Does the title bring back that scene from The Princess Bride? Regrettably, I can not remember what the man said after that. I wish I could recall his description of marriage.
Pastor Chris and I were discussing just that topic this morning. Marriage seems more complicated here than in the states. A couple cannot just get married. There is the large matter of the labola. A labola is an arranged payment between a groom and the bride’s family in exchange for their daughter. It seems that originally it was meant as a way for the families to build a relationship. The payment was traditionally made in cash or cattle by the groom. Labola is a way for the groom to say ‘thanks for raising a good daughter.’
The problem comes in when the groom has no means of raising the amount of money required by the bride’s parents. It also can seem to be a way of “buying” a woman and making her something he owns instead of a marriage partner to cherish. Labola has been blamed for the spread of HIV-AIDS. Since the husband might see the wife as a possession that has not pleased him, he feels free to have other wifes or “partners.” Sadly parents seem to prefer that their children commit adultery rather than bless a marriage without receiving the money.
None of the women I am studying the Bible with are technically married though they have lived with the same man for years and have children with him only. So, the dilemma. How is this remedied? There is just not excess money to pay the woman’s family. Should they live apart until the money is raised? What if the husband is not a believer and refuses to pay the money? Does she move out and take her children? Who will support these women?
I have been challenged to search the scriptures for answers. Does “marriage” require a ceremony? Does “marriage” require the blessing of the families?