In the early ‘80s – yeah, it was “back in the day,” but try to stick with me – any man who wore all black, had spiky hair, and liked R.E.M. and Elvis Costello was the height of new wave cool.

In my eyes, few were cooler than my friend, Michael. He got me backstage to meet Bono after a U2 concert and he took me to the Mostly Mozart festival at the Kennedy Center. He introduced me to popular punk dance clubs and also brought me to his home for my first Passover seder. He was adventurous and loved new experiences, but never got drunk. I don’t ever recall him using drugs, either. He soaked up the culture, but never seemed to be overcome by it.

He also asked me one of the most important questions of my young adult life. Sitting on campus one afternoon, we were talking all around the issue of our friendship. As in many male-female friendships, the tension of “what if” always tugged at the edges of our relationship. Turning to look at me, he regarded me kindly but spoke with quiet resolve.

“You know … I’m not going to ask you out,” he said, pausing momentarily to allow his statement to sink in. “I don’t believe in dating anyone that I couldn’t consider marrying. And I would only marry a Jewish woman, because my religion is important to me.”

I met his gaze with a small smile. “I understand that, Michael.”

“Good,” he said. “Well, what are you looking for in a husband?”

“Oh, I guess I would look for a sense of humor, a sharp dresser, someone who is into music,” I mused. “Definitely someone who likes to dance.”

After a diplomatic pause to let the shallowness of my answer register, he asked: “What about trust? Isn’t that important?”

I blinked, considering the implications of his question. At 20 I was not yet a Christian, and I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the random, uncommitted dating culture. Trust was neither expected nor given. I wasn’t even considering issues of character (mine or his), just entertainment. “Yeah, that’s important,” I mumbled, mildly embarrassed.  But even then I didn’t fully comprehend what was being asked.
 
The Heart of the Matter

Proverbs 31:11-12 (ESV) says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” I believe the area that requires greatest wisdom for single women is knowing what’s “good” when interacting with men, both single and married. In our friendships with single men, we can’t presume that any man is “the one.” We might hope that he will be “the one,” but only time will unfold God’s plan for us. It could be that our future husbands are watching us at this time, evaluating how we interact with them and other men. One certainty is that the vast majority of single men we know now will be someone else’s husband in the future. The woman of a Proverbs 31 noble character, therefore, doesn’t live just in the present, but carefully considers her interactions from the perspective of an entire lifetime – and thereby earns the trust of her husband (should God provide), as well as the numerous men who will be her friends and brothers in the Lord.

That’s simple to say, but harder to live. There are two challenges with this concept: 1) There’s more than one heart involved, and 2) Our culture is entirely at odds with the biblical standards that we will look at in this column.

So how do we break it down? Let’s go to the end of this verse and work backwards. “All the days of her life” is a translation of a Hebrew idiom that means “constantly, all the time,” similar to our modern phrase, “24/7.” But to be that constant after the wedding means we are building on a foundation of the days before. So in these days before, we have to evaluate our actions and plans in the context of what will ensure good, not harm, for our future husbands. We have to consider what will bring him gain, or as the New International Version translates it, that he lacks nothing of value. This is the bedrock of trust.