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During my teen and college years, I often fantasized about myself as an old woman, standing in a dusty attic with rays of sunshine sneaking in through the slats of a vent. I pictured my granddaughters at my side, coughing at the dust and smell of mothballs, watching as I pulled my wedding veil, photos of their grandpa as a young man, and ribbon-tied love letters from an antique cedar chest.

Now, just three months away from my wedding, I'm forced to face the reality of romance in the 21st century. If my future grandchildren want to read of their grandparents' courtship, they'll have to access a long-since retired e-mail account. The records of our love letters, like those of many of my peers, exist mostly in cyberspace.

Technology is changing the way we do romance. Devices such as instant messaging, e-mail, and chat rooms provide single people with the ability to connect with potential mates across town or across the world.

Though the methods have gone high-tech, meeting Mr. or Miss Right with the help of a go-between is nothing new. Genesis 24 tells of Isaac's servant traveling by camel to find a wife for his young master. Today, Isaac would have access to as many as 2,500 matchmaking sites online; some are devoted specifically to linking believers while most others include religion as a qualifier in the search. Christian matchmaking sites, with names like Equally Yoked, ChristianCafé, and Seek-Ye-First, allow users to post a profile and photo, and then, usually for a fee, search a database of thousands of other single believers. The sites are the cyberversion of a church singles social.

The people using these sites, according to the stereotype, are either lonely, socially inept individuals or relational predators seeking easy ...

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June 11, 2001

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