Maybe you’ve been there. Whether you live in a metropolitan area or not, whether you go to a small country church or not, you’re not satisfied with the local romantic options, and time is marching on without any change in your romantic life status, or at least any interesting developments. Maybe 30 is closing in. Maybe it has already past, leaving you with its own questions. What are your options? Dating someone not of your faith would make you uncomfortable. So, maybe, perhaps it’s time to bring yourself to consider meeting someone online…
At this point in our 21st century society, most of us know people who have met, and gotten married, after meeting online (and I’m not talking about messaging someone you already know on Facebook). This is true even for people of previous generations. If you stop to think about it, you might be surprised by the number of people you know who have met this way. Meeting people online is a thing, and it’s been a thing for a while.
Yet, despite this knowledge, venturing into online dating leaves you feeling uncomfortable….
What is it that makes single Christians so uncomfortable about online dating?
The number one reason, that I’ve heard multiple times, is that it doesn’t feel spiritual enough. Many young adults feel that looking into meeting someone online takes too much into their own hands. Somehow, if they found someone online it wouldn’t have God’s blessing because they initiated it.
Because meeting someone by blind chance at a random event feels so much more spiritual. “Isn’t it wonderful how God works? He just came out of nowhere.”
This isn’t how faith is supposed to work. Our faith should apply to our romantic lives the same way as it applies to all other areas of our lives: as a faith that works. Abraham sent his son to look for a bride for Isaac. There was faith that one would be found, and an active pursuit to look for options. Isaac would have been single for life if his family had waited to stumble across opportunity in a land where all were unbelievers.
How is meeting someone online unspiritual? How would that get in the way of any other method He might want to use? Because it wasn’t a chance meeting, but intentional, that means that God wasn’t in it? Do you not have faith that God can lead you? That somehow because it’s online that God can’t use it? None of this makes sense. What if finding options online was the method that was God’s plan A for you finding someone, but you weren’t willing to use it, and it costs you three extra years of singleness because you weren’t willing to get past your own barriers?
The second main objection is that it seems desperate. Like real life has failed you through not providing you options, and you are reduced to humble begging at the table of the Internet. Therefore, the other people online must not have options and be desperate also. This seems scary, because there doesn’t seem a way that any positive relationship can come out of such a fear-driven environment.
Online dating is simply a method to expand your available options, nothing more. That is not a bad thing. It is not sinful, and it does not block God out from having an influence. We all know that having local options is the best for getting to know someone, but for a lot of people, local options need to be supplemented. I repeat, online dating is simply one method among many to expand your options. And besides, the reasoning is false. Many people who use online dating are not desperate, and I know a lot of singles who have profiles on dating sites while pursuing options there and in person.
Another hurdle to online dating is that it doesn’t seem romantic enough at first glance. It comes across mechanical. You input criteria, and then look through matches to find someone you would like to reach out to. It lacks the ‘spark of the moment’. Making judgments about someone before meeting them can seem cold. However, using a system to match you up with people who have similar beliefs and values can actually save you a lot of time and potentially a breakup or two. When you meet someone by chance, that person doesn’t come with an index card stating their beliefs and preferences. It takes time to work through that. Online, there is a lot of information up front that helps you make decisions so you can spend your relationship time on people with a higher probability of a relationship that works out long term.
Another objection is: ‘I don’t find many people that I’m interested in online. I just find creepers, or rather, they find me. I don’t want people old enough to be my dad asking me out.’
This is undesirable. However, it shouldn’t strike us as so different from what happens in the real world. There are people in the real world who express an interest that don’t want to be with. Awkward stuff isn’t limited to one method of interaction. But answer this question: did it expand your opportunities? Online dating is not supposed to be a panacea that will guarantee you marriage. It is simply about increasing your chances. The great thing about online stuff is that you can instantly block someone. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that feature in real life?
In the Christian world, many of us don’t have a lot of available options. Or local options that meet what we’re looking for in a person. We need to do what we can to put ourselves into social situations to meet people. Go to places where other spiritual people will be. Online dating is merely an extension of that. I honestly believe that sometimes waiting and hoping with no action is a lack of faith, and is more motivated by fear rather than an indwelling connection with the Savior.
(This does not deny that sometimes, in taking a rest from looking for someone, there are factors that lead to meeting someone. However, there are two sides to this coin, and it is important to keep that in mind).
Don’t let your mind be walled in by false religious ideas about what online dating is or is not. It is not unspiritual. It is not spiritual either. It is simply another method that both you and God can use in your individual relationship journey.
Lastly, you are not less of a person for being single, and God doesn’t love married people more than single people, nor the other way around.