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.”
'Soul mates' is how Feldhahn hawks her books and ChristianMingle sells subscriptions. 'Free will' is their back door out for saying 'hey, don't blame god for something you screwed up'.
It's a romantic notion to think that we all havebut oone person as our perfect match that has been found for each of us. But if you hadn't met your current partner, you would never have known that. It is s simple person who believes otherwise. Is my wife my soul-mate? Yes, but not because some guy in the sky made it so. It's pathetic to think otherwise. And anyone who does is either gullible or looking to make money.
a successful marriages is not about *finding* the right person; it's about *becoming* the right person. 2 people who are even slightly compatible who are willing to change for, sacrifice for, and serve each other are going to have a healthy relationship. Sadly, many come into marriages proud, set in their ways, wanting to be served, and wanting the other person to change to meet their selfish desires. It is the Lord who can change such a selfish heart, and show people the only way to love your spouse is how we are taught in the Bible.
Yes, just how we are taught in the bible: (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)
If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.
Yes, here is your god teaching us how to get women: (Deuteronomy 20:10-14)
As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.
They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil. (Judges 5:30 NAB)
You must not have read your bible, it seems. Here's one more great way your bible teaches us on how to get laid! -- When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)
You were cruising right along with your comment, but lost me in your last sentence "It is the Lord who can change such a selfish heart, and show people the only way to love your spouse is how we are taught in the Bible." You see, it is your absolutism that has us "non-believers" shaking our heads. "The ONLY way to love your spouse is how we are taught in the bible?" Maybe for you, pal, provided you eliminate the Old Testament and cherry-pick the New.
Tim, you are right on the money. The correct term is "Cafeteria Catholic".
Atheists are destroying the USA. Great job!
Statistically atheists know more about your own religion than you do!
BTW, if you kicked out all the atheists from this country you would lose 93% of the National Academy of Sciences but less than 1% of the prison population. Tell me, sir, how would it ruin the country by keeping only 7% of the scientists and practically the whole prison population?
For such a small and disliked group (when's the last time a politician has pandered to us?), we sure are powerful!
The atheist types like to think they know more about religion than the believer, but the Truth is the complete opposite. Most of the so called atheists on these posts use the same old disproven arguments and verses to claim knowledge. Bottom line the average atheist wanna be doesn't know jack when it comes to belief.
Enoch, I wouldn't worry too much. Atheists are not cause for concern. Why is this suddenly an issue now? They have big mouths and that is it. Studies have been shown that their the most untrusted group of people.
Yes, yes, atheists are destroying the USA. In other news, we didn't land on the Moon and Obama is to be blamed for everything.
@Atheist and Enoch; you are giving yourself waaaaay too much credit. Neither of you have power except for what those voices in your head tell you. They are you imaginary friends tell you that you're special. Keep enjoying your medicinal marijuana guys.
So as to avoid reposts please refer to my glorious bible references in response to Chris's post. This is to you "just sayin" who does not believe that us "atheists" don't know more about religion than the religious do!
@David: It's sad that I have to point out that I was being facetious. I only wish that were also true of Enoch.
@David, if atheists are no problem, why are the religious fundies on here always so upset by them?
I am not religious. I am a proud American citizen. You cannot have our country. You will have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Want to live in a Theocracy? Go to the middle east.
Try again... atheists make up only less than 5 percent of the population so you are the minority. An intelligent educated person keeps his mind open to all possibilities and isnt narrow minded or bends what he belives is true just to suit his views or lifestyle.
Intolerance of those different than ourselves is destroying this country . . .
“We have every right to screw it up if we want to – and sometimes we do,” Feldhahn says.
AMEN! I have seen people with very little going for them make it work, and people who should have been blissfully happy together screw it up. My ex is of the "Grass Is Always Greener" school - find him a soul mate who's 100% compatible and he'll be out looking for one who's 110% compatible. Yet, my aunt and uncle who were married only so that she could legitimately live with him to care for her dead sister's children, were happy for 50 years because they didn't go into it expecting a soul mate, it was a purely practical arrangement.
It all comes down to the fact that no one is perfect. You decide what you can and cannot live with. If you want your marriage to work, it will. Obviously, abuse and infidelity are deal breakers.
Experts? In "faith?" Oh man, I gotta get me a a job like that. I can be an expert in imaginary sky gods, too. Who is going to prove me wrong?
All hail the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster!!!
Yes Pirate, FSM lives!!!
So, how many angels can fit on the tip of a needle? Let's call "experts" from different religions to weigh in on this important question. I am pretty sure it will be a lengthy and fruitless debate...
I myself believe in the soulmate thing. What I disagree with is the free will factoring in part. We really don't have free will, we are just under the illusion we do. Since I know free will does not exist, I can eliminate that explanation/evidence from the consideration so to speak.
Ridiculous. If some supposed invisible man in the sky assigned soul mates to everyone, and we had no free will in the matter, why is the divorce rate well over 50%?
You believe in the exact things that any reasoning and logical person would not. And don't get started about how all of that should be discarded because god doesn't care about logic. A person's life is based on a series coincidences. A soulmate is nothing more than a successful coincidence. A divorce is an example of an unsuccessful coincidence. We all have free will. I could go out right now and buy a pack of cigarettes and puff away. I choose not to.
Life is not an illusion. Religion attempts to make it that way but not for godly reasons. For reasons of power, control and wealth. Nothing more.
I would hope a God, if one exists, has more important issues to "Lord" over than hooking Christians up for dates.
Based on His past history, your Lord came down to Earth to diddle a married woman. He appears to have all the requisites of a homewrecker.
At its heart, this is the old debate about determinism versus free will. I will offer that God knows the best kind of person for each one of us, but he won't force it. I think in Christian circles (especially among women, who seem to be the ones developing this whole idea of their perfect man who meets all their demands), people are not taking responsibility to know what is best for them and to find it. They want someone else to do all that hard work.
There is a sucker born every minute...
Concepts like this, sappy songs and movies are probably ruining the lives of millions. Accepting people as they are instead of expecting people to be what you want is a much easier way to live in the long run. In the short run, you can waste your time looking for the perfect mate, the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect dog, cat, etc. Not saying some may find this, but the vast majority is unlikely to.
Sorry, its time to wake up and get real. I was trying to come up with some clever zen like thing to say, but its too early in the morning.
Good one. The Christian psychologists Cloud and Townsend (who have an eponymous website, by the way) talk about making a list of what you will tolerate rather than what you want. You'll have better results that way.
Seriously, "soul mates." IF there was ONE SPECIAL PERSON for you do you think the population of the Earth would be what it is?!! If you believe this cra$, please turn in your right to a brain card at the library desk NOW, you're overdue!!! haha
I used the "soulmates" line to bed down soo many ladies. It's a perfect way to gain their confidence.
Will someone please send these gullible idiots my way. I've got some stock I want to sell them for my future mega-church construction project.
They are already in line, just open the door or get a show on cable TV.
I wonder - does God use PCs or Macs?
Linux guy... Apple and MS are Satan
Neither, he seems to whisper in the ears of a few "special" people....those that claim to hear "voices" from the heavens. Of course those BFFs of God almost always seem to hit you up for some cash after revealing what "God" told them.
Yeah let's be like atheists and pretend nothing is more intelligent in and out of the universe but humans... Or some aliens that have been around longer then us............
I think what is interesting is an alien planet or galaxy can exist without us on the opposite side of the universe........
All while the atheists say.. It just happened because it had to.
I don't think God has control over earth.. I think Satan has control, that's what's in the bible too... God cast Satan down to earth........ So I think more likely to run into Satan's match...
You might want to revise that view to satan having "dominion," not control The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign. Also, he does not exercise "control" in the way that people reading this blog are likely to understand that word.
And that folks is why education of our youth is so very important for a society to thrive.
"Yeah let's be like atheists and pretend nothing is more intelligent in and out of the universe but humans."
Uh, no. Atheists pretend nothing. They simply dont know about things they dont know about, and unlike the religious, dont fill in the possible gaps in with absurd notions, whether it be imaginary sky gods or dead people coming to life.
yer both idiots
Why is it not possible that something happened because it just happened? Why do we say that there has to be God because we cannot otherwise explain what is going on? Just because we don't understand how things happen does not mean that it didn't happen. I believe in God but I am just amazed by these illogical people who take the easy way out.
If God is all powerful, why doesn't God just get rid of Satan once and for all? I just love to hear the responses to this one.
Tim, I think you would like one of my favorite sites, evil bible dot com, quoting: God is perfectly just, and yet he sentences the imperfect humans he created to infinite suffering in hell for finite sins. Clearly, a limited offense does not warrant unlimited punishment. God's sentencing of the imperfect humans to an eternity in hell for a mere mortal lifetime of sin is infinitely more unjust than this punishment. The absurd injustice of this infinite punishment is even greater when we consider that the ultimate source of human imperfection is the God who created them. A perfectly just God who sentences his imperfect creation to infinite punishment for finite sins is impossible. -------– Adding my own thoughts – imagine the worst person imaginable, lives a cruel life and lives to a ripe old age of 100. Now, say he deserves punishment for such a life. Do you think this imperfect creation created by a supposed perfect being is guilty of the way he was created by the omni-powerful invisible man in the sky which nobody has seen, talked to, smelled, touched, etc... would not have paid his dues after a million years of burning in hell? What an f'n cruel god you guys have!!! Worse than a kid burning an ant with a magnifying glass!
Cha-Ching $$$$$$ Well, they say "One is Born Every Minute". So. 1440 a day. no lack of customers.. sigh and they shall multiply.. oh boy...........
OOps. To death do us part!!!. 50% of all marriages end in divorce.. the other in death (Well it does!!!). so those who divorce.. are they the ones who get matched in even and the others are free to roam???
Yes, my son?? :) lol
lol – does the invisible man in the sky who is a figment of people's imaginations create soul-mates? LMAO – If this country lost all its atheists in one day we would lose 93% of the national academy of sciences but lose less than one percent of the prison population!
But, didn't you know the babble .. oops ... buy-bull ... sorry .. the bible holds ALL the answers - to life, science, philosophy, the arts ... everything. It would be like living 1500 years ago, and we all know juat how good they had it back then, right? The bible is as accurate for teaching science as a Chemistry book is for Phys. Ed.
Love the comment! Agreed.
Why does everything have to be so literal?
As half of American marriages end in divorce, I guess your Invisible Sky Friend is not that good at picking your match.
Divorce is not a result of the marriage...it is a result of humans not truly loving. You are sadly mistaken, as are many christian and non, as to what love actually is. It is not that warm fuzzy feeling you start off with. Love is an action. And if you don't have your theology correct, you will not understand love nor will you be "in it".
As for the invisible sky friend...I thought all you athiests said he didn't exist?
He's the same guy who told Palin to run (and Angle, and O'Donnell, and Bachmann). I'd take what he says with a grain of salt.
Stop searching for a soul-mate because you already got you one.
No "soul-mates". Just amicability is stronger with some than with others. Just remember once upon a time, travel was extremely limited and people had few options who they would ultimately settle with. Probably best not to globe trot to find your mate when all you have to do is meet your neighbors.
Those that want to marry, usually find someone. Those that do not wish to marry remain single for usually a particular reason. Sometimes, the reason might be that they do not want the distraction if engaged in work during the particular period of their life. Might not be as complicated as you think.
Try not to judge, label, or misread behavior toward that end related to religion or faith. It's futile.
Something connected to this subject matter that really irks me, is that single persons are being financially penalized more – such as with increased costs with insurance companies, for example. Discrimination violates the law. Any that are single and read this comment need to start speaking up.
Good post. I read a great article from Psychology Today from 2004 that discussed this very subject. Experts state that soul mates do not exists. If we want to be with someone, anyone is possible to be with. We want a soul mate to justify why that date that we had "last night" isn't good enough, why they don't make enough money, not good looking enough, not the correct degree, or whatever. After being together for a number of years the concept of soul mate is just stupid. When you live with someone day to day, it's about compatibility, respect, and compromising, not some fantasy shown in a movie. Love is about putting the spouse's needs first, not your own. Too many people get married having not grown up and act single while being married. The biggest concern in this country is how children have been raised in the past 30 years. Their maturity growth has been retarded and we have 30 year olds acting like 15 year olds. This is why they act like children at work and in public. Why do you think we have 30+ year old female teachers "dating" 13 year old boys? Because they're maturity was held back while growing up and they know of no other way. We have a huge issue with immaturity and the need for being baby-sitted in this country. Take a trip to Europe and you'll find young men and women that act like adults and the difference between them and us is absolutely amazing. Just read the comments here in this forum room; that should tell the the lack of maturity of guys in this country. Spewing hate against people of faith, etc. They're like little boys that want to prove something just to pat their ego.
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.