Bride Price

By a Pioneer in the Middle East

“How old are you?” my twenty-something Arab friend asked.

“I’m 37.”

“And you’re not married yet?” she continued.

“No, I am not, but God-willing, I will be one day.”

She thought for a moment and then replied, “You must be really expensive.”

“Actually, I am not.” I began to explain. “In America I am free.”

“Oh, I am so glad it’s not like that here,” she said relieved. “The men would have six wives instead of four!”

Often, after I visit friends, I replay these conversations in my head and ask myself how I can work on better answers to common questions. Nearly every time I meet someone here, they ask me about marriage. So I have been working on how to use my answer to this question as a way to draw them into faith conversations. And fortunately, I am part of a team that is preparing me for these interactions. We have been talking about it and reading a book together to help me make the most of this repeated question.

Only a week after that chat, I visited another friend in her home. She asked, “The only thing a man has to give you before marriage is a ring, right?” She and her sisters, all of whom are unmarried, waited expectantly for my answer.

“That is true,” I said. “A man doesn’t have to pay money for me, and typically the men in my culture give their brides a ring.”
Here in the Arab world where I live, a man must pay a bride price in order to marry a woman. Only giving a ring would be a very cheap price for a wife. I added, “But he has to give me much more than that. A man who wants to marry me must give me his heart and promise to love only me and no other woman. Once we are married he must share everything with me, protect me and cherish me.”

My friend sat silently with a dreamy look in her eyes. Then she shushed her sisters to explain to them what I said. They loved it. Though I didn’t get a chance to finish what I wanted to say, I hope that I can get it all in next time. I want to tell them that God wants the same from us. He wants our hearts, not just our prayers and money.

Please pray for this Pioneer. Ask God to continue to inspire her by the power of the Holy Spirit to use this common question as a way to lead other women into conversations about Jesus.

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