Are Christian Dating Sites A Contradiction Of Basic Biblical Principles For Courtship And Marriage?
I’ve always been pretty bias when it comes to Christian dating sites, but I can’t honestly say that these were views or beliefs that I organically cultivated on my own. I was raised in a church with pretty traditional and rigid views regarding courtship, marriage, and gender roles. The concept of “He who finds a wife” (Proverbs 18:22) is strongly emphasized, and the idea of a woman being actively out and about searching for a husband is frowned upon. I’d always assumed that this biblical principle pretty much cancels out Christians utilizing dating sites to find a potential mate. I remember cringing during Christian Mingle commercials, especially at their famous slogan, “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move when God is saying, ‘it’s your time to act.” In my mind, it was simply “unbiblical” and unheard of for Christians to be hooking up on dating sites.
One day it dawned on me that my uncompromising opinions about Christian dating sites are a little ironic, considering that I’m a young adult who is a part of Gen Y and living in the age of technology. In 2013, many of us do our shopping, pay our bills, apply to jobs, and even earn degrees online. What would make online dating any different? I found it odd that like a robot, I adopted these views without ever fully questioning them. No, Jacob and Rachel didn’t have the option of hopping on the web and making a love connection, but what if they did? Would it have made their union any less valid or biblical?
A great argument in favor of Christians taking advantage of the perks that come with online dating was composed by Jenell Williams Paris of Christianity Today.
“Should Christians use online dating services? Yes, and with gusto! Online dating doesn’t correct the well-documented imbalance of devout Christian women (abundant supply) to like-hearted men (a paucity), but it at least widens the net for Christians seeking partners,” Paris wrote.
It also reduces the need to choose between meaningful service in a region where pickings are slim, and work that may be further from one’s calling in a more populated area,” she continued.
After weighing the cons of online dating as well, Paris concluded that it would be silly for single Christians not to consider this option.
“It would be foolish, however, to preserve the dating practices of an earlier era, even as an attempt to avoid these dangers.”
Another interesting argument was made by Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond Culture Wars. In an article written on the subject earlier this year for RNS that questions whether or not these sites undermine Christian values, Merritt reveals that although he has several friends who have formed successful relationships through Christian dating sites, some even resulting in marriage, he’s not completely sold on the idea.
“After entering my email address, zip code, and height, I’m asked, “What is your body type?” My cursor hovers above “Washboard,” but in the end, I select, “I should maybe lose a few.” Next comes eye color, ethnicity, education, occupation, and smoking and drinking preferences. And then things take a religious turn. I’m questioned on what type of church I attend, how often I go, and what ministry I’m involved in. A couple more clicks, and it’s done.
I’m officially a registered member on ChristianMingle.com.
The search function of the site is user-friendly. I’m given a list of women in my area. Their profile pictures are surprisingly provocative—low cut shirts, exposed shoulders, skin-tight pants, pouty lips. The selection proves again that while the Lord may “looketh at the heart,” His people are still very much interested in outward appearances.
This paradox is one of several that causes me to wonder if increasingly popular Christian dating websites undermine the faith-values of their users.”
After making a note of several contradictions and inconsistencies found on popular Christian dating sites, Merritt concluded by questioning how and if believers should be using these web-based dating pools.
“Christian dating websites have potential for much good. Several of my friends have met their significant others on them, and in some cases, have even married the partners they met. But the way many of these websites are going about their business is shallow and short-sighted, and we need to be having a serious conversation about if and how believers should participate.”