While walking through the Jerusalem hotel lobby this week, I noticed a young, orthodox Jewish man having an arranged date with a young, orthodox Jewish woman. They were each dressed in their best “Saturday-go-to-Synagogue-dress”, putting their best foot forward to make their best impressions. Both the boy and the girl had curly bangs, each looked their best, and it was a sweet scene. The scene also seemed forced and awkward and I felt their pain as they struggled to converse, connect, and laugh a little. I am neither young, orthodox, Jewish (or a woman, for that matter) but I did consider what this scenario would have been like for me at their age. What if moments into a date, you longed to leave even though you were likely getting married in a week or so?
I am not talking about a “blind date” like here in the Untied States, but more so an arranged date steeped in the weighted input of two sets of highly respected parents who have done more than collaborate over the idea of their son and daughter getting married. What makes this even more interesting is that I was traveling with a young man from India who also had an arranged marriage. His pastor and his uncle also had arranged marriages. They each met their wives just days before their wedding ceremony.
I really began to objectively evaluate this religious and cultural phenomenon. Statistically speaking, arranged marriages are, in many ways, more successful than “non-arranged’. How might you consider this subject objectively?
In our culture people tend to fall in and out of love like an unavoidable stumble on an uneven sidewalk. In other cultures, people kind of learn to love, they grow into love, and they develop love between them in a context of a covenant. In some cultures, younger people trust their parents to know their strengths, weaknesses, and needs to ascertain their proper mate for life.
Is it possible that American marriages could benefit from being more like eastern, arranged marriages? Is it likely that arranged marriages could benefit from being more like western marriages? Let’s see; here are some thoughts:
- Love can be far too fickle, fleeting, and conditional in western cultures. We all need to nurture unconditional love and foster greater mutual respect.
- Love isn’t infatuation but time-tested compromise, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness.
- Love in a marriage is meant to be God’s love shared between a husband and a wife who each individually connect with Him.
- Love is meant to be an adventure regardless of whether the ceremony is arranged or simply full of flower arrangements.
- Like most things, the best approach is somewhere between these two opposites- each culture can learn from another.
- If people that are married for a long time, finish one another’s sentences and start to look like one another, then my wife is in big trouble.
- God is engaged to His Church. The marriage is both arranged and voluntary, this seems like a good approach. He is decidedly invested in the relationship to the point of death.
And He grows on us daily.
-Pastor Gary Hewins,
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