50 Questions to Ask Your Daughter's Potential Suitor
Scripture indicates, in both Old and New Testaments, that fathers are accountable for the well-being and protection of their children, especially their daughters. Under Mosaic Law, for example, a woman accused of not being a virgin prior to marriage would be charged as such by her newlywed husband, and the father was accountable to present evidence contrary to the claim (cf. Deut. 22:13-19). Implied in the father's defense is that he was the one who was to preserve his daughter's purity while under his headship. On the other hand, if the newlywed husband's claim was found to be true, the daughter was to be stoned to death at the door of her father's house (cf. Deut. 22:20-21). It was to his utter shame and sorrow for failing in his duties. As theologian John Gill explains, stoning her at her father's house was "for his greater disgrace, and as a sort of punishment for his neglect of her education, not taking care to instruct her, and bring her up in a better manner."
On into the New Testament, the Apostle Paul addressed a host of relational issues for the church in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 7, he spoke of aspects such as singleness, divorce, and remarriage. And tucked away near the end of the chapter, he addressed fathers (cf. 1 Cor. 7:36-38). Unfortunately, the NIV and ESV mistranslate this section of Paul's letter as referring to fiancés, whereas versions such as the NASB rightly identify that Paul was speaking to fathers (since Paul's instructions have to do with giving away a virgin in marriage). Thus, what is implied is that, once again, fathers are assumed to be responsible for their daughter's protection—particularly with regards to a potential future husband. And of course, this fits well with other passages of Scripture, such as 1 Timothy 3:5, which speaks of a man managing his household. All this to say, dads have the duty to make sure that the man to whom they give their daughter's hand in marriage is qualified.
50 Important Questions
To that end, one of the most important things a father can do is to spend time talking with any young man seeking a relationship with his daughter, asking the young man the hard questions that need to be asked. It may be uncomfortable. It may seem overbearing. But it's necessary.
The following is a list of 50 questions to help assist with that task.
What’s your testimony?
What’s your job situation?
What are your hobbies?
What are your personal goals for the next 5-10 years?
What is one of the best lessons you’ve learned from your parents?
What is one of your best childhood memories?
How would you describe your teenage years?
How would your friends describe you?
How would your parents describe you?
What does a typical week of your life look like?
Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
What kind of music do you enjoy?
What are the main qualities that attracted you to this person?
What are your plans for the future of this relationship?
How soon would you be ready for a wedding?
Where would you plan on living as a couple?
How well can you provide for a wife and a family?
What kind of financial debt would you bring into the marriage?
What physical boundaries do you have in place to safeguard your purity?
Without graphic detail, to what extent have you been physically intimate in prior relationships?
What ministries do you currently serve in at your local church?
What are you currently studying in the Bible?
What’s the last book you read and what are your thoughts about it?
Where would you plan on attending church as a couple?
How would you respond to a family member inviting you to a homosexual wedding ceremony?
How many hours per week do you spend in entertainment (TV, movies, internet, etc)?
What is your history with pornography?
What is your favorite book of the Bible and why?
Besides your pastor, who’s your favorite preacher?
What do you think about John MacArthur?
What do you think about Joel Osteen?
What is the area of your life that needs the most improvement?
What are your views on alcohol, smoking, tattoos, piercings, and swearing?
What is the Gospel?
What is the role of the Old Testament in the life of a Christian?
What are your thoughts on Calvinism vs. Arminianism?
What are your thoughts on Charismatic theology?
What do you look for in a church?
What would say are the main differences between Christianity and Roman Catholicism?
What are your views regarding divorce and remarriage?
What do you think is the biggest problem facing the church today?
What do you consider to be the roles of a husband in terms of family life?
What do you consider to be the roles of a wife in terms of family life?
What do you consider to be the roles of a father in terms of family life?
What do you consider to be the roles of a mother in terms of family life?
How many children do you want to have?
What are your thoughts on a wife staying home full-time to care for children?
What are your thoughts on public school, private school, and homeschool?
What is your relationship with your mom and dad like?
What might be your concerns regarding each other’s future in-laws?
10 Concluding Thoughts
With those questions in mind, consider a handful of concluding thoughts about interviewing a potential suitor for your daughter:
1. Distinguish between ignorance and defiance.
There is a world of difference between ignorance of an orthodox theological point and defiance of an orthodox theological point (cf. Acts 19:1-2). Being unsure about Charismatic theology is not the same as being a "cautious continuationist" or full-blow Charismatic. Having never heard of John MacArthur is not the same as despising verse-by-verse expository preaching. Remaining confused about how to apply the Old Testament Law is not the same as being antinomian. The Apostle Peter wrote that growth in knowledge is an important indication of true conversion, which necessarily implies that none of us has learned all that needs to be learned in Scripture (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-11). Ignorance simply shows an opportunity for growth, whereas defiance shows a serious defect.
2. Some things are automatic disqualifiers.
When it comes to issues of outright defiance or rejection, don't be afraid to treat a particular issue as an automatic disqualifer. If a young man says that repentance is not necessary for salvation, that homosexual desire is not inherently sinful, or that church attendance is optional, it is entirely legitimate to consider him automatically disqualified. Make sure you have clarity as to his true position, and once you do, don't hesitate to consider that the end of the road. Some things are non-negotiable. And this can certainly include issues that are not theologically complex as well. For example, Scripture says that a man is to provide for his own household (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8), thus someone who shows signs of laziness or neglect may just as quickly be disqualified.
3. Being unequally yoked does not only apply to unbelievers.
While it's certainly true that 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 is speaking of believers joined together with unbelievers in spiritual enterprise, there is also an application that is often drawn (and rightly so) about believers marrying unbelievers. After all, Scripture expressly speaks of marrying "only in the Lord" (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39). And marriage certainly is a spiritual union, as it represents Christ and the church (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). But, a second-level application can also be drawn in terms of a spiritually immature man marrying a spiritually mature woman. Scripture not only speaks of the husband being head of the wife, but it goes so far as to assume that the man ought to be mature enough to guide and lead his wife in spiritual matters (cf. 1 Cor. 14:35). Thus, even if a man appears to give all evidences of being a believer, that does not automatically mean he is in the position to pursue marriage. If the spiritual disparity between your daughter and a potential suitor is so great that it would cripple the man's ability to lead, that's a reason to pause for consideration. Perhaps, in this case, the best answer to a young man pursuing your daughter would be, "Maybe, but not yet."
4. Use this opportunity to begin discipleship.
Regardless of whether or not the young man ends up getting the green light from you, a frank conversation based on the aforementioned questions opens up an incredible opportunity for discipleship. Consider using the newfound relationship to establish a routine time of instruction. Perhaps there are theological books that you could work through together. Maybe there are ministry opportunities in which you could partner. It could be that some of the disqualifying issues can be corrected, given some time for reflection based on a Bible study series. Whatever the case may be, the Great Commission makes for a great excuse to continue investing in a young man. In God's providence, the discipleship you begin with him could be precisely what has been lacking in his life.
5. Look for direction, not perfection.
As mentioned, growth is one of the premier indicators of true Christianity. Thus, when interviewing a potential suitor for your daughter, don't expect the theological precision of a seminary graduate candidating for pastoral ministry. Look not only for where the young man currently is, but where he's headed. It's likely that you've been a believer for a much longer time, in which case it's expected that your mind would be more renewed by Scripture. Keep an eye out for indicators that his spiritual life is going to continue to be sanctified in the truth (cf. John 17:17). Is he studying Scripture with depth, or is he haphazardly bouncing around the Bible whenever he feels in the mood to read? Does he have a good set of theological books and commentaries, or is he knee-deep in the superficial pabulum of much of modern evangelicalism? Is his current local church teaching God's word verse-by-verse, or is it pandering to the felt needs of the congregation with topical tomfoolery? Like throwing a football, or hitting a golf ball, consider the trajectory.
6. Single women: enlist a man.
Undoubtedly, a conversation with a young man pursuing a young woman falls under the responsibility of the father. But, the reality of a fallen world means that fathers aren't always available for the task. To those single mothers looking to provide the same spiritual safety for their daughters, the task should still be delegated to an older man who can provide proper spiritual guidance. In some cases, this might be a grandfather. In other cases, maybe it's an older brother. Ultimately, it's a ministry task that would also be well-suited for an elder of a local church. If you're a single mom, don't be afraid to lean on the godly men in your life for help; that's what they're there for (cf. Jas. 1:27, 1 Tim. 3:5).
7. Married men: consult your wives.
Ask any married man to describe the insight his wife provides, and if he's being honest, he'll confess that often his wife is adept at noticing the blind spots in his life. And should we be surprised? Of course not. God gave Eve to Adam to be his helper, stating that it was "not good" for him to be alone (cf. Gen. 2:18). In fact, God made Eve to be a "suitable" helper, one who would help him best glorify God (cf. Gen. 2:20). Thus, the more a husband and wife are pursuing a meaningful knowledge and love of God through His Word, the better they are able to glorify God together. As they mature in God's grace together, they are able to help bear one another's burdens and assist each other in ways that would not be possible separately (cf. 1 Cor. 7:5). In a more concrete way, what is often seen is that women have an intuition, particularly regarding a person's character, that men often lack. They are able to spot manipulation and deception in ways that men may overlook. This becomes particularly heightened as a woman studies Scripture more, making her intuition that much more biblically informed and accurate. All this to say, if your wife says that the young man pursuing your daughter comes across as "weird," "creepy," "deceptive," or "disingenuous," you ought to listen.
8. Interview your own son.
Since these questions are intended not only for the safety of your daughter, but also for the edification of a young man interested in pursuing her, it only makes sense that they would likewise be of great importance for your own son as he pursues a relationship with another man's daughter. After all, your son ought to be vetted for spiritual maturity just the same, for his sake as well as the sake of the young woman he's interested in. Hopefully, another young woman's father would interview your son, but if not, that's all the more reason why you should. Don't hold other young men to a standard that you wouldn't hold for your own son.
9. "Interview" your daughter.
Before interviewing any potential suitor, one of the best things to do would be to walk through these questions with your daughter. Certainly, it wouldn't be an "interview" in the same sense as with a young man, but this will serve two main purposes: first, it will make sure there are no surprises as to what you intend to ask young men who are interested in her, and second, it will (ideally) help her own discernment as she learns what characteristics are important when considering a relationship. Provided you've been discipling her well up to this point, most of the questions should come as no surprise. But, it can serve as a helpful review, particularly at a time when emotions might cloud objectivity.
10. Don't wait.
It goes without saying, but if you wait to ask these questions until after the wedding, you've waited too long. But let me also state: if you wait to ask these questions until after the engagement, you've also waited too long. And yet...let me raise the stakes one more time: if you wait to ask these questions until after "dating"/courtship begins, you've still waited too long.
Ultimately, asking these questions is not for the purpose of being an overbearing father. The point is not to exasperate your daughter (cf. Col. 3:21). Male headship is not a rationale for demanding an arranged marriage. With that said, the reality is that dads are duty-bound to do hard things for the sake of their family, and quite frankly, many fathers are far too passive in this area. Once you put your daughter's hands into the hands of another man in marriage, that man is accountable for her spiritual well-being. But until that point, it's on you, dad.
May the Lord bless you as you provide biblical leadership in your home.
 John Gill, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/deuteronomy/22.htm.