Our Soul Ties Series: What Are Soul Ties? And Do We Need to Break Soul Ties?

by | Nov 6, 2019 | Uncategorized | 89 comments

Are soul ties real? And if so, how do you break soul ties?
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I often get asked if soul ties exist, and, if so, how do you break them?

It’s a common enough query that brings people to the blog that I thought it would be worth exploring some of what we mean by “soul tie” for our November series, and talk about how to frame this in a Christian way. So let’s jump in!

What is a soul tie?

When people use the term “soul tie”, what they usually mean is that, in the spiritual realm, our souls are united to someone else, and that “tie” is binding us to a person we don’t want to be bound to, and is hampering our efforts at moving ahead in life.

Most commonly, they are seen to develop in the sexual realm, though that’s not the only way to see them (and I’ll be exploring some other ideas later in this series series soul ties to kids, parents, and more).

“Soul ties” are largely a Christian concept (in the sense that they’re discussed in the Christian world), and the biblical basis for them is supposed to be 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, which I’m going to quote here in the New Living Translation:

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!  And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20, NLT

Here’s just verse 16 in the NIV:

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

1 Corinthians 6:16, NIV

Now, at first glance, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with soul ties. After all, the verse says you’re one with her “in body”, not “in soul”. But I do believe that this is where the concept came from, because I remember as a teenager sitting in a youth rally, and the speaker explaining that when you have sex with someone, God makes you into one flesh. You are joined together. Essentially, you are now “tied”. And that has repercussions.

That’s what a lot of the purity talks that we give youth are based on, too–if you have sex, you join with someone. You form a bond. And when you break up with that person, you break that bond, even though it’s still there in your soul. Then, when you have sex with someone else, the bond won’t be as strong, because part of you is still tied to someone else. (My daughter made a really great video showing why this is a very bad message to give to youth, by the way).

So let’s deconstruct this: Can we “bond” with someone through sex? And is that a soul tie?

Absolutely we can feel a bond through sex. In fact, there’s a hormonal reason for that. When we have sex, we release a hormone called oxytocin, or regularly called “the bonding hormone”. It makes us feel close to the person that we’re with, and produces feelings of affection and belonging. Women also produce that hormone when we breastfeed, when we kiss or hug our kids, etc.

And then there are those who say that God Himself binds us, in an invisible way, through sex. In fact, it’s sex that makes you married in God’s eyes, they say, so essentially the reason you’re not supposed to have sex with a prostitute is because you’re marrying them (and that’s why 1 Corinthians 6 repeats much of the language about marriage):

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Genesis 2:24

If you have sex, then, you’ve got this affectionate, close feeling with someone, AND God has created this “spiritual tie” or “soul tie” between you and the other person, and you’re not supposed to break it.

That’s the reasoning behind the soul tie language. Now let’s look at why they are often seen as a big deal.

If God forms an invisible, spiritual bond between you and the person you have sex with, then how do you break it if you want to move on with your life?

What I’ve read in a lot of literature talking about spiritual oppression is that the reason that people can’t move on with their lives after they break up with a sexual partner is because they are “tied” to this person spiritually. And thus we must use spiritual weapons to break the ties (often through something like an exorcism or a prayer of deliverance) to get over your lost love and move forward. Indeed, the reason that you may not be flourishing in your marriage is because you have ties to past lovers, or your spouse has ties to past lovers, and these must be broken.

I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings about this line of thinking. I think this can belief system can actually keep people from being freed from past relationships, and prolong the heartache from past relationships, rather than setting people free from what may have gone before.

Sex can form an emotional bond, and often we are in love with someone (even without sex), and it’s really difficult when that relationship ends.

So can we just go back to the beginning and think this “soul tie” logic through again?

Yes, sex does form an emotional bond between two people.

It’s that oxytocin hormone reaction, plus it’s just an all new level of intimacy.

Yes, there is a spiritual realm, with spiritual forces at work.

I think this is pretty unmistakable in the Bible:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  

Ephesians 6:12

However, this does not mean that there is a spiritual block on your life due to past sex, that you will never get past unless you go through a deliverance ministry.

Paul spent much of his ministry among Gentiles, and most of his epistles are written to Gentile believers. And in Roman times, premarital and extramarital sex were pretty common as well, just as they are today. They even had temple prostitutes! So if people had all of these huge spiritual ties that would need a ton of work to break, where you would have to pray just the right way and get yourself in just the right frame of mind or your life would be hindered–well, I think Paul would have been more explicit about this. If it were honestly that big a problem, I think he would have talked about it.

Instead, he never said that breaking a soul tie or spiritual bond with past sexual partners should be a big priority for Christians. He said fleeing from sexual immorality NOW was our job. He was focused on our life in Christ now, not what came before.  What he talked about was not being tied to sin and being hindered by all of these past sins and demons, but instead being free in the Spirit and living a life unencumbered.  We didn’t have to turn ourselves inside out to flee our past; that was already done for us:

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation! The old has past away; the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Paul’s big message was freedom in Christ. He never said, “Once you come to Christ, you realize how tied you are with the past in your spirit, and you have to do a lot of work to find freedom.” No, he said that we already had freedom! Whom the Son has set free is free indeed. 

What if focusing on soul ties with past lovers stops us from being able to move forward?

If you believe that demons have influence over you because of sex that you had with people in the past, and that you can never have a good marriage now because of that, unless you pray in just the right way and break that tie–well, that sounds like a lot of pressure to put on you to do just the right thing. I think that can keep people stuck. It also sounds a lot more like voodoo than it does like Christianity.

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Can I suggest another way of looking at all of this than just “soul ties”?

How about we just talk about having a broken heart? Sex can form an emotional bond, and often we are in love with someone (even without sex), and it’s really difficult when that relationship ends. It feels like we’re tied to that person, because our hopes and dreams WERE tied to that person. When you saw your future, you imagined it with them. And now that the person is out of your life, or the relationship is over, you feel like you’re floundering, and you can’t get your bearing, and you’re adrift, because that person anchored you. So you are tied to them.

But we don’t have to overspiritualize it. We don’t have to say that you need a big exorcism to set you free, or make someone who isn’t feeling particularly bad about something feel badly because there are these invisible soul ties they knew nothing about.

Can there be a spiritual, demonic element to it? Yes, absolutely, there could. I do believe that Satan targets us where we’re weak, and there may be times when a broken heart gives him a foothold.

But more often than not, I think a broken heart is just a broken heart. We don’t need to call it a soul tie and layer it up with all these pictures of invisible bondage.

Man and woman tied together back to back with rope

That being said, I think we can create soul ties, in the sense that, emotionally, we tie our own happiness and well-being up with someone else’s actions.

I’m not talking about God doing something with demons behind the scenes (although, again, I do think that this is possible); I just know that in my own life, there are times when I have been overly emotionally tied up with my kids, with boyfriends, with other people. I’ve had these dreams for the future that involve other people, and I let those dreams become so important to me that my happiness was dependent upon what those people did. Now, obviously, when you love people, they affect you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also an unhealthy version of that where it’s not just about having a good relationship with people; it’s really about making those people live out our dreams. That’s where things can cross the line.

So over this month I’d like to look at how we can get over broken hearts–those “soul ties” that we think are formed with past lovers or with past boyfriends/girlfriends. I’d like to look at how to process the past relationships that our spouse may have had.  And I’d also like to look at how to get over those other kinds of emotional enmeshment with people that we love–even our kids–and live a life where we love well, love appropriately, and love freely, without any kind of emotional bondage.

What do you think? Have you ever heard the “soul tie” language? Did it help you or make you feel guilty? Let’s talk in the comments!

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. Kay

    This may be someone outside the scope of this conversation, but another danger of soul ties is that this concept is absolutely a part of the reason why I had no idea I had been sexually assaulted as a teen. I was not taught what consent actually looked like, and when I experienced symptoms of trauma ever since, I just blamed the soul ties. It was only when I realized that I had had several other sexual encounters (not intercourse, but still) that I did not feel the same kind of “soul tie” to and I couldn’t figure out what the difference was. Well, the difference was consent. I honestly thought my trauma symptoms were just soul ties, because that is what we were warned would happen if we violated our own purity.

    I am not saying our sexual history, as long as it was all consensual, won’t change us. It probably will. But I guess I am more and more cautious about “soul ties” language now because it is almost always a part of purity culture, and when I hear “soul ties,” I often see trauma. It may not be trauma from the sexual encounter itself but the trauma of the terrible teachings of “soul ties” and purity culture that have made those things feel like unforgivable sins that have tainted you forever. That belief is deeply traumatic.

    So maybe we should talk less about “breaking soul ties” and more about whether there is some unresolved trauma or grief (such as heartache) here.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love that, Kay! That’s really insightful. I think that the whole concept has such language of bondage and of helplessness. I do think that we can jeopardize our own emotional health by tying ourselves too much to specific others, but I also think that’s a deliberate act, rather than a spiritual thing that God does to us behind the scenes, which is how this language is often used.

      I really think you’re on to something, too, about trauma. Very interesting! I’ll look at the posts I have sketched out for Wednesdays and see if I can work that in, too.

      • Marie Buckley

        My husband left me two days after our wedding ,he got a phone call from his children’s mother and i never see him again until three weeks and he told me stories.

        I caught him with another woman in our matrimonial room i was broken he begged and ask for forgiveness and another chance to make things right and i accepted , i want to leave him but i feel so connected even though we.are separated now for a year.

    • Barbara Jean Morrison

      Thank you. I have been a survivor of incest, rape and consensual sex before marriage. After reading your message with scriptures to look up. I feel free. Untied. Amen

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, I’m so glad! That’s wonderful, Barbara!

        • Sheila

          I have had the deliverance from “soul ties” applied to my grief process. It has been suggested that I must break the soul tie with my dead husband in order to move forward.. we had a good marriage and I am reluctant to break the soul tie between us.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, Sheila, that’s completely unbiblical and not necessary. You’re simply grieving. That’s human. It’s okay. And i’m sorry for your pain!

      • John

        I believe the word of God clearly says when we sin after we are saved we have an advocate with the father, who is Christ Jesus our Lord , and we ask forgiveness for our sin and turn fully away from it the lord cast it into the sea of full get fullness never to be remembered no more and once we are truly forgiven it break off all ties period in life for the Lord says there is no weapon formed against us that will prosper and nothing can separate us from the love God has for our lives ,

    • Becky

      This is a hard area for me. My husband had an affair while we were separated. He had sex with her and, when I wanted to reconcile, tried to force polygamy since he was “married” to her now as well. I watched him cry over her, yes shed tears, when she wouldn’t sign his covenant paper and agree to the polygamy. He spent a long time pining after her. I still struggle, even though it’s been almost a year, with wondering if he will seek her out if I “mess up” or am not submissive enough. He says he has regrets for his decisions re: her and I have seen no evidence he has been in contact with her, but the pain is so strong still. In bed I often wonder if he imagines her.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, Becky, that’s so sad! Your husband has some major character issues if he thinks polygamy is okay. Please see a licensed counselor! This has nothing to do with not being submissive, and everything to do with his infidelity and lack of empathy for you.

        • Denise Morrison

          Hi there, I just wanted to tell you about my case. I was lead to think I was soul tied to my first real love. I knew a boy from the tender age of 10. It was love at first sight between both of us. We were boy friend and girlfriend on and off for about 7 years. I broke his heart when I went back to my boyfriend before him. We kind of stayed friends over the years. I got married and he also went on with his life. We both knew that there was something special between us. We lost contact with each other for about 15 years. I however, from time to time would think about him and also dream about him over the years. Recently we found each other on Facebook. We are both married and we just talk to each other about old times etc. We still have feelings for each other but agreed to be respectful to each other and our spouses. We also live in different countries. Would you say this is soul ties or a broken heart?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            It really does sound like you were just very emotionally connected from a very young age. And you’ve got to find a way to put him behind you to concentrate on your marriage. I know that’s hard; but keep reading the series. There’s lots of helpful stuff in there!

    • Olivia

      I went up for prayer in front of a priest who was holding a monstrance-like relic of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos of New Orleans. He asked what I needed and I said to pray for whatever God wanted. He said some prayers over me with the relic and at the end I remember he specifically said “and for soul ties.” To me it’s like the souls will be either with me forever and they need prayer or that they need to be broken. I would like to visit that priest again and have a conversation with him about it. I am also about to turn in annulment papers because I am Catholic and my husband left me. But since then I’ve had several other sexual partners and one other before. So did he mean they needed to be broken, does my annulment process just need to go through, or are they with me in a sense and needed prayer because they were holding me back. There is one specific man whom I feel is the love of my life and we did have sex once but there’s 10 hours between us. I really have never felt like someone was so right for me.

    • Jerren

      This is the most well rounded article I’ve read on the subject . I knew it wasn’t biblical but there’s some points you made here that make so much sense . We already have freedom . How could We both believed we are tied to our past and believe in the freedom we have in Christ simultaneously?

  2. Arwen

    You have started a great series Sheila. When it comes to the Spiritual realm Christians seem to think Satan is far more powerful than God. I know it’s our flesh that is making us underestimate the power of God. This is why it’s so important to meditate on the word of God when we lay down, when we wake up and every second in between. We need to be reminded of His power over everything again and again.

    To add to the we are a new creation verse, is another one of my favorite, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning” – Ecclesiastes 7:8. We all have a beginning but how you end your journey determines everything not how you began it. With that said though how you began will have some affect on your journey but it’s not the sum total of your journey.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Lovely, Arwen! I do really believe this, too: “Christians seem to think Satan is far more powerful than God.” Yes. I sometimes think that’s it entirely. There’s so much about Christ purchasing freedom for us, so why, as soon as someone comes to Christ, do we start listing all the ways that they’re in bondage?

      I’m not trying to say that dark spiritual forces don’t exist. But seriously–sometimes a broken heart is just a broken heart.

      • Arwen

        Exactly! Jesus was brokenhearted over Israel many, many times. Sometimes it’s okay to be solemn over what could have happened, what should have happened, in this journey known as life. Weep over it, learn from it, then go make the best of it moving forward.

        • Joan

          Thank you so much for clearing this up. I especially believe that people use the concept of soul ties and purity teachings overall to shame and berate women into rejecting their own sexuality. I believe the concept of soul ties is very misogynistic; once a woman sleeps with someone, she is seen as tainted and damaged goods, but a man can go on without any “baggage”. What also comes to mind is a lesson I was taught about purity; the metaphor of drinking from a cup and passing it around until it contains everyone’s backwash, which was to say, the more people you sleep with, the more tainted and ruined you are for your so called husband or wife. Following Christian logic, once I ask for forgiveness, shouldn’t the blood wash me anew? I believe this teaching is used to discourage women from exploring their sexuality (which I believe they should ), a natural part of us that we shouldn’t deny or repress. Soul ties is a fairly new concept that works to demean women.

    • Heidi

      This is going to be a very interesting series! I wonder if much of this goes back to a cultural preoccupation with sex that Christians have internalized. Yes, sex is very special, but it is not magical -in the literal sense – and we elevate it in the minds of youth through these types of discourse. I think the ‘soul tie’ feeling might be because some Christians may be unsure of how to repent in prayer, and then trust God’s power. Caring for the Heart Ministries has good resources on this. Love your work.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, isn’t that interesting? I think you’re on to something–that we elevate it to the magical. So interesting!

    • Ann

      We separated with ma husband fr 9years i left ma three kids behind ad got married lst year i decided to go back ad live with ma kids .BT i stl in love wth the man i ve been with now that am away from him i ve noticed change in him he does nt cal me often lke before he only wattups me wht should i do i stl love him,move on or fight fr him?

  3. Nathan

    Kay writes…
    > > I was not taught what consent actually looked like

    Kay, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. This may be one of the side affects of some ways of teaching to the purity culture. Often, it seems that one of the results (intentional or not) is to teach as little actual sexual information as possible to girls. As we have seen elsewhere, this can limit girls ability to say no and to describe what happened during an attack.

    As for me, I dated a bit before meeting my wife, and had sex one time with one person. A year after my latest breakup, I met my wife. That other person and I had no contact after that, so I don’t think I ever had a “soul tie” in that sense.

    A friend of mine*, who was very sexually active in his bachelor days, often maintained close friendships with his former girlfriends even after breaking up. This caused some strain and blowups with the woman he was currently with. When he got engaged, though, he drifted away from his former girlfriends, so that doesn’t seem to be much an issue for him anymore.

    * This is NOT the friend who I’m helping with a porn addiction, just in case anybody is curious.

    • Kim

      I’m really looking forward to this discussion on soul ties for the month. I have just become familiar with the term and I am struggling with how to move on from a broken heart

  4. Becky

    I never really thought to question the “soul tie” thing during my youth group years, when that was the popular teaching to deter premarital sex. As an adult, I can definitely see how that idea can damage marriages, though. If that’s true, then my marriage can never be fully intimate, because part of my husband will always be bound to his cheating ex-wife. What hope is there for our relationship then? While I know it broke his heart at the time, I don’t doubt that he has fully moved on. Sex is challenging and complicated enough (at least in my marriage) without piling on unnecessary added baggage from a past that doesn’t affect our lives in the present.

    I like what Arwen said about the church acting like Satan is stronger than God. We’d all do well to remember that our Lord is in the business of making all things new. And not just in heaven.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Becky! (And I’m glad you commented so that I know i wasn’t the only one who was taught all this soul tie stuff!).

  5. Christina

    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 engrained 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.
    Also, my husband never heard about “soul ties” until I brought it up. He didn’t grow up in the purity culture and I did. Makes me wonder if that’s a big part of the mess.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Christina, that’s actually the subject of one of the other posts I’d like to write this month–how to deal with it if you worry your spouse has “soul ties.” I may just copy out your comment, because it’s great!

      • Christina

        Oh wow sure you can use my comment, Sheila! I hope others didn’t struggle as much as I did with this. It took years of prayer and some counsel to realize that I was the one who had made these women out to have such a special place in my husband’s heart that they never actually had. It was a growing and healing experience; I just wish I hadn’t been so hard on him for years. It really hindered us. He couldn’t understand why I would want to use a term like “soul tie” to make his selfish relationships before more than what they were. When he became a believer, he was ashamed of how he treated these women and I was not helping. I really regret hurting him that way. It had more to do with me than him. I was insecure and believed things that weren’t true instead of trusting him & just letting him move on.
        I know everyone’s situation is different but that’s a little bit of our story. But GOD really has healed me so much with this and for that I am so grateful. We have an awesome marriage and he is an amazing man!

      • Brandi

        Thank you for pointing out the truth of the Gospel. What does the way we speak of soul ties filter through the truth of Christ’s work on the cross? He said It is finished. We are freed from not just the sin act but the shame tied to that act. It seems shame may be the actual tie.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, I love that thought! I think you’re absolutely right.

  6. Blessed Wife

    I read this to find out what a “soul tie” was, because I had never heard the term before. But that verse you quoted, and the stuff about having pieces of yourself bound for life to people you might never see or want to see again took me right back in my mind to SuperWow 1995! And one of the next words to go through my mind was “spiritual voodoo”, a couple of paragraphs before I saw it on the page!

    I had no idea this exo-Biblical extrapolation was so prevalent or making people feel so hampered years down the road, but if this kind of lunacy is making the trouble you describe, I’m glad you’re taking it on, Sheila, and in such a Biblically sound, rational way! Jesus sets us free from the bonds of the Devil and the demands of the OT Law, do that we can start fresh in Him!

    That said, extra/Pre-K sex can have far-reaching emotional consequences that even Christians may have to deal with later. But those are mostly (at least the ones I’ve seen) about retraining your brain, not about exorcising long-gone lovers from your soul. There is a distinct difference!

    Good article! I hope this shot of common sense helps set free the people who feel bound in this way!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you! I hope it puts some light on the issue, too, and stops people from being paranoid. I think there really was a lot of paranoia going around in the 80s/90s about spiritual oppression, etc.

      I also think that we can form emotional bonds that do need to be broken. The way psychologists talk about it is being “enmeshed” with someone, which is real. But again, it’s something deliberate; it isn’t something God does behind the scenes which wreaks havoc on your life forevermore!

      • Blessed Wife

        Right! And enmeshment can come from any kind of relationship that is unhealthy, not just a sexual one. (I had A LOT of talk with my counselor about that with regard to my family of origin.) The takeaway was that sorting healthy ways of relating from unhealthy ones really is something that requires retraining your brain on relationships.

        To continue another facet of the topic, I don’t understand how people can simultaneously hold that pre-marital sex is sin, AND that God considers that sin to be a “marriage” which binds a person for life. Isn’t that kind of circular?

        And if one-time sex makes a life-time bond, why do sexually-deprived spouses feel such a painful distancing from their spouse when sex is withheld?

        My answer is that sex IS designed by God to create and maintain a bond, and that adhesive quality is most effective when frequently reapplied!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          The biggest enmeshment I have ever had wasn’t a sexual/romantic thing at all, but something tied up with one of my kids. And I had to get over it. And I totally did it to myself.

          I’m laughing at your second paragraph, too. Very interesting! I agree with your conclusion entirely.

        • Tamara

          Thank you so much for saying this. The maintenance is totally lost on people… sex isn’t magic. It’s a part of something bigger than itself. Also I’d like to add that if sex creates a soul tie, and if Moses stated a law not to marry sisters and incest was always a bad thing… HOW do we reconcile this with a widowed woman belonging to her dead husband’s brother? Either sex isn’t spiritual or incest is okay. There has to be some continuity between Old Testament and New for our unchanging God to make much sense. Clearly the polygamy and marriage within the family were practical matters which addressed the wartime economics of men dying and women having no autonomous rights, and yet we preach about marriage like it’s nirvana … almost seems like a substitute for the bliss we are actually supposed to find in him, a form of idolatry. There is some fun church history about popes who hated sex, and today we take sex advice from the biblical writer who never wanted to have any (which we can’t simply take as one man’s perspective because we say the Bible is the Word rather than saying Jesus is the Word)… I could go on. But needless to say, grateful for this post and this conversation.

      • Greg

        This is the first time I’ve heard of this. I’ve had sex many times and never experienced a “soul tie” because to me it was just sex.

        • Don Poundz

          Am happy because that so called soul ties it has made many africans to be in sorrows everyday and many end up going to prophets to help them to break those soul ties and it has been bothering me much .but my other question is what about these people who are in church but still sleeping with many lovers what force is making them to do so some are even married

      • nana

        Hello please I need help. I broke up with my girlfriend. She happens to be the first girlfriend in my life.

        I feel like killing myself. It’s affecting my life. I cant do anything

        • Tammy Arseneau

          I am so sorry for the immense heartbreak you are going through–that is truly a horrible thing to experience, and my heart goes out to you. Please know you are not alone, and that others truly have gone through this and gotten through the other side!

          Please, though, you need to reach out to a local suicide assisance line if you are having thoughts of killing yourself. This is NOT something that I can help with over a blog comments section, you need someone local. Please remember that things are never so bad that you would have to take your life, even if it feels like that. Reach out to family, friends, a pastor, or counsellor. I am sure that there are those around you that love you and wouldn’t want you to harm yourself.
          In the US you can call: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255 … In Canada The new Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) by Crisis Services Canada, enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support by phone, in French or English: toll-free 1-833-456-4566 Available 24/7
          Please do reach out for support–you are a beloved and precious child of God and there are resources out there to help you get through this dark time.

      • Elizabeth Jose

        Hi Sheila
        I read your article with interest.However, I do believe soul ties are formed through our sexual relationships.
        Also I believe they can even form through our romantic/ sexual fantasies, wherein we start feeling ’emotionally’ connected to the object of our fantasy.

        I experienced this through a romantic fantasy I started in my head, involving a celebrity, since the last 2 & half months!I have always greatly admired this person’s talent. Sadly, he passed away some years ago.
        I’m not young anymore even.So I cant believe I went thru something like this at my late age in life.
        I cant recall ever having had even a mere crush on this celebrity, when I was years younger & he was even more famous back then.

        I believed this fantasy developed in my mind as a result of the deep frustrations of being locked in at home during this pandemic Covid19 lockdown & that too staying in confined at home in our dysfunctional family atmosphere.
        Anyway, I had to pray much to seriously get free from this obsession with this late celebrity which I believe caused a soul tie – About 3 weeks ago while praying specific soul tie breaking prayers over this problem, I experienced deep sorrow, sobbing with many tears, as if indeed I was breaking up with a ‘real’ person I had been involved with…!!
        So I believe we can get our souls tied up with even someone we fantasise over for too long.
        I feel more free now but thoughts of this ‘fantasy’person do surface from time to time.
        Am believing for total freedom in Jesus’ name.Amen

    • Blessed Wife

      Pre-marital. Auto-incorrect strikes again!😬

      • Jen

        This is a great start. But I feel like you are missing the mark. As someone who was sexually abused and struggled afterward…breaking the soul ties was the only thing that brought me freedom. It’s SO much more complex than you are teaching and yes, people do go “witch hunting” for soul ties when there needs not to be…but what you are saying just doesn’t go deep enough. Like I said, it’s a great start though.

        • Tracey Haw

          I totally agree Jen! It’s not about guilt or shame but there is an authority that is established
          It’s not difficult or elaborate but there is too light a spin on this teaching for sure
          Sorry Jen for trauma and I meant blessed to hear you found freedom praying it through

  7. Ashley

    I look forward to the rest of this series. I kind of like the term “soul ties,” because that’s what it feels like. I have never thought of it as the spiritual thing that some people make it, just an emotional connection. I still dream about the guy I fell in love with in my late teens, even though it’s been a decade and a half since I loved him, and I’ve loved someone else since then. While I pray that the dreams will end someday, I know what I probably need to do is some journaling or something to see if I can uncover some emotions I never dealt with.

    • unmowngrass

      That’s an excellent point! We have both souls and spirits, and they are not the same as each other! And also, even animals have souls… (by which I mean, an individual personality that is unique to them).

  8. Mark Huffman

    I was reading your comments on soul ties and can tell right now they are real and if you have had immoral sex that must break those soul ties through the Name of Jesus!!! Perverted sex opens to door to satan and binds your soul to that person that you had sex with and that has to be broken. Sex is just as spiritual as it is natural.

    • Jan

      I have read and heard enough to understand the concept of soul ties and it’s fairly straightforward. We form unhealthy bonds with others tying our happiness heavily to their’s and their circumstances to an excessive degree. Certainly sex creates bonds but is only one of many factors that does so. Much of it is simply choices and once made it becomes hard emotionally to abandon a choice we have made. And maybe even a since of loyalty is at play. Sometimes for our health we must break those bonds . However, it seems you are implying that there is a strong belief of many that is takes an exorcism, very specific type of prayer, etc. to break them and heavily focused on bonds related to sex. While I can see where this could be used manipulatively to try and keep young people from sex outside of marriage I can’t say I have seen this. Seems a little overstated in your discussion of soul ties. Maybe I’m just out of touch.

    • Blessed Wife

      Would you mind clarifying for me, Mark, what you mean by “immoral sex” and “perverted sex”?

      I think I would classify those connotations differently. Sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is obviously immoral, but perverted suggests something sick or abusive to me. If you’re equating natural sexual desire in unmarried people with perversion, I think that’s a very problematic and dangerous teaching, especially for young people.

      I agree with the belief that sex has major effects and consequences, and that it is a powerful thing that should not be entered into outside of God’s design. But telling someone they’re a pervert for having premarital sex and that they’ve enslaved themselves to the Devil by doing it, or tied their soul to another person’s for life whether they like it or not (which sounds to me like what you’re saying) strikes me as both unkind and untrue. You will also find it to be very much contrary to the experience of many people both Christian and not.

      This especially concerns me with regard to young women, many of whom develop vaginismus, or deep guilt and shame complexes about sex that make it near impossible for them to enjoy sex once they’re married, even if they entered the marriage a virgin. When you spend years being taught that your body is an instrument the Devil uses to tempt boys and men, that your desires for intimacy and sexual pleasure are wrong and perverted and should be quashed, that creates a mental pattern that’s very hard to overcome when you marry. I would venture such teaching is at least as destructive as any “soul tie” they might form, even if soul ties were a real thing.

      • Zalisha

        Amen. First time too i heard this matter being discussed not to cause burden but rather freedom.

  9. Denise

    Best friends as teens. Emotionally bonded. Then it became more. Sex, deeply intimate sex, at 16 years old. His mother sent him away to live with family in another state. They contacted each other every so often, between relationships. She became a Christian but still talked to him whenever he called even after marrying and having kids. She never loved her husband like she loved him. In fact, she married her husband because she thought her first love had gotten married after she heard he had had a boy, born on her birthday. She never knew the thoughts and dreams of her husband like she knew her first love’s. She knew it was wrong to talk to him. It was an emotional affair. She thought about the soul tie but didn’t want to let it go. It was very powerful. She kept telling God someday she would ask Him to take away the feelings she had for him but wasn’t sure when she would be ready. Finally, after 40 years she woke up one day and knew the soul tie had been broken. It was nothing she had done. God knew what was best for her and cut the tie she wasn’t prepared to make. I know they are real.

  10. Pamela

    I have been in church my entire life and have never heard the term “soul tie.” (Reformed church)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad! Emotional enmeshment is real, but let’s not overspiritualize everything.

  11. Lindsey

    I was watching an old episode of King of the Hill(last 90’s/early 2000 adult cartoon series) last night, and there was a character who was becoming a “born again virgin” through sponsorship, some sort of weird thing where they sat in groups and talked about their past history, RE baptism, and “outreach” In the form of telling kids “no sex is hood sex” and “don’t be a louse, wait for your spouse”. Of course, they were actually making fun of the idea – and I couldn’t help but laugh as I shook my head at the ludicracy of the purity movement.

    That being said, because I was raised in a church that taught the “naphesh” view of the human soul (that mankind doesn’t have an immortal soul in the traditional sense, and that the dead “know nothing” as it says in Ecclesiastes and remain dead until Christ’s second coming – which I still believe) they didn’t really teach this “soul tie” thing. At church camp they did talk about oxytocin and sex. But then, one minister read paragraphs from “I kissed dating goodbye” where it talked about the marriage dream where all the other women from the husbands past came up to the alter too. I thought it was a little incongruous- but you know, people are weird.

  12. Mark

    Why are you against a purity culture within the church? There is nothing wrong with living pure and right before God and being faithful and loyal to Jehovah and to your spouse. Quite the contrary, it is the right thing to do. Christians need to be careful that they are not failing for liberal and leftist propaganda that oppose a Biblical Worldview.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely. I agree. There’s nothing wrong with the Christian sexual ethic, and I completely agree about waiting for marriage for sex, and I’ve written about that extensively. . The purity culture, though, was about so much more than that, including shame. I point out 10 things that made me very uncomfortable about the purity culture right here.

      • Mark

        Sometimes shame is necessary, especially when the person is in head long rebellion against God and His Word. Crucifying the flesh is absolutely necessary. Biblical Moral Values are under assault by the Left and their allies. I have seen this first hand. Very horrible. Here in California, it is a complete nightmare. Last Saturday, our guest speaker at our Tea Party Meeting talked about the Sex Ed Insanity in the California Public Schools. It is total pornography what is being shown and taught in the Public Schools. Never before has this happened. Colorado is also in trouble. Also, sex trafficking is also out of control here in CA. This evil must be fought against and opposed.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I totally agree that the sex ed curriculum is ridiculous. But I’d ask you to read the post I linked to to understand what I’m talking about. Of course sex trafficking is awful. But teaching girls that their bodies are shameful, or that if they’re sexually abused they’re somehow ruined, is also not right.

          • Mark

            I would say that a girl’s body isn’t shameful if it covered adequately and modest as well. But when some girls display themselves like some streetwalker where they are exposing their private parts, that is flat out wrong. Also, if a woman or a girl is sexually abused, that is not their fault and they are not ruined forever. Look at former porn “actresses” who are now Christian. They have normal Godly marriages and ministering to the people who are in bondage to porn, to get them out on it. They recognize the evil of porn and doing everything to combat it.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Mark, a girl’s body is NEVER shameful. Yes, we should all dress respecting ourselves. But our bodies are not shameful. Can you see how, if you express this kind of attitude around teenage girls, you’ll make them feel as if there’s something inherently wrong with them? Why not simply talk about dressing to respect others and yourself? Why compare young girls to streetwalkers? Perhaps you can think of changing your language to something that lifts up young girls. Girls in the church are constantly told that they can easily slip into shameful territory. God did not make our bodies shameful. So let’s just teach everybody (boys included) how to present themselves as if we all respect ourselves and each other.

        • Emily

          Shaming is never a godly motivator. As humans, we can feel and sense shame, but saying our bodies are shameful is to deface the image of God in us. I appreciate your passion – but please be careful how you use the word shame and what you assign shame to.

  13. Ylva

    Thank you so much for addressing this! I remember reading a book by Dannah Gresh I think about purity that contained a procedure for “breaking soul ties” that did remind me of exorcisms/pagan rituals more than Christianity and that was very confusing. I agree that a more realistic or pragmatic approach might be more helpful than turning it into so much drama.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that’s really what I want to do. Let’s just take a step back and look at this. Of course there are times when we’re tied to someone in our past, in the sense that we allow them to exert control over our thoughts, happiness level, etc. But that doesn’t mean it’s demonic (can be, I suppose, but let’s not assume). And it doesn’t mean our “soul” is “split” for sure. Absolutely not.

      • Emily

        Can be, but let’s no assume – yes! 👍🏼

      • River

        The church I grew up in during my childhood and teen years taught the idea of soul-ties but without actually calling it that.
        However it had nothing to do with sex, but rather if you were attracted to anyone. There was a huge deal about “giving your heart away” a piece here, a piece there for every person you’ve “liked”.
        This of course led to not really even being able to even speak to the other gender LETS you started sinning by giving away your heart before betrothal. It was incredibly unhealthy and some of us found ways to fight back and be normal. But overall that church has left its Mark’s and to this day I still am working through things in therapy as a result of their twisted teaching.

        Back to soul-ties though. This was the church that taught that crushes were sin, attraction was sin, etc.
        The way you were supposed to get married was by betrothal to someone you had prayed about previously but didn’t like nor were attracted to.
        Sufficient to say the ONLY people who actually followed this were the Pastor’s two sons.
        So yeah, the soul-tie idea was applied to even being remotely interested/having a crush/like someone.
        I should add betrothal was as binding as marriage and breaking an engagement was akin to divorce and a sin ….. yeah.

        All that to say, I’ve since come to realize that based on the very messed up teachings I think the Pastor had some serious problems in his own life.
        I’m thankful for your website because it is really helping me set things I believed straight in my own head and heart. You lay it out clearly, with research, science, and bible. You’re truly a blessing!

  14. Wifey_4

    “Soul Ties” is probably also why there is such a prevalent problem with affairs and divorce.

  15. Emily

    I’m curious how you would define “soul” and also I am seeking to understand more about the cause/effect relationship between our sexuality and spirituality as people.

    I appreciate this article.

    Having been sexually abused when I was a child – a key in setting me free from shame for having bonded to the one who assaulted me – has come from understanding how God has created our bodies to produce the hormone that causes the sense of bonding. So, that I bonded was not shameful, but natural.

    I am looking forward to this series you are writing.

    The concept of having a soul tie is something I was introduced to, not by “purity culture” but through Deliverance ministry.

    I was in a marriage where a couple of demonic encounters were part of our sexual relationship and when I needed to divorce my former spouse to break the cycle of abuse I was trapped in – part of my being set free meant addressing some spiritual abuse and spiritual issues that were a part of our relationship. For me, praying a simple prayer to God to dissolve any unhealthy “ties” that formed was enough and I’ve been set free.

    I am encouraged in being reminded that yes, being set free from bondage (of any kind!) is not a long, drawn out, magical work of ritual.

    I’m not sure of the Biblical basis for the teaching of soul ties, but I am sure that Satan seeks to get a foothold wherever he can – and for me, because of sexual trauma and incomplete teaching about what a healthy sexual relationship is – I did get pretty jarred and caught in some sexual bondage, in part (but they don’t get all the credit!), to evil forces at work.

    I think balance in this is extremely important. To remain in a state or balance around this topic is difficult – but I believe that to deny either the natural hormonal connections of bonding or to deny the demonic spiritual forces at work would be unwise.

    I think, at the end of the day, making Christ and the NOW (as you mentioned) our focus is wisdom; because it’s the place where freedom, healing and life can best be experienced no matter what our past or present wrestles are around sex.

  16. J. Parker

    I’m glad you covered this. I’ve had a draft post for a while about “soul ties,” but every time I write in it, I start ranting. Lol. And I want to be calm about it all!

    But my response to the idea of soul ties with past lovers is essentially pish posh! Of course in that moment I was bonded with those I slept with pre-marriage, and it was sin, sin, sin. Why isn’t that enough? Why do we have to create this whole guilt-charged phenomenon called “soul ties” that places a greater weight on repentant Christians?

    That is Pharisaical, especially when four verses earlier than the text proof used for this idea says this about the sexually immoral: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). I may have remaining consequences for previous sin, but given that I’ve been washed, sanctified, and justified by Christ, I think my soul is good, thanks.

  17. unmowngrass

    I think there’s something missing from this discussion, which is missing from any discussion that invokes the verse from Genesis about the two being united into one — children. Children are made of flesh, and the part that comes from the mother and the part that comes from the father cannot be divided, but the child is one child.

    [[I did NOT say that if you don’t have a child then you don’t have a “real marriage” or any othersuch nonsense, before anyone goes there.]]

    But if you do have a child with someone, then yes, there is an element of a lifetime bond with that person. For the child’s sake, you have to be able to be in the same room as each other sometimes, and speak politely when you do. Whether that’s talking about child support payments; going to parents’ evenings, birthday parties, graduations, weddings; or even just not breaking down in tears or having a fight at pick up/drop off time.

    Even if you never see the other person — even if you never see the child. And that child is walking around wondering about their absent parent. Feeling something missing in one of their deepest levels of being. Etc. So it is still an issue.

    And once everyone gets remarried and moves on, etc, then there are going to be occasions when the ex-couple and the new spouses are going to need to all be in the same room and put on their happy faces — again, birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc. If you’re at those occasions with the one you married a long time ago and you’ve stayed together all of this time, then I’d imagine that you have a moment where you feel like maybe you could burst with unity with your spouse over the family you raised together, right? And if that’s not your journey, then at best you’re not going to get that, and it will probably come with a shard of something much more acute that might sting or make you feel wistful or something else. Not to say that overall you don’t have a good life, that you won’t have a good day; I’m sure you will. It just won’t be what it could have been, and there will probably be a moment where you feel it, that’s all.

    Although probably the same would also be true if you have a string of broken hearts behind you, too. New things do grow from ashes, it’s just a different thing than it otherwise would have been.

  18. Mary Ellen

    “Soul tie” is actually a New Age term. The concept originated with them, not in the Bible, or among Christian circles. It’s alarming how many “hip” Christian ideas actually originate in neo-paganism. I suspect the reason is simply, “itching ears.” A sign of the times.

  19. Lorena Janzen Severson

    Soul ties are real. So is spiritual warfare. It’s all over the Bible but it has to be read for what it says not for what you want it to say. This post saddens me as there was and is so much good on this site. I am a completely different, free person with a light heart since dealing with the soul ties to my first husband, after divorce.

  20. Dia

    I have experienced the same and know I asked God to forgive me and am free. However I am going through a divorce and in prayer the Holy Spirit spoke to pray that my husband would release me and for his heart to be softened.

  21. NaDarrian

    So I’ve been dealing with this older guy (i’m 26. He’s 40) its been goin on 3 years on and off. We have great sex i mean GREAT. He doesnt treat me all that well but i can’t seem to leave i mean everytime i do i always end up coming back and eventually we have sex. Idk if he is using the sex as an apology or what. Everybody say he is bad for me but its like im stuck dealing with stuff i shouldn’t. Honestly deep down i dont want to leave i just want him to get it right. What should my next move be?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      NaDarrian–run. Leave. It’s not a question. If he treats you badly, leave. A relationship is more than sex. You need more than that. You are wrecking your life right now, and you will never get these years back. You need to decide if you want a real relationship where you are treated well and respected, or if you want just great sex, and you don’t care how you are treated. It could be that you need to be in a new group of people who will show you that you have worth. Please seek out a healthy community. Find a church in your area that’s healthy. Find people who are healthy and hang around with them. See what it looks like. Please.

      • Tamara

        I love this response more than words can say. If only we knew in our individual-obsessive society how many times the answer was simply “surround yourself with a healthier community” – it seems like the answer to so many things

  22. Amber More

    I have been with my children’s father for about 8 years and there has been some infidelities on his behalf & I know I deserve better but it’s so hard to move on from someone that i love so much. My goal is marriage and I feel he is stringing me along & the years keep going by, yet i still love this man even tho i know i deserve better . I still think about the times he has cheated and it breaks my heart all over again. I want to move forward to him but i feel like i am stuck because I’m in love with him .

  23. Anja

    Thank you so much for this post’- I had sex with my first boyfriend and it was very emotionally traumatizing. After that I didn’t find value in my body so I let others use it and I didn’t have a real emotional connection. Since then I have healed and have been prayed for for breaking the soul tie with my first boyfriend but every time I hear something about sexual purity I get afraid that I have a bunch of other soul ties because of kissing or guys thag touched me inappropriately etc. So I end up praying and not knowing if I’m free and I used to feel a lot of guilt. Your post helped me and I have started focusing on the future, which made me realize I am free from the past except when I try to go back!!

  24. Jessica McCleese

    I had a few people recommend this article to me because I was specifically asking about soul ties. This is actually a new concept for me. I’ve heard a little bit about it, but didn’t realize that it was taught in Christian circles. Thanks for clearing some of this up.

    Also, I watched your daughter’s video that you pointed to here and subscribed. She is on fire!!!! She really described those negative teachings well and I could have added quite a few similar examples to hers. Sad, huh. I hope and pray that Christians will continue to make changes in the way we approach sex education.

    Be blessed!

  25. Kaye

    please,please please help. I am trying desparately to rid myself of a soultie. A demon is involved. I sense its presence daily and am able to see it coming towards me in the spiritual realm. I am oppressed and tormented and afraid. Many times I have felt suicidal.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kaye, demons do not have authority over you. Demons are not stronger than Jesus. If this is happening to you, it very likely could be mostly your fear. Certainly seek out healthy pastoral help to pray over you, but remember–the Bible clearly shows demons submitting to Jesus. We don’t need to be scared of oppression and possession.

    • Sonia S Weatherall

      SOUL TIES are real and when I started praying them back, some of them came to visit me in the spirit realm!

      We all have SPIRITS in us that’s good and EVIL. With so many shared SOULS inside our bodies it’s impossible to know what’s there. It truly all starts with forgiveness to God and then pray all SOUL TIES back to individuals you remember and individuals you don’t remember In JESUS name AMEN!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Sonia, there is no biblical basis for what you’re saying. Other people do not inhabit your body. That’s actually part of pagan religions. Don’t give the devil that much power. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, and He does not allow other people to inhabit us.

  26. Lisa Drew

    Hi I have been married 3 times and before that one spiritual covenant he has since passed away I have been struggling to rid of all these soul ties and release them spiritually, physically ,mentally, emotionally I looked up what happens when the one you made a spiritual covenant with passes and I ran across this article and boy did it set me free on the sex part and I also know now that when one passes you are free God is so awesome I can know relax about these past marriages and the ties I and forgive myself and the mistakes I have made and keep it moving thank you for this God bless

  27. MB

    Somebody asked why purity culture is bad. It’s bad because it promotes a damaging mentality that can last for a lifetime.
    It also promotes this idea of sex being “dirty” and that people need to feel guilty or ashamed of doing what comes naturally.

    My thoughts on soul ties…I believe that one can still have a mental/emotional attachment, without it being in a spiritual context. After years of being with my husband, who was raised in a Southern Baptist home, I feel that he was taught this concept of “soul ties” which is why he still has memories and longings for a girl he was with many years ago. They never went all the way sexually, but just far enough.
    When she broke up with him (in 1988!) he never really got over her.

    I feel that his parents, especially his deeply religious mom, taught him that whoever he dated or fell in love with first was the person he had to marry for life.
    So because of that, he can’t fully move into the present.

      • MB

        Agreed, Sheila. I think when we talk about “soul ties” some people frame it as literal demons in a spiritual sense.
        To me, it’s more like mental or emotional “demons” (unresolved issues) that haunt a person until they can finally heal.

        I think healing happens when a person decides to cut the ties and release the emotions/memories/trauma.
        My husband is still somewhat “tied” to her because of nostalgia and a whole lot of feelings that were never resolved.
        The “soul ties” remain because he never got the closure he wanted. I gently told him that he might never get it…such is life.
        Closure and peace will come when he does the work to heal, to look within.
        I believe that soul ties are real, but this type of unhealthy attachment can be broken if a person really wants to free themselves (and seek help if needed).

        I had an unhealthy “soul tie” several years ago with an ex-boyfriend, which I made a choice to heal from.
        It was becoming an obsession and that’s how I knew healing needed to happen.
        With my husband, I think he is unaware of this deep wound that hasn’t healed in his own heart.


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