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Forced to marry against my will

I have been waiting to get married, but so far either I haven’t liked the prospective spouse or the men I met would not like me. My parents have begun to harass me into marrying against my will. That’s wounding me deeply. I don’t want to marry a man who I don’t get to pick. What can I do in this situation?

The Bible honours marriage as a divinely blessed, lifelong, monogamous union, between a man and a woman. For couples whose lives are grounded in their faith, a marriage is not only about a happy life together, but a lifetime of shared worship and emotional plus spiritual growth. A wedding that incorporates biblical values helps a couple to cement their life together in love and trust. It is never too late and NOTHING is impossible for God – certainly not impossible to bring His praying children together.

Ephesians 5:25 says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”. To wives it says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Verse 22) and God wants us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Verse 21) None of the above would be truly easy if you are forcibly yoked to someone you do not love or respect. A man or woman should be able to choose to marry of their own accord, with no external pressure. They should intend to remain faithful together for life. They should keep sex holy and within a marriage holy and have children to complete the family. None of these or some of these may not be possible, if you are forced into marrying someone you don’t even like.

If your parents ask you about marriage, simply tell them that you are willing to marry, provided you like the person you are getting married to. And don’t give into any pressure to agree to a ‘lucrative’ match. We are not asking you to pick a fight each time marriage is mentioned. Explain to them gently, but firmly, that this is a human being you are asked to live with for the rest of your life and that choice has to be yours, based on what you feel is important, not just money, titles, age or looks. If it’s a piece of clothing or book, you can return it, but this is a living, breathing human who can sense your dislike for him/her. That’s not fair to the other person either. They deserve to be with someone who will love them as they are. Be very wise and diligent about getting into any relationship.

People today are often not what they seem or project themselves to be. If you have any warnings – you see that a prospective groom or bride has been in multiples unsuccessful relationships, is critical of you or your loved ones, is greedy for money, talks the God talk but does not walk the walk, is clannish and tolerates any injustice or evil by his/her own but is judgemental to you, disrespectful to you in public or in private, gossipy to his/her family and friends about you, is immature, prone to anger, abuse or sulky silences, is a poor communicator, neglectful of giving you quality time, and unwilling to just talk to you or make Godly changes – if you have any gut feeling about this person – don’t marry him/her. This person will be the father/mother of your child. A rude, cruel spouse could turn into an angry parent one day.

The issue of forced marriages has been traditionally treated with hesitation by governments too, for fear of offending cultural sensitivities. So you may not get any help from authorities and its often going to lead to great pain within the family if you contact them. But if you have any trusted church leaders or godly relatives you know, you may seek their help to convince your family.

Refusing to go through with an arranged marriage could be seen as disobedience, and parents want their offspring to do as they are told, especially when the situation is believed to be for their own good. But marriage a lifelong calling and for that – after God’s consent first, YOUR consent is the most important as you have to live with the consequences of this decision. The Bible tells us, “A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). When God wants to, He is capable of revealing exactly when and whom we should marry.

While it is true that the Lord directs our steps, every person has to make that call based upon their own communication and relationship with God.  Instead of asking the question, “Is this the one I should marry,” ask yourself if you are in God’s will. When that falls into place, everything else will too!

Give this battle to God. Stand strong and wait in prayer. God has ordained the right one for you. Pray and “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Never give up!

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. We have the confidence that as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, God will guide our steps. So focus on being the right person yourself rather than on finding the right person. Focus on being an obedient, Sprit-filled Christian and trust Him to lead you. He knows BEST.

We answer your questions about faith, marriage, relationships, parenting, emotional issues, financial crisis or any spiritual struggle here. Have a counselling query? Ask us here, by email:  [email protected]

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