eRomance: How Christians Can Respond to the Online Dating Scene

Rachel Chimits

The process of finding a spouse is an age-old process, and the yet the modern methods of going about it might alarm some.

“I hope you like alpha males because I’m your guy. That’s right, I’m the whole package. I’ll defend your honor in public.”

This is the guy I’d fully expect to shoplift or dine-and-ditch on our first date and then leave me to explain his nonsense to the cops.

“I’m the kinda girl you can take home to your family. I will then get closer to them than you are and we’ll slowly phase you out.”

Well, that’s comforting. Gentlemen, line right up!

The New Way to Meet

You could not make this stuff up. In fact, you don’t have to anymore. With the number of online dating apps and websites available these days, the entire spectrum of partner-seeking humanity is available in all its heart-wrenching sincerity and gut-busting hilarity.

Forbes has collected data from online dating analytics groups showing that “there are more than 2,500 online dating services online in the U.S. alone, with 1,000 new online dating services opening every year.”

Of course, no new technological “advancement” comes without the less savory sides of humanity reemerging.

Fraud protection agency lovation has found that online fraud and scamming rose 150 percent in a single year as dating sites began to gain popularity.

Private investigator Julie Nashawaty turned to her profession after discovering that the cute guy online that she’d just scheduled a date with had also robbed a bank less than a year ago. Now she helps others avoid similar situations, and what she sees on a regular basis is disconcerting, to say the least.

“50 percent of online daters are already in a relationship (12 percent are married). 81 percent of people lie on their profile. Three percent of online daters are psychopaths.”

There are some statistics to keep you warm next time you watch The Notebook.

Pushing Back Against the Deadline

There’s nothing inherently wrong with online dating.

People have been setting up arranged romantic meetings or even getting married sight-unseen for thousands of years.

However, online culture tends toward a larger cultural phenomenon of isolationism that is particular to modern culture and far more concerning. Not only are people less likely to have active social circles where they can find a potential partner, but that separation from community makes them more vulnerable to harm.

Online dating introduces people into our lives without the usual filters of family, friends or social institutions that—not always, but usually—cull out anyone who might be detrimental or outright dangerous.

Not only that, but each individual is going from complete stranger with one another to romantic interest. This acceleration puts a unique pressure on the people involved in a relationship. As pointed out earlier, arranged marriages are nothing new, but historic precedent doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always the healthiest way to start a new relationship.

“Single people, listen to me,” Tim Dilena implores in a sermon. “Fast feet are very dangerous. Here are some important words that even Solomon says from the Good News Translation in Proverbs 19:2, ‘A person in a hurry will always make mistakes.’

“When making a decision and there is an uncomfortable deadline, the answer is ‘no’ if you have nothing from the Lord.”

Denying someone the next step in a relationship can be extremely hard, especially if you don’t feel like you have a ready reason for why. However, it’s vital that we press into that “why” with God rather than just pressing forward without God’s blessing.

Best Friends Needed Now

So you’ve met an online date in person and confirmed that they aren’t part of the 50 percent two-timers or 3 percent ax-murderers. They’re funny, interesting and cute. They have a nice dog, picket fence and no skeletons in the closet. Now you want to know if the relationship should get serious.

You’ve prayed but haven’t heard anything one way or the other. Now what? Break off the relationship because no answer is a “no”? Suspend everyone in endless limbo?

“In every decision you have to make, one, start with prayer. Two, does the Bible speak to the issue?” Tim Dilena explains, “Three, did I get wisdom from the people who have more journey and are wiser and smarter than I am? I need wisdom from people who are not my cheerleaders…”

That last part is especially key.

These are people whom you can trust to be completely honest with you about what they see. They are willing to risk a relationship if it means loving others with the truth.

They can often see aspects of people that need healing or repairs before any romantic relationship can progress in a healthy way, or they may notice things about the potential partner that a person in the middle of all the emotions and hopes can’t see.

Although online dating has become the most popular vehicle for couples to meet, community remains the best way for romance to grow in healthy ways.