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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. quest

    sad to see so many put their faith into something which is nothing more than an empty hope at best. I guess it's easy to say to use the religion which helps you feel best while trying not to force your mental illness on others. Any who believe are already lost as you are unable to deal with reality and self development. Good luck

    January 9, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  2. government cheese

    Religious bigots!

    January 9, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  3. AdmrlAckbar

    Wow! 33 pages of web cash comments and counting! How many times can they change the headline name of this story to rake in the polarized belief cash?!?!

    January 9, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • midogs2

      I noticed that, as well. Four times over the weekend.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:15 am |
  4. Relictus

    What happens to the people for whom luck (or "God") has been less than kind? Are we supposed to just smile and bear it? Like heck. Never met my "soul mate". I cannot honestly say that I have ever had more than a few "hookups". Where is your God now? Better pray that Jesus IS NOT real, because when I die, someone's getting a kick in the nuts! "Welcome to Heav... *WHACK!* "I am the Lord your G-"*WHACK!* ...

    January 9, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  5. clinky

    People and events can cross your life, and only in hindsight do you recognize meeting up with them was exactly right for you. Part of the result was what what you made of an opportunity, but you and the individual involved couldn't take all the credit, either. There is some magic to life. You can benefit by acknowledging and being open to life's nice surprises, but if you act like they're owed to you or turn your back on them, you lessen your chances of catching any.

    January 9, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  6. paganguy

    When I was a young man, the only reason to go to a Catholic church was to pickup young woman. If you said the right words, mothers and fathers trusted you with their precious little girl and you could take her home to introduce her to the finer points of love-making. It was hard work but somebody had to do it.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Get Over It

      Exploiting weak, stupid and/or gullible people is abhorrent.

      If you think that this makes you a cool dude... think again.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • GodPot

      "Exploiting weak, stupid and/or gullible people is abhorrent." You are right, but it is also easy. I recommend not being weak, stupid and/or gullible...

      January 9, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • rick

      "Exploiting weak, stupid and/or gullible people is abhorrent."

      Are you speaking of the church?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  7. Josh

    Gay behavior is a mild form of self destruction, not only to themselves who practice it, but also to the family of which they came. No matter what gays say or do, they cannot be fruitful as God has intended, for the seeds to be sewn.

    We must all stand back from these individuals and allow them their peace as they eliminate themselves over the course of time. Their sentence with God is the eventual death of their spirit.......... forever.

    Sleeping with the same gender is, by far, the devil's greatest work.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Mark C

      You really are a hateful piece of garbage. Get psychiatric help.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Mirosal

      Until Josh learns the difference between "sewn" and "sown", he shouldn't be taken seriously. Josh, try reading another book. It's called a dictionary.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • clinky

      Guess what, Josh. Gays are not going away. EVER. You can't breed them out. And there are plenty of more hurtful things people can do than sleeping together outside of marriage, like the prejudice and hostility you spout.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • GodPot

      You and your bigoted friends might have had a chance with breeding out a skin color, but i'm afraid breeding out "the gay" would be like breeding out lefties or people who prefer the color red to blue. It's also as impossible to breed out the ignorant which is apparent by your post.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • rick

      Josh: Jesus is waiting for you. Why are you here?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  8. Ryan

    I'm going to go register gaychristiandating.com right now and make a buttload of cash. No pun intended.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  9. Ryan

    Ahoy, capitalism! Hey, I don't knock the site from existing. I just wonder if there's a Male seeking Male or Female seeking Female portion of the site.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  10. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!

    To all us overse-xed h-o-mo-sapiens:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/20/yes-or-al-se-x-is-se-x-and-it-can-boost-cancer-risk/?npt=NP1

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'"

    Obviously, Planned Parenthood, parents and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Mark C

      Another imbecile heard from. The failure of the birth control pill is 0.3% per year. Correctly used for the condom it's 2%.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Relictus

      By your fruits are you known, "Reality". Could you make it any clearer?

      January 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES

      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method
      Typical

      Pill (combined) 8.7
      Tubal sterilization 0.7
      Male condom 17.4
      Vasectomy 0.2

      Periodic abstinence 25.3
      Calendar 9.0
      Ovulation Method 3.0
      Sympto-thermal 2.0
      Post-ovulation 1.0

      No method 85.0"

      (Abstinence) 0

      (Masturbation) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill 11,661 30.6
      Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  11. Tree

    Jesus made it quite clear that there is no connection after death (see serial widow with 7 dead husbands, Mat 22:23-33), so therefore no Bible reading "Christian" can say that they will be with their spouse FOREVER.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, there is that "Death Do We Part" section of the Wedding Vows.

      At the same time, you never know, while not given to the man and woman automatically... if you can follow us into Heaven then the possibilities of finding him or her there and the love is still there...

      ...I guess that some folks read this scripture and in their interpretations no spouses will want to have anything to do with each other when they get to Heaven. Like God will tell johnny that he can no longer be suzy's friend. I do not know, but it is not the Heaven I interpret from the scripture.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 22: 22-33 (also Mark 12: 18-27) has been thoroughly analyzed by most contemporary NT scholars. Many have concluded that these passages were not uttered by the historical Jesus.

      e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book "Jesus After 2000 Years", pp. 83-84, "The historical yield is nil."

      January 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  12. Joshua

    The idea of a "soul mate" seems to indicate something which is foreign to the scriptures for the most part. That being that such a match will be absolutely perfect in every way imaginable, which is obviously not the case. Now has God ordained that certain people should become married? Yes, I think that's as far as we could take it.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  13. Banger

    Women are so innocent on this website. I have already banged a dozen in the last month. Halaluya....Amen

    January 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Beth

      It all comes back to you. The one you're hurting the most is yourself. I quit thinking of guys like you as "jerks". Now I just laugh at them and wait to watch when life kicks them in the butt. It never fails.................

      January 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      Translation: My World of Warcraft Elf just reached level 15! Mom is bringing cheetos to the basement right now!

      January 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  14. uponthisrock

    It comes down to this. God is Spirit and way beyond our imaginations. It is a wonder that He even allows us His Prescence.
    He can "take things that are not and make them as tho they are." If He puts two people together in Marriage then go to the
    "Alter" and make your vows, then keep them and be blessed or break them and be cursed. Do not try to out manuver God.
    That is like sending a fox to collect the eggs, you are now in the jaws of the enemy.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ask him to help you spell "presence", honey. Thanks in advance.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, yeah, and it's an "altar" and "maneuver", sweetie. Do you think your God might want you to use your head for something besides a hat rack? Go back to school. Get that GED. Don't do drugs.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      And learn how to use your commas Tom... ahh prescriptive grammar is indeed the inquisition of language....

      January 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  15. Bob

    This is the stupidest thing ever. Anyone who believes this garbage needs to shoot themselves in the face with a high caliber round. You idiots who believe in mythical beings should be ashamed of yourselves.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  16. nondenominational...and happy

    You guys still here arguing? I've been out on 3 dates since yesterday.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      We're all thrilled for ya.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Mirosal

      So, which one of your hands did you date twice?

      January 9, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  17. Judd

    I think it's nice that God has gotten into online dating and setting people up. And we know that God ONLY cares about matchmaking people who believe that a man named Jesus who lived a while back is otherworldly. God doesn't care who the Muslims, Jews, or Gays are dating.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Ryan

      Lol exactly :) Maybe we should set up AIDS and cancer research funds that reference his holiness and we may actually find a cure. Evidently he needs his ego assuaged to do anything worthwhile.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  18. PleaseUseLogic

    I was at least hoping for a good laugh as a result of this article. I didn't even get that. Terrible.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      My laughs come with the comments, not the article. HERE is where the comedy plays out.

      January 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  19. bill

    my soul mate makes me itch

    January 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • shut up, herbie.

      herbie, shut up.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  20. lastofall

    Once and again the secular Christians [not actual Christians] do whatsoever they can to keep themselves friends with the world.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Joshua

      Indeed – I wish cnn would inquire as to the thoughts of actual Christians when formulating their articles about Christianity.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • rick

      Oh.....ACTUAL Christians.....

      Joshua: Who the F are you to judge who are ACTUAL Christians and who are not?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:38 am |
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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.