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.
Arranged Marriage StatisticsIn some cultures, arranged marriage statistics indicate fewer divorces than those based on physical attraction or personal choice alone. Common in Asia, Africa, India, and the Middle East, an arranged marriage is one in which couples are chosen and betrothed to each other by a third party--their parents, a matchmaker, or an elder patriarch of either family. In such a contractual union, there may be no courtship or dating period in which to get to know a prospective spouse. Wealthy families sometimes merge through marriage to increase potential earnings or assets. Other reasons for contractual wedlock include ensuring a stronger or purer bloodline or providing an opportunity for a less desirable female or male to find a suitable mate and bear children. The perpetuation of the bloodline through procreation seems to be the predominant reason. "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:15).
Cultural arranged marriage statistics also indicate matchmakers or parents tend to unite eligible men and women with similar educational, religious or socioeconomic backgrounds. Traditionally, families of a well educated young man will pair their son with a well educated female from the same caste or social standing. In so doing, parents reason that the clan, caste, or tribe will not only become strengthened genetically but also financially. In some ways, marriages between couples with similar educational backgrounds, religious interests or beliefs, and social standing may create compatibility, which is the foundation upon which a long lasting relationship is built. Arranged marriage statistics also indicate that in such unions, love is not a factor in determining whether a man and woman are suited for one another. The understanding is that once married, husbands and wives will grow to love one another, at least sufficient to conceive and bear future generations.
Pre-arranged wedlock is really a product of Asian culture and was the predominant method of choosing a bride in biblical times. The Old Testament reports several instances of matched matrimony between Hebrew men and eligible maidens in the same biological lineage. If arranged marriage statistics were compiled in biblical times, research would indicate nearly 100 percent of unions were pre-planned by the elders and ended in death, not divorce. "And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 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 24:1-4). Indeed, divorce was a relatively new practice God allowed Moses to institute because of the hardness of heart. "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Matthew 19:8-9).
While the rate of marital dissolution in the Western world is nearly 50 percent, arranged marriage statistics indicate only a remarkable 4 percent end in divorce! That huge discrepancy may be attributed to the mindset of those who advocate contractual unions prearranged by parents or some other authoritative figure. When couples from cultures that practice contractual wedlock marry, they do so with the full understanding that breaking the bond is tantamount to a revocation of a verbal vow between two families to share assets or to form a stronger clan. A husband or wife who seeks to separate is rebelling against the family's wishes and causing dishonor to fall upon the elders or those authoritative figures responsible for contracting the union. In India, a country known for pre-arranged wedlock, the divorce rate is only 1.1 percent, the lowest in the entire civilized world. These kinds of arranged marriage statistics alone are enough to win the argument for contractual matrimony.
According to arranged marriage statistics, aside from reproduction, one of the greatest advantages of contractual wedlock is the perpetuation of a set of religious beliefs or dogmas relevant to a particular clan, caste, or tribe. By joining two people who share a similar faith, the religion itself enjoys a continual existence. "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism are examples of religions that have continued to exist largely due to pre-arranged marriages with lower divorce rates. While Christianity has endured since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago, sadly, marriages between born again believers have not. The divorce rate for Christians is over 56 percent for some denominations, far exceeding those reported for arranged marriage statistics. Perhaps, believers should take a lesson from couples whose weddings were pre-planned and allow parents, clergy, or family elders to help choose more compatible mates!