Article by: Scott Perry, written June 2008, edited 2011, 2013, 2014
Chances are you searched for the topic related to “soul mates” and are looking for the Christian perspective. This was written in effort to help the reader understand what the Christian view is when their “soul mate” passes away and they are left behind. This may be a time of great struggle for you where an answer to this question could bring a comforting peace to an uncertainty that has followed you regarding the death of a spouse or significant other. The reader should know that the author is a Christian but holds no advanced degree in Christian theology. This writing is a result of great study and years of preparation. There has been no overt attempt to misinterpret Scripture or mislead the reader. If the things you are about to read also speak to you, I thank God. If what has been written disturbs you and you believe I am wrong, please forgive me.
It is important to note that although what is about to be said may be helpful advice, it is not a replacement for a Christian to put their hope and peace in the life and death of Jesus Christ. The modern evangelical Church in America goes to great lengths to entertain us with moral affirmations to be better people, restore a Judeo-Christian culture, and love your neighbor as yourself. Although this is helpful wisdom, it is not the Gospel and ultimately will not bring us a final peace. The Gospel is a story about how the Lord has hand-selected his people before Creation, called them out of a state of death and eternity of despair, redeemed them through Christ’s life and resurrection, and will never lose a single one of them back to the enemy. What to do with our lives after our significant other goes to be with the Lord may be helpful information, but it will not ultimately bring us the peace we need most and will only get with a true understanding of the Gospel.
What is Love?
The highest standard and possibly the truest definition of love may best be summarized by 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered….. Love never fails.”
When one is truly in love, all self-seeking desires, jealousy, pride, envy, and impatience do not exist. There is no room in the heart for such attributes and love to coexist. To say it another way, love is gracious, generous, patient, selfless, and above all, it never fails. Therefore, love is purposed to exist for a certain cause and also to be given to a certain person. This latter argument is made by considering God’s original intention when He created Adam and Eve. These two individuals represent the original purpose that God had when creating a woman for a man and becomes fully realized with the life of Christ – only He has been able to accomplish these attributes of love completely. Adam and Eve, however, the first lovers ever to be created is the paradigm that will be used to describe the world’s first “soul mates.” We will never know in this lifetime what the world would have been like had it not been tarnished by original sin. It appears evident that God created Adam and Eve to exist for one another in selfless harmony forever.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden….. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”……. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib…… For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2: 15, 18, 22, and 24.
One must remember that before sin entered the world, the purpose of a human being was to live with God in our sinless bodies on this world forever. What ended up happening is that sin has caused our bodies to become ill, fragile, and fleeting. Never has it been more important for us to consider what our role is as Christians when our soul mate goes on to live with Christ.
When Our Soul Mate Dies
The Bible is pretty clear about divorce and the responsibilities of Christians – But what about death? What does our God say, if anything at all, about the duties we have as Christians when the one we were meant to be with dies? Are we to continue honoring our soul mate with our loyalty by remaining single or does our love die with our soul mate? Therefore, does God work in giving us a new soul mate? Whether you think of it or not, these questions have troubled the minds of humanity for a very long time and they deserve answers. For the short amount of time that we have on this earth, Scripture seems to point towards an everlasting bond that reaches far beyond a simple verbal commitment to one another that is made with a wedding vow.
Here’s how: The Bible explicitly points out that Eve was made FOR Adam (Genesis 2: 23-24). Here it is shown that God did not create this type of union to be shared with more than one person. It is important to understand that if He wanted to make a dozen different women for Adam to love equally, He would have done so. Instead He made one woman for one man and “one love” for each of them to share. It is important we understand that this was God’s original intention. This was the way that people were purposed to live; however, when sin entered the world, the topic of loving another person as equally as the first has become a question that would not have been asked in the garden. The Fall has allowed humanity to think and reason on its own behalf and explain away the true beauty and careful attention to details that God shows when selecting soul mates. Sin has changed everything.
The Bible numerously reflects on the relationship between Christ and his bride. Just as surely as Christ has promised himself to us forever and will come back to redeem his people, we are to reflect that same loyalty to our soul mate and we do so through marriage. Adam and Eve were the first to reflect the everlasting and unchangeable reality of Christ and his bride. This is the backdrop to Jesus’ claim: “Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’? Consequently they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate” Matthew 19: 4-9.
Here Jesus specifically points out that a man and woman will not only be blessed by the Lord by marriage, but He will solidify that bond by living within them. By eliminating the existence of two individuals pursuing individual goals, Jesus is saying God is glorified when one lives for the other. When the happiness and joy of a soul mate become the overriding priority of the other, God is glorified. If there ever comes a time for one to give their own life for the life of their soul mate, God is also glorified. This is because not only does one sacrifice their own life for their soul mate, but with God existing within the flesh of the marriage, they sacrifice their life for God as well. This passage is very clear that God takes His role in bringing soul mates together and being the essence that holds this bond together very seriously. So seriously that He made it a commandment for us to honor His role. As it is laid out in the 7th commandment, when one commits adultery, they are defying God’s position within the marriage and committing a very discordant sin.
It is entirely possible that none of this matters in heaven or in the coming kingdom. But in Matthew 19:4, God is making it clear that He is involved when two decide to live for each other and thereby, for Him as well. When God is intimately involved in the way that He describes here, why then do we believe that all of this effort and energy is spent for something that will only last for the short time that we exist on this planet, but will not hold true when one walks into eternity? Why do so many of us believe that somehow, what God has so carefully woven together to the point where man cannot separate, it is to be haphazardly broken when one passes away? When we read the verse of Romans 7:2, the answer seems obvious.
“… a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.” But it becomes muddled when one turns to 1 Corinthians 7: 39 – 40. “If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes… In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is.”
How do we deal with this apparent contradiction?
The answer is that these two verses give light to the fact that we live in a very different place than Adam and Eve who were supposed to live together in the garden forever. Now we live in an environment where God had to change the rules in order to give His children the freedom to live accordingly in a fallen world. The book of Romans and Paul’s writings in Corinthians are not commandments. They are concessions to the immutable connection that He intended when He made Adam and Eve. Paul is urging us to “stay as we are” and to be loyal and strong because this pain will not last and God will not let it be more than we can bear. Whatever loneliness and heartache we feel in this world, we will prosper and be rewarded in eternity. If, however, the solitude and the grief of being alone are too much to bear and we are tempted beyond our ability to withstand, then Paul says we have the freedom to remarry in order to protect ourselves. God had to adjust the rules for us after The Fall and these are the concessions He graciously made for us, but we should always remember to be striving for what He intended, what was planned, and what was original.
God’s Original Intention
Allow me to submit this thought: When it comes to other contentious debates outside of this one, many Christians typically fall back on the notion of the “original intention” of God’s design. For example, when we look to justify creationism over evolution we look at the book of Genesis as a primary resource to tell us how the animals of the world were created and how they got their names. When we look at how sin originally manifested its way into this world, do we not also look at the beginning of the Scriptures to understand where it all came from? Likewise, when we consider how marriage came about should we not also look at how God originally created it? This knowledge of the old kingdom must therefore be used as an intellectual backdrop in the new kingdom when referring to Paul’s wisdom to “stay as we are”. God created the world a certain way and it would still be like that had man not sinned. Will it be that way again? There is no way to tell, but there was a reason He created it that way in the first place and I plead we must keep that in consideration before making any decision to remarry.
Advice to Widows
To the widowed, Paul offers behavioral wisdom and a comforting solution to their loneliness: place all your hope and fear in Him. He is the one where you will draw your energy, your power, and your will to move forward. He is your strength. He has saved you once from your sin and He can save you again from your grief. But notice what is said about the widow who forgets her commitment to God and instead finds comfort in pleasure once the confinements of marriage are lifted.
“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” (1 Timothy 5: 5-6)
But what is meant by pleasure? Obviously, it is no condemnation to find happiness in this world, but one must be careful in seeking pleasures simply used to fill a void. Living simply to satisfy one’s own desire for pleasure can easily stand in the middle of their spiritual pursuit to glorify God, which should always be the ultimate pursuit of our existence.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3: 5-6).
There are many other ways to live for pleasure that are not mentioned in this verse, but the point is when we start to live in a manner that is only pleasing to us, then we take the focus away from God and that is a problem. It must be said that although it is obvious that God’s original intention for us is to stay loyal to our first and only soul mate, it is no sin to remarry. But “remarriage” must be approached very carefully and pursued only as a last resort. Paul actually advises this decision for certain women because he is concerned that their loneliness will harden their heart, make them do things they should not, and eventually run to the side of the evil one. It must also be pointed out these verses hold true for men as well.
“So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” (1 Timothy 5: 14)
Nothing is worth this. Nothing is worth giving the devil an opportunity to hurt you. Loneliness is undoubtedly a weakness that must not be seen as being worse than any other. Just like any other weakness, we work invariably as Christians to supplant these limitations with reassurance that Christ has already fulfilled our earthly obligations and so we wait in hope and faith in the kingdom that awaits us.
What is the Alternative?
Finally, the antithetical point of view to all of this is that love is only existent during the short time that we are alive. You are to honor your spouse when he or she is present in “body,” but once the body dies a person is free to love somebody else. The problem with this logic is that what these people call ‘love’ is actually fleeting and replaceable – two qualities that do not accurately portray what God had in mind nor Christ’s relationship with his bride. There is no doubt that we have been given the freedom to remarry, but the Bible still advises us to “stay as we are” and to endure the short road of loneliness and suffering because the reward in heaven is plentiful. We must always remember that our hope in this life is not here – it is in Christ’s merits and therefore in heaven and the kingdom to come. Although just about everybody gets married, not everyone is called to be married. If you are one of the called, however, then be confident that the Lord has created one person specifically for you just as He did with Adam and Eve. My advice to every person either single or already married is to begin preparing your heart for a celibate life once your spouse dies. There is a 50% chance you will find yourself in this position, but God will give you the strength you need to overcome (Psalm 28: 7, Philippians 4: 13). However, If we believe a person is able to fall in love with another person after their spouse dies, then who is to say it is not possible to “fall out of love” at any given moment even while their spouse lives?
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