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 never ceased to be amazed by the hatred spewing out of the orifices of so-called Christians. This product is a terrific extension to the whole mega-church, TV shows, and publishing scams that already prey upon the frightened and desperate!
Did you notice the irony here? Your "Free Thinker" response was entry number "666". Woah! Sucks to be you- and the Jesus freaks in the audience didn't even notice.
you are faced with trials and tribulation in this life.god allows you to have your individual free will on how you will relate your life to them.when two people decide to marry,they should be well educated on what is expected of them in the statutes and commandments of god.considering marriage being sought in a way of giving your heart unconditionally,honoring faithfulness,being loyal,all things should be able to be accomplished as one flesh.you should prop each other up on their leaning side whenever needed.this i feel is what makes two people soul mates.your faith in gods word and the will to follow.
So when God and/or Al Gore created the internet, were the rules of punctuation and grammar just left out completely?
Its a fellow Christian trying to make a buck on the kool aid. Seen it many times in businesses. It gives most consumers a warm fuzzy and a false sense of trust when seeing anything affiliated with religion.
Pretty sure God never endorsed this web site or TV commercial. The obvious purpose of this "Christian" dating service is to take advantage of lonely people and their religious beliefs; and for that, you greedy b@stards, you should burn.
It is interesting that it is a for profit enterprise...
I think it's the height of arrogance to declare that this website is an agent of G-d Almighty. Who exactly do they think they are?
Obviously they think they are agents of the almighty... which in and of itself probably qualifies them for straight jackets.
Listen, religion is a business plain and simple. If you are stupid enough to fall for their BUSINESS tag line of “Find God’s match for you.” then it is your own fault. There are no gods, there is no proof to back up the existence of any gods, belief is an opportunity for people to make money off of those that refuse to listen to reason. Religion is a business and that is all it is good for. There. Are. No. Gods!
My religon is not a business. It replicates a charity more than a business. you see i am not forced to buy anything. And in fact i get free body and blood of christ. To me its a faith and a way of life.
But i respect your opinion.
PS. The majority says there IS a god. You say their isnt. You say there is no proof. But the bible is proof. GOD WROTE IT you mo ron.
Your not suggesting im not real after I wrote this comment are you.
This is the problem with atheists, the proof is ALL around them. But then they say theirs no proof.
My book says the moon is made of green cheese. That's the proof. Who's the moron ? Hint: someone saying he eats somebody's body and blood. Ewwe. Cannibal.
Exactly. Please pass the word to the bible thumpers! If it wasn't for fundamentalists, I wouldn't have a problem with it but that fundamentalist mess is corrosive to the mind. It only produces extremists.
if you actually looked at your argument from a rational perspective and then rated it on a irrational scale, i think you find that YOU are the moron.
@fda: Please provide a reference of a biblical scholar who thinks that god wrote the bible. Or, would you like me to explain the logical falacies of "argument from as-sumption" and "argument from majority"?
Sure Eric, go ahead and tell us why a person who believes in Christ longer than he will believe any other idea over the course of his life with examples of miracles in his/her life is not a testament to the existance of God.
ANd then tell me why the majority is wrong and you, the little ant in a hornets nest is right.
Try a logic course when you get to 3rd Grade......argumentum ad populum.
Religion as a (very successful) business.....
Go to any major city or any town or village in just about any country and look at the buildings. Where is the money/wealth flowing to? In nearly all cases it is a church/temple or mosque. The surrounding area may be rich or poor but the religious building is usually the grandest around. Why is that?
The economy of religion.....
Cost of goods sold ..... Virtually none – no tangible product!
Cost of labor ...... Virtually none, most people volunteer their time at no charge.
Cost of product failure (returns)..... None – I want a refund that afterlife you sold me didn't exist!
Original material/Intellectual property required.... None
Tax due on profits..... None.
Religion is the most successful business model throughout the history of mankind – the evidence is all around you regardless of the flavor or brand of the religion. Go to Rome, Mecca, any major city or just drive down your suburban neighborhood to see what a great business it is.
Why didn't they consult the experts in Mother Goose or Aesop's Fables?
I'm an agnostic. Question to atheists: Why look at 'faith' articles when you don't have any faith? Don't look at these religious articles and you'll be done. Don't complain after why religious people spread bad comments to you guys. Whatever they say you guys deserve it.
A well founded argument from some nut job who can't make up her own mind.
Thank you, Agnostic Lady and well said. Methinks many do protest very much.
Sorry Agnostic lady, but when someone thinks they have the right to threaten me or infringe upon my liberties because of their beliefs, I have an obligation to demand that they prove those beliefs to be based on verifiable evidence. Without evidencial support, those beliefs form actions that are dangerous to the rest of us.
Probably for the same reason that when there is an article about NASA finding a new planet, there is always christians in there trying to drown out the discussion about the scientific discovery with bible quotes! lol
Ah, and there you go Agnostic Lady, the amazing mental gymnastic we see to justify their seeking out a faith article and overtly attacking and oppressing the religious. One, they are being "oppressed" (one can only suspect it was by a relative sending them a Christmas card) and see it is their duty to stop such oppression by suppressing religion everywhere even though this is expressly illegal by the first amendment. Or two, and I really had to chuckle there, they are seeking some kind of revenge for discussions on science article. Now ironically as a science lover, I can testify to how false that second reason was. It's usually trolls, er I mean atheists there too who make posts about how science disproves religion (when if anything it does the opposite) leading to the discussion and the proceed to be the most vocal and frequent participants in the discussion they started. In all that I've rarely indeed seen the spiteful attacks that trolls, er atheists make against the religious.
I'm SO CONFUSED. I just don't know WHAT to think.
Agnostic Lady – An atheist is simply one who does not believe in theism, it seems to be commonly characterized (inaccurately) as one who "knows" that a god does not exist. There is little difference between Atheists and Agnostics although the common perception is that agnostics are simply "doubtful" and atheists are "certain".
There have been thousands of gods created and worshiped throughout time and culture, most people have rejected or chosen not to believe in all those gods, atheists just believe in one less god – perhaps the difference is not so great :)
How dare these greedy businessmen give a demographic exactly what they're looking for!
Your comment is spot on for the p0rn industry. Yet that actually does real harm including breaking up marriages and I suspect you'd be in line with others defending p0rn to the hilt against the "oppressive sharia law" of Rick Santorum who'd seek to eliminate it.
I love the Christian Mingle commercials. They always make me laugh. Some people are so retarded.
and if the couple comes a disaster, will say that the blame is God?
I wish all atheists got cancer and died hopefully soon
And I'd also like to wish you all a belated "Merry Christmas". And remember, Jesus Loves.
A quick death? Don't you christians want everybody to suffer first?
.... Psycho ....
Jesus loves, but apparently you don't. Way to follow his teachings.
"Jesus loves," but you don't apparently with your cancer wishes. You set such a great example of "Christian" love!
Go back and read the chapter covering "syntax" in your high school English book. You sound like an idiot.
I think you must be joking around, I can't believe anyone could be so ignorant and malicious. If you claim to be a Christian you've seriously misunderstood what it's supposed to represent – poor you!
No God has better things to do than match people. Simply Greedy business people praying on zealots like Christine above. There will always be people who beleive anything to the point of even drinking coolaide.
There are ALOT of scammers in the cristian comunity
@ Not a Hater: Have you paid any attention to the amount of venom routinely spewed at atheists and other non-Christians? Just look at some of the comments here....
"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"
"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!!"
I suppose it's easier to ignore those comments and claim that non-Christians are unhappy, as long as it furthers your own ideological agenda.
Perhaps you should STOP looking at religious articles.
Agnostic Lady, Yet, here you are.
I'll rather die than being an atheist
But you ARE an atheist!!!!! You probably don't believe in Zeus, Vishnu, or any of the thousands of other "gods" mankind has invented over the years...
The irony is that when you do die you'll almost certainly be in the same situation as all the atheists – dead, with no imaginary afterlife.
How is being single a "worst-case scenario"? Paul was quite for it, and I think it's great.
Excellent point, the bible actually instructs people to not marry... and simply says that if you can't be a good enough christian to avoid sins of the flesh, well then get married.
USA needs to look after and fallow Iran.... they should kill those who do not believe in God and force them to attend church in order to keep religion in life..... Iran is very good and religious
This article is ridiculous. The whole point of the site is to have a dating site where Christians can meet other Christians...you know...people who at the very least share in their faith...which is a great place to start. There's no magic in it, no divine intervention, nothing. Just a regular dating website with a specific group of people in mind. Moving right along....
Not from the original Reality.
Christianity should be ENFORCED in every U.S. citizen otherwise they MUST leave the nation ASAP. This is a Christian country and the founding fathers were religious Christians. NO, don't tell me they weren't!
Silly troll. Do you post under "George" as well?
Are you the descendant of Hitler?
Um no... See the following quotes from you founding fathers: "The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." – John Adams.
"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil society." – Thomas Jefferson.
I can go on...
LOL Now That is a Very Christian comment. A religion based on fear forced on onthers; you need to look no further then Canada with the First Nations people, and the result of the "state-funded, church administered Indian Residential Schools." If you need to see the result of being force fed information about your god all you need to do is look at the outcome presented to the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada where, "thousands of children were killed or died in United Church, Catholic and Anglican "residential schools" between 1890 and 1984." Go back to school, get an education. The truth will set you free.
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.