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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. Bubba

    Exactly what this world needs more of; EXPERTS!!!!!

    give me the days of just simple folks taking care of business and not 'sharing' their expertise!!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  2. Rahul

    I think humans are designed to worship something. If you leave a small group of people on a remote island, leave for 100 years and some back, they'll most likely be worshipping something – a tree, cow, fire, etc. Belief in God is an intrinsic property built into the human psych – you can't escape it and the athiests know that.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Jim

      And yet there are Atheists...

      January 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Rahul

      yes, you're right. I guess to each his own. Let the Christians be Christians and let the atheists be atheists, and let me finish my eggnog.....yumm....

      January 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • taildragon

      Until you break free from the indoctrination you've experienced your entire life, it might seem innate. But no more than a other beliefs you eventually leave behind. Santa, for example. 200 years ago it was kinda crazy to be an atheist, cuz who made all this stuff? But now (thanks to asking questions and searching for rational, scientific answers) the list of jobs we need a god for is vanishingly small, thus the increasing presence of atheists.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • nooneknows

      Belief in god is not intrinsic, it is learned, usually from childhood based on the beliefs of the parents.
      Religion is comes mostly from the country and the culture and the family into which one is born.
      Most of us stop believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. It's a shame the belief in god persists in so many, as it is no more real than these other imaginary beings.

      January 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • cigarlover6

      Hey Rahul, why are u keeping the freaking Hindu name and defending christians/drinking eggnog ;)

      January 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • What ?

      And your proof that it is not learned behavior is ?

      January 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • pirate

      Russell's teapot

      January 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  3. just sayin

    Is God going to hook you up on line?
    Probably not.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Robin Bray

    Using a make believe person as the basis for making a buck is so sad. Is it no wonder churches use the images of sheep to describe their followers. And we all know what happens to sheep.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • pirate

      They get their coats removed every season? lol

      January 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  5. One one

    I suppose they will eventually develop companion sites. "Christian affair" and "Christian divorce".

    January 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  6. JT

    Those whacky Christians.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  7. ashrakay

    god wants you to have s.ex with lots of people before getting married, otherwise you're condemning your partner to a lifetime of dull monotony. There's nothing more disappointing than an adult that still has the se.xual maturity of an adolescent.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  8. John

    This is crazy, first of all if there were a god, its not working thru a website that is just someones way of making money, if christians want to meet up with other christians thru a website thats up to them, but to claim anything other than this is a database program crunching numbers is bogus. Also many evangelical christians are anti science and I find it to be hypocritical that such people use any technology for any reason.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jim

      Are you suggesting that god didn't invent SQL? He's the heavenly king of DBMS.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  9. so self righteous

    Krishma
    This is the reason people get such a bad taste in their mouths about organized religion. Because no matter how they live their lives, someone who thinks they know better, will judge them. No matter how stellar of an example. thier lives, they will be dimissed and belittled by those who insist they know better. No wonder so may are turning away from the Church.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Yet the census that an Atheist show the continual growth of the church. Even the Catholics are still growing. I believe that folks are just switching to other churches within the Faiths. Maybe in some churches what you describe is present. For example with the increase in gay and lesbian churches ones are maybe just leaving their home church but remain in the Faith.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Humility is a good thing.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  10. nooneknows

    Christianity (and all the major religions) are _so_ absurd.
    The only reason they continue is because children are brainwashed [when very young] to believe whatever their parents believe, and then they do the same [to their children] when they grow up and the vicious cycle continues.
    And the brainwashing insidiously includes the command not to question anything, and accept it all on "faith".

    January 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Christian Mingle

    Bottom Line–out of a dozen men met on CM, ALL of them were frauds. these men were married but lied on their application, racists ranting about their ex wife's affair with a minority, 3 time losers implying "divorced" meant once only, saying they were "good Christian men" just to try to nail a naive Christian woman, and an actual criminal awaiting court date! CM is a joke with a misleading tag line. God is not a fraud, but many take God's name in vain!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Jim

      What makes you believe that all christians are "good". Prison is full of christians. If you expect to post an ad and get an inbox full of Wally Cleaver clones I think you have a unrealistic view of who the average christian is.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Rahul

      Jim, you sound as if prisons are bad places. Trust me, those guys live better lives in prison than us out here. They have TV, good food, healthcare, education, gym, air-conditioning/heating – all for free while we work our asses like suckers. In this economy, I'd rather be in prison than be homeless.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Jim

      Ok Rahul, knock yourself out, let us know how it works out for you.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      So Christian Mingle is full of evil men and innocent women.

      It seems you have more of a gender man hating axe to grind. To piggyback on the previous, I wonder if Christian Mingle is full of June Cleavers or Clair Huxtables on the female side.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • pirate

      Rahul, I wonder how sore your backside will be after a couple nights in prison lol...

      January 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  12. Ric

    Though I am an atheist , I can understand the concept of bringing people together who share the same belief, but to assume that god is some kind of wish genie, who brings you a mate if you pray and wish for one is ludacris.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • nooneknows

      Hmmm, to say that Ludacris is a wish genie is ludicrous.

      Listening to too much hip hop, perhaps?

      January 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  13. pirate

    One of the craziest things – Why would a supreme being want to be worshiped? That is such a HUMAN trait, and not a very good one at that!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Great posts pirate.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Mugs

      Because your (man's) definition of "worship" is not what the worship you are alluding to actually is. It would be a natural response to the unfathomable love. What's more, the truth is in all our hearts, no matter how much we appear completely against the idea of a sovereign, loving God. We can argue with each other all we want. Arguing can't change reality.

      Blaming God for all the atrocities of this world is like blaming your parents for your state of being after running away, getting hooked on drugs, and find yourself homeless eating out of a trash can on skid row. Is that your parents fault, ultimately? Nope.

      Thing about it is, all those that say there is no eternal life, one day everyone will find out, personally. If believers are right, we will all know about it for eternity. If non-believers are right, no one will ever know. Kinda takes the "oomph" out of "I told you so", doesn't it?

      January 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • imabeliever

      Because God is perfect and is the Truth. Anything less is called sin. To be perfect warrants to be worshiped. Anything that deems itself less than perfect would not want to be worshiped therefore causing that to be less than perfect. What you stated is a paradox. Humans, on the other hand, are not perfect (a.k.a. sinful). When they ask to be worshiped they commit sin (a.k.a. idolatry). Sinful people often ask to be put on a higher pedestal than they deserve. Once they begin to compare themselves to God, they have already been judged sinful by God.

      Understanding Christian theology often helps when trying to criticize Christian beliefs, faiths, and ideologies. Today many people criticize Christians as hate mongers and having intolerance; however, I find that many non-religious people spit more venom and hatred against those with faiths.

      Sure, Christians have a horrible history. But many Christians who have truly accepted Jesus Christ have already acknowledged that and have learned from that. Please acknowledge that, just like any large world organizations, there are good and bad apples in a bunch. Non-religious people or people of other faiths shouldn't generalize and judge every individual based on some kooks, which so happen to be picked and spotlighted by the media.

      Today, a world without Christians would be more of a bad place. Do some research and you will see that the largest world charity organizations that do real good works, all over the world, are founded by Christians.

      Don't let anger make you hate. If more people understood that God loves them, they would probably love others more.

      January 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • What ?

      A perfect being, confident in it's perfection, would not care if it was worshiped, or not.

      January 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • pirate

      OK Mugs, first of all, I don't blame any nonexistent invisible man in the sky for anything. Second, your "perfect" god is logically impossible. Quoting my favorite bible bashing site (you REALLY should read your bible, maybe I would take what you say more seriously!):

      What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete–it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • pirate

      God is omniscient. When he created the universe, he saw the sufferings which humans would endure as a result of the sin of those original humans. He heard the screams of the damned. Surely he would have known that it would have been better for those humans to never have been born (in fact, the Bible says this very thing), and surely this all-compassionate deity would have foregone the creation of a universe destined to imperfection in which many of the humans were doomed to eternal suffering. A perfectly compassionate being who creates beings which he knows are doomed to suffer is impossible.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • pirate

      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.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • pirate

      A God who knows everything cannot have emotions. The Bible says that God experiences all of the emotions of humans, including anger, sadness, and happiness. We humans experience emotions as a result of new knowledge. A man who had formerly been ignorant of his wife's infidelity will experience the emotions of anger and sadness only after he has learned what had previously been hidden. In contrast, the omniscient God is ignorant of nothing. Nothing is hidden from him, nothing new may be revealed to him, so there is no gained knowledge to which he may emotively react.

      We humans experience anger and frustration when something is wrong which we cannot fix. The perfect, omnipotent God, however, can fix anything. Humans experience longing for things we lack. The perfect God lacks nothing. An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  14. Charis

    I want to know what all these religious experts would say about how belief in the existence of "soul mates" squares up with the practice of polygamy, especially if polygamy was practiced in their faith. I know polygamy was practiced in early Judaism, and it still is today in many Muslim countries. I'm not surprised the article says Islam does not have a belief in soul mates. In my opinion, belief in soul mates little harder to sell if you also allow polygamy. It would disturb me to think my husband has one or two or three other "soul mates" at the same time, while I can have only one. I don't know the Mormon polygamist thinking on this, but I'm sure if they believe in soul mates they have it worked out. I happen to believe my husband is my soul mate, but I also know that doesn't mean marriage is easy or that we will always be together & always be happy. That would be stupid. One has nothing to do with the other. You still have to both work at maintaining a healthy relationship, and we could still potentially screw it up, or through nobody's fault, simply grow apart as we get older. I didn't let this existential debate paralyze me before saying, "I do." I can control how I behave in the present, and as for the future? God knows. I'm ok with that.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  15. EnjaySea

    Yet another way to pickpocket the gullible.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  16. arribadas ostional guanacaste

    Funny funny but 18 years ago when i married, i remember i was 23 , and for my bth day 22 I asked GOd for him to bless me with a Husband of his choise to me. ANd i remember I had a boyfriend very religious bf even more than my husband But I wasnt sure he was the one.
    And have fun , buy this bf introduced me my husband ? what was that? funny ha !

    January 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  17. Linda

    God Can do anything he desires, he will use internet, if that is what needs to be done....

    January 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • 5thApe

      Yup, invisible men in the sky are like that I guess....

      January 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • What ?

      God can't do anything SHE desires. She can't make a rock that is too heavy for her to lift.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • taildragon

      God: "Dammit, my keyboard to the internets is sticky again! Who let St. Peter into my office?"

      January 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • jerrygergich

      No, sorry, I am afraid you are wrong. God can only get dial-up or WildBlue from his location and he just absolutely refuses to use it.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  18. Mary Davis

    God does bring people into our lives. I met my husband in church. We've been married for almost 37 years. If your heart
    is open to love. God will make it known to you if this new person in your life is the right choice. Only God knows what is
    truly in one's heart. I hope I have left a little food for thought. God Bless everyone!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • 5thApe

      Mary, that god of your exists only in your imagination. Grow up.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Come on dude, she made a marriage last for 37 years ... And you think she is the one that needs to grow up? Seems like she is more mature than many of us.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • 5thApe

      Marks

      "God will make it known to you if this new person in your life is the right choice. "

      Really? This is *sane*. Is this rational? People need to grow up when they think they have an invisible friend in the sky sending them messages.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  19. Benjamin Zhao

    A family is a basic cell of a society, and this basic cell needs to be stable. Such concept is universal and not tied up to any religious concepts. Anyone from inside or outside of our family, who would like to shake down this stable foundation has to be dumped. God is my witness, I said that.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  20. Tallalal

    I wish Atheists created their own symbol to show in public that they are Atheists and created their own Atheist house of worship whatever LOL I wonder how long it would have lasted and Christians reaction in public :D

    January 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • cyberCMDR

      Perhaps you'd like little 'A's sown into our clothes to make us easier to identify? Your comment shows why many atheists keep quiet about being an atheist.

      Atheists are a minority in this country, and like any minority in the context of beliefs atheists experience bigoted behavior from many Christians. For people who boast that they try to behave like Christ (love your enemies, do unto others, etc.), too many Christians feel fully justified in attacking non-Christians verbally, physically, or in more subtle ways (pass over for promotion or refuse to hire). From what I've seen few devout Christians in this country even approach the ideals that Christ is supposed to have taught. If anything, it seems that they behave in the exact opposite way, if the person they are dealing with is not a member of the right religious community.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • One one

      If they do, I hope they don't pick a symbol that has a person nailed to it.

      January 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • pirate

      Yeah no kidding cyber, you hit it on the spot... The bible is such an intolerant book....

      You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

      Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

      Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

      Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

      Kill anyone who refuses to listen to a priest. Deuteronomy 17:12-13

      Kill any false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:20

      January 7, 2012 at 8:08 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.