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.”
It's so embarrasing living in America where there are Atheists living around us. This is One Nation Under God – even the motto says it
Which god was that again????
Do some research. The original "Pledge of Allegiance" didn't say that. The author didn't put that in. It was added by people who changed the original words to something not intended originally.
Observer a sissy!
You killed Jesus.
I'll rather be theist and wait to see that God does not excist, than being an Atheist and reject God in this life without really knowing that God does not excist...
Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an att.itude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature part of nature. Carl Sagan
Aint nun yall no nuthin' 'bout God. God beez a infinit blak man! White peepo beez devil albino zombys.
They shouldn't allow children on here. This is supposed to be for grown-ups.
Yu brave behind yo keybord! If i wuz in yo room yu beez smilin' n' shiit! Yu a craka girl!
to Observer..... +1
"Religions are like farts. Yours is good, but everyone else's stinks" – Unknown author
Bergen County, NJ (next to NYC) is the only county having 'Sunday Blue Laws' where everything is CLOSED on SUNDAYS by law and strictly enforced. It is home to 5 mega shopping malls and 1 million people What do Non-Christians think of that? :)
If the laws are strictly enforced, than the police must be working on Sunday.....If they're working on the sabbath than they must be stoned to death as the bible says......
Really, the last county in US to practice that? If you think that's a good practice, then you should also realize the odds of it staying that way is pretty slim in that case.
I live north of Bergen County and they have had the blue laws for over 50 years. I know the city of Paramus, NJ have their own stricter blue laws where you cannot do any work at all, even at your house, on Sundays. Only food places and pharmacy are open on Sundays in Bergen County
Do they go around killing anyone who works on the Sabbath like God commanded?
What does this non-christian think of it? I think Bergen County is a backward place to be avoided.
My wonderful church starts in 10 hours.... gotta pray and sleep. JESUS LOVES US ALL!
I make it about 14 hours to football...
ATHEISM IS NOT HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN OR ANYBODY IN THIS PLANET !!
Caps lock key is that fat one to the left of the letter 'a'. Thank you.
WOW! in Bold and caps lock.... he must be right....
What about people that are on our planet?
Atheism is not good for children but devout and full of faith Catholic priests are?
RELIGION IS NOT HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN OR ANYONE ON THIS PLANET!!
How did god match people up before the internet? I also didn't know that he wanted us to pay a fee to find a match.
Where is the 'like' button???
Where is the "yawn" button?
Where da "I hates crakas" button?
Sambo, you be a nigg a?
I beez a proud Afrikan princ! Yu wish yu wuz me!
Why not ask if he's an immature person who is incapable of making intelligent statements and carrying on an adult conversation?
Observer can observe my big blak penus! He like wat he see!
Sambo is most likely an ignorant white kid who is only amusing himself.
Observer wanna amuse hisself wit my big blak penus!
When there is a post about Islam.. no one attacks. Why? Because they attack back, literally. Christians? The just love. So what does a weak man do? What does a weak little boy do? Attack the weaker.. Spineless.. Hiding behind keyboards.. They would never say 1/2 the words in front of their mothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas.. but on CNN.. oh... on CNN.. they can be who they are at heart.. Spineless.. attacking those that won't attack back. You feel all better now in your pool of ego? In the end, when it's all said and done with.. your little girl skirt will be lifted up.. and you will be revealed in front of all. you will have no choice but to bow and humble yourself at that time... at the time when justice is served. Then... and only then... will you be like.. "oh crap.....".. and it'll be too late. Laugh, point, jab, etc.. do it all now.. have fun. But when you're looking into His eyes of judgment.. Whew... God have mercy on you.. God will not be mocked.
Muslims are not leading the battle against equal rights in OUR nation. It's Christians.
If they attack Muslims they know CNN will be bombed and all the commenters will be beheaded.
Shut yousef up, boi! Yu cry like a craka!
I'm an athiest. I have no problem with my parents, the nuns who beat me in grammar school or the priest who tried to take me up the rear knowing I'm an athiest. I've had "christians" give me circular logic, outright lies, threats designed to frighten me and criticism designed to try to make me feel bad about myself, but my BS detector won't let me believe in fairy tales. If you want to believe in them, be my guest.
Patrick be a nasty buttboy!
You don't seem to have any problem with attacking people who don't believe in your god (Islamic, atheist etc....) what makes you any better?
Feel better now?
Grow up. Why not at least pretend you can act like a grown-up?
" . . . little girl skirt . . ?" Referencing a little girl (or a little boy) for purposes of getting one's point across is repugnant, almost as repugnant as your entire post.
Observer beez cryin' like a craka girl. Cry, girl! Yu shut yo mouf!
@Observer, no, Muslims aren't leading the charge for equal rights in OUR nation (the good ol' USA) – ATHEISTS are. We're tired of your hatred, your discrimination, and your violence, and we will fight back, confident of our own victory.
As for not responding when Muslims "attack", just ask Osama bin Laden.
Get ready, atheist speaking. 1. I am annoyed by an ad that starts "You're a Christian." I'm not. 2. Considering how many times a "match made in heaven" ends in divorce, trusting God's advice seems to be about as risky as using a Tarot deck. If you can just show me one place where God has delivered consistent results, I'll become a believer immediately. Until then, it's all bunk.
Who stuck a gun to your head and asked you to open the link and read the article? Until you tell me who it was, everything you say is all bunk.
It's hard to get much more lacking in logic than your conclusion. Pretending that the source of a statement changes whether it is FACT or not is about as illogical as anyone can get.
I understand what Edward is trying to say and agree with him, but I have no idea what Observer is trying to argue.
If there is a God, and I'm pretty sure there is, he'll hook me up with Katy Perry now that she's available.
Every one of the articles is always flooded with atheist idiots and their futile, recycled jokes/attacks. Why are you idiots here, reading this religious article? Oh yeah, and speaking of recyled lines, rest assured that yes, I am fully aware what i've just said is un-Christian like.
We must respect the other fellow`s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
God should be able to hook me up with the hottest chick in the world
Hakeem sound like sum plantation nigra name! Yu a boot-lipped, apefaced nigra! Yu needs ta git yo azz back ta Swaziland!
Sure, Hekeem sounds odd enough, but what the hell is Sambo? Sounds like Rambo's evil twin who suffered spontaneous abortion and was X'ed out.
Sambo a proud name. It my daddy name an his daddy name. Rahul sound like U-Haul.
Why are you atheists so rude? And what's with all the (recycled) insults, jokes, and insulting usernames? Is it insecurity, maybe? I just read about 10 pages worth of comments, and i'm having an argment with my girlfried here as to the average age of the posters here...she says 25, I say....7? Oh nd for the record i'm an atheist.
I do think there is an element of insecurity involved. But it really boils down to this (the internet) being a fantastic outlet for those of them that are idiots to vent. You never really hear about them heckling the religious in person. They'd be too chicken for that.
A man`s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
By bnb42's logic, an uneducated, unsypathetic person with few or no social ties can go ahead and just start killing and raping people.
No Edward, He would be breaking the laws of MAN - the only laws that really matter....
These commercials are offensive and intrusive. They should be allowed only on the "God Channel" or Faux Nooz.
Gotta love Liberals, always jumping at the chance to badmouth Christians while they coddle Muslims; as if they can't figure out who thinks you are the infidels and want to convert or kill you.
The Bible says that anyone divorcing and remarrying commits adultery. Do you have any idea why there are so many hypocritcal Christians who ignor the adulterers among them, but love to put down marriage rights for gays?
So do they claim to be the voice of God, or that their computer algorithm is? Either way, I'm pretty sure claiming to be selling you 'God's choice' is a trifecta, of Blasphemy, Heresy, and Fraud.
Wow, you Christians must be right after all. I mean, if God can create the Universe and everything in it, and plan it so perfectly through intelligent design, then he *must* know how to plan your marriage. Which explains the divorce rates in the U.S. Oh right...those are all atheists and other denominations....(rolls eyes)
Seriously, I wonder what dirt the Belief blog people have on the president of CNN; there are WAY too many religious articles making the front page lately.
I think it's partly done on purpose because it creates tons of comments!
I love the way these people state these things as if they're fact. Let's remember Bachmann was told by GOD to run for the presidency. God really missed that one. I know... it's part of a plan that we just don't understand. Nonsense.
dear atheist is you want a god who you could see by your eyes, then hindu's are waiting for you.
Ahahhhhaha. Go to bed sweetie. You have to get up for Sunday School in the morning.
Ahhh........the school valedictorian.
God is probably too busy to bother with computer match-making right now. With the NFL playoffs in full swing, God is apparently very busy deciding whether to answer the prayers of the Christians on offense or Christians on defense.
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.