Multiple advantages of arranged marriage exist, including greater financial stability, lower divorce rate, and a purer bloodline, caste, or clan. While few couples enter into prearranged marriages in the United States, in Middle Eastern, African, and South Asian cultures the practice is very prevalent. Since biblical times, parents have chosen suitable mates for their children, particularly females; and arranged weddings were more the norm than the exception. "And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son, Isaac" (Genesis 24:2-4).
African, Iranian, Indian and Chinese families often enter into contractual agreements of betrothal while children are very young. Girls have been known to wed as young as twelve or thirteen years of age. In many foreign cultures, selecting a mate for their offspring has economic and genetic implications. The advantages of arranged marriage include enabling two families to share resources and wealth not accessible in any other manner. Thus, the union of a young man and woman may primarily be for monetary gain rather than romance. Both families gain financially through the marriage merger of sorts, sharing in wealth as well as cultural and religious observances. In the Old Testament, after the death of her Hebrew husband, Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, adopted the Jewish culture and religion, refusing to return to her native land. "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:16-17).
In some Eastern and Asian cultures, such as Africa, Iran, and Indian, daughters are viewed as prized possessions. Young men in search of a bride will have to pay a dowry, or bride price, consisting of so much cattle, gold coins, or land. The advantages of arranged marriage are obvious, as a beautiful young girl can increase the family's wealth overnight by marrying a male who can afford to pay a set price. Similarly, some cultures require the bride's family to pay a dowry to the groom. In Middle Eastern society brides traditionally wore their dowry upon the forehead. Gold coins hung from golden chains were worn on the forehead as a symbol of the family's wealth and the bride's worth. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings of gold, precious stones, and pearls adorned young virgins betrothed or hoping to become engaged to potential husbands.
The advantages of arranged marriage also included the ability of fathers with daughters to gain sons for procreation and protection. Sons marrying into a predominantly female family ensure that the bloodline, clan or caste would be strengthened and perpetuated. In the past, families with a shortage of males could benefit by the addition of able men capable of warding off rival clans. In Biblical times and in modern Middle Eastern society, females had few civil liberties. They could not buy land, vote, or enter into contractual agreements without the permission of a husband, father or uncle. Arranged marriage also enable families with daughters to negotiate land and home purchases, enter into business deals, and realize financial gains otherwise inaccessible.
Statistics indicate advantages of arranged marriage include fewer divorces. While the divorce rate for first-time newlyweds in the United States is nearly 50% before the first ten years, couples whose marriages were prearranged experience greater longevity. When it comes to choosing a suitable mate, fathers and mothers may really know best. Parents may possess the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of their own child's character and nature to choose a suitable life partner. In certain cultures, if the bride's family has a close relationship with the groom's, her parents are well aware of the socioeconomic status, belief system, or genetic makeup. The goal for both families is to enter into a contract that will prove to be permanent. Permanency ensures that both the bride and groom's parents and siblings will enjoy a long lasting familial and in some cases, entrepreneurial relationship. Intermarriage is not uncommon between two or three families that enjoy the advantages of arranged marriage. In such cultures, divorce is viewed as an insult to both families, as it not only breaks the covenant between husband and wife, but also between two clans or castes that have invested money, possessions and pride into the union contracted while the children were just infants.
In biblical times, entire societies benefited from the advantages of arranged marriage, as such unions produced a purer offspring not mingled with other races, clans, castes or creeds. The same would hold true for modern day families seeking to avoid interracial unions. People of certain races, creeds, religions and ethnicity may seek to avoid intermingling with other cultures to preserve their uniqueness. Catholics, Muslims and Hasidic Jews are most noted for prohibiting mixed unions, thus the advantages of arranged marriage aids in preventing intermarriage with people of foreign cultures, religions, and beliefs. Because of strict religious observances, many cultures actively and vehemently prohibit males and females from marrying outsiders. But the development of a global society where the line of demarcation between race, color, creed, and religion is becoming less distinct; may eventually cause arranged weddings to lose some appeal.