Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Judges 19-21

I grew up loving musicals, everything from Sound of Music to High School Musical.  One of my all time favorite musicals is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  When I was in 7th grade my mom and I went to a live production at a local college.  Musicals often come from real life situations.  To me, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of the more far-fetched story lines.  Imagine my surprise when I found a similar story in the Bible and real life.  

Presently I live in Central Asia.  To most people it is “one of those stan countries”.  I love living here, the friendships I have made, and the ways I have been able to see God move.  As would be expected the things I encounter here are far beyond normal from my Midwest upbringing.  

I was walking with a friend one day, and somehow we got on the topic of bride stealing/kidnapping.  She shared with me that one day her friend from school called her and asked her to meet at the corner by her house.  As she walked out to the corner two guys jumped out of their car and tried to grab her.  She was able to escape the situation by the grace of God, and a good pair of sneakers.  

She continued by telling me that a few weeks later that friend from school was bride stolen/kidnapped.  

I had heard of bride stealing, but that day it put a face on a very foreign (to me) injustice.  Often times when we read in the Bible the pericopes or stories seem very strange and unrealistic.  Living in Central Asia has helped me understand many of these passages better.  

Recently I was reading in Judges chapters 19-21.  It talks about Israelites going into a justified battle, and making a rash oath to God.  They found a way out of this oath with a loophole arranging a mass bride stealing.  The passage concludes with saying, everyone did as they saw fit.  

From a Midwestern point of view, bride stealing is wrong.  However, there are justifiable conditions in man’s reasoning for bride stealing in Central Asia.  It is a good way to avoid paying dowries and “marrying out of your league”.  

When we live as we see fit, we allow our culture and ideas to direct our lives.  We may not practice bride stealing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do as we see fit, and look for loopholes in oaths we’ve made with God.  

We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to direct our lives.  We can’t continue to live anyway we want if we are committed to following Christ.  It may mean going against our culture, our friendships, and our ideas.  I have made many oaths to God, and it is important for me to keep those.  Although there are many times it would be easier to find a loophole, which is not what God desires.

Personally, I made an oath to God when I was young to abstain from sex until I was married.  Did I expect that I wouldn’t get married until my late 20’s?  No.  Does that give me permission to back out or find a loophole of my oath? No. Does my culture dictate that it’s ok for me to sleep around or have sex with my fiancé?  Yes.  Has it been easy to keep my oath?  Not always, but having a fiancé who made the same oath has helped.  Is there a joy in knowing I have stayed faithful to the promise I made to God?  Yes.

Use wisdom when making oaths to God.  Stand by your oaths with conviction. Live by what is right in God’s eyes and not your own.

Spoiler Alert:  Everything worked out ok for the seven brothers and their brides.  No matter what situation you may be in God can redeem it.  Just because you may have lived by what is right in your eyes or broken oaths, we serve a loving and forgiving God. He doesn’t want you hiding in shame.  He wants relationship with you!