Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Further Rambling

That link from yesterday about people's beliefs about soul mates gave me a few more thoughts. (Don't worry, I'll be done soon!) The beliefs in the core idea of soul mates--that it is the most important factor in marriage, that there is only one who truly fits the bill, and that this person will appear when the time is right--are so widespread, that it is obvious many Christians must believe them, too. Not only does my experience verify this, but it seems to me often the Christians who are the most adamant at rejecting any whiff of worldliness in their mate-finding habits are most likely to endorse a Christianized version of this idea.

"God will bring the right person in His time." and "Wait for God's best."
Now, we could get into some detailed debates on the revealed and sovereign will of God here, but although we are given many general statements that God will be guiding the steps of those who follow Him, I have yet to find the verse that says God has a One Right Person picked out for us--much less the undoubtedly implied belief if we just wait for this "right person" we will have a better marriage than any alternative.

Actually about the only case I can think of in the Bible where God flat-out told someone to marry a particular person (once there was an open field, of course) it turned out quite badly (see Hosea). And although we can see God directing many marriages in the Bible, He usually works through the perfectly humdrum means used by people who have decided they need or want to find a spouse. (Isaac, Jacob, Ruth.)

In other words, it's not so much that this statement is wrong on its face, it's that it usually seems to be applied in a way that trusts God to work like the mystical fate that leads us to our appointed Mr. Wonderful. Which God never promises to do. He's busy working on our immortal happiness and his immortal glory, which may or may not involve a deep and lasting connection with another mortal.

"It's better to be single than to be married to the wrong one."
Now, if by this it's meant that it's better to be single than to be married to someone who is abusive, unfaithful, or chronically irresponsible, then of course it is true. And if it's meant as consolation for a relationship that didn't work out, it's unarguable.

But if it, as seems more likely, means "it's better to be single than to be married to anyone less than your soul mate," I'm not so sure. Both the Bible and statistics suggest that the bulk of marriage's advantages come simply from having a reliable warm body at your side, to sleep and work with. Unless you're called to singleness, it's probably better to be married to someone reasonably nice than to hold out hope for perfection; who knows--you might wake up some day and realize you married your soul mate after all.


Rebecca said...

You are absolutely right!

In my opinion, a more Biblical view of the process of finding a person to marry would have the man searching for a wife, rather than both sitting home waiting for God to dump the right person in their lap, which seems to be a commonly accepted way of going about it.

Although I am very happy to be married to the one I am with, he and I are both easy enough to get along with that I think there are probably numerous people we could have been married to. Thankfully, God brought us together and then subsequently brought us each to Himself. :)

the Joneses said...

Darren and I have actually chatted about other people we could see each other married to, because we, too, have pretty universally compatible personalities (unless it comes to movies-watching). But we always end up agreeing that everyone else would be a slightly inferior choice to each other. :)

-- SJ

Queen of Carrots said...

Actually we're not all that easy to get along with, and we often congratulate ourselves on our rare good luck on finding each other. Not everyone finds nitpicking and ceaseless argument as romantically enticing. Still, there would undoubtedly have been many other people who would have been fine--just not nearly as much fun.

Eric and Wendy said...

I think one huge problem with the soul mate theory is that when the sleepless nights and so forth happen, and you don't FEEL connected, you can be tempted to think, "I must not have the right one." Wrong answer! Love is a decision, a decision for the good of the beloved. It's not just, or even primarily a feeling.

Feelings in marriage are necessarily cyclical.