Thursday, January 17, 2013

Soul-Mates


Q - Do I have a soul-mate, someone who God made for me and whom I am made for?

A -
Thanks for the question. The answer is yes and no. God didn't make you for anyone except Himself. Our ultimate relationship is with God, not with another human being, even our spouse. The romantic vision of having a soul-mate is made for movies, not Christianity.  Our one and only soul-mate is God.

There are a few problems with believing that God made us for one person in the world.  The first problem is the question some have about whether the person they are married to, or planning on marrying, is the "one".  This can lead to doubt about the relationship, a feeling of never being fulfilled, and ultimately it leads to problems in the relationship.  A second problem is the idea that we are destined to be with one other person.  This would be a cosmic swipe at the gift of free-will.  It is as if we mess up fate if we don't choose the right person or never find them.  Ultimately, this idea of a soul-mate is dangerous and un-Christian.

But, there is another, better, way of thinking about having a spouse to partner with. It is found in the spousal analogy of becoming "one flesh" with your spouse.  While souls are not fused in marriage, the bodies do become "one flesh" during sexual relations with each other. This is a reflection of the Sacramental bond that is created between two Christians when they marry. This bond lasts until death and nothing can break it. This is the more Christian way of understanding a mutual and exclusive relationship.

Furthermore, love is always a choice, it isn't something we fall into and out of. Love is not something that merely "happens" to us. This respect of free-will and the ability of each of us to choose love is more consonant with Christian understanding of relationships.  Marriage isn't just about romance and it isn't about fate at all.  It is about love, freely chosen, and being bound together (with God) into the union of man and wife. This is for the good of the spouses, the raising of children, and ultimately it is a call from God.

I think this quote sums it up well:
"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to."
-J.R.R. Tolkien

9 comments:

Shapes said...

Just for the sake of argument, what does this mean in relation to Tobit 6:18: "she was set apart for you before the world existed"?

I understand and like your argument but it seems to be flatly contradictory to this statement.

Marcel said...

God knows all.

John said...

He brings a valid point, Marcel.

Perhaps a merging of the verse with Tolkien's quote would be apropos in understanding the underlying question.

God does indeed know, and each person working within one's own free will lives it out, or should live it out. It's not about being perfect for the Other, it's about bringing the Other to Christ. And this, was indeed "set apart" (read also: "made holy") for us to live in.

Marcel said...

Sorry to be abrupt in my comment, I didn't have time to elaborate.

God is not a divine matchmaker who sets us up. The theology that is depicted in this verse might seem to be saying that.

"The one" you are supposed to be married to is the one you marry.

The Catechism says:
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness. - CCC, 600

Christina Walters said...

I'm having a bit of trouble understanding the statement, "Love is always a choice". Does that refer only to romantic love or is it encompassing agape love? The reason I ask is that when considering a mother and her child, the love that exists there does not seem to be a choice. However, to contradict that, there are some mothers who may not feel "love" for their children in particular cases. I'm wondering if I'm missing something that clarifies these thoughts?

Shapes said...

Thanks for the further explication. But isn't it possible for someone to also make the wrong choice (thus implying a right choice)? Take the larger example of vocation, we have a priest shortage. Did some make the wrong decision to marry when they should have been priests? And if that was a wrong decision, was the wife supposed to have married someone else?

On another note, doesn't that predestination also include God giving grace for His will to be accomplished? And can that grace also not be rejected, with the result of one rejecting God's plan?

Certainly in hindsight, we are called to be married to the one we are married to. But until that point, couldn't God be actively willing us towards someone but we might reject that grace?

I understand that this is a hugely difficult issue, that might not entirely be answerable.

Marcel said...

Christina - the Catechism says 1766 "To love is to will the good of another."

It is quoting St. Thomas.

I am not talking about the emotion of love. That is something outside of the will and not a deep and abiding love. It might help to start, deepen, or help true love - but isn't what true love is all about.

Shapes - as I told another student recently. We aren't big enough to mess up God's plan so badly that He no longer provident. His "plan" isn't a small path one can easily stray off of and then get lost, thus we are no longer living in His will.

Diana Leslie said...

Regarding love as a choice: I think that is a very important clarification that we all need to remember. One reason many people get divorced today is because they "just stopped loving one another" or simply "fell out of love." Many of us fail to remember that marriage is a commitment, a choosing to love that person for the rest of our lives, regardless of what troubles befall us. If the romance leaves and the emotions leave, we can still choose to live by "will[ing] the good of [the] other" as the Catechism says, even if that (and it probably will) means a sacrifice on our part.

On the same note, if I am married and I meet someone else that ignites some sort of emotional attraction, even a feeling of "falling in love," I can choose NOT to let those emotions control my actions and therefore avoid sin.

Even parents have to choose to love their children when it means a certain sacrifice on their part. Our good feelings are not always present.

If we all remembered that love is a choice (and not always the romantic passion the movies make it out to be) there would be a lot less divorce in this world.

theveilofchastity said...

I wrote about this on my blog. God allows our free will but we are not left completely to fend for ourselves toward this amazing Sacrament. God bless, Cindy

http://theveilofchastity.com/2012/10/19/does-god-arrange-marriages/

"You may wonder, as I have, how exactly does God work it all out given the fact that we have the gift of free will? I guess the power of grace, when we are open to it, influences us. And our guardian angels can whisper in our ears and move us in specific directions. God knows ahead of time what we will do. God allows for events to influence us and somehow all the stars align at the right time."