Instead of a "soul mate," I'd like to suggest a more biblical pursuit. It sounds exactly the same, but the meaning is radically different. You need to look for a "sole mate."
A sole mate is someone who walks out with us (the "sole" of a shoe!) the biblical command to seek first the kingdom of God. This is all about the shoe-leather application of biblical love. The most accurate definition of true love is found in John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
This love isn't based on feelings; it's based on sacrifice. The Bible calls men to act like martyrs toward their wives, laying down their own lives on their wives' behalf (Eph. 5:25). Titus says older women need to train younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). Need I point out, men and women, that these are severe verses, to an extreme? Martyrdom on behalf of your wife? Being "trained"—actively studying and learning—how to love your husband? This is heavy stuff. Guys, you may feel infatuated now, but in agreeing to become a husband of one wife, you are agreeing to put her needs above your own for the rest of your life—regardless of what happens. Are you ready for that? And women, as soon as you say "I do," you are committing before God and the community of faith to expend your best efforts helping, loving, and supporting this man. Infatuation fills your eyes with what you're getting, but let the Bible fill your mind with what you're committing to give.
These passages alone are enough to tell us that within marriage, love is not an emotion; it's a policy and a commitment that we choose to keep in the harshest of circumstances. It's something that can be learned and that we can grow in. Biblical love is not based on the worthiness of the person being loved—none of us deserves Christ's sacrifice—but on the worthiness of the One who calls us to love: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
Christian life is a journey toward love, growing in love, expanding in our ability to love, surrendering our hearts to love, increasingly becoming a person who is motivated by love. A "sole mate" appreciates that marriage is a partnership committed to the task of walking out the biblical mandate to always put love first. It's not marked by the couple who displays the most emotion, with the biggest smiles on their faces, who can't keep their hands off each other; but rather, the women or men who, through the duties and sacrifice of marriage, have trained themselves to love with God's love. They walk out the gospel on a daily basis, forgiving, serving, and putting others first in the most ordinary issues of life in such a way that they see themselves in training for godliness. Such a couple will grow together, as surely as merely sentimental couples will grow apart.
My friend Steve Watters has wisely said, "People who marry well aren't lucky in love. They're intentional in their path." Too many Christians are lazy in love—expecting God to make up for their sloth.
When we view getting married as an intentional pursuit, and if we accept the premise that there isn't just one person you can be happily married to, we can draw the following conclusions:
- Instead of simply "waiting for God to bring the right one," go out and find a godly mate. That's what God specifically tells us to do in Proverbs 31:10. It's even what Abraham sent his servant to do on behalf of Isaac.
- Choose social situations where you are more likely to meet a diverse number of people who qualify as acceptable marriage partners.
- In the face of sexual temptation, increase your odds of marrying well by getting more serious about pursuing marriage, in part by focusing on your own character—spiritually, financially, relationally, and emotionally. Taking sexual shortcuts hinders a healthy marriage and delays a holy solution.
- Do what you can to make yourself more attractive as a marriage partner. Learn how to hold your own in a conversation. Don't go heavily into debt. If you need to get in shape, do so. "Waiting on God" can be a cop-out if you're not working on yourself. Maybe God's waiting on you to get your house in order.
- Laziness never honors God. The Bible is brutal when denouncing sloth. If you put off a serious pursuit of marriage, if you deny the need to keep yourself in good shape, don't blame God when you reap the consequences of your own actions.
- While pursuing marriage is a good and holy pursuit, it shouldn't become the primary pursuit. We are told to seek first the kingdom of God, not seek first marriage. So don't put your faith, worship, and service on a shelf, assuming you can pick it back up once you find your mate.