Today’s post will have several passages with a consistent theme. The first passage, a long one, comes from the Book of Genesis:
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. 10 Now when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father.
13 When Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful and lovely. 18 Jacob loved Rachel; and he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah; and Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to wife. 29 (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
Our second passage is from the Book of Numbers:
5 And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the Lord, saying, “The tribe of the sons of Joseph is right. 6 This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zeloph′ehad, ‘Let them marry whom they think best; only, they shall marry within the family of the tribe of their father. 7 The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another; for every one of the people of Israel shall cleave to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. 8 And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. 9 So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another; for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall cleave to its own inheritance.’”
The next passage comes from the Book of Sirach:
23 Do you have children? Discipline them,
and make them obedient from their youth.
24 Do you have daughters? Be concerned for their chastity,
and do not show yourself too indulgent with them.
25 Give a daughter in marriage, and you complete a great task;
but give her to a sensible man.
I should note that in the above passage, verse 23 reads in some authorities as sons, not children, and says “choose wives for them while they are young.” Then we move to another passage from Sirach:
19 My child, keep sound the bloom of your youth,
and do not give your strength to strangers.
20 Seek a fertile field within the whole plain,
and sow it with your own seed, trusting in your fine stock.
21 So your offspring will prosper,
and, having confidence in their good descent, will grow great.
Now we move to the New Testament, specifically the First Letter to the Corinthians:
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 7:39)
As you might have noticed, they all bear a common theme: the matter of determining when and who to marry. These passages are just a sample of the passages and verses in Scripture which address the matter. I chose them because I think they provide a good sample of what Scripture has to say on the subject. What they make clear is the following:
- In some circumstances parents chose whom their daughters, and their sons, would marry
- In some circumstances men could choose whom they would marry
- In some circumstances women could choose whom they would marry
Taken together, these passages explain that men and women, and parents, can be involved in the choice of spouses. With all of this in mind, I would go further and say that both children and parents should be involved in the process of spouse selection. Unfortunately, nearly all Christian parents today have abdicated this important role. In fact many go so far as to sabotage, through various means, their children when it comes to marriage. Not all mean to do ill, but that doesn’t change the fact that many Christian youth suffer unnecessarily, and risk their souls, because their parents aren’t as involved as they should be.
Consequently, I am a major supporter of The Courtship Pledge, run by Scott and Mychael. Scott has asked me to write guest posts there, and I hope to the have first (which will be cross-posted here) up by the end of the week. It will expand on the line of thought started with this post.