I hardly watch TV and its been that way for a few years now. Recently though, I moved in with the grandmother of a friend of mine and she has Dish Network. She watches the Arabic equivalent of EWTN in the living room. There is a TV in one of the rooms that I use and I was told I am welcome to watch TV there. Originally I had no intention to, but yesterday after over a week of living here, I decided I’d turn it on. It happened to be on a channel in which there’s a program airing called Marriage at First Sight. I watched about 15 minutes or so before I had to leave the house to go somewhere.
From the little bit I watched, it consists of an experiment in which a group of “experts” (clinical psychologist, spiritual advisor, and sexologist – and maybe more that I missed) recruit people who are interested in an opportunity to enter into a relationship. Eventually the applicants are told that their commitment would involve marrying someone, legally, at first sight. The purpose of the experts is to match people according to compatibility. Many people dropped out upon realizing arranged marriage was the catch. Others stayed who were desirous of a serious relationship.
One part that stood out is when one of the expert staff was commenting on the very low divorce rate among arranged marriages ( I think he said 4%) and high divorce rate of other marriages, i.e. romantic bond/love based marriages.
What I want to know is whether in-itself, submitting oneself to being in an arranged marriage like this, would be immoral.
Now I know that all kinds of critical things could be said about the show, e.g. what a waste, it indicates our culture has hit rock bottom, etc. I’m saying, forget about the Reality TV aspect of it, or even the experimental aspect of it (which presupposes acceptance of divorce on the part of either the experts, the participants or both). I’m interested in the morality of the arrangement itself, in so far as we also consider that clearly the Church approved of arranged marriages in the past, one difference being that that they were family arranged and revolved around class, wealth, and property interests. The modern spin revolves around perceived compatibility by people who work in the social sciences.
However, is it not conceivable that someone could submit themselves to a modern arranged marriage WITHOUT intending divorce, indeed, intending permanent union ( one of the conditions of valid marriage)? And as to the couple not meeting each other until the wedding day – again, I don’t think this is unheard of either even traditionally speaking. Do not Hasidic Jews observe a similar custom? And anyways arranged marriage doesn’t mean consent isn’t required. A person can always decide to not consent and therefore not make the vows. Arranged just means your partner was picked out for you.
The only real problem I see from a Catholic perspective (assuming all necessary elements are present for a valid marriage – exclusive union between a man and woman, consisting of mutual consent to a permanent union that is open to children) is if “compatibility” displaces or fails to include the religious component of marrying in the Church, being equally yoked, and/or genuine effort to raise the children Catholic (if one of the partners is Catholic).
What do you think? (Again, don’t focus on the Reality TV aspect, admittedly that is garbage. Probably recipe for disaster too. Not the way to build intimacy.) Focus on the CONCEPT of modern arranged marriage using social science professionals.