This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
Spontaneous weddings are romanticised in movies, but it’ll be quite impossible to do for Indonesians, who will soon be required to attend a 3-month marriage certification program before tying the knot legally.
The government-run program created alongside the country’s Ministry of Religion was announced by Human Development and Cultural Affairs (PMK) Coordinating Minister Muhadjir Effendi last week.
“Anyone who gets married should get some kind of ‘upgrade’ about how to be a spouse with a family. [This class] will ensure that all parties involved understand the required knowledge, then they will receive a certificate,” Effendi told local media. He sternly added that couples who fail this class or refuse to take it will not be allowed to marry.
The free program will include classes on reproductive health, disease prevention, and childcare tips. The policy will come into effect in 2020. The PMK, Ministry of Religion, and Ministry of Health will design courses according to their respective fields.
Effendi said this program is different from the existing premarital counseling available at Offices of Religious Affairs, as it is more comprehensive and does not only discuss the rights and obligations of husband and wife.
However, Ace Hasan Syadzily, a parliament member in charge of the commission on religious and social affairs, warned the government against needlessly burdening citizens with complicated bureaucracy.
“Don’t make marriage difficult for the people. Don’t make them go through procedure after procedure,” Syadzily told local media.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation’s top clerical body, agreed with Syadzily’s sentiments, but also expressed support for the policy, as long as it does not undermine religion.
“We will support anything that does not defy religion and Islamic law. We read this policy and believe it will do good. Knowledge is required to foster a household, but the government must not burden citizens with this policy,” MUI Secretary General Anwar Abbas told CNN Indonesia.
“If people are too afraid to get married, they will instead have extramarital relations.”
Responses from Indonesian netizens have been mixed, with some doubting the quality of the classes, while others saying they would be helpful.
“I did pre-martial counseling at a Religious Affairs Office. They made bogus statements like ‘it’s forbidden for a wife to deny sex to her husband,’ and ‘a wife must always cook for her husband,’ ew,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Our neighbouring country Malaysia, has enforced their pre-marital counselling policy more successfully. We’re not there yet, but hopefully we’re heading in the right direction,” Bunawi Ahmad, head of the Makassar Office of Religious Affairs told CNN Indonesia.
For any Indonesians who don’t want another bureaucratic hurdle to jump over, you still have two months left to get married!