I was scrolling thought FB when a post popped up made by the wife of a missionary I met when I was on a short-term trip almost 10 years ago (social media truly is an amazing thing). She and her husband are both non-westerners and doing long-term ministry in a non-western country. She wrote:
Every parent’s dream is to find a person who can love their daughter more than them. You are the best decision of my life made by my parents. Thank you hubby for being the perfect man for me.
This spurred several random thoughts about arranged marriage, in no particular order:
How sad it is that this is not the dream of most American parents–even Christian ones. In America (and probably other western countries), every parent’s dream for their daughter is that she get an education and have a career so that she has something to fall back on if the marriage doesn’t work out (men are notoriously unreliable, after all). Also, it would be good for her to have a chance to travel before being captive in the home for the rest of her life.
How beautiful it is to trust one’s parents to make such a decision. I’m sure she had input in the process, herself, but the decision was ultimately not hers. It’s cool to think of wise parents knowing their children well enough to pick a suitable spouse for them. How many western parents even know their kids well enough to make such a decision? It seems like the process of choosing a spouse for your son or daughter would really force you to be honest with yourself about their strengths and flaws (and sins) and shatter much of the blind idealism American Christian parents can tend to have toward our kids.
Thinking Scripturally, my recollection is that marriages tend to be arranged, but it’s not always neat and tidy. Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah send Jacob to their own people to look for a wife. Joseph and Moses marry with no input from parents, though the women’s fathers are identified (and certainly involved). With Ruth and Boaz, Naomi is certainly playing matchmaker, at least for Ruth’s part. And Boaz goes through the kinsman-redeemer before taking Ruth as his wife. I suppose the pattern here is that the man seeks a wife and the woman is given as a wife to the man. A more thorough study would be interesting worthwhile.
In our context, I think we’re missing a lot of the cultural cache required to make arranged marriage work on a broader societal level the way it does in non-western countries. But I think Christian parents should raise our kids with the expectation that we, their parents, will be involved in the process of choosing their spouse. Similar to other discussions about Fatherhood and authority, there is a way to do this that is cartoonish and oppressive. Don’t do that. But if God the Father chose (elected) a bride for His Son, why should Christian parents not imitate this?