If you had to pay for dowry or bride price in order to marry your spouse, how much would you pay? An even better question is, how much are you worth? How much do you think your family would ask your spouse to pay?
I saw a bride price app the other day!! I mean, I understand there’s an app for EVERYTHING, but bride price, really! So yeah, there’s an app where the groom’s family calculate how much their future daughter in law is worth based on various indicators like her level of education, height, weight, complexion, cooking skills, financial stability and so forth. After much scrutiny, the designers of the app said they designed it for comic purposes. That’s just how serious this issue is, especially in some African nations, the Middle east and some parts of Asia.
I’m so glad my husband’s family never used the app on me. I wonder what the score on my height would be 🙂
During my bride price “talk” (not sure what to call it), my Dad tried to keep it simple. He asked my husband’s family to give whatever amount they would like to give. Though I’ll admit that I’ve never seen my Dad as uncomfortable as he was that day. Mostly because he knew that my husband grew up in a different world from the one I grew up in. He used the story of Jacob to explain why bride price was important. How Jacob had to work for 7 years to marry Rachel. That it was a form/sign of appreciation to Rachel’s father. I sat there thinking, “mmmmmh, this is actually going really well”… I think the “talk”went well, I think…
There is a difference between dowry and bride price. A dowry is when the bride’s family brings goods/property or money to the groom or his family and bride price is the opposite. Both dowry and bride price don’t have to be issued in monetary value. Some countries/tribes prefer getting livestock or certain goods instead of money.
Dowry is seen as a form of insurance in the event that a wife gets mistreated by her in-law’s family, or her husband dies. As much as dowry is a beautiful thing, I’ve read a bunch of articles and news reports of how women are mistreated because of failure to fulfill the dowry obligation.
There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to this poisoned apple. Let’s take a look at some advantages.
Bride price is a sign of appreciation
The bride’s family see it as an appreciation for the way they took good care of their daughter. For taking her to school, giving her a home and molding her into the woman she is right now. It’s more like the groom is saying, “Thank you for taking care of my future wife for me”.
A sign of commitment
Some communities see this as a sign of the husbands’ commitment to the marriage union. It is also an indication that the husband is able to financially take care of the wife in the future. Although love can’t be measured by money/property, some communities also see this as an indication of love. That the husband would do anything for his wife to be.
A culture is a way of life and it makes a community unique. It shapes us into the people we are. Some cultures are good whereas others deteriorate the growth of a community. Either way, embracing the dowry and bride price tradition is an indication of pride in ones culture/tradition.
Some disadvantages include:
It promotes greed
I saw this article published 15 years ago that indicated that there was a a special jail wing dedicated to mothers-in-law, arrested for demanding excessive dowry in India’s capital New Delhi. It stated that the jail faced overcrowding!
But that was 15 years ago, I’m sure it’s not that bad right now since there are anti-dowry activists and NGOs fighting against high dowry prices.
In Kenya, some families ask for crazy amounts leading (in some cases) to the cancellation or postponement of the wedding. This is a big obstacle to the young couple who are looking forward to starting their lives together.
It can lead to marital disputes/family disputes
It can lead to marital disputes in the event that a husband or a wife did not fully pay for the agreed upon amount. This leads to a promiscuous nation.
It leads to couples having children outside wedlock
Driven by fear of paying high bride prices, couples who are dating decide to secretly live together and have children outside wedlock. In Kenya, we call it “come we stay”. After they have a child, they decide that it’s time to meet each others family. Once the girls’ family see that she is either pregnant or has a child already, they lower the bride price or the bride price becomes non-existent. This habit is increasingly being adopted by young people as a way of avoiding the bride price issue.
Some men (although rare) decide that they’re better off staying single. This is not the singleness that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 7. This is the type of singleness that has been labelled by today’s generation as “no strings attached”. For those advanced in years, this basically means that the men become promiscuous and come up with excuses such as “I’m not ready for marriage” when instead they should say, “I’m too broke to afford a wife”.
This is the sad state of many nations when it comes to finding and settling with the person that God has specifically designed for you.
I guess this pretty much clearly tells you what I think about bride price/dowry 🙂 To me, paying a bride price or dowry is a tradition and not a direct command from God. I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you for it or against it?