or gifts to win favor. There is a difference. The player, who uses kindness as a device, is looking to receive something in return; the truly kind man, however, acts out of his nature. You really can tell the difference because the kind man is that way with everyone, the hypocrite is that way when he wants something from you.
Look for a Man Who can Forgive
Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7). They say that there are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. However, there is another negative thing that we can be sure of and that is failure. It is a sure thing that no matter how sincere and how hard we try, we will make mistakes, we will mess up, we will say and do things (terrible things at times) that we regret. And when this happens, oh how wonderful to have a man (or dad, or friend, or whoever) who can forgive and encourage us.
A man who can forgive is one who probably has a good view of himself and his own faults. He is usually not too anxious to accuse or judge another. A man with a forgiving spirit has probably needed forgiveness in his life and received it, and understands how fragile and vulnerable a person feels when they fail or make a mistake.
We fool ourselves when we look for the "perfect" mate and think we have hit the jackpot when we find a man who seems perfect. But people who look or aspire to perfection are usually driven by fear and poor self-esteem, they hate themselves when they make mistakes and are pretty demanding of others as well.
Look for a man who is merciful to himself and when the time comes, and it will, he will show mercy towards you and the ones you love.
Look for a Man Who is Pious
The word piety comes from French and Latin root words which mean devoted. In a secular sense it means to give the proper respect and devotion due to parents, family, spouse or a cause, etc. In a Christian sense it refers to one who is devoted to the things of God, to His people and to His worship in faithfulness. For example, it was said of Jesus that God heard His prayers because of His piety (Hebrews 5:7).
The post-modern man is devoted only in the secular sense to himself (his look, his success), his interests (sports, leisure), his future (family stability, his retirement). Look for a man who has spiritual piety, who is devoted to the people, the work and the things of God. Men are called upon by God to be the spiritual and moral leaders in their families. How will they lead if they are not even interested in the things of God? A pious man is a complete man, a man who has the true potential for happiness and a full life. His devotion to God inspires confidence as to his purity, faithfulness and direction in life. We often say to our children, look for a partner who will help you, not hinder you, from going to heaven. A pious man is devoted to the type of things that lead one to heaven. If that is where you want to go, follow him and he will lead you there.
Sometimes when you are seeking a course of action regarding the repair of your car or a health issue, you ask the mechanic or the doctor, "What would you do in this situation?" We figure that if they would do it for themselves, the advice they give is at least sincere. I write these things because my wife and I have taught our own daughters to search for:
- A man who knows the truth and who can tell the truth, even under pressure, even when it will cost him something.
- A man who is good and kind naturally.
- A man who is full of mercy and tenderness.
- A man who wants to do what is right, what God wants him to do. These men are still out there. Some are tall, some are poor, some are of a different culture, some love the outdoors, some are comfortable with cars or computers or tools or tractors or books. Regardless of the outward container, these sincere, good hearted, merciful, spiritual men continue to be available! So let us pray that our daughters and sisters and others who are looking for a husband will look for this kind of man and, Lord willing, find him.