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soul tie; one flesh, cleave, equally yoked, bound together
Godly and ungodly spiritual unions form what are known as soul ties.

Sex and other spiritual unions: understanding soul ties

Understanding sex primarily as a spiritual union is imperative for Christians to walk in freedom, and especially crucial for teens and young adults coming into knowledge of sexual integrity. In a previous post, I discussed the lack of instruction in the mainstream church on the spiritual nature of sex. “My people perish for lack of knowledge,” said The Lord (Hosea 4:6); this lack of knowledge can result in bondage and relationship failure, as Christian worldviews and divorce rates increasingly resemble that of the secular arena.

God gave us bonds in order to strengthen both our natural and spiritual families. Particularly the husband-wife union exemplifies this, and marriage is to reflect Christ and His bride (Eph. 5:25-32). But ungodly soul ties can form through various means when other attractions and fascinations counterfeit God’s design. One of the ways these “soul ties” are formed is through illicit sexual relationships.

Throughout scripture, there is a strong connection between adultery and idolatry. That is, sexual immorality is linked closely with spiritual faithlessness and worship of false gods. This was not simply for the Old Testament Hebrews, but the theme carries right into the church age (see 1 Cor. 6:5-20, 1 Cor. 10:21, James 4:4, 1 John 1:6, et al). Where there is adultery or fornication in the church, the spiritual bondage is akin to someone having given themselves over to a false god.

Where are soul ties mentioned in scripture?

The term “soul tie” is not used in scripture. However, the Bible does use the words “cleave,” “yoked,” “knit together,” and “joined” to convey this tie. Understanding the soul as the mind, will, emotions, and intellect clarifies what is meant. The Hebrew word “cleave” in Genesis 2:24, describing the relationship between a man and his wife, carries the meaning “stick” or “cling to” like two objects glued together.

The souls of Jonathan and David were knit together, says 1 Samuel 18. The same concept of their deep friendship is used to describe Jacob’s love for his son Benjamin in Genesis 44:30. Paul’s wish for believers was that their hearts might be “knit together in love” (Col. 2:2) and that they not be yoked, or “bound together” with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14, NASB). When the soul tie is God-ordained and healthy, some of the results are unity, growth, wealth of understanding, strength, comfort, revelation, and power. The church begins to flow in the fullness of Christ’s riches. When the soul tie is ungodly, it becomes a channel for manipulation, bondage, control, and torment.

If “soul tie” is a new concept, I invite you to explore and meditate on scriptures that pertain to cleaving, clinging, joining, knitting together, etc. and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Most Christians readily accept secular diagnoses that are not found in scripture which describe spiritual conditions and disorders of the soul. Stockholm Syndrome, for example, in which a hostage or victim of kidnapping feels affection and even trust for his or her captor is a very real phenomenon, most believers would acknowledge (and is also an example of a kind of unhealthy soul tie), though the term is not found in scripture.

In a future post, other ungodly soul ties will be explored, as well as how to break free of the bondage they bring. What other unhealthy soul ties come to mind besides those caused by sexual immorality?

About Emily Tomko

Emily Tomko's radical encounter with the Lord while at a nightclub changed her life forever and inspired her first novel, College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom. She is the author of seven books, including 31 Thoughts on Prophecy and Leaving the Shallows: igniting the faith that overcomes the world. Her tastes tend toward vintage and she's a Germanophile, having spent a year in Bremen and Nuremberg. Emily loves the scriptures and writes with fierce compassion and a deep desire to see people freed from the miry clay of this world and walking in the truth.

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4 comments

  1. Powerful insight that is so necessary for our world as we have so many avenues present that allows us to open our minds to immoral behavior without realizing the consequences of our choices should temptation draw us into it’s trap. Thank you for a well put article on this subject.

  2. Thanks, Cora. Yes, having our eyes opened to this is crucial to being set free, as well as not walking into traps in the first place. Appreciate your encouragement!

  3. Gang members and the false bonds of care in those type of settings come to mind… Legalism and control of others by ‘should’ may create those ties too. Would those fit?

    • Gang members is a great example – I didn’t even think of that one. And agreed, legalism and any church leadership structure which seeks to manipulate members is another good example of ungodly ties.

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