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The search for your soulmate

January 21, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

During January and February, I will be using this space to interact with the ideas put forward in David Zahl’s book Seculosity: How career, parenting, technology, food, politics, and romance became our new religion and what to do about it. Chapter 3 is entitled “The seculosity of romance.”

You can take away religion, and you can take away God, but you can’t take away the human need to know that our lives matter and that we are loved.

As our culture becomes less and less Christian, it seems clear that more and more people are looking to romantic love to convince themselves that their lives matter and that they are loved. Without faith in a God who sees every part of us, forgives all of our sins, loves us unconditionally, and promises to never leave us, many people are left to search for a person who will do the same: see us at our worst, accept and forgive all of our flaws, and give us the perfect love for which our hearts long, a love that will melt away all our fears and issues and make us whole.

It turns out that this is a tall order for most of us. Marriage therapist Esther Perel put it this way:

“We come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise.”

A tall order indeed. As the recovery movement puts it, “expectation is a planned resentment.” When you take the high expectations we put on our spouse or potential lover and add to it an internet that has opened up our potential field of romantic partners to just about everyone on the planet, is it any wonder that it may be harder than ever to be satisfied in love? After all, if the one I am with turns out to not be as perfect as I thought they were, and if I do not believe in the eternal divine love found in God, then does that mean my true soulmate is still out there somewhere?

Even the alternative can be frightening: what if I HAVE found someone who I truly love? How can I let them know who I truly am, warts and all, without risking that they will leave me for someone more put-together? But if I don’t let them know who I truly am, then how do I know if they really love me, or if I am truly lovable as I am?

The truth is that romantic love was never meant to give our lives meaning, and a lover or spouse can not save us or make us whole. The gospel tells us that our God sees every last one of our flaws, knows all of our sins, and is intimately familiar with not only what we have done but what we are capable of doing. And yet, it also tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). By the grace of God, we know that we matter immensely to the one whose opinion means more than any human’s ever could, and that we are so worthy of love that Jesus was willing to die for us, to make us His own. And it is that very good news that frees us to love others without expecting any human being to be our savior.

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