Monday, November 30, 2009

To Date Online or Not to Date Online...

Today I was browsing good ol’ Google, when a pop-up ad filled my screen. The ad was for a Christian dating service. After my initial reaction- which was to laugh and click the “x” to close the box- I started to think about the whole idea of online dating. I couldn’t help but wonder what God thinks of the whole thing. Is it ok to join an online dating service? By joining one, am I showing a lack of trust in God? Does God even care?

Before I dive into this touchy subject, I want to put a disclaimer on my thoughts:

These are just my thoughts. I do not claim to be right in my opinions, and I pass absolutely no judgment on any individual whose views are different than mine…these are just some ideas that the Lord has placed on my heart. My only desire is to challenge other singles in their walk with the Lord and the path that He desires for them when it comes to dating.

That being said, let me dive into this whole idea of Christian online dating…

I know that online dating works for people. I know a number of people who have done it and have found the one they are going to marry. I couldn't rejoice with them more for the blessing that God has provided in their life through a relationship. Despite the fact that we live in such an information/cyberspace age, the idea is still somewhat foreign to me for my own personal dating experience. I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea of “dating” someone through online conversation…even if it is only at the outset of a relationship. It’s strange in my brain to think that you can find the one God has for you through the internet. Call me old fashioned…but I don’t want a computer-generated husband :)

But beyond my personal weirdness about it or any safety issues that might become a concern, I had to stop and think about how God views it.

Is it ok to join an online dating service? I don’t feel it’s wrong to do this. Just like it’s not wrong to use the internet in general. Times change, methods of doing things change…I get that. So the concept of an online dating service is not inherently wrong. I really believe it comes down to your heart and the motive behind why you are joining an online dating service.

By joining an online dating service, am I showing a lack of trust in God? Again, this is where I feel that it comes down to your heart and the motive behind why you are joining. I have found that many people join a dating service because they are exasperated with the whole “dating scene.” Countless dates and no results…so they figure “what have I got to lose?” Many want so much to be in a relationship that really, online dating just opens up more options. Let someone else do the hard work of matching personalities to weed out the really bad dates. Save time and emotions to get to the right one, right? But my question has always been to these individuals, “Are you trusting God or man?” If you are, and you feel that God is leading you to date online- go for it! Who am I to stand between you and what God has called you to? And plus, who’s to say that God can’t use the internet for His glory and His plan? God can use whatever method He chooses.

But I have to ask you to truly search your heart and be honest…because I fear that many would find that they are joining out of the wrong motive: impatience, personal satisfaction and desire, or lack of trust in God. They desire so much to be in a relationship, and traditional ways have failed, so why not try online dating? I know that it would be that way for me. Our culture would say “Go ahead! Date online. It’s the way people are dating now. Take control of your own dating life.” And yet the Bible is filled with commands to be counter-cultural because He is holy and we are called to be holy. Consider these verses and ask God to show you His desire for your dating life:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2

Does God even care whether or not I join an online dating service? God created us, loved us enough to die for us, and cares very much about every detail of our lives. As followers of Christ, we are to walk with Him daily, constantly conforming to the image of His Son. Our lives are to be in a constant state of submission before a holy and righteous God. In the words of John, “He must become greater and I must become less.” (3:30). God should be the one in control of our lives, which includes our dating life. It is a grave error to think that we don’t have to apply these truths to how we date. I believe that God cares very much how we choose to date. And I believe that He wants us to trust Him with the result of our dating life- whether that means to remain single for just a little longer, or even if it means that He is best glorified by calling us to live the blessing of a life of singlehood. Do you trust God that much? Are you willing to trust Him with every aspect of your dating life? Even if it means waiting longer? By joining an online dating service, are you trusting God to bring you that significant other, or are you trusting in the ways of men?

Again, this was meant as a challenge for myself and other Christian singles desiring to honor God in their dating life. Feel free to comment and/or share a differing opinion. My heart’s desire is to do the will of my Father, and I am constantly working toward what that actually looks like in practice. It’s all part of my journey to the heart of God…

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