A phrase often heard in deliverance ministries is “soul ties.” It’s not a term found in the Bible, but there is some merit to the idea that we can have unhealthy emotional bonds that spiritually block us. Just like 1 Corinthians 6:16 warns against sexual involvement with a prostitute as it causes a man to become “one flesh” with her.
It’s not just the act of immorality that is sinful and harmful, it’s that a bonding of souls happens whether it’s wanted or not. 2 Corinthians 6:14 also warns against being “unequally yoked” or bonded to unbelievers because it inevitably makes us unclean. When someone wants freedom from the torment of demonic attacks — depression, anger, whatever it is — yet is still emotionally bonded to someone not of the same faith, it’s a dance of one step forward and two steps behind.
The fight for your freedom can be encouraged and guided by pastors and prayer counselors, even family members full of faith can root for you and pray for God to give you strength and wisdom, and even fight against demons on your behalf, but the final fight that brings complete freedom is a solitary one. No one can do all the fighting for you, and you cannot do all the fighting for anyone else’s deliverance. Each individual has to make their own choice to strip themselves of pride, to sacrifice whatever emotional bonds and physical attachments they need to make to fight that daily fight until they find their freedom. The same goes for salvation, for being born of God and being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Dana came to seek counseling at the encouragement of her aunt, and she seemed eager and ready to follow our advice. She had finally broken out from under the control of a domineering family to make better decisions about her education and future. She was just out of high school and wanted to make the right choices, and most importantly, to get right with God. The next time we saw her she showed up with a boyfriend, who she’d persuaded to attend church with her. He placidly tagged along, was pleasant enough, but was obviously not as eager to surrender his life to God as she was. She was trying hard to listen and learn, and during one service even manifested demons to the shock of her half-dazed boyfriend. It didn’t take long to see that he wasn’t patient with or have an interest in her faith, and the more she pushed towards God the more he’d resist. He cheated on her, lied to her, and found ways to make her feel that because she wasn’t giving him the attention he needed, that his bad behavior was all her fault. Dana was afraid to let him go, and in the end chose him over God.
I’m certain that Dana meant it when she told us that she wanted to get her life right with God, that she wanted to get free from demons that had been in her family for generations. She wasn’t lying to me when she asked for our help, and she was humble enough to open her heart to allow those hidden demons to manifest. But what she wasn’t willing to do was to cut that soul tie with a selfish and spiritually blind boyfriend. Generations of demonic control in her family were using her boyfriend to continue controlling her. Only she could make that choice.
To the eyes of the world, Dana’s boyfriend was a great guy with a steady job, a guy any girl would be lucky to have. But in the eyes of God, he was toxic. Many people searching for breakthroughs wonder why God is taking so long, but perhaps they’re unwilling to break unhealthy soul ties. To the eyes of the world, that person may seem like a saint, but they could be toxic and an entryway for demons to remain at work.
Unhealthy soul ties are often linked to family members or romantic relationships, but can be linked to any infatuation at all — a music star or actor, a trinket, lucky charm or memento, a self-help author, even a famous Christian personality. It all comes down to the basics of putting God first, tearing down idols and making Jesus Christ Lord in the fullest sense.
O Corinthians, we have spoken frankly to you; our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. In return (I speak as to my children) you also be open. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:11-16 MEV)