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. El Flaco

    The concepts of soulmates and romantic love are very destructive. They break up a lot of marriages and cause a lot of relationships to fail.

    I have told seven different women, "I love you" during my life. The feelings I had for each one were totally different than the feelings I had for the other six. Love is not one thing. Love is 7 billion things.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  2. Kebos

    When we see the ChristianMingle commercials on TV, my whole family laughs aloud. It really is quite funny when one sees it for what it is.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Scot

      The biggest joke is one the poor slobs that belive in this for profit company !

      January 7, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  3. Ernie Tirado

    I think everyone here has this all wrong. As always everything is always over analyzed...What I take from the term Soul Mate is someone who has been in a long lasting relationship as in a beautiful marriage. Only then does one say I found my "Soul Mates"
    One does not go looking for a Soul Mate...One only knows he or she has found one after many years of being together.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Kebos

      Agreed. My feelings exactly.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Omgami

      I find this to be true.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    The secrets of God
    Are revealed in intimate
    Conversation with God
    Listen learn and love
    From the mouth of God
    Prayer changes things

    January 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Kebos

      Ah, not so much. Everyone in the world could stop praying today and turn their back totally on religion today and not a thing would change. People would still live their lives. Have their families. Grow old. Appreciate humanity for what it truly is.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Johnnnn

      Luck changes everything, hard work changes everything, focus and determination changes everything. Prayer is just wishfu thinking and egotistical self-talk.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Tim

      If prayer REALLY worked, everyone would be doing it.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Lookaround

      Despite millions of people praying for millions of hours to different Gods there is no verifiable evidence or data to support it's hypothesis, despite many many attempts from both believers and non-believers to prove the case or test the hypothesis.
      Imagine the Nobel prizes and scientific funding grants (and fame) that could go to anyone (including scientists) who could demonstrate that prayer (thought transfer or verbal) made any statistical change to the outcome of an event.
      It's a convenient crutch that may make some people feel better but all the evidence points to it being a delusional waste of time.

      January 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • pirate

      Number TWO of the Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian:

      You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

      January 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  5. Chris Cuthill

    The notion of "soul mate" is not Biblical. It is an old Greek idea, famously retold by Aristotle, that was gradually imported into the Christian tradition. Christians need to understand how many of their assumptions about God and faith are distorted by other worldviews.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  6. StarCatcher

    Are we forgetting God is everywhere and can work through any medium he chooses to?... That being said Christian Mingle does not necessarily have more favor than Match.com. God loves all people whether Christian or not. Christians may have a non-Christian soul mate – remember we all have a purpose and our purpose might be to bring faith into a non-believers life. By being Christian we should not enter into an exclusive club and bar all non-believers, we should remain open-minded and open-hearted.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      "God is everywhere and can work through any medium he chooses to"

      Sorry, but god can only use a computer because of the research done by some brilliant scientists at Xerox PARC.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  7. KK

    Getting a right partner it's all nothing but a chance of luck and definitely some blessing from invisible one. It's all upto you to make or break the relationship and find the right one. There is another concept God is within you. Believe yourself first and all you will be all set. It's true that you will find a lot of resources to select from through dating site , but soul mate, i personally hardly think so. But if you and your partner both talk and think in opposite direction, may be it's time to get some blessing from invisible one, family and friends first.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      "God is within you"

      Close, but no cigar.

      I'll give you a hint: without people, there is no god.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • KK

      Absolutely. Without people there is no God within people. But there is some invisible energy whom people named it "God" will be there. Feel the energy yourself but don't except him to find you the soulmate tomorrow for you because he is somewhere there. Hs is the teacher only to guide you , but interetsting thing there is no leacture session. Everyday is big fricking classes on different subjects. It's all you who has to do it. He may give you the energy last to do the final decision.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  8. Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

    This is no different from any other dating sight that caters to its' own. This one matches up equally delusional people for a blissful lifetime of see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  9. Johnnnn

    IF Adam and Eve were created without "the knowledge of good and evil" HOW could they know "god" was good and that his instructions were right??. Seems to me, Adam and Eve's awakened consciousness was more like that of newborn child, according to the Bible and not that of grown adults. You don't expect newborns to understand, why would Adam and Eve be expected to "understand" to not eat the apple? They could not have sinned, not knowing what sin was.....

    January 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • looneytunes

      The short answer: Because it was all made up. If it doesn't make sense now, it didn't make sense then.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Good point, fortunately it's all a made up story so we really don't have to worry about the "Original Sin". Now that I think about it the idea of Original Sin is pretty silly.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  10. looneytunes

    This is great news! Now I can possibly hack God's account and learn his secrets. My enemies better beware!

    January 7, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  11. rr

    I've heard this crap all my life. I am almost 40 and I still don't have a wife so this to me is a bunch of bs. If God has the right girl out there for me where is she then? I sure in the daylights haven't found her nor are there any women around that are wife material. All this website is doing is selling a product. If there ever was such a thing as a soul mate then where is mine? Don't you think 40 years is a little too long for a man or woman to wait? I wish these groups would stop using my faith to sell their bs. It is so wrong to do what they are doing. Some people are just born to be unlucky at love and unlucky at living happily ever after.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • looneytunes

      A wise man once said, "There is no such thing as God". People are in complete control of their lives. Only we can make it work, not some mythical being.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • DatingIsEasy

      Wow. I'd be interested in knowing what your criteria are for "wife material" after going so long finding nobody who meets them.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  12. Nick

    I used Christian Mingle a number of years ago. Because it seems that churches are filled with less and less single people, it was difficult finding somebody that had the same values and Christian principals as I did. I thought it would be a good tool to find somebody who had similar Christian values. Well... she turned out to be a little nuts! HA! Long story short... there's no better way to meet somebody than through friends. That's how I finally met my wife and she's perfect for me.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  13. DrDroid

    CNN: If you keep posting crap like this on your front page I'm going to start clicking elsewhere for my morning news.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • TRH

      No. They need to keep posting articles like this. It makes us aware of the right wing Christian conspiracy that is unfolding in this country.

      Don't think for a moment that the mentality to create a theocracy in this country is not out there. People of intelligence and logical thought must NEVER forget that.

      "When fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

      There is much information on the web and elsewhere that disputes the Christian dogma and shows it for what it is...myth.

      Seek it out. The information is there.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  14. MikeG

    Does God create soulmates? NO. He/she/it does not. God does not exist. God is a fictional being, like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. Why does CNN waste bandwidth on fairytale nonsense like this?

    January 7, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  15. Is this a joke?

    I would be ok with Christians dating as long as they don't reproduce and spread their bs ideology to the next generation. 2012, year of the Atheist.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • MaryAnne

      Amen to that, brother.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  16. duh

    So there is a soul mate for you for sure. Christian Mingle has contracted with God (50/50 ) to let you hook up with that special someone. Look, everything costs, so unless you join this website, it ain't happening baby. That's why you are alone right now. Don't put it off any longer. Note: if you are Muslim, go to our 15 virgin 4 u website right now, you'll be glad you did.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Nookster

      Have you got a link to that "15 virgins for U" website?

      January 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • pirate

      LMAO – but isn't it 77 virgins?

      January 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Omgami

      Stay tuned for our weekly 77 virgin special, today's special is for 15 virgins only. Act now or.... sorry to late.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  17. Gumby

    CNN, ENOUGH already with all the religious twaddle blighting the front page. It's the 21st century, not the 1st, FFS.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Banjes1

      Indeed! Glad other have noticed the recent spike in this sort of mystical pandering!!!

      January 7, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  18. maniacmudd

    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 he have a user name and password??

    January 7, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Banjes1

      INDEED!! hahaha, perfect illustration of this MADNESS that prevails in the "modern" human mind.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      The only reason god can use a computer is because of the brilliant researchers at Xerox PARC.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  19. K2

    If God creates soul mates for us, then He would make sure we met, one way or another and it would happen at the right time.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • longisland

      Exactly! There would be no need to go through (and pay for) a dating website. If soul mates exist, people have been finding them for centuries before the invention of the internet.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  20. Bill

    Insert generic "athiest" or religious argument / insults here.

    Fight, Fight, Fight! Bend to your Media Priesthood's will.

    January 7, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Take it from a guy with four first names (those are the names of my four fathers, it you're curious), people argue about nonexistent things all the time. It is fitting that the delusional be bombarded with an equal or greater level of rhetoric to counter their millenia-old comic religious nonsense.

      January 7, 2012 at 9:07 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.