As pastors we’re often asked to give advice to Christian singles. Though I’ve been married for the last 35 years, I’ve often encountered a particularly problematic area among those who are dating and single. It’s rampant in the secular world and has infiltrated our Christian culture. This is the idea of “soul mates.”
This won’t make me popular with many people—particularly many ladies—but the idea of the perfect “soul mate”—that God made one special person just for me—is the stuff of sweetsy, 25-cent romance novels, and has no footing in Christian thought.
The concept comes from an alleged altercation between the human race and the Greek god Zeus. According to Greek mythology, humans originally had four arms, four legs and a single head made of two faces. Zeus feared that the authority of the gods might be compromised by this race, so he decided to split each person in half, condemning us to spend the rest of our lives wandering unrequited until we find the half we were separated from—our lost soul mate. According to this account, we would always be less happy with any other person.
Today millions base their hope of marital bliss entirely on this myth. Many people date forever and go through countless relationships trying to find that one perfect person meant for them. They’re scared witless that they’ll make a mistake and marry the wrong one.
In Christian circles, we’ve spiritualized it. We teach, “God has made one special person just for you.”
If that isn’t the epitome of self-centered, narcissistic thinking, I don’t know what is. God didn’t create another human being just to satisfy our needs or to make us feel complete. Yet many believers pray for God to lead them to the “right one” instead of negotiating through the decision-making process of selecting a mate in a down-to-earth, biblical approach.
Surprising to many, there is absolutely no biblical evidence to substantiate such behavior. The Bible never tells us to find the one God has chosen. It teaches us how to live well with the person we have chosen. Life, love, romance and marriage are the result of a couple living by God’s principles—that never fail. But this version, which places true love and marriage on the footing of human choice and responsibility, just isn’t nearly as romantic or seductive as the idea of soul mates.
The problem is that we don’t understand the dynamics of true love. We think we do. Our songs, movies, romantic novels and TV shows all echo the belief that true love will always appear when we meet the right person—our destined soul mate. The truth is, a successful marriage isn’t the result of marrying the “right” person, feeling the “right” emotions, thinking the “right” thoughts or even praying the “right” prayers. It’s about doing the “right” things—period.
Why doesn’t God have a special person just for me? Because He knows His principles of love, acceptance, patience and forgiveness work all the time—no matter to whom we are married. That’s why Paul never told us to find that “special someone,” but rather to make sure we find someone who truly believes and lives by the principles of love, acceptance, patience and forgiveness. He referred to such a person as a “believer.”
The best advice we pastors can give to singles? Stop looking for a soul mate, find another believer and live out the principles God gave us in the Bible. That doesn’t seem so “romantic,” but it’s about doing the right things, not finding the right one.
Mark Gungor is pastor of Celebration Church in Green Bay, Wis., and CEO of Laugh Your Way America.
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