We often receive questions from our readers via email and Facebook on various issues seeking Godly guidance. Not all topics or issues justify a blogpost however ‘Love marriage versus Arranged marriage’ is one of the sensitive topics that I am frequently asked about and hence I thought of sharing my thoughts via a post.
Mind you, this may be completely redundant to some of you who are a part of a culture that permits only either; that becomes beyond the scope of this post. For others, I encourage you to keep an open heart and leave room for lot of grace as we try to deal with these tough issues. After all, the intention is not to take sides but try and find some solution to a genuine problem that the current generation is facing.
What Happens in Arranged Marriage?
Arranged marriage (for those who are not familiar) is the marriage arranged by the parents of the couple. Most of the times the proposal is brought over a meeting or in case long distance – through photographs. Once the parents are happy with the prospects of the other partner, then the families speak and arrange the marriage.
In parts of the pentecostal culture where arranged marriage is prevalent, love marriages are considered to be a taboo.
What I Believe
I do believe God can use parents to find the right life partner for their children and I have seen great examples of the same.
But, a word of caution…
One of the critical issues that parents of this generation have to pay attention to is the fact that times have changed drastically. The present generation is well educated and informed, largely influenced by their friends’ circle and prefers self decision making from selecting a mobile phone to selecting a life partner.
Now that gives you, parents a greater challenge. It puts you in a spot where it is certainly not fair for to say, “Do it because I say so”. It also puts you in a responsible position of explaining to your children, why you believe what you believe and how God’s Word supports your view, remembering that Scriptures can’t be taken in isolation or quoted out of context.
What the Bible Says?
One of the stories that is most quoted in support of arranged marriage is that Isaac’s servant brought Rebekah to Isaac and they happily lived ever after. Now there is more than one problem with that story. Like, it was Isaac’s servant who brought the proposal, and not his parents. And Isaac’s servant could also be interpreted as representing the Holy Spirit thereby eliminating the need of a marriage arranged by parents.
To use a single example of marriage in the Bible as a model for other marriages is quite scary and not justified. For example: the first marriage in the Bible was not a proposal, it was love at first sight!
Another time, the Benjamites were asked to lie ambush in the fields and steal dancing women as their wives. Ahem, ahem… we cannot quote that one right? (Judges 21:21)
Another time, Hosea the prophet married a prostitute. Well I am sure you don’t want to use that illustration either!
So Which is Right?
My thoughts are simple:
We could still continue to argue that ‘arranged marriage is from God and love marriage is from the devil’, and while we are busy doing that, our young people are still going to do what they think is in the best interest for them (and we can only hope that they will at least be Bible-based choices!!).
What is painful is that, while we live in our own world that seeks to please the society, we ignore our own children and then condemn them for making wrong choices. May be your son or daughter would have not ran away with that godless person if only he/she knew that you were open to reason.
Another biggest argument against love marriage is that they have resulted in divorces. But the truth is that today even some of the best looking arranged marriages have had the same end.
So May be We Need Another Solution?
Set expectations. Instead of fighting for arranged marriage or love marriage, could it not be easier that parents have an open talk with their children of what they must expect in their life partners?
You cannot stop your children from falling in love but the least that you could do is to teach them what are the qualities they must look for in the man or the woman they seek to marry?
This would serve a problem because most of the arranged marriages are finalised based on colour, job, property etc. Sadly, the prospect being a believer and hardworking is no more good enough!
With due respect, I believe great parents will be the ones who are willing to accept anyone who is caring, hard working and most of all, Jesus loving. Rest of the issues like family background, caste, denomination, colour, riches should not matter.
Teach Them Values
More than telling your children what they must look for the most in their spouse, it is best to live it. When they see how God fearing and loving your family has been, it will automatically teach them to desire for a God fearing and loving person.
Nothing can put them off more than telling them that you are more worried about what others say. Because your children are more important than these ‘others’. And sadly, others will always have something to say somehow and anyhow.
If I could sum it up I’d say, being parents is great but being parents-cum-friends is greater!
I want to have parents that I am not afraid to go and open up my most struggling issues with. Then there in that end of the tunnel there will be light.
A Word to the Young People
It is always good to honour your parents and I sincerely hope that God will bring the right person into your life through your parents.
However, if you feel that you like someone, first and foremost I encourage to you seek God’s will. Then it is always honourable to first share it with your parents. Irrespective of whether they will accept it or not, it is your responsibility to share it with them.
Then pray that God will help them understand why you like that person. And then continue to pray and believe that “if God is in it“, He will make all things work together for your good.
Hey parents, what else would you add to this? Young people, what would you add?
PS: This post apart, if you have any questions or doubts regarding any issues, we have especially created a forum for you. Feel free to ASK!