Should love be a choice?

In today’s society, there is a controversial issue that stirs up a lot of emotional conflict in today’s culture. Some would consider this to be something that can make or break couples. To some, this is simply the norm, to others, it is completely far-fetched. Should love be something we choose or is it something that should be chosen for us? This question is one that varies amongst different cultures and religious beliefs, arranged marriages.

Before making any decisions on whether or not we agree with arranged marriages, let us look a little more deeply into what exactly arranged marriage is. According to the dictionary, an arranged marriage is “a marriage planned and agree to by the families and guardians of the bride and groom, who had little to no say in the matter themselves.” When I read over this I am sickened by the idea that there are marriages out there where we get no say in whom we will be with. However, arranged marriages are also defined as “a marriage that is established before a lengthy relationship” [1]. The tradition of arranged marriage began around the 18th century. At an early age, young boys and girls are chosen a spouse in which they will marry. These spouses are chosen based on religion, wealth, appearance, values, vocation, and compatibility [1]. I am sure after reading that some young people might be like, “well that doesn’t sound too bad. It sounds like the parents really care for their son/daughters happiness and know what is best”.

I will tell you, though, there are different severities to arranged marriages. In some countries such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, there are forced marriages where the parents do not allow any say in the spouse. Another type of arranged marriage is called “arranged exogamous marriage” which is defined as “one where a third party finds and selects the bride and groom irrespective of their social, economic and cultural group.” There is also a type of marriage where the bride and groom share a grandparent. This is known as a “Consanguineous marriage” [2].

On the flip side of things, we live in a culture where we feel we should be allowed to have a say in who we get married to. We ultimately believe it is all about choice. We should be allowed to have a say in who we chose to spend the rest of our life with. Like many of you, I am sure there is a time you can think of where you were happy you had the choice in the person you began a “dating relationship” with. According to the dictionary, dating is a “stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially…” [3] By being allowed to date in American culture, we are given the opportunity to get to know the persons likes and dislikes, behavior patterns, values, and more.

One of the main purposes of dating I believe is ultimately to evaluate one another’s suitability. It is during the dating period that you get to determine whether or not you would like this person to be a long term companion or spouse. If you are involved in an arranged marriage, you do not have the opportunity to evaluate whether or not your partner is right for you; your parents have already decided that for you.

Now, back to my question, should love be a choice. The truth is, in my opinion, yes love is a choice. Now let me explain. I believe that there is nothing more beautiful than when you choose to love someone. Some would argue you do not choose who you become attracted to, but I believe we choose who we stay in love with. I have heard it said when you love someone, “you choose to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health” [4]. This makes me think of a time where I was attracted to a beautiful young lady named Angela. She was involved in my life during a time where I had to deal with a lot of heartaches, disappointments, and even deaths. I was at a very dark point in my life where it seemed as if the storms were never going to quit crashing. However, Angela chose to stick by me, she chose to encounter the storm with me, and I believe that is what it is all about.

Why do I bring this up? Because often times we hear of relationships ending because feelings begin to fleet. At the beginning of any new relationship, there is fun, excitement, effortless love towards your partner. However, what do you do when feelings begin to fleet? What do you do when our partner irritates us or forgets to do something? Do we choose to put in the effort and love them through it, or do we let our partner go? [5] You see in any relationship I believe you have to choose to love the other person, you have to be willing to work with them through the storm. To some love might begin to sound simple, but I have learned it is almost the complete opposite. Love is hard, it asks us to do hard things- to forgive one another, support one another, comfort one another, and even care for one another.

This makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 that states: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I believe this passage describes a love that is patient and enduring. This is a love that requires hard work and effort. If we look at Genesis chapter 3 we can begin to see a design of how marriage was created to be. Our marriage is supposed to reflect the image of God. The idea of a one-flesh union of male and female reflects God’s design and bring honor and glory to Himself. Although I understand a loving relationship isn’t easy we ultimately have to care about how we are loving our spouse. I believe if we did not choose to love our spouse our love would not be as real and genuine as intended and we would not be bringing honor and glory to God. Additionally, Genesis provides an image of the ideal marriage. It is a designed bond between one man and one woman who come together in one flesh.

Ultimately the choice is yours in whether or not you agree with arranged marriages or not. Do you choose to love or should it be something that is chosen for you? I ultimately believe love has to be a choice. When we chose to love we are driven by feelings and emotions. If we do not have the choice in who we love, we may end up responding like a controlled robot wired to obey our leaders. While I can certainly see how arranged marriages can be successful in some countries, I can also see how they would come up short.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying arranged marriages is wrong and if you believe it them you are a bad person. But I do think there is something that needs to be said about the choice we have in deciding who we want to love through the storms we face. In today’s society, we are brought into this myth that love is uncontrollable and you can’t choose who you love, this is false. In Deuteronomy 30:20, you see how we must choose to love God, He doesn’t force us to love him. Even God doesn’t force us to love him because he knows love can’t be forced. Therefore, I believe if we want to love someone, God will help us love that person if we make it a choice to do so.

[1] http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring07/zuffoletti/traditional.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arranged_marriage

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-adam-smith/real-love-is-a-choice_b_6039412.html

[5] https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/07/20/love-is-a-choice-more-than-a-feeling/