(The following paragraphs are fragments from an article called “The World of The Handmaid’s Tale: Not Completely Bad”)
I have already addressed the fact that the nation of Gilead was wrong in usurping the authority of father’s over their daughters. But what if fathers willingly gave their young daughters, even those in their early teens as portrayed in arranged marriages to older men – is this a violation of Biblical morality?
The answer is a resounding NO. It is not immoral or “abhorrent” or “horrific” in the eyes of God. The Scriptures tell us in two passages when God says a young woman is ready for marriage.
In the book of Ezekiel God portrays his marriage to Israel as an older man taking a young woman who has shown the signs of puberty as his wife:
“7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.
8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.”
Ezekiel 16:7-8 (KJV)
And in the New Testament the Apostle Paul gives us another qualification for when a girl becomes a woman and is ready to be married:
“36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.”
I Corinthians 7:36 (KJV)
The phrase “if she pass the flower of her age” refers to if she has had a period.
So, God’s allowable age for marriage to a woman is when she shows the signs of puberty, development of her breasts, growth of pubic hair and she has had a period. At that point it is perfectly moral for her to be married.
And her “consent” is not required by God. And God does not grant her the “agency” that we believe women have today. It is her father’s decision (Exodus 22:16-17). And there is absolutely nothing unbiblical about arranged marriages (Jeremiah 29:6). Also, it is not immoral for men much older to marry younger women.