From “Sologamy” to Marriage as Vocation

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Jim Priest, a family columnist for the Daily Oklahoman, discussed “sologamy,” the  growing practice of marrying oneself.  A woman or a man (usually a woman) who has decided to remain single dresses up in wedding garb, invites guests, and has a ceremony, complete with a ring, cake, and reception.

Priest quotes a young woman in a wedding dress who has just pledged her love for herself:

“I told my relatives and friends that if I had not found my soul mate I would marry myself by my 40th birthday. If tomorrow I find a man to build a future with, I will be happy, but my happiness will not depend on him.”

There is even a sologamy website:  I Married Me, which offers sample ceremonies, vows, and a wedding ring.  The homepage says,

You Are Reason To Celebrate

A roadmap to positivity, our I Married Me kit has all you need to create your own ceremony, including a self-wedding ring, vows and daily affirmation cards.

A self-wedding is a symbolic ceremony–about reconnecting and staying connected with you. Wear the ring to remind you every day to LOVE YOURSELF.

The site says that you can marry yourself even if you are already married, as a way to affirm your love for yourself.  (But wouldn’t that be polygamy, not sologamy?)

Priest goes on to reflect that marriage is NOT about finding someone to make you happy.  Rather, it is forming a union that is bigger than yourself.

He quotes the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was himself single, writing to his niece upon her engagement, while he was imprisoned and waiting execution for being part of a conspiracy to kill Hitler.  Bonhoeffer is simply describing marriage as a vocation.

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison:

Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal — it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

It is possible to rule by force by simply seizing power.  But without a “crown”–that is, being lawfully entitled to rule–the ruler will lack genuine authority.  Similarly, a person can enter into a wide range of conditions in order to “find happiness,” including sologamy, but to get married is to enter “a status, an office”; that is, a vocation.

And this vocation is not only inwardly focused, towards the couple or the two selves that make up the couple, it is “a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.”  Since it involves the perpetuation of “the human race till the end of time,” creating a family that becomes the institution for having and caring for children, it involves the married couple with the outside world, since they become responsible for their children’s well-being now and in their future.

“Marriage is more than something personal”–it is a vocation, which God inhabits and through which He Himself works.

 

Photo by geralt, “Self Love,” via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

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