Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Thoughts on Betrothal - Who has a Say-So?

Here are some more thoughts I posted on betrothal over on an internet discussion forum for Christian women:

I do not believe that the Bible requires, recommends or commands that either the groom or the bride approve of the marriage. I believe that it is completely moral and scripturally acceptable for fathers to arrange a marriage. While I don't have any particular verses to back this up, since it is not possible to prove a negative, I do have some principles gleaned from the betrothal of Christ and the Church that leads me to that belief.

What I see in Scripture is that we have no say in whether or not we are chosen. We are chosen both by Christ and by the Father, according to what Jesus and Paul tell us. Because Jesus and the Father are one, it is sometimes difficult to translate directly their roles into earthly situations. Sometimes God is behaving as a Father, sometimes as a Son, sometimes as a brother, sometimes as a friend, etc. He uses all of those roles to teach us things about Himself and they can't always be cut out and separated so that we can see exactly how WE should behave as a father, son, brother, friend, etc.

So, God the Father, acting in the role as our Father, betrothed us to His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ paid the price for the bride and has therefore entered into a covenant to marry her. Christ and the Church are not yet married, but have entered into an unbreakable betrothal covenant, and when He marries His bride, the covenant will be fulfilled. She cannot remove herself from the betrothal, nor did she have any say in being placed into the betrothal.

Because earthly marriage is supposed to be a picture of the marriage of Christ and the Church, the process by which those marriages come about should also be a picture, or rather that process is a part of the complete picture of what God is doing in regards to finding a bride for his Son and building a Kingdom. To ignore the process is to miss much of the purpose for God giving us the picture in order for us to understand Him better and to know Him more. Every thing that God has done in history so far IS the process! The marriage hasn't happened yet, only the betrothal, and even that isn't complete as more are being added to the bride. (And it seems that more will continue to be added right up to the moment that Jesus comes for the bride)

I realize that many (I think most) of the ladies here do not embrace reformed theology that teaches that God alone is responsible for saving us and that we have no part in it and no choice. Since that is what I believe, it forms very heavily my beliefs about earthly marriage.

Scripture gives some examples, but no direct commands. In the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, we see that Isaac had no say at all in who was chosen for him. And Rebekah also did not have a choice. The deal was made by her relatives.

Genesis 24:51
1Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken

I will also address the "Well, that's just cultural" argument before it arises. :D

This practice (of marriages being arranged or the very least approved by the fathers) has existed in every culture, ancient and modern, up until perhaps 200 years ago or less. The change in western cultures to women choosing their own husbands was based on a turning away from the biblical teaching on authority, not on any new discovery of some sort of God-given right to do what you please. God not only endorses and embraces the betrothal system for His own family, He established it before the foundation of the world. If it was good enough for his only begotten son, it's good enough for my sons and daughters.

From a purely pragmatic view (which wouldn't matter a hill of beans if it contradicted Scripture, but is worth noting nonetheless) the modern, western method of finding a spouse has been nothing short of disastrous for families and for women in particular. To quote a non-Christian who occasionally stumbles onto some truth, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, "I don't support arranged marriage. But concerning most of the women who call my show; their parents couldn't possibly have picked worse husbands for these ladies than whom they chose for themselves!"

As a side note, in our household, we will allow a veto from a daughter. While we don't believe it is required, we don't want to add any more difficulties to her sinful mind when the tough times come. As in, we don't want satan handing her the argument (lie) that she doesn't have to obey this husband because she didn't even want to marry him in the first place.

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