What does the Bible say
about arranged marriages?

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QUESTION: My family's ethnic background is India-Indian. When the time comes I'll be expected to marry someone arranged through my parents. Since I was raised in America I obviously don't want that. Are such marriages WRONG and against what the Bible teaches? What should I do?

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. If the process involves marriage to someone who is completely a stranger, the chances of a happy marriage are diminished.

To consider marrying someone, 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. However, dating 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.

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. 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 marriage is a love relationship as shown in the New Testament book of Ephesians chapter 5.

In a Godly marriage, true love between a husband and a wife will grow as each gets to know each other intimately. This kind of godly love develops after the marriage takes place.

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Our advice is that you first try to explain to your parents that you do love them and want to honor them by trying to carry out their wishes. Then explain that you have come to see that the happiest marriages are those where time is taken to get the know the future marriage partner. 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 with you, then you could give it a try if it is practical, given your job and other circumstances. Otherwise, try to explain to them in the most tactful way possible that it is extremely important to you that you find the right person, and that although you respect them for their beliefs, you cannot oblige them in their custom and desire for an arranged marriage for you.

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 choose our mate or wait for GOD?
What does the Bible say about DATING? 
Does scripture FORBID interracial marriage?
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