You know how the movies and books go, they often describe how a man and woman magically find each other out of all of the billions of people in the world, and they instantly know that they were destined for each other.
Sparks fly. Fireworks erupt. The world stands still.
They know that they are meant to be soul mates, and that they will complete each other and fulfill each other like no one else ever could. They just know they will be completely perfect for each other. Together, they will have unending bliss in this lifetime. They will feel totally in love every moment of every day. Infatuation will never end for them.
They won’t even have to work at nurturing the romance. It just magically happens without effort or problems.
A lot of us believe this idea.
But is this worldly idea of one perfect soulmate in all the world for each of us biblical?
There are four areas I want to address with this issue:
- Is there actually a person who can completely fulfill us, never disappoint us, give us total security, peace, joy, eternal happiness, and perfection?
- What kinds of fruit does the soul mate idea bear?
- What does the Bible say?
- What does the Bible not say?
The truth is, there is no perfect human
There is no completely flawless human soul mate who will never hurt us, always completely understand us like Hollywood portrays, and who can meet our deepest spiritual and emotional needs every second of every day forever.
- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23
If we try to put a man on the throne of our hearts like this, we are making him into an idol. The problem with idolatry is, it always destroys us and it always destroys the relationship we have with the person we idolize. (Another way of describing this kind of relationship would be “codependent.”)
- It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Ps. 118:8
- Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord… Jer. 17:5-6
Once we marry a man, that person is to be our spouse for life. We are to work on that relationship and nurture it out of love and honor for God and for the marriage covenant and our husband.
Marriage is a good gift. It is a blessing. God intends for each marriage to portray a living picture of the gospel (Eph. 5:22-33).
But marriage is also hard. There are difficulties. This doesn’t mean we abandon our marriage covenant. Check out what the Bible says about divorce.
But there is a perfect God who can fulfill us
What we really need is Jesus. We need the perfect Creator of the universe, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of lords, the Great Physician, the Good Shepherd, the Heavenly Bride Groom. He is the only one who can meet our deepest spiritual needs all the time. He is the only one who will never fail us, disappoint us, or leave us.
If we have Him, we have the Greatest Treasure in all the universe!
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
- Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jer. 17:7-8
- For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jer. 2:13
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matt. 22:36-40
In Him, we truly can have absolute security, peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment, purpose, and our identity.
The problem with the world’s soul mate idea
When we have a mindset that a person can take the place of all that only Jesus can do for us, when we depend on a human man to be our soul mate, this is what happens:
- We marry a man we idolize, with all these unrealistic expectations and then realize that he is not perfect. Even if he is a strong Christian, he sins and stumbles at times. And we are shocked and appalled. We begin to resent him and disrespect him.
- We assume that we married the wrong person and we need to divorce this guy and find our real soul mate so we can be happy. We are angry at God for allowing us to marry a man who is not the soul mate we wanted more than anything.
- With the soul mate mindset, our primary hope is in a flawed human being, not in Christ.
- Our goal is our own momentary happiness (which is one of the greatest idols in our culture) rather than holiness or exalting Jesus above all and seeking His glory above everything else.
- The marriage covenant and God’s commands for us as believers and as spouses become secondary to our feelings and desire for Hollywood style romance.
I believe this kind of soul mate concept is very dangerous to our marriages.
In reality, any Christian man we marry is not going to be perfect. And any Christian woman a man marries is flawed, as well. That includes us! We will have plenty of opportunities to give and receive grace, forgiveness, mercy, and unconditional love and respect. We all have a steep learning curve in marriage. And we all need the power and wisdom of God’s Spirit to build a strong, godly marriage.
What should happen when we realize our spouse is not perfect, is—it should remind us that only Jesus can truly meet our every spiritual need. And it should remind us of our own sin and how much we are completely dependent on Christ because on our own, none of us have any good in us. And it should also make us remember that the only one we can completely trust to be faithful all the time is Jesus.
What does the Bible say?
Is there only one man for you out there? One specific man that you have to find among the billions of others?
- Well, for Adam and Eve, there was definitely only one potential spouse for them. It was pretty obvious who God’s will was for them to marry!
- And for Eleazer, who was looking for a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac, he did pray for God to show him the wife He wanted for Isaac and God answered his prayer. (Although, Rebecca was certainly not perfect.) We can certainly pray for God to lead us to a godly spouse.
But for us as followers of Christ, what are the qualifications we need to have for choosing a spouse?
- A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 1 Cor. 7:39
- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? I Cor. 6:14
So really, the main thing is, we are to choose someone who is committed to living for Jesus. The rest is pretty much up to us.
In biblical times, most marriages were arranged. Sometimes the spouses didn’t even meet before the wedding. Or they were betrothed from infancy. There was no dating like we know in our culture.
Of course, for those who are already married to an unbeliever, God’s will is for them to stay with that spouse if possible and seek to influence the other one for Christ.
What does the Bible not say?
There are no verses that say things like:
- Seek the one true love that God has for you among all of the other people in the world. Don’t marry anyone but him. If you marry some other Christian man, you are doomed to misery forever.
- There is only one man for you that is perfect for you. Pray for God to help you find him. If you can’t find him, God can’t do anything of value with your life.
- If you realize you married someone who is not perfect for you, divorce him and search the world for your real God-given soul mate so that you can be happy.
God’s will is for us, as Christian women, is for us to remain single and completely devoted to Christ or for us to marry a believing husband and remain completely devoted to Christ and faithful to our marriage covenant.
Did you know that we will not be married to our human husbands in heaven? Marriage is temporary for this lifetime. In heaven, all of the members of the Body of Christ make up the Bride of Christ and Jesus is the Bride Groom. We will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb together and be one in Spirit eternally together with Jesus. Earthly marriage is just a temporary picture that foreshadows heaven.
Again, only Jesus can promise happily ever after in heaven. There is no 100% happily ever after on earth. In fact, Scripture promises that on earth, and in earthly marriage, there will be trials.
- those who marry will face many troubles in this life, 1 Cor. 6:28
But here is our hope in Jesus:
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
FOR A HEALTHIER WAY TO VIEW THE CONCEPT OF SOUL MATES, please check out this post by www.gotquestions.org.
How has the soul mate concept impacted you? Has it been helpful or hurtful? What scriptural support do you find for your beliefs on this issue?
(If you can’t see the comment space below, click on the title at the top of the post and then scroll down to the bottom of the post.)
Much love! <3
How to Make Your Husband an Idol
I Was SURE I Would Never Make My Husband an Idol – Guest Post
How to Respect Your Husband without Idolizing Him
Is Your Spouse Responsible for Your Happiness?
Oneness in Marriage (overcoming codependency)
Closeness in Marriage Is Not What I Expected – by A Fellow Wife (also about overcoming codependency)
Another timely post as usual. I think it was the late seventies/early eighties when I was introduced to Christianity. Around that time the concept of God having a pre destined mate for every believer was in vogue. The story you mentioned April, of Rebecca was often cited as support for that idea. In reality I would read that now as God being involved in leading the servant to a suitable wife but nothing is said about her being the ONLY woman that would be suitable.
Singer Leon Patillo who was popular back then in Christian music, told the story of how he met his wife Jackie. He had gotten saved and was devouring the bible , even reading it while driving (hopefully at stoplights lol ) . He was driving one day and saw her there on the sidewalk. THE ONE; he felt it instantly. So he stopped and spoke to her. I believe the upshot of the story was that Leon evangelized Jackie, who could clearly see that something had happened to him that was real. They got married and soon after had a little boy. And the peasants rejoiced. Ha, just kidding but really everyone just loved this account because it seemed to highlight how personally God orchestrates the details of one’s life, even mate selection. Wow story; I read it in a Christian magazine as a teen.
Today Jackie and Leon are divorced. I was shocked and saddened to learn that precisely because I don’t think Leon and Jackie were shallow believers or false converts as far as one can tell from a distance. I don’t know the reasons or cause of their divorce as the article I read didn’t say; I believe it was an interview with Leon. He is remarried and pastors, and she works for a Christian ministry.
Clearly the idea that one has found ” the one” even if attended to with strong feelings of conviction and leading, and apparent evidence that God is in it, doesn’t provide a guarantee of happiness or success in marriage. Our own personal weaknesses and sin struggles, the fact we live in an evil world and that there is a real devil, mean anyone can fall.
King David was clearly put where he was by God. And he still fell into adultery and murder. His commitment to God was real and God’s hand on him evident but it didn’t provide a guarantee that David couldn’t fall or experience defeat. I think that’s possibly part of why people like that idea of ” the One” . Because behind it is the feeling or belief that it means that if God is in it, it will work out and succeed as if its some kind of additional gaurantee. But scripture doesn’t bear that out.
I have no doubt that both Jackie and Leon loved Jesus and were serious and sincere about their faith and that they truly believed that God brought them together. Not knowing the details of how and why they got a divorce, I can’t say what happened. But its interesting to note that even the belief that God clearly put them together, didn’t protect them from a divorce.
The idea that there is one out there that is God’s chosen mate is fraught with peril. How do you know for sure? A feeling? A leading? a minister tells you so? Friends and family like the guy? These are things that may or may not be God’s Spirit speaking. But the thing is, nothing undermines a marriage like the fear or feeling that somehow you have missed God’s perfect will and settled for second best. Who could live with that? Thankfully I agree with April, I think this is largely a sacred cow rooted in worldly ideas.
I do think we need to have a biblical basis to believe that God is in our marriage. It just isn’t rooted in the idea that there is only one correct choice and if you missed it you’ve missed God entirely and permanently. Its almost a hellish idea when you think about its implications. I believe God actually used that verse about a widow being free to marry whom she chooses only in the Lord, to debunk that particular sacred cow for me personally. Its not as if the first marriage matters but the second doesn’t. The reasons that make who you marry the first time matter still exist the second time around.
The idolatry issue is huge and I think that’s what makes marriage so challenging, trying to make sure that you keep that tension between loving your spouse but loving God more in place. Perhaps its best to love God first and it will guarantee you love your spouse rightly. In our humanness, hard to do, esp if one has arrived at marriage and adulthood with huge deficits in the love and nurture department. Fatherlessness causes huge issues for women in marriage. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.
Thank you for sharing your insights. That is a very sad situation. How I wish every Christian marriage was flourishing and healthy.
I’m so glad this verse was healing for you. It is difficult not to idolize our husbands. But when we can keep God in His proper place and our husbands in their proper place in our hearts and we have a right understanding of God’s ways and His design, things sure do work a lot better.
I don’t agree that a soul mate is or should be compared to being perfect like God is, by any means.
I run a women’s group in my church and a soulmate to them is a man who sees year to eye on things that maybe another person doesn’t get. Like your soul mate “gets” you and you “get” him. Without any effort. It’s like you complete each other in God and although you still may have marriage struggles because that’s life, it only make you better to serve God.
But your soulmate is your partner that you never even think of ever divorcing.
You and your soulmate understand that neither one of you are each other’s idol but you know that God is his hand in picking each of you for each other.
I don’t think I’m married to my soulmate. He loves me but we don’t match. Even though I’ve learned to be content in all things. I wish he was my soul mate. My question is can we grow to eventually be soulmates?…
I would say yes!… with God anything is possible
There are many possible definitions of soul mate, I am sure!
I believe there is always room for more growth, more love, more healing, and greater connection. Especially when God is involved in a marriage.
I think that the vast majority of married couples find themselves in seasons where they don’t feel they match and things aren’t clicking the way they want it to. But I don’t think that means they aren’t right for each other or that they shouldn’t have married. These times are opportunities for us to press into Christ and seek Him more than ever and to grow spiritually as we invite God to bring good out of the challenges we face.
In my own situation, I know that as I learned to focus on the good things about my own husband, instead of focusing on negative things like I did for the first 14 years, it made a world of difference. God taught me SO many things to help the marriage grow and showed me things I was doing that sabotaged our intimacy, too. I am so thankful! I have sure seen God do many miracles in my own life, in my husband’s life, and in our marriage. Our marriage doesn’t look like a chick flick that Hollywood portrays, but it is a real life, deep relationship that is beautiful and it continues to slowly grow.
I thank God that He who began a good work in us all is able to bring it to completion through Christ as we yield ourselves to His refining process and to learning all the spiritual treasures He has to show us along the way. May He be richly glorified in our marriages and in our faith in Him. Even in the hard times. And may we seek Christ far above anyone or anything else.
Thanks for sharing! <3
The soul-mate concept has been harmful to me. It gave me the idea that when I meet the right one, everything would be simple and flow easily. The concept does not gel with the reality a flesh and blood sinful human being and the complexities of marriage.
The reality is that my husband is a flawed human being and so am I. We need to work daily to communicate, make sacrifices and compromises. We work daily to guard our hearts and our marriage. We are not happy together because we are “soul-mates” who were “made for each other”. We are happy because we are committed to loving each other daily.
I had a very similar concept, although my plan was just to try to force my husband to be the “perfect man” I wanted him to be.
Marriage has a way of exposing our sin—for husbands and wives. We can let that discourage us. Or we can choose to let it refine us and help us become more and more Christlike.
Thank you so much for sharing!
April, I have a question regarding the scripture verse in Jeremiah 17:5 that says : “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. Since it relates to the issue of idolatry of our mates I thought it would be okay to ask it here.
This is a pretty serious statement. From what I can see, it is not a statement about curses and blessings under the law but rather a general truth about where we put ourselves when this is the condition of our hearts and motives in life. So is it correct to see this as applying to any believer who fits this description? If so it would certainly explain a lot in my life. I have struggled mightily with this idolatry issue which has made it very hard for me to have a right relationship with a man. I seriously doubt this would be a popular sermon were it to be preached, the idea that God is totally serious about stuff like this isn’t all that popular in our ear tickling church culture. Sorry if its a dumb question, didn’t know how to word it otherwise. It is close to my bedtime so probably my mind is halfway to bed already, lol.
This is talking about if we put all our faith in people rather than God, we are committing serious sin. It is a form of idolatry. And I believe it does apply to us, too.
It is a form of breaking the greatest commandment.
It’s not that we can’t trust people on any level. There needs to be some amount of trust in a marriage. But if we give a person our primary spiritual faith and trust that rightfully belongs only to God, we end up destroying the relationship with that person, our fellowship with God, and ourselves.
Here are some verses about trusting in man.
And here are some about trusting God not man.
What Does the Bible Say about Trusting in Others? by http://www.gotquestions.org
PS ladies – If anyone is dealing with very significant issues in their marriage like adultery, active addictions, uncontrolled mental health issues, abuse, etc… please seek appropriate, experienced outside help ASAP.
I think this article by GotQuestions.org may invite us to a healthier way of thinking about the concept of soul mates as we wrestle with this important topic:
The common idea of a “soul mate” is that for every person, there is another person who is a “perfect fit,” and if you marry anyone other than this soul mate, you will never be happy. Is this concept of a soul mate biblical? No, it is not. The soul mate concept is often used as an excuse for divorce. People who are unhappy in their marriage sometimes claim that they did not marry their soul mate and therefore should divorce and begin the search for their true soul mate. This is nothing more than an excuse, a blatantly unbiblical excuse. If you are married, the person you are married to is your soul mate. Mark 10:7-9 declares, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” A husband and wife are “united,” “one flesh,” “no longer two, but one,” and “joined together,” i.e., soul mates.
A marriage may not be as unified and joyous as a couple wishes it to be. A husband and wife may not have the physical, emotional, and spiritual unity that they desire. But even in this instance, the husband and wife are still soul mates. A couple in such a situation needs to work on developing true “soul mate” intimacy. By obeying what the Bible teaches about marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33), a couple can develop the intimacy, love, and commitment that being “one flesh” soul mates entails. If you are married, you are married to your soul mate. No matter how disharmonious a marriage is, God can bring healing, forgiveness, restoration, and true marital love and harmony.
Is it possible to marry the wrong person? If we give ourselves to God and seek His guidance, He promises to direct us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The implication of Proverbs 3:5-6 is that if you are not trusting in the Lord with all your heart, and are leaning on your own understanding, you can go the wrong direction. Yes, it is possible, in a time of disobedience and lack of close fellowship with God, to marry someone whom He did not desire you to marry. Even in such an instance, though, God is sovereign and in control.
Even if a marriage was not God’s desire, it is still within His sovereign will and plan. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and “marrying the wrong person” is never presented in the Bible as grounds for divorce. The claim “I married the wrong person and will never be happy unless I find my true soul mate” is unbiblical in two respects. First, it is a claim that your wrong decision has overridden God’s will and destroyed His plan. Second, it is a claim that God is not capable of making a struggling marriage happy, unified, and successful. Nothing we do can disrupt God’s sovereign will. God can take any two people, no matter how mismatched, and mold them into two people who are perfect for each other.
If we maintain close fellowship with God, He will lead us and guide us. If a person is walking with the Lord and truly seeking His will, God will lead that person to the spouse He intends. God will lead us to our “soul mate” if we submit to Him and follow Him. However, being soul mates is both a position and a practice. A husband and wife are soul mates in that they are “one flesh,” spiritually, physically, and emotionally united to each other. In practice, though, there is a process of taking what a couple is, soul mates, and making that a day-by-day reality. True soul mate oneness is only possible by implementing the biblical pattern of marriage.
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