Posts tagged "arranged marriage"

Shidduchs, courtship, dating or arranged marriage?

There seems to be an abundance of ways for singles to get to know one another. I am sure we all have the well meaning friends who try to match us up with a "great" brother, friend, niece or acquaintance. There are online meeting sites like Messianic Singles, Facebook and pay-as-you-go places. Once you meet someone who you think might be a potential, there is always the date vs. courtship vs betrothal options and the decision as to how much outside involvement you will have in your relationship. Then, there is the interesting topic of arranged marriage which is still practiced in keeping with the ancient Biblical customs in some countries today. So how much do we actually know about all of this?

First of all, let's look at Arranged Marriage.

The Bible is full of examples of arranged marriage and seems quite in favour of it.  Isaac and Rebekah had an arranged marriage.  Several times in scripture we see that the father's had the ultimate say in who their daughters would marry.  The custom was that, a man would see a young woman he liked, go to his father and ask him to 'get him the girl' (to put it in down-to-earth terms).  We see this in the story of Samson, he asked his father to get him a girl from a pagan culture - not a good idea by the way.  After the girl's father consented (if he did consent), they would settle on a bride price.  This was not about buying a bride like a piece of property - the custom came from the practice of being able to divorce a bride that a groom didn't like on their wedding night.  The bride price was non refundable and it was used to care for her for the rest of her life since she was never again allowed to marry again.  Yeshua later refuted this custom and said that only for the cause of adultery was anyone allowed to divorce their spouse.  Adultery had a bit of a different meanign then than it does in our culture.  They were considered married from the time they entered into what we would call an engagement.  To break the engagement required a certificate of divorce.  If a woman was caught with another man, during the engagement it was considered adultery.  After they were married, according to Yeshua, they were never allowed to obtain a divorce for any reason - adulterers at this point were stoned, not divorced.  To enter into an engagement, there was a ceremony in which a contract was signed by the couple and their fathers.  The man would take a glass of wine and say "this represents my life's blood (lifeblood) which I will give for you" - if the woman drank from the cup, they were engaged.  Very significant when you consider the last supper (Passover) of Yeshua.   It would also explain Paul's stern warning not to eat and drink unworthily since the penalty for adultery (spiritual adultery with the world) is death.   Once you drink and partake, you are the bride of Yeshua and need to remain pure and not spotted (adulterated) by the practices of this world.  After the engagement, the man would go and begin preparing a place for his bride.  The engagement could last up to two years.  His father would help him prepare a place since the Father knew exactly what the son would need to do and have for his bride (Yeshua said that he went away to prepare a place for His bride and will come again to get her).  Then, when the Father said everything was ready, the son would go without much warning to get his bride.  He usually came in the evening and was accompanied with a shout and his wedding party (Yeshua will come again for his bride with not much warning - only those that know the signs of his coming will know that he is returning soon.  He will come with the shout of an archangel and the trump of Yahweh accompanied by the hosts of heaven as his wedding party).   Then they would have a ceremony and a great feast and finally the bride and groom would consumate their marriage in the wedding chamber.   Although many think this practice is outdated, it is the very method that Yeshua will use in the marriage of his bride (the true followers of Yahweh).  It's worth some thought, no?

Secondly, let's look at the Shidduch which is a system of matchmaking common in Jewish circles...

In strictly Orthodox Jewish circles, dating is limited to the search for a marriage partner. Both sides (usually the parents, close relatives or friends of the persons involved) make inquiries about the prospective partner, e.g. on his/her character, intelligence, level of learning, financial status, family and health status, appearance and level of religious observance.  A shidduch often begins with a recommendation from family members, friends or others who see matchmaking as a mitzvah, or commandment. Some engage in it as a profession and charge a fee for their services. Usually a professional matchmaker is called a shadchan, but anyone who makes a shidduch is considered the shadchan for it.After the match has been proposed, the prospective partners meet a number of times to gain a sense of whether they are right for one another. The number of dates prior to announcing an engagement may vary by community. In some, the dating continues several months. In stricter communities, the couple may decide a few days after originally meeting with each other. Also the age when shidduchim start may vary by community. In frum circles, especially among Hassidim, eighteen is the age when shidduchim start and shadchanim take notice. [Source:]  This is similar to arranged marriage except that a matchmaker from outside the family is involved and they are allowed to see one another and chat about their goals before marriage.  Strong emphasis is placed on character not outward appearance.  How a woman will raise the children is considered more important than her figure and how a man handles money is considered more important than how tall he is.  Families do have quite a bit of involvement and the fathers' permissions are needed for the marriage to go forward.  

Thirdly, let's take a look at Courtship.  Courtship is when a mature man and woman decide they want to get to know one another for the purpose of marriage and have some very definitive limits set out to protect themselves from getting too involved before the marriage.  They often will do group activities as a opposed to just going out alone together.  The girl's father is asked for permission to both court and eventually marry the daughter.  The families and firends are very involved in the relationship and offer advice and counsel when needed.   Most often, important subjects are discussed between the father and the man - subjects like: How the man plans to provide for the daughter, child rearing methods, etc.  The goal of courtship is for the man to be accountable to the father and to treat the woman with respect and not pressure her for physical intimacy.  Eventually, the man proposes and they get married. Usually those that court do not court many people before they marry since the father's have screened the man ahead of time and unless something unexpectedly negative comes up in the man's character during the courtship, they enter into marriage. 

Lastly, we have Dating. (Get the world's view on dating here:  A fairly new concept in our world, it has only been around for the last hundred years or so.  Someone obviously thought they could improve the courtship method when they came up with it.  Dating is not the same as courtship - that needs to be said clearly.  It is not a different label for the same thing.  It is the practice of going out for thepurpose of having fun and not necessarily to lead to marriage.   It is sort of a let's see how it goes and then maybe we can think about getting more serious.  It is a let's try before we buy type of mentality and many who decide to date, end up dating multiple times before they eventually get serious.  Many times dating starts very young and sets a pattern for marriage that is unhealthy - the pattern of being with someone because you like the way they make you feel.  When they no longer appeal to you, you say tell them they aren't right for you and move on to another one.   You will NOT find this method in scripture at all, in fact it would be considered wickedness.  Paul said that it was not good for a man to touch a woman before encourages a whole lot more than just touching.   Since dating allows for a couple to have alone time, much of the focus becomes on the physical too quickly.   The involvement of family and friends is minimal or shallow - limited only to getting together for social activities, not for the purpose of getting to know both people and counselling.  

So which method is best?  I think you need to answer that for yourself based on scripture.  I encourage you to study this out and be convinced of Yahweh's method.  Marriage is the most important earthly covenant you will enter into and it needs to be done Yah's way not our way.  We are not called to be influenced by culture, we are called to influence our culture.  Our kingdom is not of this world and so our customs and practices will often conlfict with what the world practices.  Maybe, your worldy acquaintances will ridicule your decision, so what?!   You will answer to Yahweh one day and He will ask you what you based your life's decisions on...popular opinion or His Word.   I realize that some people have families who are not believers in Yahweh and may not have godly standards.  I realize that some may not have parents at this point in their lives.  A godly older person may stand-in and fellow believers can fill in the gap where parents and physical family cannot.  

I would like to see some friendly discussion about this topic so feel free to click comments above so that you can comment here.