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:
- Yes, sometimes there is battle we need to do in the spiritual realm.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
What do you think? Have you ever let fears about “soul ties” hold your marriage back? Let’s talk in the comments!
Found this post helpful? You might also enjoy: