A lifelong exclusive commitment … Through marriage a husband and wife give themselves completely to one another. They promise to love each other freely, truly, fruitfully and faithfully for the rest of their lives, through good times and bad. They go on to express this through their sexual union which brings them intimately closer together, and by the grace of God, their relationship grows beyond themselves and they build a home for family and a place of Christian welcome.
Marriage is not just for Christians … You do not have to be a Christian to get married, however Christ raised the dignity of marriage between Christians to a Sacrament i.e. a sign of His presence in their lives and the lives of those around them. Therefore, for a Christian couple the call to love each other in this way becomes an invitation to follow Christ and to give their lives wholeheartedly to him in love and service through their family life.
A sign of Christ’s radical love … The love shown between a Christian husband and wife becomes a sign of the radical love shown by Christ in his life, death and resurrection. Christian marriage is not just an expression of human affection, it is a sacrament of the love of Christ, a way for husband and wife to minister to each other and to their children. And in this way the Christian family becomes a place where others can see the beauty and power of Christ’s redeeming love, a love that is often obscured in our fallen world. This is why marriage is a Christian vocation.
Marriage for the right reasons … Not everyone wants to get married, and not everyone who hopes to marry does actually get married. But if someone freely chooses to get married it does not usually need a lot of explaining. The reasons are straightforward: a desire for love and family and children that grows out of who we are as human beings, as men and women. For Christians who are discerning marriage there will be deeper vocational questions: listening to Christ, listening to the deepest desires of your heart, reflecting on the unique person you are called to be and on the particular ways you hope to give your life in love and service. Marriage preparation courses in our parishes help the Church and the couple to be sure about their reasons for entering into marriage, and to ensure that both parties are fully aware what they are about to undertake.
Christian marriage is a sacrament, a vocation, and if you choose to be married it will be a sign of your love for Christ as much as of your love for another person. But it is not the kind of call that pulls you away from your natural hopes and expectations. Marriage is not easier to live than other vocations, but it is easier to explain. If you long to be married, and there are no other big pulls in your life, then you should be at peace about seeking a husband or wife.