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.”
I met my date on one of those sites & she was very religious .. last night she kept yelling Oh God Oh God Oh God !!
You'll soon find out this concept of a god is a waste of time.
for me it would be hilarious if this didnt promote these idiots procreating more of their own stupidity. i mean the last thing we need is more of these blind, weak, miserable, guilt ridden, retards "spreadin the werd of gawd" to the world. listen imo if they really wanted to help out the world they'd get sterilized and start a mass suicide ring. the funny thing is a thousand years from now if we havnt successfully killed off the planet or our species through nuclear destruction, well still be spouting the same mindless crap, touting that god is coming down soon and were still living in the end of days. good luck you nuts, if you all woke up one day sterilized and impotent that would be a miracle.
Wow you are so full of love and acceptance and kindness, so glad that you are a member of society. Did mommy not believe in abortion?
btw ive found that christian women are the most unstable women filled with guilt and remorse about their bodies, and themselves. of course thats the cost of living within a patriarchal religion thats taught you all your life that women are the cause of the worlds failings. so good luck christian women, remember youre second class people, and your job is to serve men.
Seriously CNN? Belief? That's you go-to point when you can't find an interesting topic that's not kept shut by Big Brother?
Who the hell are you portray and falsely manipulate people into various ideas about religion? What business is it yours?
There's no risk, though. Religion is one of the most endless arguments ever to be started by men, and everyone has an opinion about it, so as stupid as this string of 'stories' is, people always want to chime in.
Falsely manipulate? Only the weak minded can be manipulated into a point of view. Develop some critical thinking skills, take ideas from wherever you can, and form your own opinions. If you are that prone to manipulation, then stay away from new ideas, they might make you upset.
Man..do i have a bridge in Brooklyn...Lets all kneel and pray to help me find a woman who has 10 million in the bank and loves to be subserviant to her man...waiting...waiting...ah..c'mon God!!! ask and ye shall receive!!!
Hold on!! My phone is ringing....
Had a friend who was not religious and even though his wife had been indoctrinated into fundamentalism when she was a child, his wife said she was no longer into that sort of stuff. Then his wife met some Christian fundamentalists from the neighborhood , after a while, they started telling her that she should be with a christian man, instead of her husband, as he was an Atheist. They would meet with her while my friend was at work, constantly badgering her to go to church. She relented, fell into the whole thing again, and ended up screwing around with some character from the church. My friend knew she started going to church, but was apparently last to find out she was having an affair because he was not in the "fellowship". You see, they only want to be with their own kind. In fact, if your not like them, they will try to convert you, and if they can't do that , they will shun you.
And then they and her justified their immoral behavior with religion, which is one of the purposes of religion... to justify immoral action.
As I Christian I believe that through your Christian learning and beliefs you choose the right one for you. Therefore the one you marry becomes your soul mate. If you let a man get away with treating you poorly while you are dating then you have no excuse for a poor marriage. Your own fault. As a lay counselor almost every single case I see of women who are unhappy in their marriages it is because they tried to change someone after marrying him. There were red flags all throughout the relationship and yet they still choose to marry the guy.
God does not preselect our mates for us.
Do you explain to these women that trying to suppress who a person is with what you want them to be is psychological and emotion abuse? Thought not.
Here's my quick story. After a number of lonely years looking for my special mate, I dreamed about my future wife one evening in March 1998. In the dream, I not only saw exactly how she looked like, but her personality came across as well. Obviously, it was a person that I had never met before. After that dream, I kept searching for her with no success. Three years after my initial dream, I finally signed up with a Christian dating site and found her profile there. The minute that I saw her picture and profile, I said to myself, "That's her! That's the girl from my dream!" Even though she was living 350 miles away, I contacted her in May 2001. In August 2002, we became husband and wife. Nearly 10 years later, we're still happily married and have two boys. Do I believe in soul mates? I most certainly do!
I had a girlfriend use one of those christian websites to cheat on me to find someone else. This guy bought her an egagement ring in like a month. Then she cheated on him with me and then couldn't understand why I wouldn't move her back into my house after all this (and of course other stuff too lol). Basically, what I'm getting at, is your average christian is not a very good person. They wrap themselves up in this idea "we're all sinners" and make less of an effort to be a decent person because of it. Its been my experience that the average athiest is much more moral than your average christian. mainly because the athiest doesn't make excuses for their bad behavior.
Your an idiot scott, that's probably why she cheated on you.
I'm an idiot? lol... Well we're definately hearing from the good christians today haha.
Taking a look at the divorce rate...over 60%...God sure is terrible matchmaker!
If you really want to be accurate find a divorce rate where the people claim to be Christians. Not even half that amount are Christians.
The average Christian divorce rate in 2010 was about 11%, not even half.
breaking vows is a man thing, woman thing. True married people understand that Jesus is the front and center of the relationship, that whatever their burdens or disagreements are, Jesus is there to take the wheel. If you have no Jesus in your relationship, you really have to make the case on why you are getting hitched.
You cant get married the christian way and then take the 7th commandment and use it like its meant to be broken.
God is the matchmaker but we have the free will to make our marriages work or not.
Even if that were true Angie, which its probably not, since its widely known that areas with high church attendance have higher divorce rates.... 11% is still a pretty bad record for an all powerful God don't you think?
I actually go to Church and I know pretty much know every couple that goes to church. Ive known some for over 20 years. I am not aware of any divorces. Well maybe a few, but its certainly not 60%, maybe 5%. So using inferential statistics I can say the divorce rate is 5%
You need to do your homework. That 11% isn't IF they divorced but whether they are still divorced. The numbers show Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.
Angie, If about 75% of Americans are Christian, then if all the other religions plus Atheists had a 100% divorce rate, that would still leave about 35% of Christians getting divorced.
Hey Jim, the person to even survey such a question, is a skeptical bigot looking for some type of comment to demean christians. Thats what this article is about, how to demean people. Its what CNN does on a daily basis. Why would you trust the statistics from special interests that are biasedly skewed.
I thought it was a well-known fact that divorce rates were higher among Christians than the general population.
Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian faith groups:
Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)
% who have been divorced
Non-denominational ** 34%
Mainline Protestants 25%
"Surprisingly, divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience."
Another example of selling Spiritual Snake-Oil. I find myself angered at the peddlers of this con and the credulous sheep that fall for it. Talk about preying on the ignorant. Just as the lottery business is a tax on people who are bad at math, the religion business could be described as a tax on people who are poor at critical reasoning.
Why is this on the front page of CNN? Is there a holy roller at the editors desk? This looks like a Fox News headline.
The idea of mentioning God in a dating site is to attract an audience. To keep trash away. If you'd prefer the "Guaranteed lay for a day" dating site slogan then good for you. But there are people out there that want a convienient way to find people out their with common beliefs and avoid the gays who spontaneously come out of no where and ask, "Wanna meet in the mens bathroom at Walmart tonight?"
The Wal-Mart creepers are usually mega-church pastors.
WANNA MEET AT THE WAL-MART MEN"S BATHROOM TONIGHT????
So you judge people as "trash" do you? How very Christian of you! What reasonable person would want any part of your hate-filled, judgement, and fear-ridden belief system.
people after one night stands ARE trash. Or young. Both of which I want nothing to do with. A person who puts s3x before the person is trash.
With all your judgement and condemnation of people as trash, you sound like a real keeper. I'm sure life with you is overflowing with love, compassion and Christian values! Peace and love to all mankind :)
Sounds to me like someone is guilty of my idea of trash :) Sorry. But you should change your ways if you are trash.
Mentioning God does not keep the trash away it only attracts a different kind of trash.
God is everything to me. The bible is a great book when it is use for the manifestation of God and his word. I believe God will mainfest thing in your life if your a believer.Non believers dont beleive even in themselves..In my summer garden I kneel to God in prayer and thank him for the bees ,sun,and rain I also thank God for my wonderful father ,mother and my seven healthy siblings that he has given me. Thank God for my day and his prayers in the family room almost every evening and I wouldnt forget the tears steaming down his face as he kneel to God. The bible has made a me a humble man and im proud of it. May God bless all believers and non-believers
So would you trust god to work thru a website and find you a mate?
".Non believers dont beleive even in themselves."
What a nasty and judgemental piece of work you are.
What a nasty and judgmental piece of work you are.
Which particular version, edition or translation of the bible do you believe is a great book and the manifestation of God's word? There are so many versions, derivatives and translations manipulated by monks, popes and kings that I'd love to know which one you think is the absolute truth? My money is on a few scraps of parchment written in Aramaic – I'm going to use these few words as the basis of my entire world/universe view and assume that all knowledge and morality comes from these parchments – I'm confident that we'll progress as a species and society if we do :)
I hope God manifests himself in your life by making you a better writer.
That's just plain stupid.
A yenta by any other name is still a yenta.
Stupidity. Only time and listening to your emotions will tell you what you need to know.
Who in their right mind wants a president whose name is synonymous with bung hole foam? A freak who brings a dead baby home to sleep with? Christian conservatives!! That's who !!
yawn. Is this really an issue? So what if the company is simply using advertising jargon to get people to join. It's a Christian dating website! Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs all have their own dating websites for people looking for love within their own religion. I actually know several people who have gotten married through these types of websites.
God wants you to be happy. So hes got his own "hook-up" site now
If he really wanted us to be happy he should have eliminated disease or earthquakes or mental illness... but I guess I can settle for him getting me laid :)
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.