by Michael E. Brooks
“Then I asked her, and said, ‘whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists” (Genesis 24:47).
In many parts of the world, “arranged marriage” is still the normal practice. Young people do not just meet, “fall in love” and decide to marry. Their families help with the selection of the spouses and the arrangements pertaining to marriage. There is variety in how this is done and what all is entailed, but in many cases it does not mean that the young people have no say. It does mean that they do not have all the responsibility for making the choice. Often the help of parents and even extended family is welcomed and actively solicited.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the engagement luncheon of one of our Khulna Bible College students. We met in a place arranged by the family of his fianc?, and after some time of visiting together the young lady herself joined us. After introductions and further visiting they were ready to make the engagement formal. This was done by a brief devotional and prayer, followed by the father of our student presenting an engagement ring and placing it on the finger of the girl.
I found this simple ceremony to be extremely moving and significant. It was a way of saying, “We are in this together. You young people aren’t the only ones involved in this marriage. You are not the only ones whose lives it will affect. You are not the only ones who will help see that it happens or that it is successful. We are a family. We want to help.” No, those words weren’t said in exactly that way, but that was the message. And I found it to be a very meaningful and appropriate one.
Historically, humans have repeatedly discovered the truth of the first recorded anthropological observation, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We live together in villages and cities. We organize into governments, societies, agencies and social units. Few of us spend much of our time truly alone. Nor do we desire to. We need others, and we seek out others in almost every area of life.
How appropriate, therefore, to solicit the help of others in the extremely important area of marriage. No, I am not recommending arranged marriages for every nation and culture. But I am saying that those of us who do not use this system can learn from those who do. There is a support system in place that in many cases works extremely well. Applications can be made without transporting the entire custom. Just as Rebekah was betrothed to Isaac through the assistance of extended family, and later was loved by her husband, so the involvement and assistance of those who love us can be of great benefit in our homes and marriages. Less pride and selfishness is the recommendation. More listening to and learning from others, and more involvement of loved ones in our lives -? in all parts of our lives. We will be blessed if we seek out such involvement and also if we offer to help others when they need us.
by Michael E. Brooks