“Love.. does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -1 Corinthians 13:4–7
In today’s modern world, the term prenup has become as common as the word marriage. A pre-nup is also known as a prenuptial agreement, which is a legal contract that serves the purpose of protecting assets should a divorce happen later in marriage. Even those who don’t share a Christian faith have differing opinions about whether or not a prenup is an acceptable practice within a marriage, but despite the support or lack thereof from those outside our community and beliefs, what does God say about prenups?
Believe it or not, there is actually prenuptial agreements, of a sort, documented in the Bible. During Old Testament Biblical times, women weren’t allowed to own property (unless under strange or special circumstances). Traditionally, if a man died, his oldest son would inherit the largest portion of his property and wealth as well as, the task of taking care of his mother and any younger siblings that may not have reached adulthood. This was expected of all sons. But what happened if a man died before they were able to have a son, or if the marriage yielded no males despite long years together? What became of the wife then?
In some situations, like that of Naomi in the book of Ruth, the women were left to fend for themselves or to hope for generosity from distant relatives. Yet something else stands out at the beginning of this story. Naomi tells Ruth to return to her family. Ruth refuses because she had come to love God and Naomi, but what we don’t see in the story is the depth of the choice she made. In most marriage agreements, there was a bride price, or a dowry, placed upon the daughter if a man should ask for her hand. This was specifically done as a way to protect and provide for their daughter should the marriage end without an heir. Most likely, Ruth’s family had required the same payment before the marriage to Naomi’s son was ever considered. Essentially, Ruth not only turned her back on her old religion and family, but she also turned her back on the opportunity for financial stability when staying with Naomi might’ve meant begging for scraps.
Unlike the agreements and contracts of today, the bride price wasn’t meant to protect property or other financial assets, it was simply a means to provide for a woman who held the risk of never being married again. Now, with such a heavy emphasis being placed upon protecting wealth, sometimes without realizing, a change occurs within those intended to marry. Suddenly, there is a backup plan in case things don’t work out, or there is the feeling of shame and hurt that comes with a partner lacking faith or trust in the other. It can put doubt into a potential marriage even when it is suggested by family members due to concern.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.- Genesis 2:24
A marriage is so much more than a legal document. It is a covenant we make with our partner and with God to honor, love, and serve one another as Christ does the Church.
We are urged to leave our families and become one with our spouses. It is this very reason that makes a family getting overly involved in a marriage or the beginnings of one, a very tricky place to be. If a woman’s fiance comes from a background of wealth or other financial holdings that the family deems important, it’s not a stretch to believe that the family might ask the woman to sign a prenup. The same request could be made if the situation was reversed and the woman was the one who came from wealth. Both partners might initially be angry at such a request- it implies their interests in the marriage are financially driven instead of being driven by love. Yet, many of us- as parents- know that it is our desire to protect our children at all costs. If we’ve witnessed our son’s or daughter’s struggle to build a business from despair to success, it is our natural desire to help him safeguard his or her legacy. These impulses can also make parents rather emotional when the subject is approached.
If you find yourself in a situation where your fiance’s family asks for a pre-nup, begin by taking a deep breath and consider the love and concern that his family has for him. Approach the request with kind words and explain that you will discuss it with your fiance as well as pray about it. Often men and women can feel a great amount of familial pressure placed upon them to request a pre-nup- especially if the wealth is inherited- even if it is not their true desire to have one, so while discussing it with your fiance, keep an open mind to his feelings on the matter. Pray diligently about the decision, both alone and with your fiance, and if the decision is against the agreement, consider the best way to approach his family about your decision, whether your fiance should go to them alone or with you.
If the situation is reversed and your family is the one pushing for a pre-nup, again try to remind yourself of the love they have for you. If a prenup is not your desire, make this very clear to your parents. Discuss God’s desire for you to become one with your husband, and if extra motivation is needed, provide them with these Scriptures:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This is too meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 5:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Ultimately, God does not wish for us to enter into the covenant of marriage with an escape route in mind. Becoming one with a person means sharing in everything that makes that person who they are, including financial responsibilities.
A prenup risks harming the unity that God wants for us in marriage and, as mentioned above, can place the seed of doubt in a couple before their vows have even been said.
The best decision is to go against an agreement of this kind, but often times outside pressures can heavily influence the decision. Make sure that prayer is always the forefront in asking for advice on the situation as God always knows better than anyone else that which is best for our marriages.
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