21 March 2013

I'm a Soul Man! (Will you Be My Soul Sista?)

(Thanks to Alise Wright (http://alise-write.com/) for sparking this.)

A term I've heard far too often over the past decade is "soul tie". For those who don't know, it's Modern Christianese for two people being very close. The term "soul tie" does not appear in any translation of the Bible I'm aware of.

The Bible sometimes refers to people as "knit together" or otherwise as one: man and wife (Gen 2/24); Jonathan and David (I Sam 20/17); the men of Israel (Jud 20/11); a local body of believers (Col 2/2). These would be examples of good soul ties.

While most people who "teach" (and I use this term loosely) on soul ties recognize that there are good ties (marriage, close same sex friendships) there are several problems with the whole concept.

  1. They focus almost exclusively on bad soul ties to the point most people don't even realize there are good ones.
  2. They tend to paint almost all friendships between opposite sexes as examples of negative soul ties.
  3. They tend to see close relationships between the sexes as inherently and inevitably dangerous... at best.
On top of these problems, there's a lot of doctrinal silliness contending that anything you do wrong creates a soul tie with someone and that any such ties are destructive, debilitating, demonic, and difficult to break.[1] This flies in the face of grace and the power of the finished work of the cross.


At its core, a soul tie is simply a relationship. Relationships are determined by intimacy; close relationships have more intimacy, more risk, more exposure, more openness, and ultimately more security. We are made for relationship-- not just with God, not just with a spouse, but with all those around us. We are made to be mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents and grandkids, and so on. Even best friends are intimate; how much more so family?

Therein lies a big part of the problem. We have become so sex-conscious that we tend to see everything in terms of sex. For most of us, the term "intimacy" primarily means "physical intimacy", which primarily means "sexual intimacy".

Except... those are not the primary meanings. Intimacy is a broad category. Physical intimacy is merely one subcategory of intimacy. Sexual intimacy is merely one subcategory of physical intimacy.

I am intimate (to varying degrees) with a fairly large number of people. I tend to be somewhat physically intimate with everyone around me, unless they simply can't cope with that. For me, handshakes are for business. I would far rather hug (I do respect others' boundaries). I have kissed quite a few people of both sexes-- family, extended family, and friends-- on the cheek or the head. There are any number of people I will put my arm around if we are in seats next to one another. There are at least a dozen young ladies who see me as a father or uncle with whom I sometimes hold hands while we walk, as well as women I see as sisters. I would have no problem holding hands with men. I am only sexually intimate with my wife.

Some of you need to read the preceding paragraph again. Maybe more than once. Every word is true. You read it right-- I have a lot of "soul ties". But these are good soul ties. These are the people I love, and who love me. There is nothing the least bit unhealthy about it. When we get to Heaven, I fully expect these soul ties to be stronger than ever. Or maybe we'll just see them more clearly.

Intimate relationships are what really make the world work-- whether between God and us, or between us humans. In the words of my oldest brother, "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Mt 22/37-40 NIV).

Since Jesus commanded soul ties, we'd best get busy with them. Does that scare you? Perfect love chases away fear. (I Jn 4/18) Once the fear is gone, you start enjoying love (and life!) a whole lot more. If you're not careful, you might even find yourself greeting people with a holy kiss.

And liking it.

And God will yet again say, "It is good."

And so will you.


[1] No sermon is complete without three or four points that start with the same letter.


  1. Bravo!!!!! This is so true and something I think every Christian needs to know. I wish you'd written this about... oh... 8 years ago. LOL

  2. Me, too! I did try to get the message out, but was far too subtle at the time. Then again, I was more insecure and had far less of a support community...

  3. Well said! Intimacy is a GOOD thing. We've cast it in a negative light for long enough. I hope to see more people reclaiming positive intimacy like this!