Soul ties. A term we hear tossed to and fro’ among conversations. Maybe a Youth pastor uses it to warn young Christians of the perils of pre-marital sex. Perhaps a mentor uses the term, trying their best to offer reasoning for a mentee’s distress and inflamed emotions after falling into sexual sin. Whatever the case is, soul ties are a belief held by many Christians. But what exactly are they and more importantly can we consider it a biblical truth?
Soul ties are commonly believed to describe the way in which two souls are ‘knit together’ spiritually. Many argue that this affinity can be forged through sexual relationships; an ‘eternal bond’ usually formed between a husband and wife. In cases of extra-marital sex, this ‘tie’ is believed to have destructive consequences on the individual’s emotional and spiritual health.
Most Christians will agree that the term isn’t directly mentioned in the Bible, however, there are scriptures that lead them to believe that soul ties exist. This begs the question; why do we believe in something that is so loosely based on scripture?
If you ask a Christian who believes in soul ties, whether it is biblical, they will be quick to guide you to 1 Samuel 18:1 (NKJV); “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” However, is the ‘knitting’ that is described here, a spiritual welding of two souls? Or rather, an illustration of the visceral congeniality between two friends, a friendship more commonly known in our time as a ‘budding bromance’? What about soul ties during sex, can soul tying occur as a result of physical intimacy? Some might argue that a man and a woman’s souls are knitted together when they become ‘one flesh’ (Gen 2:24) and this bond is further deepened during sex; that is to say that Christians who practice sex outside of marriage put themselves at risk of ‘binding’ their souls to the individual they have slept with. While it is commendable that a Christian’s aim here, is to educate others (as they should) on the sanctity of sex in marriage, unfortunately, they misapply the covenant binding nature of marriage to the actual act of sex itself, which as result, can be misleading and cause much confusion.
I believe that one reason why many of us believe in soul ties despite the fact that is supported by little to no biblical evidence, is because of English translations of Hebrew manuscripts, and their best attempts to convey its exact meaning in a way that can be understood by those who read what has now formed to become the Bible. The issue is that, Hebrew is a language that is heavily pictorially based, often using imagery to drive home a particular point. Therefore, when trying to capture the affinity created between those who share an esteemed level of intimacy or affection, some of this meaning is lost in various translations. Given that there is a lot obscurity surrounding the understanding of the soul and how it functions, even the best of us can take up meaning to be literal, when it is in fact figurative.
Let us not be mistaken, though as believers we might feel entangled in our emotional and sexual desires as a result of a past relationship or sexual sin, we must understand that the gospel offers a completely different reality. A reality where our souls are not tied to man but instead united with Christ who has assured us of our freedom by means of His atonement on the Cross. During times, where we do feel burdened, we should pray for the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened to the hope that we have been called to (Eph 1:18) so that we can both recognise and rejoice in the fact that our souls have been set free from, not only the bondage in this present world but also from eternal corruption in the life to come.