A few years ago, I sent letters to my daughters' boyfriends. In the letter were three pieces of paper. Two were my attempts to be funny. I had seen an "Application for Dating My Daughter" and "10 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter" in email forwards several times and included those in the letter. If you haven't seen them, look them up. Very entertaining, especially if you are a father of daughters who are dating. I sent those two pieces for fun, but the third piece was the one I really cared that the boys read and internalized. It was called, "Expectations."
This "Expectations" piece originated as I thought about how over the years I have said things to our girls about my expectations for boys who are interested in them. I have talked about the attitudes and actions of their significant other that matters most. One night I couldn't sleep, got up, and put my thoughts on paper. For what it is worth, I now share them with you. This is what I expect of boys who are interested in my daughters.
We have tried to raise our daughter in a virtuous home. While we have failed at this at times, only by God’s grace can we say that we have succeeded more often than not. My expectations of a boy my daughter dates and ultimately, should the relationship progress, marry, are that he continue what we have begun. In addition to helping my daughter experience fun, crazy, abundant, and goofy happiness in life, I expect them to be models of the pursuit of holiness.
Specifically, I expect:
- He has an active faith in God through Jesus Christ. I want my daughter to be in a relationship with someone she will also spend eternity with as a fellow believer. Is this your faith commitment?
- He will lead her towards an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing matters more than that. If he is not committed to that, I am automatically at odds with him. Are you committed to this?
- My daughter will not need to bring her boyfriend up to biblical standards of living… the boyfriend will already be there and leading the way. This means a personal commitment to worship God with others in a church, Bible study individually and with groups, a life of prayer, serving and helping others, and a person who gives away his time, money and faith to build God’s Kingdom on earth. Are these your practices?
- A passion for purity of thought, words, and actions. It is not that sexual immorality, drunkenness, lying, gluttony, profanity or other items are simply things to be avoided; they are actually offensive to a man because they are offensive to God. To be blunt here, the boy will not seek to have sex before marriage, get drunk, or use profanity NOT because someone else says not to, but because the Holy Spirit has already convinced him it is not right.
- A burden for the people on the “outs” of society like the homeless and poor. Jesus clearly favored this group with his compassion.
- A sense that the earth is to be cared for by humans. Green is good.
- A commitment to non-violence and non-aggression as a basic disposition. I am not a pacifist and understand that bullies often need to be forced to stop bullying, whether on the playground or as the leader of a rogue country. I expect physical strength in protecting my daughter when needed. But in relationships, generosity and kindness of spirit are the standard, not aggression.
Are you committed to this standard of living?
This is a tall list. To be sure, grace abounds and I am not interested in legalistic following of “the rules” for the rules’ sake. This is about holiness. I expect the boyfriend to already be “sold out” to Christ—to His causes, His way of living, His priorities, His holiness. A boyfriend who makes that commitment is a man after God’s own heart. And a man after God’s heart is a one who will have mine.