Our Soul Ties Series: Do You Form Soul Ties By Having Sex with Somebody?

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Sex | 26 comments

Do We Form Soul Ties By Having Sex with Someone?
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Does having sex with somebody mean that you have a soul tie with them–a spiritual bond that is hard to break?

This month at Bare Marriage we’re doing our Wednesday series on soul ties and emotional bonds, because it’s a topic that seems to come up a lot in Christian circles that I worry is hurting people trying to form an intimate marriage.

Last week I introduced the concept of soul ties, talking about what soul ties are, and what Christians usually mean when we talk about soul ties. And I concluded by saying that while demonic forces can get a foothold in your life when you open yourself up for it, we shouldn’t make it sound like Christians are hopelessly caught in the past, tied to a past lover and unable to move on without an exorcism, which isn’t biblical and which makes Christianity sound more like voodoo.

To sum up last week’s post:

  1. Yes, sometimes there is battle we need to do in the spiritual realm.
  2. But, no, I do not believe that there is biblical evidence that when we have sex we form a soul tie, or spiritual bond, that is not dealt with by Jesus on the cross and that  we then have to go out of our way to break.
  3. Sometimes broken hearts are simply broken hearts.

Some relationships can have huge effects on our emotional health and wholeness going forward, and healing does need to take place.

Sometimes we’ve become so emotionally enmeshed with someone (either romantically or sexually or in some other way) that our happiness is tied up in what that person does. Breaking that emotional bond is important. But having sex, in and of itself, does not necessarily wound you spiritually, and I think we’d do better if we got over this idea that we’re bonded with a whole bunch of past lovers–or that our spouse is bonded and thus we can’t have a completely intimate marriage.

So let’s lay this out:

A soul tie, as it is generally explained in Christian circles that promote the idea, is a bond that is unwittingly formed in the spiritual realm between two people, often with both being unaware. That bond is usually formed through sexual activity. It can hinder people’s ability to lead a full life later on if the relationship is broken, and the soul tie must then be broken in the spiritual realm as well, through prayer, repentance, and/or deliverance.

An emotional bond is a bond that is formed through intentional action–through a person basing their happiness on another person’s actions. This bond is often romantic in nature, but not exclusively. Emotional bonds can be formed with family members, lovers, boyfriends/girlfriends, even children. We feel the bond deeply, and if we become too invested in the bond, it can hinder our ability to lead a full life.

Do you see the difference? A soul tie, in the way that it is commonly explained, may be formed even if the two people are completely unaware and even if the two people didn’t mean very much to each other. I’ve even heard it taught that sexual abuse forms soul ties that the victim then has to break.

An emotional bond, on the other hand, is formed because of deliberate or intentional steps that we took. We’re aware of the bond, and there’s nothing sinister about it except that it can have devastating consequences (as we’ll talk about next week with past boyfriends/girlfriends or lovers, and the following week with children).

The problem I have with soul ties is that the idea keeps people in bondage who have no reason to be there. 

By saying that sex automatically causes this big soul tie that then has to be deliberately broken or else you’re hampered the rest of your life–well, there really isn’t a biblical basis for that, but it also really hurts people. And, in my experience, it hasn’t been true.

Can sex form a spiritual bond? Yes, I believe it can. There is some persistent sin where we do give the devil a foothold, and where we do need some help to defeat a stronghold in our lives. And when sex is combined with an emotional bond, I think there can be an incredibly intricate bond between two people that is difficult to break (more on that next week!).

But today I want to talk about the other side of it: Sometimes sex is just sex, and we don’t need to make more of it than it is.

I wrote a post two years ago on how to stop obsessing about your husband’s past lovers. In that post, I was addressing a question a woman had. She had been at premarital counseling with her husband, and this had happened:

One day there was a couple leaving before us and he was staring at the girl and as soon as we walked in he said, “I don’t know if this is the right time to say anything, but I dated that girl. Nothing serious, only three dates.” I felt really uncomfortable. I asked if he had sex with her. He said he had. I was devastated! I can’t go to that counsellor anymore. How could he go on 3 dates and have sex? I don’t know how to heal I don’t know how to move on! I don’t want to ruin a great marriage over stuff that happened before he knew me. I pray all the time!

So her husband had had sex with this woman, and hadn’t considered it a big deal. And now she was torturing herself with it and couldn’t get over it.

In this scenario, who is the one suffering from the bond? The now-husband who had sex with this woman and never thinks about her, or the wife who is obsessing over it? it seems to me that what has happened is that the wife has actually formed an emotional bond with this ex-girlfriend, to the extent that she is allowing the ex-girlfriend to impact her marital happiness. And it has to stop (and I give a detailed explanation of how that can happen in the post getting over jealousy of your husband’s past).

But many people have reported being hampered by this idea of soul ties. Here are two comments from last week’s post, taken from the blog and from Facebook:

This concept of “soul ties” was used to spiritually abuse me. I was told by a past spiritual leader that I wasn’t free to be myself because I was hindered by the broken pieces of other people’s souls that I was carrying around. I was made to confess intimate details about all of my relationships and pray to “release” their soul back to them and ask God to bring my soul back to me.

I was a virgin.

After leaving that church I started researching this concept of “soul ties” and when exactly it started being taught in the church and by who. Long research story short, it’s a New Age concept that has leaked into the church, planted really, and is being used to oppress Christians. I am not convinced our souls can be tied with other people, let alone fractured. I’ve had a lot of out of context verses thrown at me. I’m still not convinced.

The whole “soul tie” concept was one I heard when I was younger too. I was a virgin when I married and my husband was not. Before he became a believer, he would do sexual things with girlfriends. After becoming a believer, he could see how he was just looking to those relationships to satisfy himself and not because he actually loved those girls. So one day we talked about the “soul tie” concept and I asked him if he felt that connection with those women. When he said no, it was hard to believe because it had been so ingrained that you definitely had a “soul tie” if you had sex before marriage. So this concept I think hindered ME in our marriage from feeling secure because it made me so insecure that I wasn’t his first soul tie and that he probably needed to work on getting over others. It really held me back from just loving him. I felt like I had to earn his love in a way since I wasn’t the first woman in his life. Not because of him but because of this concept! Looking back now, it’s just so silly! The old is gone, the new has come for my husband and that’s the truth I hold onto.

Are there problems with sex being “just sex”?

Yes, I think there are–just not necessarily of the soul tie variety. God made sex to be intimate physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You’re supposed to feel like one. You’re supposed to feel close.

When you have sex without commitment, and you make it just about the body, then you’re teaching yourself to respond sexually to only the physicality of sex, and not intimacy. You separate intimacy from sex, and that can have repercussions later when you marry and you can be intimate, but that’s no longer seen as “sexy”. That’s one of the reasons that God wants us to wait for marriage for sex. Then sex can be everything God intended, all wrapped up in one package, and we haven’t distorted it or stretched it beyond recognition. Sometimes those with promiscuous pasts do have trouble feeling intimate during sex.

But sometimes they don’t. I have known so many people who have slept with others before they married, and are overjoyed at their sex lives once they are married, because it feels worlds different. It’s now about love. And they actually feel like they were virgins on their wedding night because THIS is what it was supposed to be.

My big message today about soul ties?

Don’t make your marriage more complicated than it needs to be. If there’s sexual baggage, of course you should deal with it, and at times that will need a licensed counselor. If there are emotional bonds that need to be dealt with, then deal with them. If there’s a history of major promiscuity that is making it difficult for sex to be intimate, and if your spouse can only get aroused with things you consider gross, and seems to distance himself (or herself) emotionally during sex, then there likely are things to work on with regards to someone’s sexual past. Some of that work may need to involve prayer and confession and an acknowledgement that you’ve let the devil get a foothold, and some of it may simply be learning what sex was supposed to be like, and taking things slowly and relearning intimacy. And a great way to do that is with 31 Days to Great Sex!

Do you find it hard to talk about SEX?

31 Days to Great Sex guides you through exercises so that you can talk about libido, frequency, intimacy, in a low-stress, easy way.

No blaming. Just solutions–and a whole lot of fun!

But let’s not add to the complications we already have in marriage by assuming that anyone who has had sex before they were married has demonic forces at work that require elaborate prayers in just the right way to break. And let’s especially not heap that onto sexual abuse victims, who are already suffering trauma. For sure, seek out qualified, licensed help, but don’t heap extra shame on yourself.

Look, if the devil is at work, there will be signs. But often it’s not the devil. It’s just our own emotions and thought patterns that we haven’t submitted to Christ. And in that case, the best route is to practice taking every thought captive.

And sometimes there are no signs at all. Sometimes you marry someone with a past, or you have a bit of a past, and things are actually going pretty well. So rejoice in that! Don’t throw yourself and your marriage into a turmoil because you believe there are some big bonds that need to be broken.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

When you know Jesus, you are free. Your husband is free. Don’t let others put you in slavery to fears about invisible soul ties when, without those fears, you’d be living a full life. Live that full life. Rejoice!

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.

Do We Form Soul Ties Through Having Sex With Someone?

What do you think? Have you ever let fears about “soul ties” hold your marriage back? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Nathan

    Sex CAN form a tie, but doesn’t necessarily HAVE TO. A soul tie is likely created by more than just the act. It’s also an emotional bond

    I’ve had sex one time with one person, then she broke up with me. About a year later, I met my wife and it’s been only her since then. I never talk to or think about the other one. There was never a true emotional bond, so I don’t believe that I have a soul tie to that person.

  2. Arwen

    I’m so grateful for these series, Sheila. When Christians start incorporating the world into Christianity it adds unnecessary burden not only on people but on the Gospel itself. I overheard Ex-Muslims talking about soul ties one time, and they were trying to figure out what this “Christian” teaching was. They were learning so many new things about the faith that i hated that they had to sift through unBiblical wheat and tares. It was taking time from their precious life that could have been used to instead learn actual Biblical stuff and not these ridiculous and dangerous things we Christians add onto the Gospel.

    P.S. I love when you link previous articles in your posts. I really enjoy going back and reading them. Thank you!

  3. Phil

    I heard oF soul ties before specifically sexual in nature and what I did with it was say a simple prayer asking God to remove those ties to my old sexual partners. But since this post series started I have come more to believe in SIN TIES. Tied to someone due to their/my sin. When I prayed my simple prayer God removed me from those ties through Jesus. That’s it – that simple.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Love it! It really should be simple, Phil, because we know that great is He that is in us than he who is in the world!

  4. Belle Grace

    Sorry for the long response.

    Seems like soul ties to sex….seems more like out of feeling guilty about having more than one partner that the Lord didn’t give to you. I think that soul tie theory can just be a bad memory haunting you because that memory gets in the way of loving the person you’re with now. You can’t stop obsessing about the sex you had with someone else. Sometimes it’ll leave you feeling violated…even if you enjoyed the sex back then. It’s almost like you have a body count adding up. Like you were using sex like a recreational drug vs it being life saving. It didn’t really mean nothing in the past & now the guilt is biting your behind. Probably feels like shame because you didn’t respect what sex was really all about.

    I don’t believe the Lord’s going to tie your soul to everybody you’ve had sex with especially if He’s already made somebody special for you. Plus your soul belongs to God. I don’t think the Lord wants us to believe we’re actually giving away our souls to any Tom, Dick, Harry & Patty that we have sex with. Also it seems kind of disrespectful to the Lord’s power if we believe that our souls are so flimsy just to give away like that. Your soul is so much deeper than that. I think the Lord wants us to respect our bodies/temple, wait on Him to bless us with the right helpmeet so we can dodge those people who don’t mean our souls any good.

    I believe when you have sex with the wrong person(s)…greed, lust & envy attaches to the those past lovers because of how you want to feel towards that person. Greed, lust & envy makes you hold on to people that don’t belong to you or weren’t meant for you. Your egos either trying to enslave them or yourself because you seek possession. You don’t really care about that person’s soul or well-being.

    Sex is supposed to be meaningful & shared. Seems to me like if anybody’s soul is going to be connecting…it should be way before penetration.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great thoughts, Belle!

  5. Zari Banks

    I can tell you as someone who had sex before and after becoming a believer, that it’s not just sex. Ever. I can also tell you as a deliverance minister about unclean spirits harassing people in dreams having sex with them, raping, fondling and declaring they’re married to them, isn’t a joke. Yes, The Blood of Yeshua breaks yokes, but if it were easy, sex wouldn’t have such holds on people’s lives. It’s really simple for people who’ve been married for decades to say it’s just sex and cover it with The Blood and greater is Holy Spirit in you (referring to my best friend’s words) but people do get bound by sexual demons and that’s obvious in the U.S. if not other places. If it was only just sex, babies wouldn’t have to come into the picture either, but they do.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Zari, as I said, I do believe that the devil can get a foothold in our lives in a variety of ways, and sex is certainly one of them. And people can be experiencing spiritual oppression in this area.

      The problem I have is when people say that it ALWAYS happens. That just simply isn’t the case. And I’m not talking about myself (my husband and I did not have sexual partners before we wed; this has nothing to do with me). I’m talking about younger people that I have seen come to the Lord and then go on and have amazing marriages without being plagued by their pasts. It really can happen that Jesus can set you free.

      There is nothing in Scripture about coming to Jesus and only AFTER THAT everybody needing to go through a huge deliverance to get over their pasts. There is lots in Scripture about specific people who had specific demonic activity, but it isn’t true that everybody has demonic activity due to sex before marriage. If it were true, then the gospel message would not be, “repent, believe, be baptized.” It would be “repent, believe, be baptized, then go through intense prayer and deliverance and exorcism.”

      I’m not denying the reality of spiritual oppression. I am saying, however, that stating that this sort of spiritual bond is universal creates a whole host of marriage problems where there don’t need to be. We also have to practice some discernment. If you sense something’s wrong, then for sure, investigate it. But if you sense that you’re fine, then you likely really are.

    • Sarah

      Amen! This is FACT! As a believer myself, I have allowed myself to entertain demonic activities in the past due to this addiction to sex. It’s awful and so– thankful to be delivered.

  6. Andrea

    Does anybody else find the fact that one of the commenters quoted in the blog “was made to confess intimate details about all of [her] relationships” as creepy as I do? I’m imagining an older man trying to get salacious details from a young woman. One of my friends had to do that 20 years ago (when she was in her mid-twenties) to an old Orthodox priest before he would allow her to convert. He has been caught soliciting prostitutes on line since and lost his church and his family. I know the Mormons also have to do this because they’re having their own #MeToo movement over that; the parents protesting the practice are calling it grooming behavior.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it definitely feels creepy to me. Definitely. I’ll be talking about grooming on tomorrow’s podcast!

    • Jane Eyre

      Yes. I learned the hard way that men who are trying to satisfy their list ask those questions. They might be grooming, or just want the lustful thoughts, but it is gross.

    • Emmy

      Yes, creepy indeed. There are people who misuse their position in Church and secretely enjoy listening to “confessions” on sexual behavior of their church members. It is a kind of voyeverism, or “peeping behavior”.

      • Greg

        I’ve had plenty of sexual partners when I was a believer and now as a non- believer and never felt any ties or bonds to any of my partners. Now married with two children. Just sayin’.

  7. Hopeful

    What about if it’s a non believer? And what about if it’s not a case of past sexual partners he was with and chose to detach emotionally and moved on from before his wife, but someone he cheated with and bonded to emotionally while simultaneously bonded emotionally to his wife. The non believing husband is bound to the other person by sin. Are he and the other woman bound by and under this sin? Is he now one with
    them both somehow? Can the married couple ever be free from this bondage with the husband bound by his sin? He is moving on with his wife (a believer), but is still attached to this other person. Can they ever be free of the sexual sin/bondage if he is still under the penalty of his sin as a non believer? He doesn’t seem free. He still seems bound to the other
    person even if he doesn’t want to be. Is the blood of Jesus the only way to be free of the bondage with the other person? It seems like soul ties might apply here? Or at least a sin tie like one commenter suggested?

    • Lea

      “but someone he cheated with and bonded to emotionally while simultaneously bonded emotionally to his wife. ”

      Why would this be either a ‘sin’ or ‘soul’ tie rather than simply an emotional one? We build relationships and we bond with people. I think that’s what we’re meant to do as humans. I’m bonded to friends, to family, where sex isn’t in the picture and I have previously bonded emotionally romantically…

      there may be layers of guilt, sin, whatever since he was cheating but that’s a relationship issue. We don’t need to invent soul ties to explain it?

      • Lea

        [Also I think it takes time to get over emotional ties with people. That’s why breakups are hard. I suppose being in a marriage doesn’t stop you from grieving your secondary relationship even if that sucks for the wife to hear]

        Generally time fixes this stuff.

  8. Sarah O

    I don’t believe in soul ties, especially for believers. Our souls belong to Christ and nothing can separate us from Him. I find the biblical case for sexual soul ties almost beyond understanding.

    I do believe in the conviction of the Holy Spirit and in repentance of sin, and I think we’ve gotten pretty lazy on the repentance front, especially as it relates to sex.

    I understand that it can be tricky for a married person to repent to a former partner and we should use some discretion here, but I do think we need to at least repent to God and our current spouse for past sexual sin.

    I think the whole “soul tie” philosophy is just lazy avoidance to conviction. “It’s not that I sinned and need to make amends, but rather the devil made me do it and I need a pastor to rescue me!”

    Most of us have extramarital sex, and it’s wrong and it’s a sin, even when the other party was just as guilty as us. Confess your sin to God, confess to your spouse, consider confessing to your partner where it makes sense. Ask forgiveness and make amends. There. Done. Mystery solved.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Love it!

  9. Lea

    ” it’s a topic that seems to come up a lot in Christian circles”

    One of my friends mention ‘soul ties’ in relation to sex to me and I think that was the first I heard of it but we were in our late 30s!! I just told her that wasn’t correct. I was kind of amazed people think this is a thing. In my experience it is not.

  10. Rhonda

    Never in my life have I heard of the therm “soul tie”. While emotion bonds with people exist and can be proper and life-giving or improper and dangerous, I don’t think they are spiritual

    Unhealthy or sinful emotional bonds can happen even without sexual behavior.

  11. Tara

    I heard this term for the first time just last night.

    Long story short: I’ve been married to the same man for over 20 years. Before I started dating my husband, I was in a relationship with another man. We dated and broke up 25 years ago. Before that we were long distance friends. When we broke up, I did my best to put it behind me. It took some time, but I felt I was successful. That is until approximately 8 months ago when he found me on FB. Not only did all those feelings and memories come back, but they’ve been replaying in my head ever since.
    My husband believes I have a soul tie with this person. I know that I connected to this person in a way that I had never had before and have not since. I have always loved my husband with my mind and not with my heart because I wasn’t willing to get my heart broken again. So I can’t say for sure if soul ties exist, but I can definitely say that there are sometimes extreme bonds that defy time and some times explanation. I thought for sure that time would have healed my heart. I was surprised by the intensity of the feeling it brought back.

    I was not a Christian at that time, but have been for almost 20 years. This has affected my marriage (that we have worked very hard to keep together… this is not the first challenge we have faced) but not in the way people might think. I feel guilty because I realized that I do not love my husband in the manner and with the intensity that I feel he deserves. So that is my just my experience.

  12. Lisa

    I am so glad you’re talking about this! After I had been married for several years, I went to a marriage workshop at a woman’s retreat where the speaker talked about soul ties. She told us that because sex forms a “one flesh union” with the other person, we are not only tied to them, but in essence married to past sexual partners. She said that needed make a list of every person we had been sexually intimate with, then confess, repent and ask God to grant us a “divorce” from each one of them.

    I was devastated by this teaching. I had been promiscuous as a teenager, but after giving my life to Jesus in college I had already repented and truly believed that I was forgiven and free. I was in a wonderful marriage and happy with our sex life. Now I was a polygamist and an adulterer and a soon to be divorcee?! I felt condemned and dirty and suddenly anxious about sex with my husband. I did what she suggested, but it was very painful to go back and relive my past sins. My past was ugly — what if I forgot a name! Did that mean we were still tied? Years later I realized this whole exercise was completely unnecessary. I had already dealt with my past relationships and sins, and had been forgiven and restored. When Christ sets you free you are free indeed!

    Those of us who have had sinful sexual relationships do need to deal with our pasts. But once we have experienced God’s grace “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”! We don’t need to be shamed for our past sexual sins, yet this seems to happen in some churches. We don’t do this with other sins.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Lisa. Thank you! And I’m very sorry that that guilt was heaped on you.

  13. bunkababy

    I absolutely remember hearing this from Dean Sherman a popular YWAM teacher in 1986. They played his video series for us during our training. He had books on this garbage.

    I am not sure if he was the inventor of it. But he was the “relationship” guru.

    As a survivor of sexual abuse by many people his teaching scared the crap out of me. Somewhere in the 90s I realized it was crap and it hasn’t bothered me since. But I have heard it coming from mainstream Christianity since then. Prior to that time in YWAM it was not a teaching I had ever encountered.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who heard it! (Or actually, I guess I’m sad this teaching was that widespread. But I am glad I’m not crazy). I’m glad you were able to walk away from it.


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