A few years ago, I was in love with a guy, but it never developed into a serious relationship. What worries me is that I was the one who sought him out and made the first move, and now something similar is happening with another guy.

What I want to know is if it is acceptable to look for a husband this way, with me making the first move, or if I should just wait until someone courts me in order to marry me?

Dear Friend,

Your question is an interesting one in light of the Bible, which is our primary source for all advice that we give. In Bible times, it was most common for parents to choose a spouse for their daughters, and the daughters usually did not have the option to reject the relationships.

In the case of Jacob, the father of the Israelites, we can learn some interesting lessons about the culture of that time. Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, and her father approved the marriage. But when the wedding came, it was Rachel’s sister Leah behind the marriage veil. The father of the girls justified the last-minute switch saying that their custom had always been for the elder daughter to get married first. Subsequently, after an appropriate time had passed, Rachel was allowed to become Jacob’s second wife. (1)

It is difficult for those of us who have grown up in Western cultures to understand the ways of many Eastern cultures, especially with regard to arranged marriages. It is even more difficult to understand the ancient Eastern ways of multiple wives and even concubines. These are examples of how we can learn lessons from a Biblical culture without believing that we should imitate their practices. For that matter, it is good to note that the Bible is filled with true stories that we can learn from, but that many of those stories teach what we should not do, instead of what we should do.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that indicates that a man must be the one to show the first interest in a relationship with a woman. Women are completely free to show interest in a guy and even make the first move.

However, making the first move does not mean that you should make every move. After showing interest in a guy and then making the first move, a woman has to be very attentive to the guy’s level of interest. If he is not motivated enough to make the next move, then it is time to walk away. Or, if his interest is in a recreational sexual encounter, then run the other way!

Many women make the serious mistake of showing interest in a sexual way. That strategy bypasses all of the most important ways of getting to know one another. Frequently a sexual relationship holds two people together who eventually find out that they don’t even like one another.

A person who is motivated by sexual attraction and satisfaction is not likely to find a good marriage partner. That is an important reason that God’s standard is to save the sexual relationship until after the wedding.

We wish you well,

1 Ge 27-29