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.”
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the love I LOVE JESUS FOREVER!
And yet, you have provided no verifiable evidence he even exists. Interesting. Delusional, but interesting.
The phrase is, "the way, the truth, and the LIFE". Dummy. I love my gerbil. So what.
Those damn nonbelievers should create their own nation.... it wouldn't last one day because the devil will be their government runner
They did. You're in it, sweetie.
Atheism = Nazism -> No difference
Well except that they had religion too. They were 'christians', and their hatred of the jews had some root in their christianity. They also had some what of an unofficial relgion, worshiping the state, and wow, that worked out badly... almost as badly as the 9 murderous crusades the good christian folk led into israel.
Your level of ignorance is impressive – you live in a country with access to so much free information and education, yet you seem to comprehend so little. You must work very hard to avoid evidence, facts and data. Even a rudimentary understanding of Nazism and Atheism should make you blush at your own ignorance.
One day those atheists will face their created... but too bad they will go to hell and suffer
Face their what ?
One day you will face a spell-checker!
or an education.......
The amount of venom against Christianity is amazing! Some people must be so unhappy.
Not at all. Just tired of hearing the fundies tell everyone else they're going to hell.
After reading further, the hatred from both believers and unbelievers is appalling! People, get some therapy!
I am VERY unhappy every time I read in the news about religion, yes, religion is the source of a very high percentage of the world's problems.
If God is picking my match, why doesn't God just give me her name & wedding date? Why do I have to answer questions & choose matches?
WE SHOULD SEND ATHEISTS TO CONCENTRATION CAMPS LOL AND BE DONE WITH THEM
Or keep the religious on their meds, probably cheaper in the long run
Josef O rhymes with "Poe"... busted!
obviously a good christian here, advocating mass murder.
Hey why use Christian Mingle? God lays out how to find a bride in the bible.
21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
LOL – how to find gods match for you!
lol flip around the 21 in deuteronomy, and its 12/21/11 which is almost the mayan appocalypse ;)
A religious person is a person who loves an imaginary or dead person more than real people. Since most human beings need to feel reciprocated love they will interpret the good things that happen to them or – compounding the horror – the love of others as being expressions of love from their dead/imaginary being. The feelings of a real person, who definitely exists, who definitely experiences pleasure and pain, are secondary to the imagined feelings of their fantasy lover. The fact that people love Jesus or Mohammad more than their actual, feeling neighbors explains much of the neglect and misery on this planet. But it will be over soon, perhaps within 100 years. Every day the weapons improve, getting both more destructive and more available. Soon they will all join their lovers in non-existence. What other future could you possibly expect? The only thing about our future left undecided is whether or not there will be any people around after the extinction of religion.
Much of what is done or said in the name religion is at best that of the Pharisee – the wolf in sheep's clothing and is appalling. New Testament defines true religion helping with the needs of widows, orphans – the less fortunate and abstaining from evil. Love for one another, even our enemies, bears the hallmark of humbleness, a self-sacrificing desire for the good of others that avoids the lime-light.
Until relativity recently, only Newtonian Physics was known and thought absolute. The “mysterious” realm of Quantum mechanics is now being studied. Interestingly, Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world and God said I AM the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob...(not WAS). The key to the mystery of the eternal Love relationship though Faith is found in the Bible.
A true follower (lover) of Christ, though not perfect by any means, increasingly allows God's Love to daily overcome the Pharisee nature in him. The expression of the attributes of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, kindness, meekness and faithfulness then follows in everyday life. It's about a loving relationship with the Living God that increases more loving relationships with others.
God has been so great at making everything right in the world - why shouldn't I also trust HIM to hook me up with a hottie?
Everybody thinks they have a God-given match until that person leaves or dies, and then you find another match. Does the new match mean that your prior one was wrong? It would if you believe in destiny. Human relationships are the clearest demonstration that meaning in life is provisional and self-created, not ordained and supernatural.
what joy would you derive out of people not believing in whatever they want to believe if it does not hurt you? Why do we as a society have to dissect everything?
Can you imagine a world without atheists? It would be PARADISE! I hope God punish all non-believers and may God send them to h-ell and suffer soo much
Hope is all you can do, because you are talking to your imaginary friend. Good luck with that.
Hahahahah Love the religious mind. They are so so messed up – but thats what your get when you have imaginary friends in the sky.
How do you know your god is imaginary?
He hates all the same people you do. :-)
People are leaving churches in droves, so you should pray harder. In fact, why don't you stay in your room and pray until everyone on earth has converted to Christianity?
Can you imagine a world without judgmental religious fundamentalists who wish others eternal harm??
If there were no atheists, you boob, you wouldn't even be ON this website. You love having atheists here. It gives you something else to which you can imagine yourself superior.
At best, this is an interesting schtick by the company to sell its services. However, does anyone really believe God, who can't find the time to save people from being killed in car crashes or stopping war or epidemics, would take the time to matchmake on this tiny insignificant planet, one among millions in the galaxy??
This article is a invasion of religious freedom. I am a Hindu and I feel offended by this article. Let people do what they want to do. As long as they are not breaking inter-religious marriages I have no issues with it. We will never have communal harmony in this country till we leave people along with their religious beliefs all over the world.
Then go back to India your i-d-i-o-t !!!!!!
A classic religious response. Something exists that creates cognitive dissonance about the lie you live by, and thus it is an "invasion" of "freedom." You are still free to fantasize. Just because you have to fantasize harder does not make it an invasion.
Who cares if you feel offended.... nobody forced you to open this article and nobody forced you to live in Christian majority nation your psychopath
Heey your Hindu... go take a shower before commenting here your nasty cow
Mom, Jessica and JK ...how ignorant are you..
-.I am not from India...India is not even a Hindu nation! Go to school
– US is a Christian majority country not a Christian country...Suck it!
– You may not care if I am offended but when a fanatic Muslim gets offended by this approach, they blow up here and there. Choice is yours!
Have a great year filled with love ahead!
ATHEISTS ARE NOT NORMAL PEOPLE..... THEY ARE PSYCHO THAT'S WHY THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD. NORMAL PEOPLE HAVE FAITH. YES, IT'S TRUE!!
Dear God – you are doing a horrible job running this world. You are fired. Empty out your locker, turn in your keys, and leave at the end of today's shift. And no, you cannot use us as a reference.
I think you meant to describe people who type in all caps, not atheists.
Thank god I'm an atheist. Otherwise I'd hate myself.
Greg @ See you thanked GOD. I thought you believe that God does not excist ?!
I guess you missed the class on "irony" in grade school.....
p.s., learn to spell.
good luck christian women, remember youre second class citizens and that your bible says its your job to serve men lol
Typical bible basher comment, picking and choosing verses to make your point. Even Satan does that. You need to read, understand & accpet the whole bible. God Never says women are second class citizens, but rather women should honor & serve their husbands and that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church – He gave His life for His followers. If husbands always loved their wives in that way, women would gladly honor & respect their husbands in return.
Marriage is hard work, just because you love someone doesn't mean the marriage automatically works. It's give, take, biting your tongue and forgiving. You don't marry your "soul mate" your spouse can become your soul mate. Best advice I ever got – "put each other first."
JEWS KILLED JESUS CHRIST..... CNN IS OWNED BY JEWS
Jesus never existed. He is a fairy tale. There is no historical record to prove he ever existed.
Jesus was a Jew.
Isn't it sickening that a media company like CNN is trying to buy into the religious nutso.
Right there with you Marge. They're pandering to a group of lunatics in order to make a buck. CNN should be ashamed.
Pray for your soul mate and watch him come!
on your chest ;)
oh hell, and face, why not
You spelled "come" wrong, Carla.
Does that mean I only need one date from this website since my first match would be Gods match? Hi my name is John, I'm your soul mate....sheesh...people fall for this stuff?
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.