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#17 Arranged Marriages, Are They Biblical? -Podcast

No person influences your worship more than your spouse and that’s why in this week’s podcast I’m talking about the benefits of arranged marriages and the importance of choosing a spouse wisely!

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The problem of “falling in love”

I call it or “Cinderella theology” and it happens all the time. Couples get married simply because they “fell in love”.

It’s not Biblical!
It’s not wise!
It’s not something I want my kids to do!

If you marry someone based upon how they make you feel then you will also be tempted to leave someone based upon how they make you feel

If you “fell in-love” you can “fall out-of-love”!

Check out what Timothy Keller says about this phenomena in “The meaning of marriage”

“The in-love experience passes when the flaws in the other person come home to us. Things that seemed small and inconsequential now loom large. We begin to feel that we did not really know the person after all. And this presents us with the challenge of loving a person who, at the moment, seems in large part a stranger, not the person you remember marrying. When this happens, people respond in a number of different ways. If your purpose in marriage was to acquire a “soul mate”—a person who would not change you and would supportively help you reach your life goals—then this particular reality of marriage will be deeply disorienting. You wake up to the realization that your marriage will take a huge investment of time just to make it work. Just as distressing will be the discovery that your spouse finds you a stranger and has begun to confront you with a list of your serious shortcomings. Your first response will be to tell yourself you made a bad choice and failed to find someone truly compatible” -Timothy Keller “The meaning of marriage”

A better basis for choosing a spouse

Being “in love” is an emotional and physiological state that often comes early in a relationship brought on by a combination of hormones, imagination and romantic expectations.

Falling in love isn’t wrong, it’s just not a basis for marriage. If you got married because you fell in love that doesn’t mean things won’t work out but you’ll have to learn to love your spouse soon enough.

The Biblical basis for marriage is character

The book of Proverbs was written primarily with young single men in mind. Solomon often contrasts the wise and the foolish woman, he does this in part to teach his sons how to find a good wife.  Proverbs 31 goes into detail describing a woman of noble character. This was written for young men to read as they looked for a wife.

Some examples of arranged marriages

  • Christina and I are a product of an arranged marriage (subscribe to our blog for the whole story)
  • Adam and Eve had an arranged marriage, God didn’t create 6 women and then parade them around Adam until he fell in love with one of them.
  • Issac and Rebekah
  • Jacob and Rachel/Leah
  • Joseph

Benefits of arranged marriages

1. It relies on the years and wisdom of the parents.
2. It removes the blindness of being in love.
3. It gives the young couple a healthier start to their marriage.
4. It encourages the parents and children to be planning for marriage from an early age.
5. It helps children to see that marriage impacts far more people than just those getting married.

How can parents take an active role?

1. Help your child develop a proper understanding of marriage.
2. Teach your child that romance is for after marriage not before (Hollywood doesn’t help).
3. Talk frequently with your children about the importance of finding a spouse with character.
4. Build a trust with your child.

Questions: What do you think, how involved should parents be in the helping to choose their children’s future spouses?

Note: you’ll want to make sure to listen to this podcast before commenting as not all the content is included in the show notes.

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • I agree with your take and perspective on marriage. Love is at least in part established by “the assent of your will.” I haven’t given much thought to arranged marriages… not sure how my daughters would respond to that! Good ammo though of the people in scripture who did have their marriages arranged.

    • Floyd, are any of your daughters married yet? Maybe you can give it a try 😉 Actually the main point is that Christian parents need to be involved in the processes and at the very least teach their children that choosing a spouse is more about character than it is about falling in love.

      • No, none of them are married yet. We have taught them about the fundamental truths of what true love is based on Biblical principles, but being even more involved in the process without going overboard sounds logical actually.

  • hahah, there is the challenge of culture stuff in the bible and how it relates to our culture not simply taking something that is “in” the bible but rather the intent of what it is. “IF your eye causes you to sin cut it out!”

    I don’t know if I would say arranged marriages are the way to go because although I see the challenges that divorce, falling out of love, and broken relationships it would seem there is an equally challenging picture of simple coexistence and functional relationship as well.

    Marriage is more than something to simply participate in and a way for people to procreate and be financially stable its a picture of christ and the church and therefore I cannot imagine a picture of marriage that doesn’t involved some aspect of “falling in love” because of the overwhelming love that exists in christ and the church.

    I am falling in love more and more with my wife and falling more and more in love with the creator of the universe. Great stuff Caleb! Looking forward to more great posts!

    • David, it’s true there are a lot of cultural aspects to marriage no matter where you are an in the Bible there are certainly many cultural nuances that we may or may not recognize today.

      If you listen to the podcast I’m not advocating that every parent must arrange their children’s marriages but I am saying that we need to much more intentional about choosing a spouse and parents have a huge responsibility to provide guidance for their children in that process. Unfortunately too many parents leave it up to the chance that who ever their child “falls in-love” with they will marry.

      I don’t disagree with you that falling in-love is a good thing, in fact it’s great. However, as I mentioned in the post, falling in-love is never the basis for a marriage. Character and the decision to love are better foundations for marriage than just being in-love. Hopefully when it couple gets married they will be be in-love but that’s not vital to a wonderful and strong marriage.

  • Wow great thoughts Caleb. I kept thinking about our mentor and premarital counselor (who was also our pastor) as i listened in. He and his wife and another couple worked so hard to burst the love burble we were in. at some point we were wondering if they were trying to get us married or break us apart! And of course their answer was that a broken engagement was better than a broken marriage!

    They were going at it and i believe that’s what every in-love couple needs. huge ice-cold doses of truth that will challenge the way they think about love and marriage, enough to either break them or make them.

    But most in-love couples don’t want anyone to “rain on their love-party”….they’d rather have bliss than hear truth. and I understand that cos i did not like some of the truths i heard!. but all the same it’s such a blessing to have people in one’s life that will serve up to you like it is.

    We don’t have arranged marriages where i come from, at least not in many communities. But there are a few tribes that still practice it and alot of is discouraged/not legal because it involves parents marrying off young girls to older men, a cultural thing.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Ngina. I think the whole idea of just falling head long for the first person that gives you the goose bumps is really dangerous when looking for a spouse. That’s mainly why I wrote this post. That being said, certainly arranged marriages in some cultures have some big problems. The important thing that I’m thinking about now is my responsibility as a father to direct my children in making a wise choice in their future spouses.

  • Your post reminds me of a professor in college. I can’t really remember anything else from her class (it was some sort of sociology class) but I remember her saying that marriage is what keeps you together when you fall in and out of love.

    That has always stuck with me. I may not always “like” my spouse or feeling “loving” toward him, but my marriage isn’t based on feelings or current situations. It’s based on God, founded upon His covenant and held together by Him.

    • TC, I like how you college prof thought about marriage. The thing about marriage is that it gives you a concrete time and place to go back to when you said “I do”.

  • I do think we place far too much emphasize on finding soul mates, falling deeply, madly in love, and other such nonsense. Does the person please God? Do they understand their role in the marriage? Are they committed to honoring God? Those things are much better indicators of a healthy lifelong marriage than just love. Provocative post!

    • Good questions David! Certianly soul mate theology is dangerous too! However, I tell you couples that once they’ve tied the knot then they are soul mates!

  • I am not for or against arranged marriages, but the concept seems a bit foreign to me. Personally, I’d probably prefer to let my daughter make her own choices with some healthy parental guidance.

    • It really is a foreign concept to most Americans Dan. I think what you said, “healthy parental guidance” will make a big difference. It certainly makes you think about theses things more as you watch your daughter grow doesn’t it?

  • Good stuff, Caleb. I’ve worked with people & have friends from all over the world, some of whom have arranged marriages. It amazes me how much of the world thinks this way.

    • Yes, it really isn’t that uncommon in many other areas of the world and in history. We can forget that there are cultures outside of our own at times.