Online dating is growing more and more popular in today’s world. Because people have less time to get out into the world of real-life dating, they are expediting the process by meeting up online. There are a few different online dating sites, and while different sites have different modes of operation, they all operate with the same basic principles (Fiore & Donath, 2012). The most popular sites – eHarmony, ChristianMingle, and Match – allow users to create profiles where they indicate their interests, their hobbies, and what they are looking for in a significant other (Hitsch et al, 2010). They can also upload personal information and a picture (Finkel et al, 2012). These sites then allow users to search for profiles of would-be dates, and in many cases, the sites allow individuals to contact that other person to start a dialogue (Gibbs et al, 2011). Eventually, the two individuals might decide to take their relationship offline, meeting up for a date in order to make it official.
There are many different ways that people can use online dating websites. Like with most things on the Internet, people are given the freedom to make of online dating sites what they will. Some people use online dating sites for sexual purposes (Ellison et al, 2012). They are looking to meet up with people in order to have casual sex, and online dating sites provide the forum where they can meet people who have a similar idea on what a relationship is supposed to look like (Porter, 2014). Others use these sites to indulge their psychological fantasies. These people might be in relationships, and instead of going outside of the relationship with physical cheating, they are using the sites to discover what else is out there (Paumgarten, 2011). Others use this technology for legitimate dating, hoping to meet a person who they can connect with (Gackenbach, 2011). The technology must be assessed based upon how it is used by today’s users, as it can either be a Christian-friendly technology or one that is not used in a Christian way.
In terms of what it means to use technology in a “Christian” way, there are many different ideas and opinions. Technology is ever-changing, so it is important for one to promote a categorical rule that can be applied across the board to various types of technology. Using technology in a Christian way is all about using that technology in a way that glorifies Christ and serves his purposes. This does not mean that the technology has to necessarily be used in a church setting or in directly sharing the gospel. Christians often struggle to follow God and lead a Godly life, especially in regard to their relationships. In order to use technology in a Christian way, one must be using that technology in a way that helps that person improve his or her walk with Christ. This can mean different things depending upon the technology, but this is the litmus test that must be applied when one asks whether he or she is using technology in a Christian manner.
Using online dating to find sexual partners is not a Christian use, and in fact, can hurt a person’s ability to hold normal, Godly relationships. In addition, using online dating to seek psychological or emotional support outside of the marriage is not a Christian use. According to 1 Corinthians 7:12, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away” (NIV Bible). This type of activity is akin to adultery, at least of the mind, and it represents an un-Godly deviation from the norms of marriage that are expected of Christian people.
If used properly, online dating can be a powerful tool for Christian people today (Amichai-Hamburger, 2013). One of the primary tenets of Christianity in the context of marriage is that Christians are to seek out partners who are equally yoked. According to 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (NIV Bible). What this means is that they are supposed to seek partners who share the faith and can act as their partners in this life. Online dating allows individuals to know right away whether they have the same sorts of interests and whether they share the same ideas on faith. Quite often, Christian people can be sucked into relationships with people who are not Christian. This happens because they begin dating a person without getting a good picture of that person’s feelings on Christianity, and by the time they figure out they are unequally yoked, they are already so invested in the relationship that they do not want to leave. What this means, then, is that online dating can help to eliminate this possibility. Likewise, online dating between Christian people can allow them to get to know each other emotionally and intellectually without having to worry about the physical elements of dating that can be so distracting from the perspective of a Christian life. All of these things are positive, and they help to glorify Christ. God is pleased when believers link in relationships that can lead to marriage, especially if those relationships tend to make both people stronger from a faith perspective. This means that this particular usage of technology can be Christian as long as it is being used in the proper way.
As online dating continues to grow in popularity, it is more likely that Christian people are going to use it. Certain sites allow Christians to come together with like-minded people, and this is very good. While this technology can be used for purposes that are decidedly not Christian, Christian people who choose to use the sites in the right way can benefit significantly from online dating.
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