“As We desired to bring about love and friendship and the unity of the people, therefore We made it (marriage) conditional upon the consent of the parents also, that enmity and ill-feeling might be avoided.” Baha’u’llah
The couple who decide that they have enough affection for each other to commit to an eternal bond, shall seek the consent of their parents. This practice has valuable for the progress of society. At its basic level it provides third party advice about the compatibility of the characters and temperaments of two fledgling adults, to those besotted couple. However, rather than being a gatekeeping role on compatable marriages, it points that marriage is a marriage of two families, or more, as the case may be.
This practice places great responsibility on the parents and the couple. Parents who take the spiritual disciplines of Baha’u’llah seriously will know that the development of communication, relationships, and protection of the rights of the individuals in a family, is of the utmost importance for the happiness of people and the building of civilisation.
The ability of young adults to be able to talk with their parents about their intentions for marriage, is essential proof of the strength of character and unity of all parties. The greater responsibility then lies with the parents. From the time their own children are born, these older adults have an urgent responsibility to learn more about their own selves, weaknesses, strengths, and how to divine the characters of others around them, and work in unity with those other characters. The understanding they form about the difficulty of forging unity among the divers characters of a community, will help them provide reasoned advice to their children at the time they wish to marry. They will also be able to forge unity between the other parents and family, regardless of the cultural backgrounds, or alternately recognise key barriers to that unity.
It is the parents responsibility to advise where incompatibilities seem to lie between both the intended couple and between the families. This doesn’t mean consent is not forthcoming. A recognition of the challenges among all parties may be enough to assure all that bonds can be strengthened. But sometimes, even if one parent feels so, the consent may be delayed until more evidence is shown from either the couple or all their parents, that they can form a relationship that cares for the potential new family.
This, then, is the nub of marriage. That in marrying, two people are not just creating a small nest of their own, but are bringing together two families whose core desire is the strengthening of that nest of love, nurturing the nest and its offspring, and supporting the spiritual growth of everyone associated with that nest. When considering that each marriage might produce 3 offspring, who marry into 3 other families, the supportive and unifying responsibilities of parents are significant.
The progress of global civilisation relies on the raising of children in families which are nurturing and spiritually supportive on both sides. Such families will extend their well-being and capacities enormously from generation to generation, across the globe.