Do Soul-Ties Exist?
Based on the Christian concept that humans are three-part beings: Spirit, Soul, and Body (1 Thess. 5:23), the idea of “soul-ties” has gained a lot of acceptance in the Charismatic branch of the church. Soul-ties are explained by “inner-healing practitioners” (a type of counselor that aims to heal one’s emotional/mental life through prayer ministry) as being “a negative label for spiritual connections, which form between people.” The soul-tie is regarded as negative, whereas some will say that positive connections between people should be seen as a “spirit-tie,” because things of the spirit are good and things of the soul are bad, but we will come back to this point.
I remember years ago when I was in youth group, the youth pastor handed out pink play-dough and blue play-dough, then asked the kids to roll them into balls. After we had the two colored spheres, he asked us to mush the two colors together into one ball, and then to try to fully separate the two colors again. Of course this was impossible. The point of the illustration was that when we are sexually active with another person, we actually embed some of them into us and they embed themselves into us. This is connected to the concept of a soul-tie. Although this illustration may seem less popular today in our immoral world, it is a very good picture of what Paul said to the Corinthians:
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.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. - 1 Cor. 6:16-20
Who you are sexually intimate with, you bond yourself with.
The two become one. This is a powerful truth about the beauty and power of sexual intimacy in marriage. If you are married, and you want to have a healthy marriage, you NEED to be having sex with spouse (and only your spouse! Duh). Paul goes on to say as much:
But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. - 1 Cor. 7:2-5
Soul-ties are real, but they aren’t always negative.
If you have a negative view of the soul, it is easy to see all soul-ties as bad, and to even get down to splitting hairs into saying that we should have spirit-ties, not soul-ties, because everything in the realm of the soul is bad. This is a gnostic heresy that the church has been dealing with for two thousand years, and yet many modern Christians continue to think this way (most teachers that perpetuate this teaching have been influenced by The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee).
The Bible is filled with good soul-ties like Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:20-24), David and Jonathan (1 Sam. 18:1**). It is not the soul, which makes a soul-tie bad; it is the wrong level of connection with the wrong people.
The truth of the matter is that soul-ties can be good or bad.
As we read the letters of Paul we can see that we are to have deep heart-felt loving and affectionate connections with our: spouse, children, parents, close friends, & ministry partners. All of these relationships will involve our mind, will, and emotions (i.e. the soul) therefore healthy soul-ties do exist.
**(Some perverted teachers think that a homosexual relationship is implied in this text, but that conjecture has no merit.)