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 had laid down my desire for a mate after multiple failed relationships. At age 50, i thought those days were behind me. god spoke to me about one of His daughters. i contacted her on Facebook that night. We have talked everyday for almost 9 months. it has been the most blessed time of getting to know someone i've ever experienced. We are meeting for the first time next weekend. if God hadn't intervened, this meeting would not be taking place. I don't know what God has in store for us, but even if the past 9 months is all there is, it has been incredibly beautiful. As far as God being a match-maker... well, i always said He wasn't cupid, but now i know you cant put God in a box. he does whatever he wants, whenever He wants in whatever way He wants. I have been very blessed by my experiences with online dating over the years. I think its a great way to get to the point with finding someone you are truly willing to make a commitment to. As for all the anti-christians out there who posted comments... well... i'm sorry to have to tell you this, but love isn't in your local tavern with beer in hand and sobriety left at home. Fall in love with God and love will find you...
God spoke to you? Did he have a low bellowing voice like James Earl Jones? "This is G O D..." lol
You would enjoy "Rick Santorum's Beastiality Blog.com".
Wow..... Does God have dial-up or a cable modem? He found this man a woman, but forgot to give him a normal brain!!!
What a very exciting time it is for you! I wish you well, although I do not believe that any god had a whit of influence on your original meet-up or the ensuing attraction. Peace and happiness to you...
snort ... god doesn't speak, it is your meds that need adjusting
I'm starting a new business, ChristianFlatScreenTV.C0M, you can find god's big screen match for you.
Need a business partner? We can throw a 5 cent cross on those bad boys and rake in the profits! In a sense, we'd at least be providing them with something tangible; unlike the church...
To the people who offended his followers like some of us atheists contributing to this forum right now, the "compassionate" Jesus threatened: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea". (Matthew 18:6).
Don't forget merciful and loving!
I believe in soul mates and things such as twin flames. God created the earth so we would have a place to live and thrive on. God gave us many things to help us along the way including other people. I like the idea of more people waiting because honestly even in our 20s we all have a lot of growing up to do and figure who we truly are and will become.
God gave us other people????? Maybe he gave them you??? You have SERIOUS problems!!!
you cant be serious. We evolved. We meet. We mate. We reproduce. Pretty simple.
I guess if god finds parking spaces for christians after they pray in the parking lot, then I'm positive He can find a soul mate through some chessy website. Can someone tell these idiots that there are some 30,000+ people starving to death in the world every day, and god does nothing about that? This is how ridiculous the christian faith has become in this country. Oh, god helped me find my car keys this morning and on and on it goes. Pure sales pitch from the website to make money and using god to do it; does that suprise anyone coming from christianity?
Do you play much chess on 'chessy' websites?
Atheists, the existence of God is not a Newton moment. There wont be any apples or accidents that fall out the sky that makes everyone believe the solar system revolves around the earth. You can't disprove something that EXISTS!
Sorry fda, the burden of proof lies with those making a claim. You are making a claim that your god exists, and thus it is your responsibility to provide evidence to support your hypothesis.
So if he 'exists' then his existance should be easy to prove. I've got a tree in my front lawn, I can prove it exists. I think the appropriate use of the phrase is that it is impossible to prove that something doesn't exist when its existance can't be proven in the first place.
@Scott: Careful, you know how these believers are about interpretation.
You inadvertently disproved the point you were trying to make. As long as there have been sentient humans, the Sun was believed to orbit the Earth. This was so obvious to everyone it didn't need proving: you could watch it happen at dawn and dusk each day. However, without proof, it remained a belief. Once proofs were attempted, it was obvious from the inconsistencies in the proofs (the need for planets to suddenly stop and go backwards, for one) that something was wrong. The Catholic Church enforced the Earth-centric belief as long as it could through violence and persecution, but eventually the proofs for a heliocentric solar system became overwhelming, and they were accepted as scientific fact, the opposite of an unfounded belief, no matter how popular that belief may be. Even the Catholic Church accepted it... in 1993.
You may treasure your belief in the Judeo-Christian Creator god and the belief systems that have grown up around it, and if it works for you, all well and good. But once you try to prove your belief is a fact, you're up against the same problems that defenders of the Earth-centric solar system faced: any "proofs" simply cannot stand up to the same level of scientific scrutiny that, say, electromagnetic theory can. As other respondents have mentioned, it's not possible to disprove the existence of something the existence of which has not been conclusively proven.
Theology isnt a science like physics is. The models used to prove really are not the same. Deductive logic can be defended in the scientific method but to use it everytime is slow and tedious. Miracles don't work in the method. It doesn't mean they don't exist it just means there is a God.
Just to clarify.....
You think that miracles exist.
You think that miracles could be explained as natural phenomena.
You think that the process that can explain miracles as natural phenomena is too slow.
You think that because the scientific method is too slow, that proves that miracles are proof of god?
your silliness is not logical. You cant say "this exists unless you prove it does not". I can claim "there is advanced life on Pluto" and then maintain it is true unless you prove it is false (which you cannot). It is clear this is rubbish ... however it is the same lame logic you are using. You may choose to believe, but it certainly does not make god real. God is a concept. No more.
If christains want to use a "Christain" web dating service, and pay their christain dollars for said service to find their, "soulmate." let them. The athiests can use, "booty-call". The big intellegent all knowing being in the sky has stock in both websites.
For not glorifying his name, the Biblical God threatened: “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread sh.t upon your faces, even the sh.t of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it." (Malachi 2:2-3). Please check to see how “morally awe-inspiring” your Bible is.
Freethinker????? Should be Brainwasheder!!!!!
Sounds like a "divine" marketing plan to me :-)
Faith allows you to believe whatever you want. That doesn't make it true or factual. Remember, religion faith has caused more deaths than all the wars ever fought.
One correction. Christians have caused more deaths than all other religions combined. ...Crusades..Spanish Inquisition, 20th century wars..All Christian led.
.....and it has CAUSED the wars, too!!!!
If all these people on this forum were put in one room and then made to verbally announce their comments, what would be the outcome? How many dead? How many injured? How many converted to the "other" cause?
I had a christian telling me once that something I was doing in my private life was wrong... They didn't agree with my lifestyle, evidently having more than one woman in your bed at a time is bad, I'm just not moral enough for them I guess. So I told them that the bible says there is nothing wrong with it. That it never preached against it and in fact, the bible says "For everything there is a season"... the obviously implication is that nothing is inherently wrong. Oh quoting their book back at them just shuts them down, they won't even talk to you after that... how dare you know something about what they profess to know everything about and which supposedly makes them superior to you! lol
Your friend was partialy correct. While it may not be a "sin", it is bad form to brag.
One time some Christian missionaries showed at our place and we decided to have a debate which they were not expecting. One was so nervous and kept tellng the other we need to leave now. I guess it weakens their faith when someone confronts them with ideas and statements from their own Bible.
I wasn't 'bragging', this person took it upon themselves to insert themselves into my business. I was just always hanging out with the two, the women made it clear we were intimate.
Yes, unfortunately, many Christians do not have a knowledge of apologetics these days. Goes along with the changing culture. Quite sad.
Having anyone comment on the "correctness" of what someone else does in their private life is wrong, and arrogant. It may be wrong for them, but not at all wrong for me.
Before you use the Bible to morally belittle others, please be aware that the biblical God also ordered the killing (Stoning) of rebellious children (Deuteronomy21:18-21), he ordered Moses to take revenge leading to the killings of men, women, children and babies but allowed the “sparing” of virgin girls used for the enjoyment of his soldiers for his priests (Numbers 31:1-47), he punished a mother by making her eat her own baby because she did not follow his command (Deuteronomy 28:45-57)…and many more (More than 1000 similar instances).
All your points have been explained countless times before. I enjoyed the book: Is God a Moral Monster? Explaining the God of the Old Testament. Nothing in the book is new but it is well written. Much of the OT mosaic laws were no different than any new country or peoples setting up a government. Do you find our laws for justice to be wrong? As for the virgins, Hebrew men were required to marry any virgin slaves not "use" them. Look into the culture some more.
I had not remembered reading Deuteronomy 28 before. Just read it again – WOW.
And yes, nympha is right. These clearly written words have been thoroughly rationalized away many times already. Our moral instincts make it clear which parts of the "perfect" moral code of the Bible to ignore.
Yes, I guess I did sound like I was explaining it away. I know many people do. I actually accept and acknowledge what happened in the OT to come from a just God. There are a few passages that make me wonder His reasoning, but most are clear if you know Him.
I live in Oklahoma, bible belt, "buckle of the bible belt", unfortunately the divorce rate here is way over 50%.
Either there is no divine soul mate selection assistance or the services delivered from above are very very poor. We need new management in that case. Where is the teaparty when you need it?
I don't know anything about these dating sights but I do know God most certainly takes an interest in the joining of two believers. He very obviously had my husband picked out for me. I would relay the miraculous story but none of the atheists who (for some very odd reason) like to troll these sights would believe me. God is very active in the lives of believers.
you also don't know much English...hint..."sites"
Statistically "good things" and "bad things" happen to atheists and believers to the same degree. Your logic above is just wrong. god is not active because god is a concept in peoples minds, that is all.
Paul stated that individuals should avoid sins of the flesh... and that if you're just so weak that you can't, well then get married.
Hee,hee...you're right about the spelling:) I received a 4.0 in college English and know better. However, missing a correct word isn't a sin the last time I checked.
As for God being active in my life, no one on this thread could argue any different since you do not know me. The presumption is more in line with ignorance than the subject of faith.
Anybody can get a 4.0 at Bible College.
:) I know of no Bible colleges that offer degrees in Interior Architecture. If there were, you would be correct that I would have attended.
You people are inane. Countless civilizations have believed just as much as you do in countless other gods and look how we see them now. Imagine what people will be thinking of you in 2000 years.
Why are ALL atheists fat? Is it possible this is a form of extreme laziness. Is it that they never bothered to get off the couch and go see the grass that God tells us he created in the bible?
Hmmm, Im gonna try that next time I convert an atheist. Ill bring him grass to show and tell.
And you think that by your insulting comment that you make any impression on an atheist. You would turn them away faster than a blink. The Bible has some strong words for those who lead others away from Chr ist.
Your generalizations are false. Why are all jeezus freaks arrogant ?
actually i currently have 5 (FIVE) converted atheists.
You have 5 converted atheists? Where do you keep them locked up?
Tell you what, you can consider me converted if you can just provide the following information.
Please provide verifiable evidence that your god exists.
I love a woman who is on her knees every night ... It is god's will.
Is the Bible divine. In Numbers 31:1-47, Moses, following God's command to punish the Midianites, ordered his troops to kill all men, women (Including pregnant ones), children, elderly people, new born babies BUT specifically told them to spare the virgin girls/young women for themselves and for the priests' enjoyment. The Bible specifically states 16,000 virgins were “spared”. How on earth can any book be holy with stuff like this in it? And there are more than a 1000 (Yes, thousand) similar instances in the Bible. Please make it your 2012 New Year resolution to read the whole Bible cover to cover and set yourself free.
Only strange people read that stupid book cover to cover. I don't care how people lived and though 2000 years ago. We have progressed since then.
This is heresy. If Jeebus–god had wanted humanoids to hook up on computers, she would have had them born with Wi-Fy routers in their ar'ses. It's just unnatural.
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.