Do I believe God has one specific person for you to marry (if you are called to marriage)? Yes. Why do I believe that? Because I believe God is sovereign and really does have plans for each of our lives. Now let me over explain that simple answer.
The reason there is debate on whether or not there is really just “one soul mate for each person” is because the Bible doesn’t flat out say one way or the other. To me asking “Is there ‘the one’ according to the Bible?” is really a Christian theological question regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.
Why This Common Argument Found Among Christians Does Not Disprove “The One”
Some people use an argument that goes like this to debunk the idea that there is just one person God wants you to marry:
“Well, if there really is “the one” for each person God has destined you to marry, what if someone married the wrong “one”? This would set off a cosmic chain of events inevitably ruining tons of other matches.”
While this argument is cute, I don’t think it really holds much weight when talking about the sovereignty of God. If the premise is that God has a will for people and when they don’t follow it they have forever ruined God’s will, thus this is evidence God does not have a sovereign will because God would never do that, to me this is illogical and unbiblical.
This argument is built on a false premise that God can have a sovereign will and yet man can break it. Theologically, however, God’s sovereign will is accomplished every time because God is sovereign.Therefore if God has picked a specific person for you in his sovereignty, it would be impossible for you to not marry that person, thus the argument of a cosmic mismatch catastrophe is nonsense.
Since I believe God has a plan for everything (Jeremiah 29:11 , Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Proverbs 19:21, Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 10:23, Proverbs 16:33), to be consistent I must also believe God has a plan for who he specifically has for you to marry.
God Chooses “The One” for You, And You Choose Your Own Husband or Wife
I’m not here to solve a debate that has been going on for centuries regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. What I firmly believe, however, is that God is sovereign, and in his sovereignty he is able to bring about his ordained will through the free choices of human beings.
You are not a robot. Your choices really do matter and have consequences. But God is still sovereign and will bring about the ends that he has predestined to occur from the beginning. The classic Bible verses that proves this point perhaps most clearly is in Acts 2:22-23 and it states:
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Who crucified Jesus? Lawless men. Who planned for the crucifixion to happen before humanity even began? God. People chose to kill Jesus and through their choices God produced his sovereign plan which he had predestined before time began.Many people limit the topic of foreordination simply to salvation, but as John Piper states in the article, “Does God Control All Things All the Time“:
God works all things according to his will. Here’s Ephesians 1:11: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Let me say it again. He works all things according to the counsel of his will. . . . that means he always controls everything.”
When you read through Ephesians 1, for example, it is clear that before the world began God chose people to be redeemed through the gospel. Does this mean God caused sin? Nope. But through the sinfulness of man God brought about his sovereign will.
Again, I know my explanation here is not going to put a little bow on this debate and make Arminians and Calvinists sing Kumbaya together. My point is that God does have a sovereign will and that truth does not contradict the other truth that each person is alive and free to obey and disobey God in the life he or she lives. With all this in mind, here is the best way I have come to understand the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s choices: God brings about his sovereign will through the free choices of human beings.
God is greater than a micro-manager god who needs to control people to get the outcomes he wants. He is greater than a passive god who simply sit backs and responds to humans as they run the show. God in his greatness is able to create free agents while also being in control of the details to the story he is writing through their hands.
What Does the Bible Say About “The One?”
Again, as I said earlier, the Bible doesn’t plainly say “God has a special person just for you to marry,” or “God chooses who you marry.” So to get the most biblical answer to this question about whether or not there is “the one” for people called to marriage, I believe you must consistently apply your best understanding of biblical doctrine. Take the general truths in Scripture and apply them to this question about soulmates. Therefore I think you will get different answers from people depending upon their theological perspective.
If you are asking me if I think there is “the one” (for those who are called to marriage and not singleness), I would say “yes” because I believe God has a plan for everything.I believe God planned for me to be with my wife and not another woman. I believe 139:16, “ . . . all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” While God has ordained my days, I still need to go out and live them through my own choices. If God plans something, it happens. You can’t marry the wrong one. I know that’s a simple answer to a complicated topic. I know there are all kinds of follow up questions. But to spare you an additional 2,000 words, I’ll leave it there.
If you believe in “the one” you probably like theologians like John Piper. If you don’t believe in “the one” you probably like theologians like N.T. Wright. Why do I say that? Because to me, this whole conversation about there being “the one” in marriage or not is really the same conversation about whether or not you are more conservative or liberal in your theology. If you want to go down that rabbit hole of debating, for example, Calvinism and Arminianism (which I believe should be done now and then), by all means, go for it. I’ve come to terms with that whole topic and just take the word of God at face value, which is why I believe God does plan things while also allowing our actions to matter.
So my best articulation of the whole thing, again, is this: God is sovereign, and in his sovereignty he is able to bring about his ordained will through the free choices of human beings. Therefore if I apply that belief to this topic of “the one,” I would say: God has one specific person for you to marry, and he will bring about this marriage through your personal, un-manipulated choices.
Confused yet? We can do this all day. My point is that God is sovereign and man is free to make real choices. I choose not to violate either of these biblical truths. As Charles Spurgeon famously put it when asked about how he reconciles the apparent tension in the Bible between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, “I was once asked to reconcile these two statements, and I answered, ‘No, I never reconciled friends.’”
So does God have someone specific in mind just for you (if you are called to marriage)? Yes. Is it your choice to marry who you want to marry and will your choice have good and bad consequences? Yes.
Here’s What I Do Mean and Don’t Mean When I Say “The One”
To be clear, I’m using the phrase “the one” to mean a specific person God has planned for you to marry. I mean this in contrast to the opposing idea that God doesn’t have a plan for your marriage and is simply waiting for you to tell him who it is that will be your spouse. I want to be clear by what I mean by “the one” because there are many things people often associate with this phrase which I do not mean.
Some people ask, “Is there one person for everyone according to the Bible?” If the question was asked this way and I was being extra literal that day, I would say “no.” For starters, not everyone is called to marriage, therefore not everyone will have a “soulmate” so to speak. Also there are specific circumstances where God condones remarriage thus someone could have had more than “one” person they were married to when it’s all said and done. Singleness is God’s sovereign plan too and when deaths occur, for example, remarriage is God’s plan for some. Therefore by “the one” I don’t literally mean that God wants every human being to be married to just one human being in their lifetime.
I also understand why people adamantly counsel young adults that there is not “the one” out there. I disagree theologically, but I understand the motivation in cautioning people to not look for “the one.” I think the danger in looking for your soulmate is that you end up looking for a perfect person you created in your head rather than being more practical and biblical about the whole process. And I totally agree and have written a lot about how perfectionism is detrimental to actually getting married to someone.
I also agree that the thought of there just being “one person God wants me to marry” can create a lot of pressure and fear causing people, especially young adults, to ask the counter question, “Well if there is just one specific person God wants me to marry, what happens if I marry the wrong person? Will our lives be miserable?” I believe compatibility in relationships is not the primary variable in the equation of marital happiness. Meeting “the one” is not you entering the marital “promise land” of bliss. When you meet “the one,” I just mean you have met the specific person God wants you to marry.
When I say “the one,” I don’t mean this is the person who will always make you happy and if you are unhappy they must not be the one.I’m not saying God has one person meant to fill you perfectly. Only Jesus is the true One in that sense. So I agree that thinking there is “the one” will cause people to question later in marriage, “I wonder if I married the wrong person?” But this is due to poor overall theology and immaturity and is not a reason to now say God doesn’t have an actual plan for your life.
Follow God, Be Biblically Wise, and Whoever You Marry Will Become “The One” God Had For You All Along
While there are many dangers when people hear this idea of marrying “the one” person God has for them, here’s the thing: If I said I don’t believe God planned for me to be with my wife, I think I am rejecting all kinds of biblical truth regarding the sovereignty of God. I would then basically be saying that my present reality was not ordained by God but rather the result of my choices alone. If you hold to that belief, I respect you and can still call you my brother or sister in Christ. I just don’t lean that far left on the theological spectrum.
Follow God, do what the Bible says, be realistic, and once you get married put in the work to have a great marriage. Just because God has a plan for you doesn’t mean you are off the hook from working hard (Read Point 3 of the article 4 Right Responses to the Sovereignty of God for more on the relationship between God’s plan for us and our hard work).
In summary, perhaps another way to say all this is that when you marry someone, they become the one God had for you all along.