The issue of underage marriage has recently surfaced with the news of a Muslim-Australian man being charged for his marital involvement with a 15-year old girl. Although NSW made their first child bride arrest only last year, reports estimate a total of 250 child bride cases across Australia.
According to Dr Eman Sharobeem, the chief executive of the Immigrant Women’s Health Services, the main reasons for these marriages are due to cultural practices and spousal visas. In an opinion article written by Ms Hamad, she sheds light on these cultural practices of her own Muslim background. Essentially, bringing disgrace to family is worse than death, and disgrace in its worst form is the offense of sex before marriage.
In conditions like these, it is no wonder that Muslim parents are in a hurry to marry off their daughters, purely out of fear that their children’s behaviour will reflect poorly on the family name.
Many would agree that fear of humiliation is irrational and should not warrant underage marriage. In fact, such a radical reaction is difficult for most of us, who appreciate our democratic freedoms, to understand.
Yet ultimately, it is the freedom we have in Christ that protects us from irrational fear. This is something that those who operate under a system of law to be right with God can never understand.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” - 1 John 4:18a
Why should we not fear? Or at least in our decisions, how can we display a confidence in Christ that is not driven by an obsession with personal honour? For personal honour is a cruel master.
Let us who trust in Christ be driven by decisions that are marked in the confidence of knowing we are forgiven.