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Is God going to hook me up online? Assessing Christian Mingle and 'soul mates'
January 7th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Is God going to hook me up online? Assessing Christian Mingle and 'soul mates'

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.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam

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soundoff (2,002 Responses)
  1. so self righteous

    Krishma....I will tell the Pastor of my Church that you have enlightened me, that he and I and our whole congregation are wasting our time.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Krishma

      Go ahead hun. I don't know what kind of pastor you have.... Why don't you want to get baptised?

      January 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  2. pirate

    More killing of innocents by your god:

    "The people of Samaria must bear the consequences of their guilt because they rebelled against their God. They will be killed by an invading army, their little ones dashed to death against the ground, their pregnant women ripped open by swords." (Hosea 13:16 NLT)

    Wait a sec, I thought abortion is against the bible?

    January 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  3. godless

    Of course believers will believe anything. That's why there are so many religions worldwide. Unfortunately for a belief, there does not have to be any facts to support it. Belief is purely emotional and reason is not necessary, neither is thought. That's why so many poor and illiterate are believers. The Reality is that there is no god, no savior. Reality is that the christian dating website is a hoax, as anyone can go there and sign up. How many perverts do you think are on that site cruising for victims? Believers are gullible.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  4. ReligionIsGoodBiz

    I have made a fortune off of religious people. There is no better biz if you can get people thinking that God is on your side.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  5. downlow

    The problem with Church is that it's filled with Dumb A S S E S. Plain and simple- Republicans know it and exploit it. Pastors and Church Leaders know it and exploit it.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  6. mrkcioffi

    Hey RealityIsGood, very well said. I agree.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  7. mrkcioffi

    Hmmm, if God is responsible for creating marriages, how come we can't hold him liable for all the divorces. He's got one hell of a lawyer.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  8. martog

    More religious nutbag BS. If you need the promise of heaven and threat of hell to be a good person than you ARE NOT a good person.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  9. RealityIsGood

    I am an agnostic. The best people that I've ever known in my life were agnostics and atheists. They are good because they know right from wrong, not because they believe in a santa claus in the sky. If there is a God, and I hope there is, he is smart enough to see thru the BS. He doesn't care if you BELIEVE or not. He only cares if you are a good human being. Religion is full of pompous holier than thou thinking. It is common knowledge that as people get more education there are higher numbers of agnostics and atheists. No one really knows what comes after death but some people cannot fathom that the truth may be that there is nothing after death. If there is nothing after death I still feel very fortunate to have had this life. I wish you all good fortune and good luck. Be good to each other no matter what you believe. And don't think you're better than someone else just because you believe differently because if you do that God would possibly send you to hell for being dumb.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • pirate

      Some common sense!!! :) But the notion of hell itself is wrong. How can perfection create so much imperfection destined for hell? Live an evil life, die after 80 years of being a pr%ck, and no, you don't get 80 years of burning in fire, you don't get 800, not 8,000, not 8 google plex, no. You are destined to burn in hell for all eternity! Wow.. Nice guy, this god of organized religion!

      January 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. LuisWu

    How utterly stoopid.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  11. NoMoreLabels

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeUWJbs9Q5E&w=420&h=315]

    January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  12. Janette C

    Christine @ God created everything in this world. Every human is born as a non-believer. Then it's up to each person whether to believe in God or not. God gave us a short life in this planet, and the real better life will be after this planet. Even Christians were NOT born Christians until they were baptised.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  13. so self righteous

    Krishma....so a person who lives a Christian life, who does great humanitary deeds, and loves God, and spreads his word, and attends church faithfully....is not a Christian if not Baptised?....What if their particular religious beliefs do not include Baptism as yours does? Have they wasted thier lives believing in God, because you say they should have been Baptised?

    January 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Krishma

      Now we're talking about Christianity, and not any other religion. A person is Christian if he/she is baptised and accept Christ as Lord & Saviour. According to us, Non-Christians are misguided. I don't understand why a person believes in Jesus Christ and don't want to get baptised ?!

      January 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Luiz

      So self righteous,

      Krishma mighth have a different answer. But the answer to your question is " It depends" of the circunstances. But to the point that a church does not include baptism, that is big issue right there. I don't think they have been wasting their lives believing in God, but in that church.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  14. Christie

    I wish someone would start an Atheist dating website. That way all of us atheists can breed and create more atheists. I think I'll have 19 children that will be raised as 'non believers'.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Janette C

      Atheists don't do nothing but arguing with Christians. May God punish you and NOT give you any true love.

      January 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Jim

      It would be tough to advertise it. Church groups would boycott anyone who carried the ads. The networks would fold like Lowes.

      January 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • pirate

      Just google it, there are a few out there... As science and reason take hold there will only be more of them.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • pirate

      Or you can do it the way the god of the bible teaches over and over.. oh wait, this only works if you're a man...
      --
      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.
      Deuteronomy 22:28-29
      --
      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.
      Deuteronomy 20:10-14
      -
      You can find instructions like this all throughout the bible! No dating site required!

      January 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  15. Janette C

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to argue with those atheists (my ex husband was it) out there because they don't want to know the truth and love. Life is short, and one day they will realize their big mistake, but too bad it will be late :) Just wait and see! God Bless

    January 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • taildragon

      If only they would just accept your invisible friend as their savior. Those poor, irrational atheists.

      January 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • TR6

      “Life is short, and one day they will realize their big mistake, but too bad it will be late ”

      Just another wonderful Christian lovingly calling down fire and damnation on people she disagrees with. How very Christian of her

      January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • pirate

      Yes, you are right, it is impossible to argue with truth!

      January 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  16. dave

    God does provide that right person but they have to be in the right place. lets say a girl prays for the right guy but then parties with wild men or at the clubs. Will God find the right one for her in a sinful lifestyle? He can but I doubt it. The Bible says to faithfully attend Church in the book of Hebrews " do not forsake the assembly of the saints as some of you do". So if God gives direction and we rebel, then we the rebellious are to blame when we kiss the frog.

    God's best will be at Church or if you serve Him some where . bottom line: if you are walking on the path He has for you then you will find the right one. but if you rebel thinking you know better then God then you will get what you deserve for if you have a stubborn rebellious streak why would He give you to someone really good. you would drive them insane.

    the girl or guy that wants to party will get a partier, the one who is faithful and attends Christian Church will get a faithful Christian. so its your choice. many mess up their lives and ask God to fix it and He can but you will not have the best but what you wanted. the blessings are for those who are faithful and trust Jesus even in pain.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jim

      The best part is they'll find a good specimen. As God commanded Moses in Leviticus 21:16-24;

      16And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

      17Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

      18For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,

      19Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,

      20Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

      21No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

      22He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.

      23Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

      24And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  17. Luiz

    Scott, you are funny, man !..

    January 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. Acts2:38

    Back when my wife prayed for a husband, little did she know what kind of damaged goods God would send her. She got someone who was messed up spiritually, divorced, given over to sins of the flesh and basically full of the world. I wasn't too far off from the usual atheists I run into here – all cynicism and acrimony.

    It can make your head spin if you try and understand how God works with us in order to expose us to Jesus Christ. God has a plan for all of us and it's in His will to guide us to our ultimate second chance with Christ or with a spouse perhaps. In Christ, our past life is brought into harmony with God through the love and suffering of His Son. It's in that harmony, God's living Word, where we will find a true partnership with our spouses. No website or monetary subscription can do that for you.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  19. DanInTampa

    We make the rules because we didn't break off our penis in the womb.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Andrew

    find god's match for you- genius marketing! I wish I thought of that! I should start trying to think up other ways to attract business from religious people.. religion is such an awesome tool.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
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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.