And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man… Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)
The first marriage in the Bible was an arranged marriage.
Some time ago I met a young Indian couple at our church that had begun to attend our evening service. They are the kind of people who naturally draw people to themselves, so they made friends easily. I asked them how long they had been married. “One year,” they responded. How long have you known each other? “One year.”
Like many people around the world, especially in India, their marriage was arranged through their parents. Not expecting it from this young happy couple, I reacted with surprise and then asked them how they figured they got so lucky to have parents who found just the right person. Their expressions were a bit perplexed; “our parents know well who would be right for us.” Then the husband added, “we knew they wanted what was best, but we also knew that we would have a choice to make it work together – for that we were both equally committed.”
The young man went on to say, “In the west you marry the one you love, but in India, you love the one you marry.” I heard it put another way regarding how these marriages work, “it is better to put a cold pot of water on a hot stove than a hot pot of water on a cold stove.”
In the case of this couple, value came first in their marriage – love came later. They so honored one another, seeing the great gift that each could be to one another, that they set about putting a life together.
No, I am not advocating for arranged marriages. Though I’ve since met quite a few people who have come from such arrangements, most of whom are doing very well. I am sure they do not always turn out as wonderful as this young couple has had it. But there are ingredients that intrigued me.
- Honor and value from the outset
- Recognizing the opportunity as a gift
- Support from the family
- The cultural expectation that this can work
I wonder how differently we might see marriage if we saw it as something arranged by God. Rather than the accident of meeting someone who “makes us happy” – what if we saw in the other the mark of God’s grace? What if we saw in our mate a priceless gift from God – someone entrusted to us – and us, each to one another – how might we respond differently to the challenges of life together?