Why Arranged Marriages Wouldn’t Work

(This blog is a follow up to one that I posted on Monday, in which I talked about the practicality of arranged marriages. Not that I necessarily agree with arranged marriages, but I see the merit in why they did this in the past.)

I think that arranged marriages would be a useful practice in an ideal world. But, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where parents and children don’t see eye-to-eye. The environment we live in is drastically changing, and so this generation will desire different things than what their parents see as important. This is why arranged marriages wouldn’t work in our culture:

1. Parents would have to understand their children well enough not to put them with someone that would not be “compatible.” Without a proper understanding of their children, this becomes an evil and unethical practice of parents bartering them off for personal gain. There is no value to human life.

2. The child would have to undergo two choices: a.) To fully trust in their parents guidance. (which most young adults would not), and, b.) Have the type of Christian character that understand that there is no getting out of marriage (unless there are things like infidelity, emotional/physical/spiritual abuse), that they welcome the transformation that is undergone in the spiritual journey.

3. Many Americans have a belief of “No, one gets to tell me what to do”, which I understand, because as we have become aware of abusive authority, or have taken that role for ourselves, we tend to dismiss power. And, I can appreciate this because they’re establishing a system where the misuse of power holds consequences. But, having a “you do what you want, and I do what I want” mentality doesn’t make for healthy spirituality. We need covenants. We need relationships. We need leaders. We need accountability. We need people to journey with. This is to prevent us from falling into isolation and continuing our own self-centered worldview. Being a Christian holds a sacred belief in confessing your sins with one another, praying for one another, looking out for the other’s best interest. A person who is spiritually mature can do this with an awareness of what others need, and, without abusing them. But, submitting to a leader like this, a community like this, means that we have to give up our individual, ego-centric worldview. And, that’s really hard when we live in a culture that is taught to, “look out for #1”. I think this mentality shows why our divorce rate is so high in America.

I do not want to dismiss the notion of romantic love within marriage. I think this is something the lovers of Song of Solomon knew so well. They were infatuated with each other’s presence. But, I also don’t want to over-romanticize marriage. Every married person I know tells me that there is so much nitty gritty work in marriage. That love is often a choice that they have to make every day. Or, as Steve Carrell put it in Crazy, Stupid, Love, “I hated this person, even while I loved them.”

I don’t see arranged marriage as something feasible, but I do see it, under ethical guidelines, as very practical, and can teach people notions of love other than romanticized and individual love (which I wouldn’t dismiss either).

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3 thoughts on “Why Arranged Marriages Wouldn’t Work

  1. Mini says:

    I read your previous article too and your writing
    Is great. Now I am not a Christian but I guess when I comes to relationships and sanctity of marriage my religion is pretty much the same. However I would say arranged marriage or love marriage, either should not be a rule. They both should be accepted as sacred. If a couple is married( arranged marriage) and if things don’t work out they shouldn’t be trying work it out because a holy book says, they should work it out because they feel the love or they want to. But if it can’t make them happy I don’t see why god would want to see two unhappy souls living together. If two people are mature enough to have been married and if they respected each other they will not part or have reasons to start a fight. Arranged marriages are a must in my culture which I completely refute. No one else can have a better knowledge of my likes or dislikes better than me Infact even I am not sure of them myself then how can I rely on my parents to choose a partner for me. And this doesn’t mean that love marriages have a 100% success rate and arranged marriages have 100% failure rate. Even two people who have known each other for years and then have tied the knot can fall apart. This is because we are humans, we can change over time. Our habits can change and we may not see the person we fell in love with anymore. So the decision of marriage should not be bound to cultural, social or religious ties. It’s a decision two individuals have to take who would be spending their lives together and it should be their decision how long it should be although we all hope that all the people in relationships be together in this lifetime and to come.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Mini,
      Thank you for responding, as well as reaching across your “faith” pond. When I see the responses that people make like, “well, I can’t make this person happy.” “Or, I can’t fulfill this persons needs.”, I have several responses that come to mind:

      1. If God is the source of life, then if I am not experiencing a liveliness in my existence, the source of this should not come from another human being (therefore, making them an idol) but from God. Anytime, someone expects esteem, to have their personhood redeemed by another human, they’re asking this person to become their own personal “savior.” Although, they would never say that.

      2.I agree with you that a couple should not stay married because some “holy book” says so. I think that people believe things without truly believing in them (meaning, they have beliefs that they are transformed by). They can cognitively grasp, or understand them, but aren’t transformed into the essence of the belief. Believing in a “holy book” doesn’t make you holy, but being transformed into the image of a holy person (which I hope for Christians, means being transformed into the image of Jesus) means that we adopt the teachings of Jesus or God on marriage (i.e covenant, mutual self-giving, oneness, etc…).

      I think you have some very good merit in what you are saying, I am afraid of the sentimental teachings that many have placed upon marriage. If we become addicted to our thoughts, emotions, impulses, then our marriages will never last, we will continue hurting one another, because thoughts, emotions, impulses pass away.

  2. DaddyDM says:

    Maybe one of the reasons it worked back then was because of the closeness in age between parents and their children. The young age many married at would also keep them from the attitude of I know better for myself. Additionally many people had little or no choice because it was the culture. As a result it wasn’t just mom & dad who wrote you off but the entire community if you stood against the accepted practice. Good parents would probably work very hard to find someone to care for their daughter or son, bad parents would not. Additionally many people make bad choices in their young adult life; have you seen the rate of divorce, so there of course pros & cons, but I believe the American society could not handle it.

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