as a calling, a vocation, it is quite unique. nobody is called to marriage as such, as though when one spouse dies, they hurry out and find another. no, marriage as a vocation seems to be to a particular person, til death do you part. the vocation ends there to that person, though it extends to the persons that union may have created.
the particularity of marriage is very different from the other vocations and offices in the church, like holy orders and others. many vocations are generic and pertain mostly to serving God. but the vocation to marriage is to serve another person, to be tied to them so that they may give you the capacity to make sense of your own life, in the same way that you need God to make sense of it. every morning you wake up and, whether you like it or not, they are there. as long as you both shall live, you provide for one another the grounding to make sense of this thing we call life that is done inescapably in communion with and dependence upon others.
because marriage is a vocation to a particular person, you discover the vocation as it unfolds before your eyes, like undressing in the bedroom that first night you make love(ingly). you cannot know you are called to marriage until the person to whom you are called stands before you and breaks into your life, whether you like it or not.
marriage is not ‘about the children,’ as some might say, it is about God and you and that person that you love God through. children may erupt from your union, but they are always accidents, for if we were responsible for their creation, then we would be able to predict like clockwork when, how, and what form they would take. Life is not in our power alone. pro-creativity requires not two people, but three (or perhaps five); two bodies and one trinity.
I appreciate that Stanley Hauerwas suggests that Christians never marry the right person, but in a way,we always marry the right person because any person is capable of teaching us love. the meaning of marriage is discovered in love, in that place that makes no sense until we cannot escape it, until we cannot escape god, for God is love. the vocationality of weddedness is peculiar, for love is often not what we are told, but what we know without asking.
the world tells us that love adorns itself in fine jewelry and dresses itself in cosmetic embellishment. but love comes to us in the cow pies and the straw bales. love finds us on the street between phone calls; it pushes shopping carts and begs our attention. love does not dress itself up nearly as often as it puts on a disguise. love and marriage cannot be pursued apart from particularities; we are not called to lives of marriage, but to beautifully broken creatures with short lifespans, who are no better than ourselves.
there is no ‘waiting for the right person,’ there is only listening for God. one may not be called to marriage, but everyone is called to be with others. for marriage must be a gift, as all vocations are. we must seek God instead of our desire to escape loneliness.