Arranged marriages

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QUESTION: Are arranged marriages right or wrong based on the Bible? My family's tradition dictates I must marry someone selected by my parents.

ANSWER: Depending on the process involved, arranged marriages are not necessarily wrong from the standpoint of the Bible. They are the custom of some cultures and peoples such as in India as you described. The problems is that such marriages, even if they are arranged by those who love the parties involved, can have a lesser chance at being happy and healthy.

To consider marrying someone, apart from having it arranged for you, it is important to get to know what they are like. Is their personality compatible with yours? Do you enjoy their company and just being around them? Do you have common interests? To get to know a person involves spending a good deal of time with that person, a process known in the United States and elsewhere as dating.

Dating, however, should not involve having sexual relations as is common in many countries and the United States of America. The Bible condemns such sexual relations as fornication or sexual immorality.

Are wedding rings Biblical?
Does God approve of marriage contracts?
How was the Bible originally arranged?

Some of the Christians who came under Paul's care lived in the city of Corinth. A city of a few hundred thousand people made wealthy by commerce, Corinth was notorious for its sex sins. In fact, the phrase 'to behave as a Corinthian' was used to refer to someone who led a sensual and immoral life.


Arranged Marriage of King Henry V and Catharine of Valois
Arranged Marriage of King Henry V
and Catharine of Valois

The apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth, who lived in a place where a whole temple was dedicated to Venus (i.e. dedicated to lust), to RUN as fast as they could away from immorality (1Corinthians 6:18)!

A Godly matrimony is not one that is forced or arranged but one that has mutual love (see Ephesians 5). In such a relationship, true love between a husband and a wife will grow even more as each person gets to know the other intimately.

Our advice is that you first try to explain to your parents that you do love them and cherish their concern over your wellbeing. Tell them that you have come to see that the happiest marriages are those not arranged and entered into sight unseen, but one where time is taken to get the know the potential mate. If they would be willing to let you get to know the person they want you to marry, with the opportunity to decline if that person is not compatible, then this is something you should seriously consider.

If you feel, however, that any arranged marriage is not right for you, try to explain to your parents that it is extremely important for you, and not someone else, to find the right person to wed. Let them know you love and respect their beliefs, but that you cannot oblige them in their custom to arrange who will be your lifelong partner.

In conclusion, the Bible is silent in regard to any condemnation of arranged marriages. Before you approach your parents in discussing this matter in any way, pray to Almighty God to grant you favor and understanding in their sight.

Additional Study Materials
Should we have God choose our mate?
Can a husband rape his wife? 
Are interracial marriages forbidden?
Should women wear only dresses?
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