Recently a young professional in her mid-thirties shared her agony and struggle. When she was a student she came to know the Lord as personal savior and became an ardent disciple of Lord Jesus Christ. All of her family members are not Christians. Her parents refused to search for a bridegroom as she wanted to marry only a Christian. She attends a dynamic ‘spiritual’ church and is part of the women’s fellowship. The pastor of this mega church knows this girl personally and appreciates her contribution to the church in terms of time, talents and finances. However, apart from prayers for her early marriage and good wishes to happen soon; no concrete steps were taken for over a decade. She is not alone. There are numerous young girls of marriageable age, but unable to do so as there is no one to take initiative and help them.
Jacob after cheating Esau had to run away from home and reached his uncle Laban’s home. Jacob agreed to work for seven years for getting married to Rachael, whom he loved. When the marriage was conducted, Laban gave Leah and not Rachael which Jacob discovered only the next day. When confronted, Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. (Genesis 29:27) Laban said that in a family the order of marriage according to age. The eldest has to be married first and then the younger. Rachael cannot be married before Leah gets married. How true is this even in today’s culture in most nations including India?
Unfortunately, many young Christian girls of marriageable age are not able to get the right life partner. They are in many city and village churches. Some of them are working as missionaries in several mission agencies, and social workers in Christian NGOs.
Local church is a family
In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul refers to church as the ‘church of living God’; the ‘household of God’. This is not a reference to a physical structure but to the ‘family of God’. God is our Father and we are all his children. All disciples of Lord Jesus Christ are brothers and sisters. If the local church is a family, then, how could be there so many young girls getting older and not married; while younger girls are getting married? That means, the local church functions like a club rather than as a family of God.
Neglect of responsibility
A young girl, who is a lone follower of Lord Jesus Christ, would not normally come and ask the pastor or elders of the church to help her out to get married. It would be generally considered as immodest behavior. At the same time, the pastoral leaders do not take initiative and steps to get them settled as family. Some leaders think that their responsibility is only to pray and forget about it. Faith has to be demonstrated by works and so prayer has to be demonstrated by action. It is painful to see the local church leadership and mission leadership neglecting their duty towards such young people. It is not only the young girls from other religious backgrounds are neglected, even young boys are neglected and youngsters from poorer families are ignored.
Another reason for so many girls unmarried is the practice of caste system among Christians. The Bible clearly teaches that God created humanity from one couple – Adam and Eve. However, other religions teach that there was hierarchy even in creation, hence caste practices. Even after becoming Christians, many are more loyal to their caste than to Christ and the family of God – the Church.
Another reason for young girls, new disciples from other religious backgrounds and poor Christian families for not getting married is the practice of dowry. The nation has banned the practice and has declared that as illegal. However, many Christians practice the dowry system with active encouragement of few selfish pastors (who get tithes from dowry – even hike it for larger share). Dowry is violation of commandment – You shall not steal. The commandment means that we are not supposed to take possession of anything that does not rightfully or lawfully or morally belongs to us. Dowry is also idol worship as people of other faiths believer husband is a ‘god’ and has to be appeased by wife (devotee and slave) and the first offering is dowry. However, the social evil of dowry is brazenly practiced by Christians.
Parents should give their best to their children. However, parents could be become over-protective and loose God’s best for their children. Some parents refuse to accept a new disciple from non-Christian background as son-in-law or daughter-in-law. The reason is that the family background would not match that of their children. Another reason they state that the young couple would not have one of the two families’ support. Parents contend that it would affect the young couple socially, economically and emotionally. Instead of sacrificing and teaching children to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God, they over protect their children.
Laban’s principle of facilitating young girls who are getting older to be married earlier is the duty of leaders of the local church. They should make a list of such youngsters, pray for them and seek the best for them. Christian parents should do what is righteous in the sight of God instead of looking at issues from worldly perspective. Young boys and girls should raise above these petty issues and do the Will of God joyfully.
– J.N. Manokaran