So I’m looking for a husband for my daughter.
Won’t this be, then, an “arranged marriage?” And isn’t that, well, just plain crazy?
That’s how I was raised to feel, though I never really gave it any thought. And the people to whom I dare broach this idea think it is crazy, too.
But I don’t think it is crazy anymore. What is crazy is the careless manner in which marriage is typically approached in America. And now we see haggard singles paying for matchmaking services after the soul-rending heartbreak of the dating scene has made them wary of the whole idea of commitment.
Young Christian men and women who use dating services today trust an algorithm in a computer more than the advice of a parent to find a mate. Maybe this is because they are rebellious, or maybe because they are foolish and do not want the help of an older, wiser Christian, or maybe because their parents have simply not earned their trust. Or, maybe, all of the above. But the wise, God-honoring young man who respects his Christian parents will listen to their advice. And that’s the kind of humble, Christlike young man my daughter is interested in.
For once I recommend Wikipedia for a good breakdown of the various kinds of arranged marriage. However, I see a note at the top of the page that flags it for revision, so it could change at any moment. What I’ve reproduced below is what the page shows on June 6, 2007.
What we have in mind is what this Wikipedia article calls a “modern arranged marriage with courtship:”
An arranged marriage is a marriage that is established before involving oneself in a lengthy courtship, and often involves the arrangement of someone other than the persons getting married. Such marriages are relatively rare, but still numerous in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia. Other groups that practice this custom include the Unification Movement, royal families and devout Hindus.
An arranged marriage involves the parents of the married couple to varying degrees:
- In a forced marriage, the parents choose their son’s or daughter’s future spouse with no input from the son or daughter. This form of arranged marriage is rare in so-called Western societies, but not quite as rare in other parts of the world. If the son or daughter refuses the choice, he or she may be punished, or in rare cases, killed. In most such cases, the marriage simply takes place anyway, overriding the bride’s or bridegroom’s objections. Motivating factors for such a marriage tend to be social or economic, i.e., the interests of the family or community that are served by the marriage are seen as paramount, and the will of the individual is insignificant.
- In a traditional arranged marriage (not forced), the parents choose their son’s or daughter’s future spouse with some input from the bride or bridegroom to be. If either the son or daughter refuse the choice, the parents tend to respect their wishes and choose another possible spouse. However, considerable pressure may be brought to bear to make the potential bride or bridegroom see the reasoning. The main motivating factor in such marriages is the happiness of the son or daughter, but viewed from a paternalistic/maternalistic angle (“Parents know best”).
- In a modern arranged marriage, the involvement of the prospective bride or bridegroom is considerably more. Parents choose several possible candidates. The parents will then arrange a meeting with the family of the prospective mate, and the couple will often have a short, unsupervised “date”. They will then eventually choose whom they wish to marry, although parents may exert some degree of pressure on the child to make a certain choice. The happiness of the child is the main concern, and the parents see their role as responsible facilitators and well-wishers.
- A modern arranged marriage with courtship is the same as the above, except that the children have a chance to get to know each other over a longer period of time via e-mail, phone, or multiple “dates”, before making a decision. It takes considerably more courage on the part of the parents as well as the to be spouses to go through this process. Some girls actually prefer a short courtship as they fear the stigma and emotional trauma of being rejected after a courtship.
- Finally, in an introduction only arranged marriage, the parents will introduce their son or daughter to a potential spouse. The parents may briefly talk to the parents of the prospective spouse. From that point on, it is up to the children to manage the relationship and make a choice.
In almost all of the above cases, except the forced marriage and the traditional arranged marriage, the son or daughter is free to ignore the process and find a mate on their own. The parents then tend to take over and handle the logistical and financial aspects of the union.
In many cultures that are modernising, many young adults increasingly tend to view arranged marriage as an option they can fall back on if they are unable or unwilling to spend the time and effort necessary to find a spouse on their own or even a superior alternative to seeking a spouse than social dating. The parents then become welcome partners in a hunt for marital bliss. In cultures where dating, singles’ bars, etc., are not prevalent, arranged marriages perform a similar function–bringing together people who might otherwise not have met. Further, in several cultures, the ‘last duty’ of a parent to his or her son or daughter is to see that they pass through the marital rites.
Sometimes, the term “arranged marriage” is used even if the parents have no direct involvement in selecting the spouse. This could mean a meeting through a matchmaking site or third party. In many communities, priests or religious leaders as well as trusted relatives or family friends play a major role in matchmaking.