There have been times that I have felt – that’s right, I said the word “felt” – prompted to get up out of my warm bed in the middle of the night to pray. At other times, I have had a sudden and spontaneous burden come upon me to give an offering to a person without hearing any external solicitation. I can firmly testify that my heart has felt tremendously close to Christ in private and corporate worship. I have not only experienced a love and devotion for my Savior, but more importantly, I have experienced His deep love for me. The inexpressible joy of the Lord, at times, has been so real in my life that all the logic of the wisest men in the world could not have convinced me that I was not in the presence of God. Moreover, I earnestly seek to remain in constant fellowship and communion with God and seek to become more and more sensitive to His leading in my life.
Though the Spirit’s leading is a vital part of my life, and I place great value upon my personal feelings, I did not marry my wife because I thought she was my “soul mate.” Rather, I married her because I thought she was godly, friendly, and pretty.
By saying that I do not believe in “soul mates” I do not mean that God does not have every detail of our lives (including whom we will or will not marry) already determined in His eternal council. Because God predestinated every detail of history, God knew in eternity past that I would marry Letha.
When speaking about “soul mates,” however, most people are not talking about God’s eternal council (a.k.a., God’s secret will), but rather they are referring to the idea that there is a “perfect will” of God for their lives that can be and often is thwarted by their failure to discern the Spirit’s leading in their lives. Those who hold onto the idea of “soul mates” generally believe that it is their responsibility, out of all the other permissible possibilities, to find that one single person that God has designed just for them. As if to say that Lisa is John’s soul mate, but John failed to discern the leading of the Spirit and mistakenly married Robin, which forever messes up the lives of Lisa, Robin, John, and whoever God had intended for Robin to marry. This sounds silly, but countless Christians really believe that they are called to find that one needle from out of a large haystack, or otherwise they may miss out on their intended “soul mate.”
I, on the other hand, believe that we are free to marry whomever we like as long as we submit ourselves to God’s Word and choose a spouse within the permissible boundaries of God’s “revealed will.” With this in mind, here are a few reasons why the idea of a “soul mate” is unbiblical.
It Confuses God’s “Revealed Will” with God’s “Secret Will”
There is a difference between God’s “secret will” and God’s “revealed will.” God’s “secret will” is said to be “secret” for a reason. It is secret because it includes everything that will transpire in time – things that God has not chosen to reveal to us until after they occur in time. That is, it is only after something happens that we can say with certainty that that event was a part of God’s eternal plan.
God’s “revealed will,” on the other hand, is not a secret. Rather it includes all that which God has clearly revealed to us in the Bible. For instance, God’s “revealed will” is for us to obey the clear commands found within the Scriptures. We are called to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the will of God for us. We are to live and make wise decisions based upon the teachings and principles of God’s objective Word.
Yet, those who feel that they cannot decide to marry a person until they know that practical person is the one and only person for their lives, end up creating a new category of God’s will – God’s “perfect will.” This “perfect will” of God becomes a mixture of God’s “secret will” and “revealed will.” This is an unbiblical category because it opens up the real possibility of sinning against God’s “perfect will” for our lives while remaining obedient to God’s “revealed will.” For it is one thing to say that within God’s “revealed will” all things are lawful but not all things are equally profitable, but it is another thing to say that within God’s “revealed will” not all things are lawful.
We Are Not Commanded to Discover God’s “Secret Will”
With good intentions, a friend of mine said that we should not decide to marry someone until we know that it would be ‘sin to do otherwise.’ That is, until we knew that person was our “soul mate.” Yet, not only is this line of reasoning impossible to constantly live out, there is no biblical warrant for such a practice. Yes, it is a sin to go against God’s “revealed will,” but nowhere in the Scripture are we commanded by God to uncover God’s hidden/perfect will for our lives before making a decision upon a matter.
How did I know that Letha was the one that I should marry? I prayed, I talked to my parents, but mostly I searched the Scriptures to learn what God has to say about a godly wife. After spending time with Letha, I concluded that it was a no-brainer.
We Are Called to Live Under God’s “Revealed Will”
The Bible is not only sufficient for the preacher in the pulpit, it is sufficient for the life of the believer (2 Tim. 3:16). You see, we are not called to look for some new, mystical revelation about the perfect will of God; we are called to submit ourselves to God’s “revealed will.”
Moreover, those who refuse to say that Scripture is sufficient for uncovering God’s will for their lives end up undermining their duty to live under God’s “revealed will.” I am not just talking about the extreme cases, such as the professing Christian who files for divorce because he feels that he had made a mistake and married the wrong person (missing out on his soul mate), but those who refuse to follow what God has said in the Scriptures until they hear an audible voice from God. This may seem super-spiritual, but often it displays a lack of faith in God’s written Word. Rather than diligently studying the Scriptures, seeking wisdom from a multitude of counselors, and learning how to apply biblical principles of discernment, many mystics seek some extra-biblical and subjective experience. Many Christians are more interested in hearing new revelation than they are in following God’s inspired revelation. Thus, they neglect to follow God’s revealed will in order to uncover God’s secret will. They like signs more than they like Bible study. The point is that the objective “revealed will” of God, the Bible, teaches us to live by God’s infallible Word rather than by our subjective and fallible feelings and experiences.
Thus, we are free to make choices within the boundaries that God places upon us. For example, when I take my son, Martyn, to the store to pick out a new toy, I generally give him a price limit. I allow him to pick out the toy he wants as long as he does not go above the given amount. Within that price range, which toy do I want him to pick? I want him to pick out the toy that he wants most. In the same way, God has given us certain boundaries and wise principles to follow, and if we seek to live within those revealed boundaries, we are free to do what we want—and we can be assured that we are in the will of God.
We Are Called to Be Wise and Discerning
Granted, making decisions can be hard, especially important decisions, like whom to marry. The more variables to consider, the more difficult it is to know what to do. When we are faced with decisions where we honestly do not know what to do, we often would love to receive a sign or hear an audible voice directly from heaven. This would make things much easier. However, God has not called us to live life without the exercise of wisdom. And godly wisdom is the skill of appropriately applying the principles of Scriptures in difficult situations. Thus, wisdom only comes with spiritual maturity. Babies and young children need to have step-by-step promptings on what to do. This is because they lack the spiritual discernment to make wise choices for themselves. However, we are called not to be babes in knowledge but mature (1 Cor. 4:12). We are called to be discerning. We are called to be wise. This does not imply that we trust in our own human wisdom and cease to acknowledge God in all our ways. It implies that we cast ourselves upon God by submitting ourselves thoroughly to the commands and principles of God’s Word.
The Spirit Communicates in the Objective Word of God
Finally, living by the objective Word of God, the Bible, does not remove the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives. As I alluded in my introduction, I depend upon the comfort, prompting, leading, and conviction of the Holy Spirit. I want to be sensitive to the voice of God and seek to live in the Spirit and not be controlled by my flesh.
However, I do not believe that seeking to be submitted to God’s objective Word, the Scriptures, is merely a dry mechanical process, like following the instruction manual on how to construct a swing set. Rather, I am convinced that the voice of the Spirit is to be heard and experienced within the pages of Scripture. Illumination, conviction, understanding, spiritual wisdom, and spiritual guidance come from the Spirit speaking through, by, and in the truth found within God’s Word. This is not dead intellectualism at all. It is personal, lively, and experiential.
Furthermore, the Spirit can speak to us even when our Bible’s are closed. I say this not because I believe the Spirit is seeking to give us new and extra biblical revelation, but that the Spirit uses the truth and the principles of the Scriptures that are stored in our memories to convict and lead us throughout the day. Just as we hear the voice of God in a preached sermon, we hear the voice of God in our conscience (that is filled with God’s Word). Preaching speaks to us not merely when the preacher is reading the Word but also when he explains and applies the Word. Likewise, the Spirit speaks to us when our biblically trained conscience convicts and leads us along the way.
For example, when I am prompted to give money to a person in who is in need or when I am convicted to get out of my warm bed to pray, I truly feel that the Holy Spirit is leading me. Yet this is not new revelation, but the Holy Spirit convicting and applying biblical truth and principles, which are stored in my memory, to my conscience. I can be certain that it is God’s voice, not because I trust my feelings, which are often very deceptive, but because I trust the objectivity of God’s Holy Word. As I test my feelings and conscience, and when they are confirmed by the Word of God, then I can be confident that I am in the will of God.