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.”
♫ If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal, If her daddy's poor, just do what you feel ♫
Whoever is behind this website is part of a church or sect that is on a heavy proselytizing campaign.......or, once again, it could be those devious mormons.
It seems to me that if you believe in a soul mate chosen by God for you, you have some baggage which can prevent a good marriage. Mainly, you are irrational – you believe in an omnipotent being for which there is no evidence. Magical thinking is an impediment to acting effectively to real life.
The fact still remains that evangelical Christians still have a higher rate of divorce that other religious groups and evemn atheist.
... and even Atheists? You imply that's somehow more surpising than a religious group?!
Evangelicals are such freaks!
Freaks? No, they're just delusional and perhaps sufferring from a mental illness. AS a psychologist, I've successfully excised the God delusional from many. They accept reality and go on to lead happy and fruitful lives.
When my wife of 21 years and I went through premarital counseling on our (evangelical) church, the pastor made a great comment: The Bible has one instruction about the person you as a Christian should marry: that person should be a Christian. Much of the rest of the Bible is about the kind of person your spouse should be marrying.
So, the bible says, if you are a Christian, you shouldn't marry someone who is Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc? So, am I correct in believing that Jesus was a bigot? Perhaps we should all start living in the real world and give up the magical thinking that is religion. Irrationality is harmful to individuals and society as a whole.
Interesting...I use the bible as a doorstop. It contains ridilulous myths and the thinking of a primitive Bronze Age culture. Not even well written.
I don't think that she cares one way or another.
Just passing through as I was looking for a CNN article regarding Muslims arranged weddings, honor killings, etc.
But to my dismay all I can find are articles bashing Christianty.
So, while looking for articles bashing Muslims (or so you could bash) you only came across Christian bashing ... how dissappointing for you.
One can do certainly as well looking for a mate on this sort of website than one can do looking for a mate in bars and grocery stores. At least there should be people there with similar outlooks. As for an absolute soulmate, well one can only hope.
As stated by Levi to Rebecca in his chariot as they looked over the Nile one starry night (3:18:2) "If you're not here after, what I am here after, you're going to be here after I'm long gone"
If "god": wanted you to find your soul mate, "he" would not go through some website that makes money off "his name" whereby "he" does not get any of the proceeds. For you xtians looking to spend a little money to find your soul mate, please send me $20 and I will personally see to it that I hitch you up with your "soul mate" myself.
Who in their right mind wants a president whose name is synonymous with bung hole foam? A freak who brings a dead baby home to sleep with? Christian conservatives!! Evangelicals!! That's who !!
I hope that the number of people that do actually realize that the claim that God will make a match for them through the internet as just part of an advertising campaign heavily outweigh the number of people that don't. But i think that most of the Atheists in here will assume that isn't the case.
I don't think that CNN should even allow people to post comments for some of these articles. I think it just helps to fan the hate both ways. I've never seen anyone really convert through posts in discussion forums under the guise of teaching the religious idiots how the Bible contradicts itself and science. All I see is a bunch of vindictiveness going on in here, that probably only serves to get the religious right to ban together against the hate spewing Godless nonbelievers and casts their votes in ways that just go on to hurt society even more. So way to go guys.
I happened to stumble on this site and I just wanted to say that, all of you that are on here debating early in the morning are a bunch of losers. Get a life, u dummies! @ CS, you're such a C-u-n-t. That is all, Im out!
If people don't believe god talks to people now, why do they believe god talked to people 5000 years ago? Those people back then had now concept of reality. It was only 500 years ago that people thought the world was flat. Religion always has and always will be a crutch for people that can't deal with the perils of daily life.And if they want to believe that its fine with me. Just keep your crap to yourself and don't inflict your self-righteous morality on anyone else
I practice Falun Gong, which is a heart and mind cultivation practice available everywhere for free. This practice has over one hundred million adherents Worldwide. It consists of five exercises and basically nine lectures.
I consider myself very lucky because Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, has allowed me to distinguish the difference between right and wrong concerning such difficult issues as gay rights, drug use, euthanasia, suicide, abortion and many other very important subjects. The practice is available on line and thank you for your consideration.
Falafa dung? I thought that's was comes out of the backside of Indian elephants.
Surely YOU could come up with more cleverly-worded reply than this? Aren't you the son of god?
This would be the same god that hooked up Lot with his own daughters, right?
Please! Interpreting the good old god's word for commercial reasons, for making wrong choices, for excusing bad behavior, for getting out of stupid mistakes etc... God works in mysterious ways, we have free will, god loves us but we don't listen, are all part of covering up the fact that it has nothing to do with the fairy king. It's a flip of the coin whether someone lives or dies or marriage works, prayer and butt kissing have nothing to do with it. Put some good old human effort into it and with a modem of intelligence you might have a half way decent life.
Why would Should anyone bieleve in anything supernatural? Use your brain.... if you told a child the story of the tooth fairy, then santa claus, thenthe birth/ressurection of Jesus.... then asked them to pick the 'true story'... which would would they beileve?
a god made the world in his image, flaws and all. then judges you based on said flaws....then kills EVERYONE on the planet to start over, but swears he would only do it once (with water)... then because he loves you so much.... births himself in human form, so that he could sacrifice himself to himself...
and this doesnt come off as completly and 100% obviously made up?
I guess some people just cant coup with the fact that you will die someday, and all EVIDENCE points to no afterlife.
"Experts from many faiths weight in." Hahahaha.
Yeah what an oxymoron. Guess what, I just happen to be an expert on unicorn biology and leprechaun neurology.
The idea that you have a 'soul mate' or there is ONE person out there for you is ridiculous. Most people could sustain a marriage with Most people. What the lazy people from this generation are looking for is this fantasy "perfect match" where they don't have to put any effort into a relationship at all. And of course, this does not exist. Its funny, back when people rarely ever left a 30 mile radius from where they were born, people were able to build relationships that last a lifetime. Now, when we can expand our search for partners literally across the entire globe using the internet... most people are incapable of sustaining a relationship with whoever they find.
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.