By Thom Patterson, CNN
(CNN) - Has God taken an interest in the computer dating business? Does he (or she) have a username and password?
You might think so, if you’ve seen TV ads for the subscription-based dating website christianmingle.com.
The announcer says confidently: “Find God’s match for you.”
Really? Is God going to hook you up online? Cue the blogospheric debate.
"That's awfully bold to presume they already know who God wants you to marry," tweeted @Jessie_luvJesus recently.
"... SMH [shaking my head] these folks should be ashamed," wrote @EWebb424.
The tagline has been creating a “misconception” that God works exclusively through Christian Mingle, says spokeswoman Ashley Reccord.
Launched in 2001, Christian Mingle now boasts more than 5 million members, 40% of whom joined within the past year, according to the site (Full disclosure: Christian Mingle advertises on CNN.)
Members can register free and are asked to answer several questions based on religious background and personal preferences. Based on those answers, the website offers profiles of potential matches.
A search on the site for “soul mate” among women age 18-80 came up with 1,000 profiles, including one from Florida.
“I’m in search of the man God has for me,” writes the 35-year-old woman. “I’m looking for my best friend, my soul mate, and someone to share life’s greatest moments with.”
A 39-year-old woman in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote, “I still believe in true love … a soul mate. I am reasonable. I understand that there is not a perfect man out there … but one who is perfect for me.”
Says Reccord, the Christian Mingle spokeswoman: "God can orchestrate and use the medium of Christian Mingle to allow people to find their match for one another on the site. He may or may not use that means, but he can use that means."
So does that mean the cliché is true, that some matches really are “made in heaven?" Does God, if you believe there is one, pre-select us to pair up as life partners, as "soul mates?"
The Bible has little if anything to say about the matter, according to many religious writers and leaders. But several high-profile religious commentators have strong opinions about the idea:
–Soul mates do exist, according to some religious voices who cite the Jewish Talmud.
–Many Christians believe God helps people create their own kind of soul mates.
–Some say the Bible's "language of sexuality" supports the concept.
–Islam rejects the notion of soul mates, according to Muslim leaders.
–Many say belief in soul mates has negative consequences and can even be harmful.
Some of those warning about the dangers of the soul mate idea are Christians.
"If I get to heaven and I hear God say he had someone picked out for me, I'll believe him," says Lisa Anderson, host of "The Boundless Show," the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family's podcast for young adults.
"But it seems that this soul mate idea is really breaking up a lot of marriages and it's keeping a lot of young adults single."
Anderson says that believing in soul mates sets up two possible worst-case scenarios: a revolving door of marriages or a lifetime of being single.
Many young adults, she says, make this mistake: They think if they marry their “soul mate” then the marriage will be easy and wonderful. Then if the marriage turns rocky, game over; they suddenly decide they've picked the wrong mate. The marriage ends and they return to square one, searching for someone else to fill the soul mate role.
On the other hand, searching for a soul mate can be tragically intimidating, to the point of indecision.
"We're seeing young adults – X-ers and millennials - absolutely paralyzed and unable to get to marriage because they want to do it right," says Anderson. "They don't want to be their parents' generation ... the largest divorce generation in history."
Yada yada yada
But other evangelical Christian opinion-makers back Christian Mingle’s idea of an divinely ordained match.
"I would be scared to jump off a theological cliff and say we’re intended for one specific person," says Christian author Dannah Gresh. But based on the Bible’s “sexual language,” she doesn't dismiss the possibility.
The Old Testament’s original Hebrew text uses the word "yada" to imply the act of sex, says Gresh.
However, yada doesn't necessarily mean having sex in a literal sense, says Gresh. It means "to know," "to be known" or "to be respected."
She says yada biblically links the concepts of sex and the soul. "Sex is about a soul connection in its truest form," says Gresh, giving credence to a possible connection between God and the soul mate concept.
Not quite, says Bible scholar O. Wesley Allen of Lexington Theological Seminary. "The intimate knowing implied in [yada] is created through the act of sex, not as something that leads to union," Allen says.
A biblical companion to yada is the Greek word "ginosko," says Gresh, which is found in the New Testament. The Bible's original text uses ginosko to describe an "intimate soul connection between a husband and wife in the act of marriage," she says.
But she says the Bible also uses ginosko to describe a deep, intimate connection with God.
Gresh is giving too much weight to these words, Allen says. The fact that these words are used in dual contexts does not imply - or even suggest - the possibility of divinely ordained matches, according to Allen.
Gresh stresses that she does not believe God has intended matches for us. "However, I think there can be a really good theological argument made for exclusivity - once you have found someone you choose to love," she says.
On this point, says Allen, Gresh is on strong scriptural grounds.
A soul mate and a spare
Judaism, meanwhile, specifically includes the concept of soul mates in the Talmud, a collection of writings that constitute Jewish civil and religious laws.
According to the Talmud, before a soul comes into the world it is paired with a bashert, or first match, which is the first soul that you’re supposed to end up with, says Rabbi DovBer Pinson, of the New York-based IYYUN Center for Jewish Spirituality.
“If everything works out you’ll end up with that person,” says Pinson. Jewish tradition also includes a “second match” for every soul, which also could end up as a soul-mate relationship.
The names of everyone’s first and second matches are written down, “We just don’t have access to that information, because they’re written down in the spiritual plane” – or heaven, Pinson says.
The Kabbalistic tradition, rooted in Jewish mysticism, spells out clues to recognize whether your partner is your soul mate. If a partner is helping you overcome your negative traits and negative challenges while helping you pursue your positive traits, that person is your soul mate, says Pinson.
“It means these two souls originate from the same soul root and they’re meant to be connected to each other,” he says.
The Islamic faith, meanwhile, rejects the soul mate concept. "The words 'soul mate,' that you are meant to be with this person forever, there is no concept like this in Islam,” says Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Infinite knowledge allows God to know which partners end up together, but it’s up to people to sustain their marriages and stay together, Magid says, because “the concept of a soul mate in Islam would put the fault of divorce on God."
Are you telling me to 'settle?'
Shaunti Feldhahn and her husband, Jeff, have created their own industry with their popular books, required reading for Christian premarital counselors at thousands of churches.
But she says their marriage, which has produced the million-sellers "For Women Only" and "For Men Only,” was not necessarily preordained.
"If I'd gone to a different graduate school I may have never ended up marrying my husband," she acknowledges. Feldhahn says there probably isn't “one perfect soul mate” for each person. For her, the bottom line is that "whoever you end up with ... God knows what the eventual outcome of your life is going to be."
The flip side of that is God has also given people free will.
“We have every right to screw it up if we want to - and sometimes we do,” Feldhahn says.
However, if couples follow God’s general principles about relationships, it’s possible they can enjoy the same benefits as so-called “soul mates,” she says.
Don’t focus too much on the search for your perfect mate, according to Feldhahn, focus on leading a Christian lifestyle and things will work out fine.
As for Christian Mingle’s “God’s-match-for-you” tagline, Feldhahn says it could mean “Meet the person who’s going to end up being your perfect match - because that's what you're going to make it."
Is Feldhahn telling single folks to stop searching and to “settle” for the best person available?
“No,” she says. “That implies that the person cannot be the person you need. If you both live by God's principles, you will both become the people you need to be.”
I think I've just found my 'soul mate', and his name is The Central Scrutinizer! You are great, I don't care what anyone else says. Thanks, I haven't laughed that hard in a while, I needed that.
Sorry. He's in love with me. He writes me poems.
I wonder how these religious dating sites sort out the innate different hate groups within them to bring them together?
Do they have private areas where they can hide the fact that a member will only date with non-blacks or non-jews and so forth? How about categories dealing with those who believe in abortions and whatnot?
These religious d-o-u-c-h-e-s don't even understand what they preach.
I think the Christian Mingle would sorta be "non-Jews" :)
The rest interest and race categories would be the same as many other sites. Does choosing a desired race be called hate or hatred? That would be a intresting argument but then imagine pulling all the clarifications from a dating site. If a guy comes in and says he only wants to date black girls would that be the same as if another guy comes in and has no problem with race but the girl must be between 21 and 26. If you classify the first as racism then would not the others desire for a certain age be ageism? I know a few African Americans that only desire to date White females and I know a few White guys that not only dated but married African American girls.
Does imputing such desired characteristics automatically classify as an act if hate?
lol, where da white women at???
God is all powerful, he wouldn't need the help of a dating website to match people, if he even did match people, which he doesn't. The bible says God gave mankind free will to make their own decisions. God lets you show him if you are worthy of him by the decisions you make, he doesn't make them for you.
You seem like a nice person Linzey......but bat poop crazy. The Bible says alot of things but I'm pretty sure God wasn't thinking about dating at the time he was killing non-chosen people back in the old days. Since we haven't heard from the big guy is several thousand years I'm betting that we are still required to kill virgins, people working on the sabath, etc.
I love the new Catholic "come back to church" ads . So the worlds second (under the Mafia) richest organization is running low on cash? Where sermons are often started by not asking, but demanding at least 15% of your annual salary? Say it isn't so...
10% not 15%, gets your facts straight man.
or should i say bi tch?
10% is reasonable, just don't leave the kids unattended.
@ fda... the church I USED to go wanted 15%. I said adios.
Typical "christian". Did Jeebus teach you to run around calling people "bitches" ? No Roman church I have ever been in, ever asked for a specific percent of anyone's income. One did talk about a "modern ti'the"...1 % Just goes to prove almost everyone here spouting off, really has no clue what they are talking about.
10% here as well....
The delusional leading the deluded. Sad, what the US has come to.
Yea.. yea.. just don't touch me there.
The supersticious,brainwashed,brainless people can now congregate and continue the ridiciolus notion that god is real.
The problem arrives when they marry and reproduce.
.... And since your side has not proved evidence that God is not, we feel you are equally brainwashed.
Sigh ... The same tired ".if you do not believe the same as me you must be brainwashed" statement. Not that we disagree that each side is brainwashed.
I think God helps us make the best of our lives whatever happens if we listen to his teachings. Some marriages may not start out on best foundation but they can work out well, if both give it a try. The key to this is "both". When only one partner is the one who is working on marriage and one is living a selfish or unhealthful life, it is not a good marriage.
Actually there was this one guy who really rich and the Satan and God made a wager. Satan said I bet you I can make him hate you and then boom.
But for the most part you are right.
Dot why tf you need god to do all the things you said. Why cant you be just like as you described without god?
IN leading your good life, how many time you met god or he communicated to you to do the right thing? Point is has it happened that you were going to do something really horrendous and he stopped you cold !!! Or is it possible that you have committed sin/serious act but he never stopped you, why?
The bet was rigged. God knows the future right ? God is a cheater.
I have not read any scripture that says God knows the future. I mean I think he has a plan but I dont think he knows the future of every living creature on earth.
LMAO. YOU are the ONLY believer EVER to say god is NOT "omniscient". The lights just went on here. God doesn't know the future. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
Why do y'all even bother to put so much effort (keyboarding) into changing someone else's mind? So far 24 pages of arguments for each side......and STILL no winner!
If you think the point is winning, perhaps a discussion is not the proper forum for you.
Only an idiot would believe there is a god who is interested in finding them a mate. How self-centered and moronic can you get? Oh yea...they probably believe god gives a s- about Tebo.
Dear Atheists. If you want the really hot chick who will set your heart racing, will meet all your expectations then i suggest you make a list and then present it to God whether or not He exists. Hey what have you got to lose? Or you could just leave it all to chance and end up with any bimbo, unless you were only ever looking for miss bimbo, in which case your probably only mature enough to handle a bimbo. What is LOVE, why do humans have love? in fact why are there male and female when the most efficient way of reproducing would be to be a single species that lays prefertilised eggs. It's all bizarre, in fact i'm off to utube now to view the song how bizarre.
"what have you got to lose?"
God fearing people have the market cornered for bimbos. Every last one of you jesus freaks needs to realize that your brain is warped and is rotting. You've almost reached the point where it's dripping out of your ears.
Nice words coming from a Christian. Non-believers look for a suitable mate just like you do. However, if you have the number to that bimbo..........
ChristianDatingForFree.com is a great Christian dating site thats entirely free. http://www.christiandatingforfree.com
I just wanted to send a sincere fu ck you to all the atheists out there.
Watch your mouth there happy clapper. You get a smitting for your thought sin.
Have you ever considered anger management, or other therapy ?
good to keep the gullible together somehow and folks who know better will steer clear. the need to think that "something" out there is providing you "something" special is important to allot of folks around the world and most governments are soooo glad this extra eye in the sky is there to keep these folks in line when cops and military are in short supply.
It's simply a place for people to weed out faithless dating partners. So one thinks God is playing match maker here. Just another stupid attempt by the leftstream media to denegrate religion
Check out the ads or their website. They claim to be able to find god's match for you. No liberal bias necessary.
Evangelical christianity sets itself up for ridicule all by itself. No "left wing" cospiracy needed. You're a laughing stock of the entire world.
Poe's Law, JT.
Tapping a community known to swallow B.S. and pay money for more. Smart move.
I just want to get on here and vent. As someone who was brought w/this fairytale. I denounce Christ, Krishna, Mohammad and whatever else false deity out there!
David – When did you change your name? Is it Daoud Mustafa? Most none believers would not choose a Shiite name.
LOL. Believers in fairy tales are easy. Hook up sure – spouse – no way!
first, Don't argue with God. second, nobody can speak for God. third, nobody can interfer with my relationship with God.
exactly, because god is only in your head.
Where do you and God meet? In the right temporal region of your brain?
This seems like a great opportunity for atheists to join and do some missionary outreach and perhaps seduce some people over to the light of reality. People's "neediness" to be loved provides a great opportunity to neutralize some of the religious programming, since it's that void they feel inside of them that usually attracts them so strongly to religion and god.
A big part of the problem is the lack of scientific understanding. If the solutions to the big questions are difficult to grasp, the believer will usually fall back to "God did it", rather than learn the basic science necessary for real understanding. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Most people would rather live with a problem they can't solve, than accept a solution they can't understand" – R.E.D. Woolsey
I totally agree. That's why I introduce science and education as a part of the seduction. It's amazing how pliable people are in the early stages of the relationship. They'll pretty much go for anything. I try to preemptively introduce the concept of reductive logic which seems to take root well once someone sees how ridiculous the conclusions reductive reasoning can lead to. Love the quote by the way.
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.