How can you tell if the guy you’re dating has good character–if he’s really marriage material?

About a week and a half ago I sent out an email to most people on my email list asking about ONE thing that I should focus on this fall–I wanted to figure out what people are actually interested in hearing about, to make sure that what I write about actually meets a need. We (my assistant Tammy and I) were overwhelmed at the response, and Tammy’s been making up a spreadsheet and trying to keep track of all the replies!

(If you’re not on my list yet but you’d like to get emails like this, sign up here!)

But I got one that was simply a question, and she asked me to ask you all your opinion.

Let’s do it!

Here’s a woman who was once engaged but later found out that the guy was really into porn and was a little bit of a sleaze. (Sorry if that’s harsh). She doesn’t want to make that mistake again. She asks,

Reader Question

In your previous posts, preparing for marriage, you said Character trumps it all. That people don’t just turn bad. Was wondering if you could put up a post on tips and how to discern the character within the shortest possible time to avoid wasting ages or worse still marry someone with hidden sins. For example, I’ve realized if you jump out first and start telling a guy who is really bent in marrying you that you’re a practising Christian with certain standards, they immediately start acting out like Christians but if you’re neutral and just watching him without making all those statements yet not compromising your standard he’s more likely to act out certain things earlier because he doesn’t know what you expect. That way I can run early enough. Was wondering if you could put up a blog post so everyone could make a comment.

GREAT question.

How can you tell if someone you're dating is really a Christian? Some tips--it's about being authentic.

Let me take a stab with a few thoughts, and then I need to start unpacking.

Don’t Date. Do Life.

Dating is so fake. Anyone can look good when they go out to dinner and a movie. Do life together instead! Go to your small group Bible study together. Read books in the same room and hang out together. Meet his friends and do the things he normally does, and have him hang out with your friends and do the things you normally do.

And DEFINITELY tell him you’re a Christian.

You can’t really fake it. Not really. If you’re in a Bible study and he has nothing to say; if he doesn’t want to pray; if you’re talking to him about a spiritual struggle you’re having experiencing God’s acceptance and he can’t talk it out with you–then that’s a huge red flag that he’s the wrong guy.

Christianity is not about going to church on Sunday. It’s about prayer and wrestling with God and serving God CONSTANTLY. Whatever you’re doing, God is first and foremost on  your mind. So if you’re living that out, it should be obvious if he’s not. If he can’t bring God into a conversation, even when you do, or express an opinion or give another perspective, then his faith is shallow.

This isn’t about how long you’ve been a Christian, either. It’s about whether you really have a relationship with God.


Christianity is not about going to church on Sunday. It’s about prayer and wrestling with God and serving God CONSTANTLY.

My daughter married a new Christian, and they talked about God all the time. It’s not about how long you’ve been a Christian (she knew the Bible a TON better than he did); it’s about whether God is on your mind. God was on Connor’s mind because Connor was thinking and praying, and that showed, even if his faith was not as old as Rebecca’s.

I often tell people when they meet someone through an online dating service and that person says they’re a Christian, just ask–“what has God been teaching you lately?” or “what has God been speaking to you about lately?” And if they give a short answer, keep the conversation going and ask them to elaborate. If they can’t have a conversation about that, then the faith isn’t real.

So that’s my input. I’d love for you all to leave yours for this woman! How can you tell if a guy has good character? Let’s talk in the comments!

(And lately God’s been speaking to me about having too much stuff and needing to be a good steward of what He has given me. So I’m going to go purge more now!)

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