Real Question: What defines a bad boyfriend?

More than a dozen stories came to mind as I sat down to answer this question submitted in one of Elisa’s in-real-life ETC Gatherings:

“What defines a bad boyfriend?”

I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends before I got married, but the ones I had would definitely be considered “bad.” I could list for you characteristic after characteristic and make a pretty complete definition from personal experience.

Or I could keep it simple by going to the Bible and seeing what God has to say.for_teens_button

I went to the Bible. And there it was – simple criteria for determining between a good and boyfriend:

You will know if your boyfriend is “bad” or “good” from the fruit he consistently displays.

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:17-20 ESV

When a person decides to believe and trust in Jesus – become a Christian – then the Holy Spirit comes into their mind and heart to dwell. As a result, he or she receives the Fruit of the Spirit. This is one fruit, and this one fruit has all nine of these characteristics:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

Every believer has within them all of these characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit. So, when you are in a dating relationship, you want to consistently see these characteristics in your boyfriend. This will help you to know the depth of His love for Jesus.

How do I know if I have a bad boyfriend?

A bad boyfriend does not consistently display the Fruit of the Spirit but displays the works of the flesh.

The opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit are the works of the flesh.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:16-21 ESV


But what’s if my boyfriend’s not a Christian?

If you are a Christian, then a nonnegotiable is that your boyfriend ought to also be a Christian. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  Every dating relationship should hold the potential for marriage, and in marriage you become one with your spouse. It is crucial that you be equally yoked because, if you marry, you will become one with that person. Can you imagine being one with someone who does not love God the same way you do? This leads to all kinds of problems. Your whole world-view, how you look at life, would be different. Making tough decisions, which you will do a lot in marriage, would become very difficult.

But what if my boyfriend displays the characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit even though he’s not a Christian?

It is possible for unbelievers to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. However, in unbelievers, these characteristics are not the Fruit of the Spirit because the source is not the Holy Spirit living within them. This means that their love for God is not the motive for their actions. As Christians, we choose to walk in the Spirit out of our surrendered love for God. We do not do things for our own personal gain, but out of our complete love for our Savior.

Before you enter into a dating relationship, you should ask yourself, “Does this person love God more than He loves me?” If the answer is yes, then you have met your first criteria. If He does not love God more than he loves you, then his motives for doing good are not Christ-centered.

Every time you ask yourself, “Do I have a bad boyfriend?” take out Galatians 5:22-23 and compare the actions of your boyfriend to the characteristics listed in these verses. If they do not consistently match up, then pray for the courage to walk away and find God’s best for you.

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1 thought on “Real Question: What defines a bad boyfriend?”

  1. Thank you for this great article Brenda, what wonderful words of wisdom. I will definitely be passing this on to my sphere of influence.

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