Happy February! All you singles, get ready. It’s coming. Brace yourself for the cheesy commercials with the catchy jingles. Let’s talk about online dating.
Most importantly, I do not feel there is a Biblical yay or nay in regards to online dating.
The question “Does online dating glorify God?” is about the same as asking if salted caramel gelato glorifies God.
(It better, because it’s what I am eating right now)
I think there is a balance. There is a balance between obsessing over it and shunning it like it’s the devil. That is a balance we have to maintain in all areas of our liberties. Our freedom to do something can quickly morph it into an idol.
In most Christian circles, we combat that by just labeling it as ‘bad’ so people will stay away from it. This leads to judgment, legalism and a whole lot of rules with Scriptural scoliosis.
We get some Scripture, twist it all around and make things straight up sinful. If you date online, you are no longer trusting in God. You are usurping His power and authority, etc. It’s right there in the first epistle to the e-harmonites.
It took me a while to get out from under that weight. I had made it through college with few men ever expressing interest and the timing never seemed to be so that we could make anything of it. None of the men in church seemed interested, and the older you get, the more the pool dwindles. It’s frustrating as a woman who desires the office of wife and mother.
Yes, I have enrolled (is it even considered ‘enrolling’?) in online dating. Several times, actually, with a few different sites. In fact, I have written on this topic before.
The first time it was all wrong. It was very much done a la Sarah. I felt like God was incapable of accomplishing His purposes, so I was going to assist and do it for Him. He obviously needed my intervention. Needless to say, it crashed and burned.
If you are going into online dating as a last desperate resort then don’t do it.
But, I’ve spent the last three years or so with some sort of online dating profile, from Christian Mingle to E-Harmony to Coffee Meets Bagel (which was fun). There are pros and cons to each, and while I could sit here and hash out which one I prefer, that doesn’t matter. Instead, I want to give some things to consider:
Does it “Work”?
I know many couples who have met online. I also know many couples who have met in school, at work, at church, through mutual friends, through family, and on a beach during a volleyball tournament (ok, I only know one couple who met on a beach during a volleyball tournament- and they got married 7 days later…). There is no ‘one way’ to do this and there’s wisdom in not putting your eggs all in one basket, so to speak.
If you choose to explore online dating, don’t expect it to be the way you meet your future spouse. For every couple that meets online, there are several more frustrated singles who shut down their profiles with no such luck. It’s not a guarantee; it’s simply an opportunity.
Is it easy?
Absolutely not. From setting up a profile, to scrolling through pages of matches, online dating can be rather time-consuming and stressful. It’s equally as difficult (ok, maybe it was for me) to know you are showing up as a match for others and they are ignoring you. Plus, there are old, abandoned profiles that are becoming increasingly difficult to filter out. (As a side note: Coffee Meets Bagel is a fun alternative to the endless scrolling through profiles. You get one match a day- that’s it.)
Of course, it’s also not easy putting yourself out there at a party or going on a blind date set up by a friend.
Is it safe?
I’m not going to guarantee your safety. There are inherent dangers in meeting someone online. The most obvious being that they may not be who they say they are. The most terrifying being they might try to hurt you.
Some of my friends have gotten married to people they met online and have great marriages. I’ve also had to sit across from a friend as she wept because her husband literally tried to kill her. They had met online and had a fairy-tale romance, got eloped for various reasons, and then he tried to kill her. That alone was enough to make me wonder if it was worth it.
Here’s a tip: involve people in your life. No, you may not need a “chaperone” but make sure someone knows where you are, who you think you are meeting, a cell phone number, and a time you plan on being home. It’s about being safe.
Why Date Online?
Why even do it. If it’s not a guarantee and not really easy, why even consider it?
As you near late-twenties, early thirties, I will be honest, the popular Christian vision of ‘courtship’ is altogether impractical. Life changes, and so the intricacies of life have to change. It isn’t about getting frustrated with God or giving up on Him. When your calendar doesn’t permit social activities, your family has all but given up on you, or your church’s singles ministry is non-existent, online dating sites are simply another venue- another opportunity for you to meet people you may have never met before.
As long as you are humble about it, open about it, and smart about it, I think it’s ok.
(Then again, I also think salted caramel gelato is amazing, so take it for what it’s worth.)
If you are looking for a good read on the topic of dating, check out Debra Fileta’s book, “True Love Dates.” It’s on sale on Amazon right now (convenient for February, isn’t it?). That’s an affiliate link too, which means when you click it, I get credit, but you still get the great sale price. Also check out her site, True Love Dates, she always has great stuff.