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.”
Hell's temperature is 300 degrees Celsius
Thats it? I would have thought a supreme being could afford a higher gas bill.
I think H3ll is a spiritual fire. Not measured by a thermometer but by the misery it inflicts.
This is an open invitation for con men and con women to find gullible people that really think they are God's chosen mate for them. I feel very sorry for the suckers.
I didn't read the article, but my two cents is that since all worthwhile knowledge, wisdom and information is from God, it could be a wise decision to use a science based medium to find the right spouse. I "drifted" into a horrible marriage, and am staying because I made vows and because many studies support sticking in a bad marriage for the kids if you can maintain civility. It is not too far off to say you can find God's mate for you through a Christian dating site, especially if you're being matched personality for personality; it may one among thousands who have a personality that meshes with your own, but it's still a match! What's wrong with that? What if you could avoid the irreversible pitfall of love-at-first-sight-morphs-into-interminable-misery? I wish there had been an E harmony or Match or something for me 21 years ago.
Do you own this website they talk about?
Atheists you still have chance to convert to Christianity otherwise you will go to hell
So do bad christians go to heII? I never hear them even consider it as a possible destination for themselves. So I could just lead a horribly sinful live, doing evil at every turn and as long as I say "woo hoo, I love god and christ!!!" I'm going to heaven?
Careful Teenager. You need to work on your argument for Christianity. Your early 20's is going to test your faith to the brink. You are going to see every sin known to man glorified and their will be days you go home and say why does it look so fun. But just know that the people who engage in those sins early on will pay the price everyday after 25.
How about you go to hell. Don't threaten us.
Heaven is not entered if good outweighs bad in a life. That would be works or a type of "earning" our salvation. Heaven is entered as a gift of God, grace accepted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We accept Jesus death on the cross as God accepted it, as payment in full for all our sins past, present and future.Jesus died the death I deserved in my place so that I might be reconciled to God through Him. No one has ever been perfect enough to be acceptable to God except Jesus.
Ok, 'teenager', we'll get right on it.
I thought that with all the hating, this was Hell.
It is sad to see people quoting the Bible to claim God’s love or to brag about higher Christian moral standards. If they are just repeating what the priests/preachers told them, they are misinformed. If they have read the whole Bible but choose to quote only its few decent teachings and ignore the rest, then they are dishonest and hypocritical. The truth shall set you free and the truth is the Bible contains more atrocious, violent, vile, immoral, incestuous, filthy, disgusting, unscientific and contradicting teachings that any other book in Human history. PLEASE refrain from arguing back until you gather your courage, your sense of right and wrong and read the whole Bible first. Or go online and google for the word “Bible” combined with any of the adjective quoted earlier and see for yourself. In example, the biblical God ordered the killing (Stoning) of rebellious children (Deuteronomy21:18-21), 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), punished a mother by making her eat her own baby because she did not follow his command (Deuteronomy 28:45-57)…There are at least another 1 thousand similar horrendous passages like this in the Bible.
As a Christian I have a big problem with their dating site too. Its to make money and manipulate us ..that is all. The soul mate idea is a bunch of hooey too. The bible doesn't promote anything like a soul mate. That is a man made idea. Actually is a pagan idea dating back thousands of years. Then it became a big idea in the New Age community. I remember it rearing its ugly head back in the 70's before I was a Christian and being a teenager thought it was a very lovely and romantic idea. Soul mate implies the couple will be together forever yet Jesus says there will be no marriage in Heaven...Matthew 22:30
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
Marriage IS hard work..and God intends it to be for the rest of our physical lives. Too many Christians are throwing in the towel when things get tough falling for this stupid soul mate idea...being influenced by the world, instead of God's Word. I am single BTW...I figure if God wants me to marry He will take care of that...not some website. Meanwhile I am content with my life and how things are now. The bible doesn't say we need to get married. Paul wasn't married and actually discouraged it:1 Corinthians 7
Jesus did not encourage marriage either:
11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Sadly I see so very many young Christian single women just obsessed with the idea of marriage...so much so its all they think about and talk about..its become an idol for them. :( They believe this is what God wants so put it even over Him! How could the Lord want anything over Him? That defies Thou shall have no other gods over me...Jesus makes it clear God wants just us. Nothing is said about Him accepting us more fully if we are married. That emptiness can and frankly should be filled by Him. Not this chasing a pagan idea that has crept its way into the Christian community. I suggest Christians do some searching on the origins of the term soul mate. And beware those sites that try to twist bible verses to support the idea! Read up on marriage in the bible...take it seriously! Use some free online bible commentaries to help you fully understand their meaning. Talk to your pastor or other Christians about this and above all...ask questions!
" Its to make money and manipulate us " Welcome to the christian church.
Jesus paid for my sins on the cross. If I can avoid some extra pain by having a somewhat harmonious marriage by finding a good personality match, then I can use the brain He gave me and search for a good mate. Don't add laws. We are free in Christ as long as we don't use our freedom to sin. Using a dating site wisely is not sin.
Jeebus never said he "paid" for anything. Why would a "loving" god keep track of the sin bill in the first place ?
I never said it was a sin IF the person doesn't put finding a spouse above God. Putting anything above Him is considered idol worship. Read the bible. Do a study on what exactly idol worship is. I am not adding to it. Going to this website isn't a sin. Its when it becomes an obsession (like with anything) that causes us to sin.
Sir, the Lord Jesus (not jeebus, "What".) did encourage marriage by saying:"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and they twain shall be one flesh."
Just make sure you're not making an idol out of thinking about all these potential idols! Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, who paid our sin debt.
It saddens me to see this religious nonsense more and more on a news website. The headline should read "What does the imaginary english speaking white man in the sky think about the new E-Harmony knock-off for middle America?"
65% of Americans are about one persuasive sermon presented by one charismatic con man away from being Branch Davidians.
That' great! I'll have to remember that!
If you think a god is going to create a perfect soul mate for you then your relationship is doomed from the start. It takes a lot of hard work from both people to make anything work.
One thing this writer shows is their ignorance. As with 90+ percent of the media they haven't a clue what Christians believe and why they believe. It would be a blessing if they would work on their ignorance. When I read some of their stories and comments I almost laugh myself silly. Just like Scott, quote scripture and basically has no understanding or contex. So what is new with the media? Nothing same old line and thinking.
I know exactly what Paul was trying to say, he was trying to say sins of the flesh are to be avoided. I'm just not current on the latest version of the excuse why christians ignore this part of the bible. They have execuses for every part they disagree with, its hard to keep up with all the excuses.
I tend to disagree. The media knows exactly what we believe. But my writing it with their Christian theme they slowly pick off the weak Christians with their distortions of the truth and would be the first to pile the bibles from schools, churches, libraries and homes so they could continue with their motives of bring gay marriage and abortion to every street corner in America.
I mean the idea of gay marriage WAS genius in its plan to directly oppose the teachings of Jesus Christ. What better way to change the dictionaries and encyclopedias not to mention school curriculum by shoving progressive liberalism down everyones throats.
Science is our best guess. Theology is our best assumption.
If things arent illegal, a sin and WONT hurt anybody.....Welp, why not try something new and different..
Boy I wish I had thought of this. Christians are such suckers. God wants you to meet your soulmate on my website! God says $19.99 a month is a pittance to do God's bidding! All sinners who dare use other web sites shall perish and spend humanity in hellfire!
Like printing money.
Their entire religion is just such a construct... they're just too weakminded to use the brain they think their god gave them.
And "spend humanity in hellfire".....do you, by any chance mean ETERNITY in hellfire?
Dear Scott: We are using our brains. The beginning of wisdom is to fear (meaning respect) God and to keep His commandments. None of us Christians you and other atheists hate so much are forcing you to believe ANYTHING. Sir, has anyone ever thrust a gun in your back and said "you WILL go to church with us, today"???? I think not. Scott, you and your compatriots are so utterly full of hatred. I doubt that it stops here with us....anyway, have a good day, sir.
I used to be totally against online sites but now my mind set has changed....Remember everything isnt for everybody and we have to remember that... God indeed has made us all differently, meaning so are our paths
Go wants you to hook anonymously through CL. He told me...
As for soul mates, they don't exist. There are people who are better matches than others, but no soul mates. I hate this friggin commercial!
The site is offensive when it says in the ad "sometimes it's our turn to take a step" or whatever it says. Really ticks me off. Bad theology for a "Christian" dating site.
Its a shame that people take their love and understanding of humanity and the universe that we live in and hand it all too mythology. The bible, tora, quaran, whatever you call it, are myths. It's mythology. We don't sit around asking ourselves "what would zeuss do?" That would be silly right? This primitive worship of gods will only hold humanity back. it already has in so many ways. Not a day goes by without someone dying because of some childish belief in magic, gods etc... Bombings are a daily occurrence in the mideast as ignorant people continue to fight over who's story is the correct one. Thanks to these beliefs. Non of them benefit humanity, they only continue too destroy life.
Its not hard to lose these beliefs. You just have to try. Try believing in yourself, your friends....the people you love. It's really exhausting to see people give credit to some imaginary god instead of themselves. Take credit for who you are. Life is so difficult to mantain, lets not complicate it things that will never happen. Everything in the Universe has a life span attached to it, including us, isn't that good enough? We are stardust....we are golden.....we are billion year old carbon.
If you are commenting on this christian forum make sure you are a christian. Otherwise, dont comment or keep it to yourself.
@scott... sure, when I can read about a new planet being discovered without bible thumpers flooding the boards with bible quotes to prevent discussion about the discovery. Till then, when christians use the internet, dominated by p0rn, to find mates... I'm going to call them on their BS lol
This is a belief blog, not a christian blog. Folks are discussing their beliefs. Do the non-theists make you uncomfortable?
I am not surprised when theological texts omit "soul mates". That's probably something people picked up, like Easter eggs, that has nothing to do with religion. Think about it, too. If you have the concept of "soul mates", men can't decide who their daughters marry because it's God who's the decision-maker, and that would be an obstacle in a patriarchal society. Islam not having it has been the smallest surprise I've experienced in my entire life.
1 Corinthians (7.6); "those who marry will have affliction in regard to the flesh, and I would spare you that"
1 Corinthians (7.28); "he who marries his virgin does well, and he who does not marry her does better"
When we hear the term soul mate we give more emphasis to the word mate and less emphasis to the word soul. Souls don't mate,it is the physical bodies that mate. Soul mates do exist but, they are not necessarily your life partner. Soul mate can actually be anybody- your son, your friend, your guide. Anybody whom you share your life experiences with.
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.