2019-02-20
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Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

-Emily Brontë

The notion that God formed a romantic partner out there tailor-made just for you is alluring. After all, who wouldn’t want to find perfect love? Who wouldn’t want that special someone with whom everything falls naturally into place? The idea of the soul mate leaves many in the Church with hearts aflutter, eagerly awaiting that fateful day when the heavens will open up and their perfect partner will appear before them, hand-delivered by God, Himself.

Unfortunately, this is an idea that is ruining Christian marriages.

While this assertion may seem to fly in the face of everything you’ve ever been taught about romance, let’s take a look at why divinely perfect mates simply aren’t Biblical, how the belief in them can negatively affect your relationships, and why you’re so much better off letting go of the idea of perfection.

What Scripture Has to Say

When it comes to relationships, scripture is all about making good choices and carefully evaluating potential mates. The truth is that the Bible does not contain any passages that indicate that “the one,”—your soul mate—exists at all, and although God may have specifically created Adam and Eve for one another in the beginning, we live in a fallen world in which no individual, or relationship, is perfect.

So what, then, does the Bible have to say about finding love?

Mark 10:11-12 tells us who is Biblically eligible for marriage. The book of Proverbs, a wealth of relationship knowledge, has us looking for responsible mates, and ones who know how to handle their money in 31:16. 31:30 informs us that godliness is superior to beauty or a handsome face. 17:19 tells us to shy away from those who quarrel, and 12:18 has us avoiding those with sharp tongues. Finally, 31:10-31 directs us toward the virtuous, for they their price is “far above rubies”.

If each of us had a predestined soul mate, would the Bible feature so many passages that help us to evaluate potential romantic partners? No—scripture is clear, telling us that we must make wise choices and use our discernment to find a mate that is both Godly and that suits us as unique individuals.

So if the idea of a soul mate isn’t scriptural, where does it come from?

The Greek philosopher, Plato, is the one who popularized the idea, when he posited a story in which humans originally contained the qualities of both genders within one body, but were later split into male and female by the gods—split in both body and soul. Each human would, then, forever long for their “other half” of his or her soul. He went on to say that when an individual finds the one who is their other half, the two enter into perfect understanding with one another, and that they are made complete in utter joy.

Rather than following the themes of Plato’s dramatic story of soul mates, follow the Word of God and dedicate yourself to the mate you’ve carefully chosen. The Bible warns us against thinking of love as a mere emotion—it’s far more than that. It’s a willingness to work for the good of another, to see past their faults, and to be selfless, loving our mates “just as Christ loved the church”.

How the Quest for Perfection Hurts a Marriage

The belief in Plato’s perfect soul mate—one with whom all interaction is effortless—destroys relationships.

"Every relationship takes work in order to function. Nothing is effortless. Ever."

Because we live in a fallen world, no human being is perfect. Every relationship takes work in order to function. Nothing is effortless. Ever.

The belief that there is one, and only one, Perfect Mate out there creates an unrealistic expectation that no human being could ever meet. This is harmful, especially for new Christians, because if their marriages aren’t simply brimming with effortless communication, high romance, and satisfying sex, they may begin to question whether or not they’re with “the one”.

After questioning, they may just go in search of this mythic lover, abandoning their spouse when the going gets tough rather than seeking to work things out. They may be tempted and fall when someone comes along who seems to understand them better. This is incredibly unfair for your partner.

So do not follow the “hollow and deceptive philosophy” that Paul warns of us in Colossians 2: 8-9, but instead, realize that God is the only being who truly completes you. He is the only one who could ever be our “soul mate,” perfect for us in every way. When it comes to humans, looking for perfection will only end in heartbreak for both parties.

Instead, work at your marriage, and be willing, Ephesians reads, to lay down your life for your spouse. That means letting go of your quest for perfection. It means work.

As J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, in a letter to his son, ““No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.”

Where to Go From Here

So if there’s no soul mate out there waiting for us, what do we have?

Why, just the entire world.

When we free ourselves of the burden and stress of finding that one person in billions, we realize that everyone has the potential to be our special someone.

That is a beautiful epiphany. Here’s why.

Whether you’re deep within the dating process or married, love is a daily choice. Out of all the people in the world, you’ve chosen one, and they have chosen you, despite your imperfections, despite other possibilities. Just as God doesn’t have to love us, but chooses to, we do the same for one another.

That’s far more romantic a notion than a supernaturally easy relationship.

Sole Mates

One of the truths of human nature is that we value that which we work the hardest for. When we’re focused on ourselves, on the potential that a soul mate has to fulfill us, we’re really saying that we want something without giving anything. We don’t want to work.

Instead of looking for a soul mate, look to establish a “sole mate”—the one person to whom you are dedicated, no matter what temptation comes your way. This is the example God gives us in His relationship with us. This is the foundation for the strongest marriages.

So carefully choose your love based on Biblical principles, and once you’ve established a healthy relationship, stick with it. There’s much more of the divine in the love of a fallen, broken human being than there is in the fruitless pursuit of the mythical soul mate.

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