My post Meager Options generated some lively discussion, and has given me some ideas on follow-up posts. This post was originally going to come first, but in the last day I’ve considered holding it for the end of the week and discussing another matter first. However, I suspect that topic can wait for the time being, and will continue with my plan.
The subject of this post is marriage proposals, specifically how they pertain to Christian women (while non-Christians can add their two cents, I’m focusing on Christian marriage here). [For those interested in the conversation which started this, see this comment by Feather Blade where it started.] There are a couple of sub-issues here that I would like to explore, notably:
- Is it proper for a woman to propose marriage?
- Assuming it is proper, should a woman propose marriage?
- What is the appropriate form for a woman to propose?
- How does a woman’s proposing marriage fit with the seeking her father’s permission to marry?
I don’t intend to write a whole lot about the topic, at least, not in the initial post. Rather, I hope that my readers will add in their own thoughts and knowledge of the matter (if they have any). I’m aiming for a spirited discussion here, and one that I think is relevant. As I’ve indicated before, the Old Order is Broken. We can’t keep pretending that times haven’t changed. They have, and we as Christians need to reform ourselves and the Church. This will involve determining how exactly we will put the pieces back together once everything falls apart. Exploring the boundaries of marriage/Holy Matrimony is important, as the breakdown of that institution is in large part responsible for the overall decline of the West. [A further explanation is found at the end of this post.]
To briefly address those sub issues:
- I’ve searched through Scripture, and have found nothing which prohibits women from proposing. Nor are there any express matrimonial proposals from women either that I can find (although I will admit my knowledge there is still weak). I’ve also searched a bit through Sacred Tradition and the writings of the Saints to see if the topic is mentioned. So far I haven’t found anything, but that doesn’t mean its not that. I haven’t spent that much time on it, so I wouldn’t be surprised to have missed something. If any of my readers know of anything, please mention it in the comments below. Given what I do know right now, I don’t think that it is against Christian women to propose marriage.
- This leads me to whether women should propose.. Having thought on it some, and discussed it with a few others, I’m tempted to say that the answer is no. The argument against it is tied somewhat to scripture but also to natural law, with a dash of pragmatism included. My reasoning is as follows: A Christian man is supposed to be the head of the matrimonial union, providing leadership, vision and guidance. The act of proposing to a woman (that is, to ask her to be his wife) is the first real step in that role. He is offering to be the woman’s head; her acceptance to his proposal moves things forward to a point where it would become a reality. A man should be the leader in this to set the overall tone of the relationship. Something else to consider is that a man can take a woman to wife, but a woman cannot really take a man to husband. Just doesn’t make sense.
- I’m not really sure how a woman should propose. Certainly going down on one knee and offering a ring seems wrong. But then again, I’m oppose to men doing that too. Perhaps a woman can simply say that if the man courting her were to ask her to marry, she would say yes. That is as good as a marriage proposal in its own way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as overt as a male proposal. Ruth is an example of one method of something that comes close to this, although maybe not the whole way.
- I suppose that running the marriage proposal by a father doesn’t really change things. If the man accepts, then he could go ask her father for permission. Or perhaps they could go together.
Those are my initial thoughts. Feel free to chime in.
[For those curious why I’m exploring this subject in particular, let me explain in somewhat greater detail. I know personally several women who have been or were in LTRs that were waiting for their boyfriend to propose to them, but he never did. Besides those few, I’ve heard of a fair number more who experienced the same situation. These women, who wanted marriage (or at least claimed to want it), were simply passive and waited for the man to play his part in the performance. Unfortunately for them, that never happened. What makes the story especially sad, frustrating or laughable, depending on who you ask, is that the women involved later complain about the time they wasted on this men who wouldn’t marry them.
Which makes me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better for those women to be more forward in their relationships. If they had proposed, it might have clued them in sooner that marriage wasn’t in the picture with their present boyfriend. Of course, I know that a fair amount of rationalization is going on here, but still, I think this is a far question to explore.]