In today’s episode, Kait speaks with the INSANELY wise Gary Thomas about some controversial topics like the concept of a soulmate and the dangers (slash reality) of infatuation. Gary is an incredible speaker and author of 19 books – 19, PEOPLE! Some of his books include The Sacred Marriage and The Sacred Search, and all of which provide unbelievable insight on spiritual formation. He currently lives in Houston, Texas, and is also an adjunct faculty member at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He also runs marathons in his spare time! So, basically…he does it all!
Together, we talk about navigating relationships, how to be aware of infatuation within dating and how to date more wise as a Christian. This conversation was SO full of wisdom, we hope you are as inspired as we are!
WHAT INSPIRIED THE SACRED SEARCH?
One of Gary’s most recent books, The Sacred Search, was inspired by his passion for the mission behind it. It is about the search for a soulmate and how it isn’t as Biblical a search as we may think it is. Gary says that so many Christians are getting married for the same reasons as non-Christians—like feelings, sexual chemistry, or compatibility—and none of those reasons promise future marital happiness. He claims that the skills for dating are radically different than the skills needed for marriage… which, since in the world of dating, skills such as charm, suave and coyness are all praised, makes sense! Gary says that marriage’s purpose is designed to make you more holy, rather than happy. However, he also says that happiness and holiness are not mutually exclusive, but rather go hand in hand, since the best way to pursue happiness is through the pursuit of holiness.
THE SCIENCE OF INFATUATION
Gary talks about the science of infatuation – that’s right, there’s actual science to it! Infatuation is defined as “An intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something,” which is unfortunately is a real and relatable struggle in dating. He says that, biologically speaking, there are neurological mechanics behind someone’s infatuation. Apparently, infatuation has a “shelf-life” of 12-18 months and can make us think someone is perfect marriage material when our brain is truly foggy. He also shares that infatuation can lead to something called “idealization,” which is when we give people strengths that they don’t have, or, as Gary so artfully put it, “We fall in love with a mirage rather than a person.” In many ways it is apparently more difficult to say “no” to an infatuation than it is to a sexual urge. THAT’S how strong infatuation can be!
Gary argues that, since infatuation is fleeting, starting relationships because of infatuation is pretty selfish because we are rooting our relationship in a fleeting feeling of pleasure or attraction toward another person. Since all that we value from this world fades (#RIPsixpacks) and does not contribute to a lasting and meaningful relationship or marriage, Gary encourages us to look to the one thing that actually GROWS as time goes on: the fruits of the spirit! The more we work towards the fruits of the spirit, literally, the more we will love as time goes on, because that’s how God has designed everything to work!
What does the Bible say about the idea of a soulmate?
Ah. A frequently church-debated and Hollywood-ized idea. Gary has a lot to say about this one.
Gary believes that the idea of a soulmate is dangerous. He says that scripture says it is our choice who and whether we marry and believes that we have to accept it as a choice. He says, “If God told us who to marry, then how would we know which one? If God told us who to marry, he would tell us how to know.” Gary does say, though, that there are things that we should look out for when looking for a spouse. For instance, we should be recognizing whether this person is seeking God’s kingdom! How can we do this? Well, do they mention God when they talk to you? Do they talk about how much they love the Lord? Or do they only show an interest because you do? Gary claims that chances are, if “they don’t bring God into your relationship when you’re dating, they won’t bring God into the relationship when you’re married“. Furthermore, very frequently in the dating scene, we will hope that someone is a Christian after connecting with them on shallower, culturally valued characteristics, like sexual compatibility or friendship compatibility.
What about a “sole”mate?
This is a term that Gary coined himself, specifically from Matthew 6:33, where it says to “seek first his kingdom.” Instead of looking for a soulmate, Gary suggests looking for a “S-O-L-E-mate,” someone to walk through life with and seek first His kingdom together. He says that we are created to spread his kingdom and do his work, so, if we choose a partner to spend our lives with, we should both be focused on representing God rather than just pleasing ourselves. He leaves us with an INCREDIBLE thought saying, “If you’re not living for a purpose any bigger than yourself, it will become boring.”
One of the worst pieces of advice that the church has so often supported, however, is the idea of “waiting for God to bring you the right person.” This threw us through a loop when we first heard this one, because we have certainly been guilty of that. However, hearing his logic definitely made more sense. He argues that only in romance do we look at life this way. In this line of thinking we think of passivity as the only holy choice when it comes to relationships. Again, #SOMETIMESGUILTY. However, the Bible portrays marriage as a worthy pursuit. It is so easy to want to throw in the towel and just wait for the right thing to ”come along” when we’ve been embarrassed, discouraged, or downright broken too many times. However, don’t give up! Just because our culture has lost the idea and value of perseverance doesn’t mean that it is just as impactful a skills as ever.
Gary’s final nugget of insight he left with us on this episode is that the more we fall in love with God, the more we can fall in love with each other.
We hope that you have loved this episode! We have certainly loved talking with Gary and learned a lot from his words and insight.
You can find Gary’s Website HERE
Purchase his book The Sacred Search (we could not recommend it more!)