Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her”, says the LORD, the God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence”, says the LORD of hosts. “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless”. — Malachi 2:15-16, ESV.
What happens to our marriages after we die? Is the spouse to whom we marry our real soulmate? Does the idea of soulmate really exist?
These questions troubled many from antiquity till modernity. And even now, people still struggle to answer what becomes of our marital union after we pass away from this life… And I can’t help but tell you how Michael Schur did a “motherforking” good job in portraying this struggle in the TV Series, “The Good Place”. Go watch it, it’s so good. And I promise I will not spoil it with this post.
As Christians, if we consider things from the literal surface of our Bible, our argument of marriage in the afterlife will probably only stop at Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees. As vague as can be, all we know is that “in the resurrection, people neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30, ESV). But is that it?
With a tone of angst and exasperation, Jesus gave us a reason for his short answer, “You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29, ESV).
“Read the Bible carefully!” He says. And to add to this, I’d think He’d suggest we “ponder on the scriptures and seek to understand the power of God!”
In other words, if we were to take Jesus’ words literally, the Old Testament in itself is sufficient to give us a holistic picture of the afterlife. In fact, if we study it with passion and enthusiasm for the Lord, the Holy Spirit will also guide us to understand how eternal union in the afterlife will manifest itself to the scene in which Jesus’ described.
And this is what we will be doing here.
You see, when we consider the instant of creation in Genesis, we see God speaking about the creation of humans. Modern feminists will argue that the patriarchal presentation of creation present masculinity in a way that oppresses woman. Something like “man is more important than woman”. But, I beg to differ. You see, Man (or “mankind” in some translation) refers to some sort of a union of both genders. “Male and female He created them.” But “man and woman” at this stage is still singular. They’re one. And though they’re one body, they’ve the ability to be fruitful and multiply.
You see, many times we overlook this key factor of genderless unity because we assume gender as something that we take for granted. We look at the Bible the way we see ourselves. But… In all honesty, I think we shouldn’t. Consider Genesis 2 where God took a rib out of “Man” to make woman (Genesis 2:21-23), then consider the existence of Man before the formation of Eden itself (Genesis 2:5-7). Before “Man” was placed in the garden of Eden, “Man” already had a soul and a spirit. In other words, the spirit of “the Man” was given to him at the instant of creation. So when God took a rib out of “the Man” to make woman, where did the woman’s spirit come from? Did God blow a new spirit into the woman after she was formed? No, He didn’t. She was, in the Man. She was One with “the Man”. Therefore, this was why God say, “let Us make Man in Our Image. Male and female, He created them”.
You see, when God took woman out of Man, she was Adam’s “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh”. However, notice something much more than that, she was Adam’s “spirit of his spirit”, in eternal union prior to the separation in flesh. This spirit that was taken out from Adam’s spirit “shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23, ESV). This was the reason why God instructed us to guard ourselves in our spirit so as to not be faithless (Malachi 2:15-16).
Thing is though… If there’s a soulmate predestined for us, then why do we still go about searching for the right one? Why are there still single people roaming the land? What do we make of remarriages and the like?
I think the key lies in the privilege of free will — the ability given to us to be able to choose freely. With the incorporation of free will in the fabric of the finite universe, God must have opened up a dimension where freedom of choices and determinism exist on the same plane. To put it simply, the incorporation of time gives us an experience of cause-and-effect, but this doesn’t exist on the plane of eternity where everything affects everything. Therefore, when we allow whatever that will happen in the future determine what will happen in the past, the experience of “free will” will change itself into a form we’re unfamiliar with — not that it ceased to exist, but it simply appears to be that way.
As I was trying to wrap my head around the concept of eternity, predestination, determinism, time, and the spiritual realm, I re-read Malachi 2 and realised it wasn’t the determinism that determines who our soulmate is. Sure, both man and woman were separated from Man’s original spiritual union, but we are able to, out of the free will given to us by God, choose who we’d want to bond with as long as we are the children of the same Father (ref: Malachi 2:10). At the moment of covenant-making, a portion of God’s Spirit was introduced to the couple, enabling the spirits of the couple to bond into one (ref: Malachi 2:15a). At the instant of covenant-making, the husband will be the wife’s soulmate and the wife will be the husband’s.
Then we ask ourselves about failed marriages, fake marriages, and adultery. If a vow was made in the presence of God and a portion of the Holy Spirit was given to bond the spirits of the couples together, how do we explain all these marital issues we face on earth? Now, if we imagine for a moment, how things would be like in the eternal spiritual realm: God made Man in His image, male and female, they are One. From that vision of eternity, they “neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Logically speaking, if we were to marry our soulmates, then marriages shouldn’t fail, right?
Then again, if we consider also how we’ve had so many people die single, aborted their children, people miscarrying, etc. These are also lives made and formed by God with spirits within them. Who knows if your spouse is your most suitable soulmate and not one of those miscarried fetuses? Only God knows who is “the spirit in our spirit”, and only God can join us back as one in the afterlife. Now, if we consider this and assume that God robs our free will to choose who we love by merging “the spirit of our spirit” to us in the afterlife, then doesn’t this contradict the doctrine that dictates how free will is essential for true love?
Truth is though. God will not rob our free will to choose. After all, even in heaven, the gates to hell will still remain open. People are able to go in and out of heaven, technically. But the issue is not about whether people are able to go in and out of heaven. Rather, it is about whether or not they’ve made that decision at any point in eternity to venture beyond the gates of heaven. The concept of eternity dictates that anything that happens and any choices that we make will affect everything. So, our future will affect our past, our death will affect our birth. However, when we transit back from the physical universe into the eternal realm, we’ll return to the state where we were before our birth.
In a way, some time in the distant history of eternity, we’ve chosen to love “the spirit of our spirit”, and this love will manifest itself throughout eternity in an eternal bond enabled by a portion of the Spirit of God.
This “spirit of our spirit” is our soulmate whom we’ve chosen to bond with since the beginning of time. This is who we will be returning to.
“If soul mates do exist, they’re not found. They’re made. People meet, they get a good feeling, and then they get to work to building a relationship.” — Michael to Chidi in “The Good Place” Season 4 Episode 9.
Fun fact: In the show, “The Good Place”, Michael, the architect of the afterlife isn’t an all-knowing eternal being. And in one way or another, Eleanor realises this. There is a higher-being in control of all of the spirits who are at work to make things the way they are.
Now, this resonates with our Biblical understanding of the “prince of the power of the air“. Though a person in power, he isn’t all-knowing. Though he seems to be orchestrating “tortures”, he is a puppet.
So, who’s the main Architect of both the physical and the eternal realm? 😉