So spoke the current leader of YWAM Olongapo/Tamar Foundation here in Olongapo City/Subic Bay, the Philippines. Virgie was speaking in reference to my question about mail-order brides. Do the Filipino people accept Canadian men coming and buying brides for a price? Is it cultural/traditional? Is it normal?
Realizing that there are many other international cultural traditions around the world, I will speak candidly about Virgie's response. Mail-order brides are NOT traditional, nor are they cultural. They are an attempt to escape poverty, to gain a new life, or to flee dire circumstances. These are all true and legitimate needs that must be addressed… but not through bride selling.
Many men, oftening beginning as johns in Filipino brothels, feel they are doing these women a 'favour' by marrying them and caring for them. It assuages their own guilt about demading sexual favours where they had not right to demand from. This is not God's definition of marriage. Virgie was clear: "We are no better than pimps when we approve of our beautiful Filipino girls being taken by foreign men for a price. We are NOT pimps… we are not Mama Sans".
Hearing the conviction in her voice affirmed my own thoughts. Yes… some women escape poverty by selling themselves as brides. But instead of just selling sex, they sell the entire relationship of marriage where God has no place. It is prostitution on a whole different level.
Can their be healing? Can their be forgiveness?
Yes. Of course!
Can God reconcile a couple where the woman was a mail order bride (by choice or not) and a man who was so desparate (for whatever reason) acting as an international john?
Just as He forgives and calls individuals, He saves and restores relationships.
However, the better way to deal with the matter is to firmly stand against mail order brides. Just as sex isn't for sale, marriage is not for sale in our Canadian culture. Yes… many johns use the Bible to back up their right to pay for whomever they choose to marry. Dowrys are common still in many cultures. And it's not like Canada is the shining example of healthy marriage relationships at the best of times.
I would say this: dowries occured in a time/place where God tolerated them as a custom of the people. Since it is now neither custom nor tradition in neither Canada or the Philippines, we must seek to end the existence of mail order brides. We must address in love the deeper needs (poverty, etc), and not sell off women who, made in the Divine Image of the Living God, have so much to offer to their own people.