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.”
You can make a mint just by claiming that the magical man in the sky works through you. I got into the wrong business.
Well, again, I post make the effort to post a comment, and some word or phrase causes the entire post to disappear. I'm about done with CNN.
Pleae click "report abuse" on Aging Hippy's post
Never mind. I just wanted to say that I like young boys;)
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
Thank you, Helpful Hints, for being a mature adult and offering some helpful hints!
I'll now try again to post my comment, being careful about the word superst*tious, with it containing the word t*t. Unbelievable!
To all of my fellow atheists: While I admire your efforts to counter nonsense with logic, you must know that you are wasting your time. Religion is the ABSENCE of logic. Every believer, in ANY religion, has made a conscious and stubborn commitment to defend his or her beliefs, no matter how much evidence to the contrary is readily available. One can forgive the ancients for inventing gods and goddesses to explain the mysteries of the universe, but in this day and age, the survival of religion on every continent is a source of bewilderment for the atheist. It's easy to pick on the Bible, but it is only one of many religious texts filled with fantastic and superst*tious mythology. Every believer in every one of these "holy books" is convinced that their mythology is TRUTH, and every other book is filled with nonsense. Most Christian kids studied ancient Greek and Roman mythology in school, and shook their heads at the childish beliefs of those ancient cultures. However, if you DARE to point out the childish and simplistic nature of Christian mythology, you will only succeed in angering the Christian.
Fear of death, and fear of life's unpredictable nature, will keep people believing in fairy tales forever. The religious surely KNOW, on some level, that their beliefs make no sense, but to even entertain such a notion, for even a nanosecond, might jeopardize their chances at ending up in heaven, or might cause some catastrophic string of bad luck, so they will defend the indefensible with their dying breath.
As a Christian myself, I can say with great confidence that websites like ChristianMingle and other evangelical "match" services are a complete disgrace to true Christianity. Further, I would strongly advise those who believe that this service is worth the investment to consider an alternative waste of your $, give it Benny Hinn or the 700 Club, or some other disgraceful and worthless spiritual facade. You want true value, seek God's word directly in the world's most popular book, the Bible.
You know what the third most read book is? The Harry Potter series. I wonder if 2,000 years from now people will be claiming that god revealed himself through JK Rowling, and that her books are the basis of religion.
The bible is nothing but a bunch of stories, as written and edited by then-religious nutjobs 2,000 years ago. If you're still hanging your faith on that, it's probably only because your parents told you to, because their parents told them to, and so forth way on back to when some religious nut told your ancestor that their soul would burn forever if they didn't do what he said. We call those people cultists.
The concept of "soul mates" is not in the Bible (believe me, I looked for it) It stems from Greek mythology with a story of Narcissus and Persephone, where they are searching for their other "half". If Christians would stop chasing after a Greek mythological concept, maybe the divorce rate WOULDN'T be so high!
I don't think the word "soul" itself is there either.
The religion industry, once again profiting off people's desperation & fear of God.
Amen. There are no depths to which these "christains" won't go to make a buck. If I thought the Creator of the universe was so into micro-managing these pathetic people I would disown Him!
The only soulmates i created were Adam and Eve the rest find your own "soul mate" if you can.
Your soul mate isn't necessarily going to be your spouse, and you can have more than 1. It could be a relative, or a friend. If you want to bring reincarnation into the discussion, some souls find each other across many lifetimes. I do believe that there are people who are "right" for you, and they will find you, as well as you find them. But again, not always for marriage.
But a gay dwarf? I didn't order that.
make all canidates runing 4 president live on 20,000 r less n take away all expense accs.n freeze all their savings,checking,ira.4o1k,these guys dnt know what its like 2 live on the street,n not have nothing,everything was handed 2 them on a silves platter they want 2 cut the american peoples throat let n not their own,n take away their health insurance also
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 and evangelicals!! That's who !!
Damn, my soul mate turned out to be cross-dressing gay dwarf. How unlucky is that? Why God, Oh why?
Soul Mates= Till death do us part.
How many real soul mates are out there?
Time to get back earnestly and look to the scriptures of what true marriage is all about.
Divorce is a more popular word than marriage, why? Coz people have not taken the scriptures seriously.
I don't know. Look at how many widows and widowers have gone on from losing a spouse after a long happy marriage to remarrying and having a second long and happy marriage.
I can't wait for Tebow to get busted with a boy rental like Ted Haggard. Maybe the paparazzi will catch him with a big load of Santorum on his face.
typical atheist hater. Atheists are bringing all the hate back to the USA
We really don't need this kind of remark here. Just so you know, I am an atheist.
Seriously? I think it is the lowest of the low to use God as a tool to make money...don't you remember what Jesus did to the moneylenders in the temple? Course the churches use him all the time to make money...Better rethink this one....and the arrogance to think that God works just on your website...lol....my goodness
I'm looking for a Christian three-some with two other soul-mates.
Based on national statistics, just as many marriages that occurred in a Christian Church failed, as the marriages performed in Las Vegas. Maybe the women who bed-down with priests and ministers are looking for the ultimate soulmate.
The South is the divorce center of the US. Arkansas leads the pack when it comes to divorce with 13.5 per 1000 marriages going toes up.
There is a higher incidence of incest among christian conservatives / evangelicals than any other group that participated in the study.
This site is not at all what God intended. Unfortunately it is what evangelical Christians imagine. A big difference. There are not even options for 'Man seeking Man' or 'Woman seeking Woman'.
Those options a re the result of mental illness.
Attention Everyone! Please be advised that I am NOT GAY. I repeat NOT GAY.
If is funny that I was once watching Oprah (a biblical name) and the guest said that her first husband who had died was her soul mate and that she had remarried that she had found another soul mate. The audience stood up and cheered. It seems that many people believe in soul mates, but few ever find them. The concept for this web site is to be a equally yoked as possible; pulling equally along the same path with the same beliefs. I once heard that marriage is like money, similarities are like money in the bank, and dissimilarities are like bankruptcy. It seems that many of the comments here would like a marriage that is like bankruptcy. To me that is nothing more than emotional illness to want bad for yourself.
Hah! Oprah is NOT a biblical name. The correct biblical name is Orpah with the R first. Tsk.
Which god gets to pick?
Good question. I think the elephant with all the arms, at least He speaks to me.
The one God that you choose to mock.
If there is such a thing a s a Soul Mates...then why is the divorce rate so high?
Did you not read the article at all? They posited that people think they found "soul mates" and the marriage would be easy; when it isn't and it gets slightly rocky, they bail because they were wrong and haven't actually found their "soul mate".
Because people have no emotional staying power these days.
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.