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Is God going to hook me up online? Assessing Christian Mingle and 'soul mates'
January 7th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Is God going to hook me up online? Assessing Christian Mingle and 'soul mates'

By Thom Patterson, CNN

(CNN) - Has God taken an interest in the computer dating business? Does he (or she) have a username and password?

You might think so, if you’ve seen TV ads for the subscription-based dating website christianmingle.com.

The announcer says confidently: “Find God’s match for you.”

Really? Is God going to hook you up online? Cue the blogospheric debate.

"That's awfully bold to presume they already know who God wants you to marry," tweeted @Jessie_luvJesus recently.

"... SMH [shaking my head] these folks should be ashamed," wrote @EWebb424.

The tagline has been creating a “misconception” that God works exclusively through Christian Mingle, says spokeswoman Ashley Reccord.

Launched in 2001, Christian Mingle now boasts more than 5 million members, 40% of whom joined within the past year, according to the site (Full disclosure: Christian Mingle advertises on CNN.)

Members can register free and are asked to answer several questions based on religious background and personal preferences. Based on those answers, the website offers profiles of potential matches.

A search on the site for “soul mate” among women age 18-80 came up with 1,000 profiles, including one from Florida.

“I’m in search of the man God has for me,” writes the 35-year-old woman. “I’m looking for my best friend, my soul mate, and someone to share life’s greatest moments with.”

A 39-year-old woman in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote, “I still believe in true love … a soul mate. I am reasonable. I understand that there is not a perfect man out there … but one who is perfect for me.”

Says Reccord, the Christian Mingle spokeswoman: "God can orchestrate and use the medium of Christian Mingle to allow people to find their match for one another on the site. He may or may not use that means, but he can use that means."

So does that mean the cliché is true, that some matches really are “made in heaven?" Does God, if you believe there is one, pre-select us to pair up as life partners, as "soul mates?"

The Bible has little if anything to say about the matter, according to many religious writers and leaders. But several high-profile religious commentators have strong opinions about the idea:

–Soul mates do exist, according to some religious voices who cite the Jewish Talmud.

–Many Christians believe God helps people create their own kind of soul mates.

–Some say the Bible's "language of sexuality" supports the concept.

–Islam rejects the notion of soul mates, according to Muslim leaders.

–Many say belief in soul mates has negative consequences and can even be harmful.

Some of those warning about the dangers of the soul mate idea are Christians.

"If I get to heaven and I hear God say he had someone picked out for me, I'll believe him," says Lisa Anderson, host of "The Boundless Show," the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family's podcast for young adults.

"But it seems that this soul mate idea is really breaking up a lot of marriages and it's keeping a lot of young adults single."

Anderson says that believing in soul mates sets up two possible worst-case scenarios: a revolving door of marriages or a lifetime of being single.

Many young adults, she says, make this mistake: They think if they marry their “soul mate” then the marriage will be easy and wonderful. Then if the marriage turns rocky, game over; they suddenly decide they've picked the wrong mate. The marriage ends and they return to square one, searching for someone else to fill the soul mate role.

On the other hand, searching for a soul mate can be tragically intimidating, to the point of indecision.

"We're seeing young adults – X-ers and millennials - absolutely paralyzed and unable to get to marriage because they want to do it right," says Anderson. "They don't want to be their parents' generation ... the largest divorce generation in history."

Yada yada yada

But other evangelical Christian opinion-makers back Christian Mingle’s idea of an divinely ordained match.

"I would be scared to jump off a theological cliff and say we’re intended for one specific person," says Christian author Dannah Gresh. But based on the Bible’s “sexual language,” she doesn't dismiss the possibility.

The Old Testament’s original Hebrew text uses the word "yada" to imply the act of sex, says Gresh.

However, yada doesn't necessarily mean having sex in a literal sense, says Gresh. It means "to know," "to be known" or "to be respected."

She says yada biblically links the concepts of sex and the soul. "Sex is about a soul connection in its truest form," says Gresh, giving credence to a possible connection between God and the soul mate concept.

Not quite, says Bible scholar O. Wesley Allen of Lexington Theological Seminary. "The intimate knowing implied in [yada] is created through the act of sex, not as something that leads to union," Allen says.

A biblical companion to yada is the Greek word "ginosko," says Gresh, which is found in the New Testament. The Bible's original text uses ginosko to describe an "intimate soul connection between a husband and wife in the act of marriage," she says.

But she says the Bible also uses ginosko to describe a deep, intimate connection with God.

Gresh is giving too much weight to these words, Allen says. The fact that these words are used in dual contexts does not imply - or even suggest - the possibility of divinely ordained matches, according to Allen.

Gresh stresses that she does not believe God has intended matches for us. "However, I think there can be a really good theological argument made for exclusivity - once you have found someone you choose to love," she says.
On this point, says Allen, Gresh is on strong scriptural grounds.

A soul mate and a spare

Judaism, meanwhile, specifically includes the concept of soul mates in the Talmud, a collection of writings that constitute Jewish civil and religious laws.

According to the Talmud, before a soul comes into the world it is paired with a bashert, or first match, which is the first soul that you’re supposed to end up with, says Rabbi DovBer Pinson, of the New York-based IYYUN Center for Jewish Spirituality.

“If everything works out you’ll end up with that person,” says Pinson. Jewish tradition also includes a “second match” for every soul, which also could end up as a soul-mate relationship.

The names of everyone’s first and second matches are written down, “We just don’t have access to that information, because they’re written down in the spiritual plane” – or heaven, Pinson says.

The Kabbalistic tradition, rooted in Jewish mysticism, spells out clues to recognize whether your partner is your soul mate. If a partner is helping you overcome your negative traits and negative challenges while helping you pursue your positive traits, that person is your soul mate, says Pinson.

“It means these two souls originate from the same soul root and they’re meant to be connected to each other,” he says.

The Islamic faith, meanwhile, rejects the soul mate concept. "The words 'soul mate,' that you are meant to be with this person forever, there is no concept like this in Islam,” says Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

Infinite knowledge allows God to know which partners end up together, but it’s up to people to sustain their marriages and stay together, Magid says, because “the concept of a soul mate in Islam would put the fault of divorce on God."

Are you telling me to 'settle?'

Shaunti Feldhahn and her husband, Jeff, have created their own industry with their popular books, required reading for Christian premarital counselors at thousands of churches.

But she says their marriage, which has produced the million-sellers "For Women Only" and "For Men Only,” was not necessarily preordained.

"If I'd gone to a different graduate school I may have never ended up marrying my husband," she acknowledges. Feldhahn says there probably isn't “one perfect soul mate” for each person. For her, the bottom line is that "whoever you end up with ... God knows what the eventual outcome of your life is going to be."

The flip side of that is God has also given people free will.

“We have every right to screw it up if we want to - and sometimes we do,” Feldhahn says.

However, if couples follow God’s general principles about relationships, it’s possible they can enjoy the same benefits as so-called “soul mates,” she says.

Don’t focus too much on the search for your perfect mate, according to Feldhahn, focus on leading a Christian lifestyle and things will work out fine.

As for Christian Mingle’s “God’s-match-for-you” tagline, Feldhahn says it could mean “Meet the person who’s going to end up being your perfect match - because that's what you're going to make it."

Is Feldhahn telling single folks to stop searching and to “settle” for the best person available?

“No,” she says. “That implies that the person cannot be the person you need. If you both live by God's principles, you will both become the people you need to be.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam

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soundoff (2,002 Responses)
  1. memyselfnie

    Ok, skip the religious part, god, christ, whatever. Your ego is the biggest there is. Still, one cannnot deny the wisdom
    of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Sooner, or later you are going to hit the wall that is the truth!
    Or, somebody will throw you into it.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. Free

    I think it would be quite unfair for God to have just "ONE" person for each human to have to find as a sole mate.
    Would if that person died? Oh well, you have to go through the rest of your life "Sole mateless"
    NOT!
    I think the Bible teaches humans how to be sole mates with just about anyone.
    As long as that person meets that humans core spiritual, moral and physical values.
    If you use common sense it's pretty easy.
    But then again, common sense is not so common these days.
    There is plenty of it to go around in the Bible. Just read it.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • John The Dentist

      Read Leviticus to understand why your bible is not a reliable guide for anything. Just don't read it with throwing stones handy. If you want to try to claim that the Old Testament no longer applies, note that the New Testament claims repeatedly that the Old actually does apply, and you also have to wonder why god got so much wrong in version 1...

      January 7, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      So, you read it and it didn't even teach you something basic like the difference between 'sole' and 'soul'.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • John The Dentist

      I can't resist:

      Christian hell = filet of souls, deep fried.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Martin

      "FREE", Obviously you are also "free" from having had any formal education as well.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Free

      So Martin, now you have reduced yourself to determining from a web based blog response, from someone you never met or know.
      Wow, you're good.
      My education is not the issue here.

      January 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  3. jma58

    Can you imagine how fast civilation could progress if humans would stop waiting for some mythological being to save them from all the boogie men.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  4. blf83

    I object to "God's match for you at Christian mingle at every level. It is a ridiculous corruption of the message of God – of any religion.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • John The Dentist

      Hard to get much more evil than some of what is in the bible, e.g. Leviticus.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  5. korkea aika

    The mate for the soul is God, and like all rivers naturally rush toward the ocean, that union is bound to be. People we love in the meanwhile are side shows for those who have not yet realized their soul's true love.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • John The Dentist

      So why are divorce rates for Christians so high? Your god making mistakes as usual...

      Google it. You can argue about the numbers vs. non-Christians, but even one puts your god into question.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Free

      korkea aika
      You summed it up in a few short words.
      AMEN! AMEN! AND AMAN!!

      January 7, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Free

      Our God is not the problem. It's imperfect people not willing to follow His instructions.
      Real simple ones. I have been "successfully married (not happily married) for 23 years.
      Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's not. BUT! we are committed to each other and "till death do us part".
      Not bill, money or the lack of, sickness, misunderstanding, infidelity or whatever else you wanna put in the mix.
      Sometimes we like each other, sometimes we hate what the other one does but we always love each other.
      Love is not a feeling, it's a decision. Plain and simple! You decide to stick it out and in that God will work it out.
      It's called humility and trust. Not in the other person but in God. Trust God, love people. Agape love!
      Don't go blaming THE almighty God for your ignorance!

      January 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Sid

      Free, now just be free of your non-existent god and you'll be there. If your god is so completely inactive, then as the wise man said, "Why call it god?"

      January 7, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Free

      Hey Sid, when you die, and you will most certainly die.
      You WILL know that my God exist and is very active.
      You can't base your 2 second life's experience on God's
      existence.
      God doesn't have to prove anything to you or anybody else that
      He IS, and always will be. Weather you believe or acknowledge
      or not. Actually, He has already done that with your your body, the earth, the moon the stars and the
      universe to declare his glory. If you can't see that you are as the bible states "Blind"!
      Like I said before, common sense is not so common these days.
      You have a short time left relative to time.
      Make it count buddy!

      January 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Jojo

    I think God is totally involved in our dating process if we invite Him to be. How He responds may not be, at times, what we're ready, or willing, to follow/accept though. But people can trust that God has a person's best interest at heart- now THAT's a soulmate.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • John The Dentist

      And if you divorce, it means god did yet another of his famous fuckups. He apparently does a lot of those. He even had to redo his life manual.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Jojo

      Though let me follow up with, that I think that company is definitely disgustingly, misusing God in it's marketing.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • John The Dentist

      You are misusing "it's". Your error-prone "god" must be helping you with grammar as well as relationships.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  7. Ron

    I very smart man from India that I worked with explained the reasoning behind arranged marriages by his culture. At first I reacted as almost all American's might react but upon reflecting on my own life and relationship misques I realized that this was in fact a better way to marry in that our parents(assuming they are reasonable persons) have a much better understanding of what it takes to make a match that will endure. People must be on that same level in these areas to survive a marriage: Intellectually, Emotionally, Spiritually, Physically and Financially. If these are balanced upon marriage it will survive. Think about it!!!!

    January 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • enoch100

      And if it doesn't work out, you can always burn them to death and claim it was an accidental kitchen fire.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  8. Reush

    I think this is the only time I agree with Focus on the Family. People around my age find a boyfriend/girlfriend, exchange "I love you"s a week later, and then boom marriage. And then divorce, of course.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  9. gggg

    The idea of a true soul mate, to me, implies that there is fate and we have no control of our destiny. So what is worse? The idea that you may meet the perfect mate, but no matter what you can not control where you end up in life? Or, there are soul mates but no fate and God, who must have a sense of humor, makes your soul mate a different social class, race, or they live in some area of the world that you will most likely never see in your life? So one way I'll meet my soul mate but I have no control over my future, the other I have complete control of my life but the odds of meeting my soul mate are slim to none. Seems to me that even if there is a soul mate the consequence of searching for that person is to live a life alone.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  10. taildragon

    My fundamentalist wife and myself felt God meant us for each other. Five years after our wedding, we each left our faith but stuck with each other. Thirty years later we're still together, happy and godless. Funny how that works.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Martin

      Yeah....Really "funny" how that works.
      ... My first thought is that you'd both "lost your First Love".
      Somehow though, I suspect that your "faith", for both of you, never introduced you to HIM in the first place. He's still waiting to properly introduce Himself to both of you.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  11. Ray

    There are plenty of factors for establishing a soul mate: chemical reactions, physical traits, social and cultural impacts. But there is no God or supernatural being of any kind involved.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Martin

      For you Ray, I'm sure thats the case.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  12. Dan

    It's now 2012, and the main story on CNN.com (I call it the main story because it's placed at center and its image is the largest) is about whether or not an as yet (still) unproven divine artificer makes people in pairs. We're really going to have to grow up at some point, folks.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  13. Holy Cow!

    It's one thing to have a site that offers like minded people a place to find someone, but to claim (for profit) God has anything to do with it is just taking advantage.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. John K

    Unfortunately, those who think that God makes all of their decisions are foolish. Why, God gave man FREE WILL. Do you know what this means? If not, I suggest you look up this term and its exact definition. All man was put here on earth to make whatever one can with ones life. Yes, all of us are going to make mistakes, but this is how we ALL really LEARN! Think about it!

    January 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • John The Dentist

      It means your god doesn't exist. Your "logic" is missing quite a few teeth.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Dave

      There are varying levels of awareness and maturity in faith and everyday living. People learn at different levels so your post makes no sense. You're painting everyone with the same brush which shows your ignorance. If someone is expecting God to babysit them then their faith is not mature. But in this country in the past 40+ years we had stunted the growth of preceding generations and we have 30 year olds that have the maturity of a 15 year old. This wasn't the case before the 1950s came about. The babyboomers/hippies with their drug induced alcoholic binges have instilled nothing but a life of boozing and partying and have taught their kids to believe in nothing but themselves which is way I have a generation of self-absorbed kids thinking they're the center of the universe.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • John The Dentist

      Guess CNN truncated the line with your point in it, Dave. But not only is the Christian god not involved in your life – such a god doesn't even exist.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  15. Kevin O.

    As it is in church so shall it be on a dating site. God will taketh from your wallet and giveth you more trials. For you are a sucker and God is bored.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  16. Martin

    The Christian Mingle tagline is such a line of hype spun by greed. As an evangelical Christian, I can smell it a hundred cubits away and I've told them so.
    Christian Mingle's actual targets are those who have no real grounding in their faith but merely wrap themselves in the warm gauze of a cultural christianity : and there are Millions of them out there. It's no surprise to me that they would spend the bulk of their ad dollars at CNN as well. Their ad agency knows full well where this lonely target market gets their news. All we can do is wish them luck because that's all they have going for them.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Dave

      Pretty much the truth. What I have found on dating sites is the ability to be judge, jury, and trial based on a profile with no real compatibility being tested. My experiences are that most discussions do not turn into a first date and when I do get a date, it's a free dinner for her but no further dating for me. I have heard this from other men also. There was a story about a woman in NYC that dated merely for free dinners because she couldn't afford to buy groceries. What I do is sign up for on month and when I meet someone, I cancel my membership. There is no point in keeping it because I now have that one person to focus on. You cannot focus on any one person when you are connected to thousands because you won't be able to lay a foundation in a relationship. Too many get addicted to these sites and never figure out that they probably had someone special but were too busy going from person to person without really thinking that they should have stopped and focused on that person way back when.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  17. Otasawian

    I guess the hearts and minds at ChristianMingle.com must be big fans of the band "Queen".
    In the 1970's Freddie Mercury wrote in the opening of his song "Find Me Someone to Love"

    Can anybody find me somebody to love
    Ooh, each morning I get up I die a little
    Can barely stand on my feet
    (Take a look at yourself) Take a look in the mirror and cry (and cry)
    Lord what you're doing to me (yeah yeah)
    I have spent all my years in believing you
    But I just can't get no relief, Lord!
    Somebody (somebody) ooh somebody (somebody)
    Can anybody find me somebody to love ?

    Loneliness and self pity have always been alive and well in society.
    Taking advantage of someones religious belief system to make a few
    dollars has been around for a long time as well.
    The internet has just given someone a new medium in which to do it.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Mercury Was a Genius

      I dare anyone to read these lyrics and not hear the song inside their heads. What a fantastic song!

      January 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  18. Don

    My gosh, when does God ever get a little time off? First He has to keep score on all the NFL games every week (Not just Sunday anymore!), then He has to watch all the little politicians claiming to be his bud. Not to mention the ever-looming end of days forecast by various groups. Now He has to infiltrate His Holiness into our private lives...and in some states that will be into gay lives also.

    Oh gosh!

    January 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  19. Alexandra

    Soul mates do exists. Talmud got it right.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, they don't. There's a seat for every ass. There's a mate for everyone. It's a matter of how much you are willing to compromise to be married.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  20. lance corporal

    how can you look at the world and still believe in gods intervention? god doesn't have time to protect children from priests and yet is going to pick out your prom date???????.............. yeah yeah yeah mysterious ways.......... OK continue to let controllers/haters tell you how to think, love and vote...... trust me it ain't god speaking to your religious leaders

    January 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.