Text: Heb. 13:4; Gen. 24:49-61
It is re-iterated here that, (i) in the life of the Christian, it is that which pleases the Lord that must be done (cp. Mtt. 6:9-10; 26:39, 42; Jn. 8:29; Act. 21:14), (ii) the church is not a place of confusion, but a place where all things are done decently, in order and to the glory of God (Cor.. 14:40; 10:31).
Bride-price is not like a price paid to own a slave, or some property for use. Rather, it must be seen by the child of God as something agreed upon and given to a woman’s parents in appreciation for their labour, care, effort, etc, in bringing her up and for giving her out to the man for life.
In most cultures around the globe, it is usually some agreed sum of money, nevertheless, it could be service, as in the case of Jacob, Leah and Rachael (Gen. 29:15-28), or some other thing (Gen. 24:53). Besides, it could be just a little gift given to and received by the woman’s parents as token of acceptance and agreement that their daughter should go with the man.
Also in most cultures, courtship/engagement activities usually culminate in payment of bride-price/handing over of the woman to the man.
Bride-price is distinct from dowry, which is “money or something given to the bride herself (eg. Gen. 24:53; 34:12; Exo. 22:17; Jos. 15:18), or money/property brought by a bride to her husband at marriage”. In the cultures under reference, the payment of bride-price is the conclusion of traditional marriage proceedings. It is usually and immediately followed by the rite of “hand-over”. Once this point has been reached, the law of the Lord prohibits withdrawal, whether the couple be believers or not (RMS. 7:1-3; Mtt. 19:4-6).
Bride-price is usually not pegged at specific sums of money or things as the case may be. It is rather an agreed sum as dialogued by the parents of the sister and the brother. Due to this factor bride-price may differ in what is given to or received by different families within the same culture.
It is necessary to say at this point, that bride price payment and the ceremonies that accompany it must be done in such manners as give God glory. Extravagance, reckless and godless spendings should be avoided, use of intoxicating wine or liquor must not be used or served, nuptial dances of the couple to be should be avoided, seeing that marriage process is not yet completed. Ungodly traditional practices, such as ceremonies to the dead, sacrifice to deities, appearing of deities and all such like must be entertained.
It must be remembered that marriage is honourable in all, and the first person to honour in marriage is God, by ensuring that marriage processes don’t kindle His offence.
At handover, the parents give/pronounce their parental blessings to their daughter, the husband and the family they go to build together (Gen. 24:58-59).
N/B: It is possible to find parents who will not take any bride-price, yet give out their daughters after the performance of other traditional rites. In such circumstances, the marriage law is also binding.
Further to this, there are times when bride-price is paid in part, yet the woman is allowed to go with the man. In such an arrangement, the above law is also binding.