Is Online Dating for Christians?
Enter online dating, society's answer to this dilemma. Match, eHarmony, AdamMeetEve, Christian Soulmates, and a thousand other online dating services, Christian and secular, offer themselves as a possible, sometimes seemingly sure way to find a perfect relationship or soul mate. In my experience with single adults, at least half of them have tried online dating.
What should a single adult think about these services? Especially a Christian single adult who desires to marry, but discovers only 20 percent of churches offer a group where single adults of similar ages can create and develop friendships with the opposite sex?
As a former pastor to single adults for 21 years, and now director of Assemblies of God Single Adult Ministries, I'm not against online dating services. I have seen a few of these relationships form and mature into healthy marriages. I do have many concerns, though.
Online dating services are tools to bring about a contact. They're not much different from a person meeting someone in the grocery store, except the person may live 2,000 miles away. Because of this, rather than condemn online relationships, I urge extreme caution and offer tools for navigating the world of online relationships.
Here are some dos and don'ts:
Do realize that people can and do misrepresent themselves and exaggerate their personal qualities. People tend to reveal too much too soon online, making it easy to build false intimacy. Depth of character cannot be known online or even on the phone. Because of this, it is a good idea to meet in person early in the relationship.
Online stalkers do exist, so protect your identity. Use caution and maintain a healthy level of skepticism. Don't use your real name as a screen name, and don't assume someone is a Christian because he or she says so. It is a good idea to meet in a public place and not travel alone to a strange place to meet an online connection in person—and let someone know where you're going.
Online dating can work, but realize that most Internet matches do not lead to long-term relationships, and that online dating can take a lot of time.
God knows your desire for a relationship with the opposite sex. He's a good matchmaker: he paired Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and many other model biblical couples. The promise in Philippians 4:19 that God will supply all your needs doesn't refer only to food, shelter, and clothing. Trust him to provide in his timing. Until and after he does provide, deepen your relationship through prayer and study of his Word. Live an obedient life in your attitudes, desires, priorities, motives, and commitments.
It's more important to become the right person for marriage than to find the right person for marriage. Would you marry someone like you?
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous coverage about online dating from Christianity Today and its affiliated blogs includes:
Why I No Longer Pray for a Husband | Lessons in longing, hunger, and trust. (Her.meneutics, September 26, 2011)
The Virgins-Only Dating Website | Is WeWaited.com really a perfect haven for Christians struggling in a sex-obsessed culture? (Her.meneutics, January 12, 2011)
Trouble with Online Love | Australian police found that two out of three victims of "romance fraud" are women. (Her.meneutics, October 20, 2009)
Restless, Reformed, and Single | Online dating services argue that God can use virtual reality too. (July 31, 2009)
Previous "Village Green" sections have discussed Muslim-Christian relations, military drones, terminal illness, marijuana morality, credit card debt, tithing during unemployment, illegal immigrants, giving to street people, thebest Christmas stories, laws that ban Islamic veils, theTea Party, Afghanistan, Bible smuggling, creation care, intelligent design, preaching, immigration, Lent, premarital abstinence, aid to foreign nations, technology, andabortion.