This morning during my short commute to work I had a thought: Why is it that arranged marriages statistically last longer and work more often than we give them credit for? I mean, I have read several statistics in the past that, despite the idea that arrange marriages wouldn’t last because husband and wife didn’t marry for “love”, arranged marriages actually fare pretty well.
For some reason a lot of Christians don’t appear to like the concept of “duty” over “love”. A couple of years ago I was having a discussion with my own father over some things when I mentioned that sometimes I do things out of duty to God and not necessarily because I want to do them. In other words, I do them because I am expected to as a Christian, not necessarily because I feel like doing them because I love God. That didn’t jive with him, but, lets face it, though we know God loves us we don’t always want to do the things He expects of us for any other reason than He expects us to do them. Most of the time its because what we are being called to do makes us uncomfortable or worse. Modern day Christians, however, are all about love so much so that things like duty seem to go against the narrative almost to the point of offense! “You do x because you feel you have to, not because you love God? Shame on you!”
The thing is that “love” as we know it in the West is a fleeting thing: Here one moment gone the next, and is almost entirely based upon the situation at hand. Duty, however, is different. When you’re given a duty your expected to uphold it no matter how you feel. Do you think police officers run into active shooter situations because they are feeling love toward the people involved? Probably not. Likely it’s a sense of duty. They have been tasked with upholding the law and that sense of duty helps to drive them into situations they otherwise would not want to be in. There’s a responsibility in wearing that badge.
This morning I found that Wintery Knight had made a post regarding “soul mate theology”, in which people believe they have, out there in the ethers, a “soul mate”, a perfect match or, in the case of Christians, someone God has picked for you since before the foundations of the earth were laid. Personally I believe the idea is garbage and can actually be extremely detrimental to a relationship!
I have a friend, lets call him Bill, or William or, even better, Billiam. Billiam’s wife cheated on him with, of all people, another man from church. During the time she was busy shacking up with her paramour Billiams wife, lets call her Suzy, spouted all kinds of nonsense about how her and Billiam were young and dumb when they got married and how perhaps she had not waited long enough and church guy was the guy God actually intended for her to marry, and not Billiam. Of course, from an outside view one could see that Suzy’s paramour was actually loaded with cash, and this was more than likely the driving factor behind her infidelity. Yes, the “soul mate theology” in action!
That was many years ago and Billiam, himself, is actually the example of being loyal for duty’s sake I am speaking of. Despite finding it hard to love his wife at times he feels like I do in that the bible does not allow him to divorce. Marriage is for life and, unless Suzy decides to walk away, he is bound to care for her as his wife until such a time death takes one of them. Overall their marriage is doing well, but many times through the years, and even to this day, Billiam finds himself caring for his wife more out of duty to God and to the covenant of marriage than for feelings of love. He loves his wife, but in the end her paramour rejected her because of his own guilt (having recently become a Christian AND getting married), meaning that Suzy never came to see her cheating as wrong and, for many years afterward, instead felt that something she deserved was ripped away from her by God rather than that she sinned.
In arranged marriages, I think, the sense of duty is in place long before the feelings of “love” and this makes a huge difference! A man and woman who are scheduled to be married are duty bound to be in service to one another: A husband to care for and provide for his wife; a wife to care for and tend to her husband, as well as provide children. Seeing as how arranged marriages are more prevalent in non-Western cultures the burden of duty is much, much greater on the pair, and though they may learn to love each other over time, duty comes first, and that duty binds them together even through hardships.
Compare this to the West where feelings of “love” are the building blocks of most marriages. Love is fleeting. Love is a simple emotion, and a fragile one at that. Well, love as defined in Western culture is, anyway. One moment you’re riding high, and, a few harsh words later, its gone. You dont feel “in love” anymore and that love feeling may be replaced with anger and resentment. There is no sense of duty, only a sense of self-fulfillment. “Do I feel loved” becomes the question that holds marriages together or tears them apart, and since the answer to that question changes several times a day is it any wonder that Western marriages don’t last?
The question is, how do we bring back that sense of duty to ensure lasting marriages? Certainly the two can coexist, as many people who have been married via arranged marriage report that they learn to love each other over time, but the modern system of the West foregoes such duty for emotional stimulation. There’s no way to stuff young girls back into arranged marriages in the modern West, yet if something isn’t done we are likely to see marriages crumble even faster than they are now. Well, maybe not, as that would required young people to be getting married first, but that’s for another post.