A Question about Dowries

by Keith Sharp

I have a question bothering me and this issue is about tearing apart one of our congregation here in Nigeria. Please, is parental consent considered to be marriage; that is, the cohabitation of a man and a woman without the payment of a bride price or dowry? Since examples in the Bible state Christ attended a wedding feast in Galilea, Abraham sent gifts when he was looking for a wife for Isaac, and even God could have given Eve to Adam but He took Adam's rib before giving Adam the woman. I think all these point towards a price being paid before a marriage is said to have taken place.

Please this is urgent reply as soon as you can and save the church of God.

I'm sorry this issue is causing trouble among brethren. We must be gentle, longsuffering, and forbearing with each other (Ephesians 4:1-3). We also must not trouble the church with our opinions. A brother who does so is "divisive," and must be rejected if he will not cease (Titus 3:9-11).

Marriage is a covenant relationship (Malachi 2:14). Since God ordained this relationship (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:3-6), He sets the requirements for the covenant. When a man and woman enter a marriage which God approves, He is both the witness of the covenant (Malachi 2:14) and the One who joins the two as one (Matthew 19:6). To enter this relationship with divine approval, a man and a woman must meet the divine requirements to enter the covenant (Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:2) and fulfill the legal requirements of the government where they live (Romans 13:1-5) They should also honor the customs of their people, as long as these customs are scriptural and legal (Romans 12:17).

It is my understanding that the government of Nigeria has declared the requirement of a dowry for marriage illegal. Correct me if I am wrong. As you know, the custom of requiring a dowry has caused couples to delay their marriages for years and has been a stumbling block leading many young adults to commit fornication. The Lord warns us very strictly about causing others to fall into sin (Matthew 18:6-7). I would plead with Nigerian parents not to be stumbling blocks to their daughters and future sons-in-law (and, if I am correct, not to violate Nigerian civil law) by requiring a dowry for the marriage of their daughters.

If I have erred in any of the facts, please correct me.