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Monday, November 29, 2010

Do arranged marriages work?

After a short hiatus we are back—somewhat.

Today Maina wa Kageni and Mwalimu Joseph Kingangi were talking about arranged marriages. Asians do it and even the President of Botswana wants his people to get him a wife. Mwalimu was of the opinion that arranged marriages work. So, do arranged marriages really work?

My Human Opinion

Pure arranged marriages are almost not there anymore. They, however, do still occur in some communities, like those up North or those with Asian origins. Why do I say 'Pure Arranged'?

Define an 'arranged' marriage. Is marrying because you had a child arranged? Is marrying because of society's pressure arranged? Is marrying because a clock somewhere is said to be ticking arranged? Is marrying because your friend introduced you to him or her arranged?

Think about it; we have more 'arranged' marriages than we think.

Anyway, back to the question.

Well, I don't think arranged marriages per se work in our present society. We are too selfish and me-centered for such an arrangement to work. Maybe if we had more arranged marriages then we would be less selfish. Maybe given the rising divorce rates in non-arranged marriages we should give the arranging thing a try. I don't know. Some people argue that arranged marriages work because there is less expectation. You decide.

But what should be clear to all is that it's NOT the arranged-ness or not of a marriage that makes it succeed or fail. Among other things, unforgiveness, impatience, lack of affection, lack of communication, selfishness, infidelity, cruelty/violence, neglect et cetera cause marriages to fail.

In more ways than one, we all marry strangers. Whether we dated five minutes, five days, five months or five years. We all marry strangers. So it's up to you two to get to know each other and make it work.

My Biblical Opinion

The Bible doesn't explicitly advocate for arranged marriages. What the Bible tells us is to look for certain qualities when looking for a wife or husband. This applies whether it is you looking or your parents/relatives looking. Then it goes ahead and tell us what to do once the 'one' has been found i.e. how to live as husband and wife. If we follow these instructions (some of which have been discussed here before) then the 'arranged-ness'—or not—of the marriage doesn't matter.

Take Samson for example. He married for love,eh—lust and look where it got him.
Judges 14:1-4
  1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?
   But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
Much Later and after much hullabaloo, Judges 14:20
20 And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.
Samson's parents were concerned about the fact that Samson's fiancee-to-be did not worship their God.

Similarly, not all 'arranged' marriages have good intentions. See how King Saul wanted to kill shepherd-now-warrior David using marriage as a trap from 1 Samuel 18:17-28 (This was a semi-arranged marriage)

 17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the LORD.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!
 18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
 20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”
 22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’
 23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”
 24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.
 26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
 28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
We are not told whether David loved Michal in return, but from future events we can deduce that lover boy David might have.

And how did that semi-arranged-and-for-the-wrong-purpose marriage end?
2 Samuel 6:20-23
 20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
 21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
 23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
However, we have success stories of arranged marriages like that of Issac and Rebekah. The point is that God intended marriage to be permanent, arranged or not.

Finally, for those who say that they cannot love someone 'arranged' for them, see what the Bible says about love, then think again.

1 Corinthians 13

 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
With God, it's not mission impossible.

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