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 don't think God makes soul-mates, but I'm very HAPPY that God told Michelle BACHMANN to SHUT UP!
America needs to enforce religion in people otherwise they should be persecuted. Fallow and learn from Iran and Saudi Arabia. Atheists are way too much here!
Thats right – religion and your god are so silly that the only way for you to get your way is to have the government enforce it. Sorry dude, I'm laughing at you and your imaginary god.
i was under the impression the countries you listed enforce their religons onto people... and they are all terribly unhappy.
...and people wonder why we're messed up as a species, or question whether or not we'll destroy ourselves someday.
Yeah.........That's how those early pilgrims dreamed it could be. Vote Republican Mahmud........most of them hate you but they think like you.
again, chirstians are at it to screw up peoples lives. making this world a more ignorant place
God is Great – That's you're argument? Shame on us for carrying around dollar bills with "in god we trust' inscribed on them? You're going to have to do better than that.
Christian Mingle is capitalizing on the widely held belief of "pre-destiny", taken to the extreme degree. May people, especially females, are fond of saying, "Everything happens for a reason", which implies that God is manipulating all events concerning mankind. However, it FAILS to recognize that, very often the "reason" for events is EVIL. If God is TOTALLY 'IN CHARGE' of all events now, then all crime and evil may, ultimately, be laid at God's feet, and SATAN IS EXCUSED. We should open all of the prison doors and release all criminals, because their evil deeds were "all part of god's plan." This is, of course, completely absurd and not consistent with scripture on several levels. It's the result of gross simplification of a complex subject and the fact that most professing Christians have not actually read the bible and simply do not know what it says. Why did Christ originally come? Why does the need exist for Christ to return, if God is already in charge of all events on earth and HIS WILL is being done now? Why should we pray for "intersession" from God? Hell should be EMPTY if God's will is being done now.
Well you gotta figure if there are millions of drones who will give away their money every Sunday to hear a charlatan tell them how to live their lives then there are certainly a bunch of those same drones who'll give away their money to find their gods match for them.
"A fool and his money..........."
What has atheists done in our society other than causing problem with religious people and protest against religion? Have they helped the poor and those in need as a society like churches do? NO, they put their money on billboards to cause problems. Atheism is NOT healthy in our society and for our children!
Oh, nonsense. While I don't consider myself an atheist, I have seen no proof that agnostics and atheists give nothing to charity. You're full of it.
Looks like some people here have found the benefits of html
what have we done? We have never killed someone for a thought crime... thats one thing...
ummmm what else... how about technology lol....you know... feeding/healing the sick...
WAIT.... are atheists like jesus?
What "problem" are unbelievers 'causing', New Jersey? If you believe in an omnipotent being, what possible harm can anyone who supposedly doesn't have your god on his side do to you?
I have yet to see any of you prove that atheists and agnostics are immoral or amoral. I have yet to see any of you show evidence that believers are more moral than atheists or agnostics. Can you?
New Jersey, you might want to do a survey of prison populations and see how many religious people call it home. I'll bet my paycheck that there are far more christians in prison than atheists however, people like you would say they are not "real christians". I'll also wager you've never heard of the "true Scotsman" fallacy. You might want to read up on that too.
Wow. How is this front page material for CNN? Apparently the BBC really is one of the last few bastions I can go to for actual news.
My guess is either slow news day or the CNN people like reading the inevitable fighting.
There is no God, only Nature!! Love is a matter of economics.
Well, as long as there are Divine divorce lawyers, I guess everything will work out!
This has got to be the most ridiculous line of religious BS yet. Well... maybe not the MOST, but pretty close.
SHAME SHAME SHAME ON ATHEISTS CARRYING U.S. DOLLARS WHEN IT SAYS "In God We Trust" SHAME SHAME!!
I use a debit card. :-) "In Reason We Trust."
A reading from the Book of Tobit 8:4b-8
On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife,
“Sister, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord
to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.”
Sarah got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs.
They began with these words:
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
They said together, “Amen, amen.”
The word of the Lord.
The word of the lord:
31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Thanks Jonathan.....that clears everything up for me.
I believe in being always respectful which is why I always tell people, when they ask me if I want to get married, that marriage is a wonderful thing but I am respectfully not interested. However, I don't judge others, I'm only speaking for myself about myself :)
Jewish Mother, it's probably a good idea that you refrain from making outlandish comments regarding topics about which you have no knowledge – and it would probably help if you could 'articulate' your position. You're probably like many other folks who "heard" that atheism is akin to Nazism – makes for a good 'sound-bite', but not true. I would do you well to inform yourself instead of relying on some other Neanderthal to 'provide' you such information. It's called "critical thinking".
Sometimes you get TWO at a time! Thats how you know youre really blessed
Of course it's all about marketing and selling the product. In order to use the full benefits of the sites you have to pay (Duh) This is no different than EHarmony that guarantees that a computer instead of God will match you up with your soul mate.
Christianity is all about loving, having faith in lovely Jesus Christ who helped and loved everyone. Being Christian is a gift from God. Ah I love Christianity so much... i'm PROUD Christian.
We know you have not the love of God in you (John 5:42). Unless you repent you will remain spiritually blind.
Knock off the spam, Avdboob.
Just another example liberals trying to tell people how to live their lives.
There is no such thing as ‘Divine Dating’.
According to the Webster’s Dictionary the word ‘divine’ means: of, like, or from God or a god; holy.
People by nature are born in sin and unless they repent will remain spiritually blind and separated from God. The Word of God confirms in 1 Cor. 15:44 that there is a natural and a spiritual body.
The word repent means a lot more than what by nature you have been made to believe and we invite you to read the articles ‘Repent’, ‘What is Sin?’ And ‘Victory over Sin’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
Also, for a better understanding of the above and what it means to be a Christian, we invite you to read the article ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’ listed on our website.
All of the other pages and articles will explain how and by whom this world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9 and they will also explain what mankind must do to be reunited with God and to be able to understand the Bible.
He that is spiritual judgeth (discerneth) all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2:15; 14:37; Proverbs 28:5; Gal. 6:1; Col. 1:9; John 3:8; 5:30; 8:15; 16:8-11).
Seek, and ye will find (Matthew 7:7).
There is no such thing as "divine". It's mostly escape from reality fueled by poor education.
I actually laughed out loud when I saw their insipid commercial and heard them talk about "God' match for you". I'm not sure if that is pathetic or blasphemous.
By the way, are they talking about the same God who told Palin to run for VP, told Angle to run for the Senate, told O'Donnell to also run for the Senate, and told Bachmann to run for president? All of these people lost. I don't think I would want this God choosing my mate for me!
Not to mention he told Great leader Pat Robinson who the next president will be, but it's a secret, so he cant tell us!
everything super natural is just laughable....
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.