Everyone seems to be on the lookout for the magical person that fate has destined them to be with … the one whose purpose is to fulfill their needs and function as their other half.
The best outcome, if we are to believe this line of reasoning, is to find your soul mate, marry them, and live happily ever after.
This thinking, which saturates our culture, has crept into the church as well.
Scott and I just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary, an occasion which always causes me to ponder the wonder and mystery of marriage.
This year, I find myself pondering the flawed reasoning of the “soul mate” idea. At least two underlying factors must be in place to accept this phenomenon.
- First, you must believe in determinism — that “fate” decides who comes your way, and when. This means the universe is a locked system. What happens is out of your control.
- Second, you must believe that marriage is about your personal happiness and fulfillment rather than a sacred, lifetime commitment to serve the other person as a way of honoring God.
Here’s the problem: Choosing a mate is not a matter of fate, nor is it about your personal happiness and fulfillment.
In other words, soul mates are not a thing.
Rather, marriage is about a sovereign God ordering your steps in such a way that you can choose a lifetime mate based on the understanding that the meaning and purpose of your marriage is to display the beauty of Christ’s love for the Church.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh,” Paul writes in Ephesians 5:31-32. ” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
Hmm. Nothing about soul mates here. Nothing about star-crossed lovers, or finding the magical “one.”
Just a choice, a covenant, and the reflection of a greater reality.
The movie “Serendipity” serves as a great illustration for the problem with the idea of “soul mates.”
In the film, the main character is drawn to a girl he meets by happenstance while Christmas shopping. Never mind that he’s already living with a girl and they are planning their wedding.
Fate brought a better option across his path.
Somehow the clever filmmakers spin it in such a way that the audience ends up wiping sentimental tears, cheering for the guy to move on with the new girl.
But what if “fate” brings yet another girl across this guy’s path? Or a different guy her way?
What’s to prevent yet another heartbroken lover weeping as their fiancee rejects and abandons them just before they walk to the altar?
Worse still, what’s to prevent divorce when a spouse rationalizes they didn’t find their “soul mate” the first time around?
It’s ironic. The things we are looking for in marriage come to us after all when we don’t make those things the goal.
I do feel happy, fulfilled, secure and deeply loved by my husband. I cannot imagine a life without Scott by my side, and I don’t want to.
But let’s be clear: I don’t feel happy and fulfilled because Scott is my “soul mate.”
I feel that way because we are walking out the sacred promise we made 32 years ago before God and 300 witnesses. Once we said “I do,” Scott became “the one” for me, and I for him.
That’s all the “soul mate” I need.
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