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We live in a world of too many options but, at the same time, not enough. When it comes to dating, we have opportunities to meet new people every day. The problem is, we're all going in so many directions that even when we meet someone interesting, we don't spend enough time to decide if they're someone we want to know better. While working from home or browsing Reddit, you may never cross paths with that person right across the street who could be your match. Maybe you live in a small town or work in an office that’s full of married couples or people out of your age range. Your mom may tell you to meet someone at church, but you may already know everyone there (or have even dated some). In the early days of Match.com and eharmony, online dating was chaotic, spammy, and was more like emailing than texting. Now, it's still chaotic, but it's simpler - which is sometimes to our detriment. Online dating is no longer “weird;” it’s what the “cool kids” are doing these days. It's so easy to sign up and start swiping that it's tempting not to think about how we represent ourselves. And for followers of Jesus, it's vital that we pay attention to how we connect with others, even with someone we haven't met yet.
I don't believe there is any right answer to "Should I use a dating app?" The concept of dating wasn't exactly present in the days of the Bible, let alone the invention of apps. Like any other modern tool, we can use it for good or bad. If your goal is to meet someone to develop a Christ-centered relationship with, then whether you use an app is up to you. The big question here is: Do you think online dating will help you date intentionally, or will it tempt you to treat others callously? I've briefly used Bumble and Hinge, and one thing I learned is that I need to know where I am in my life before I put myself out there. One of the reasons I deactivated my profiles was that it took me days to respond to my messages, so I realized I was distracted and not ready to jump in a purposeful direction. God knows you best, and through time with Him, you can use discernment to weigh the possible benefits of online dating. If you're unsure about what you want from a relationship, keep your finger off that "Sign up" button and give yourself some time. When you strip away the rest of the world, you might realize that Jesus is leading you to spend some time alone with Him.
"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive." - 1 Corinthians 10:23
Once you've decided to try a dating app, your next question is probably, "How?" Dating in any setting will go nowhere if it's just about "browsing." Dating is productive when it's about genuine connection and learning about the other person. When you know who you are and your goals, you can build a forward-moving conversation. The more your faith is the center of your life, the more naturally it will enter discussions without feeling forced. Several people have asked me, "What kind of Christian are you?" or "But you aren't tooooo Christian, right?" These are the type of questions that are important to have solid answers to, no matter who they're coming from. Although the most important, Christianity isn't the only belief you should share with a significant other. The more clarity you have about your life goals and beliefs, the more honest you will be about your deal-breakers.
The scariest part of trying anything is the unknown, so I asked my friend to share her experience using Hinge in a big city. Here are her answers to a few questions:
Did you put your faith on your profile? "I usually use the prompt 'Let's make sure we're on the same page about...faith’ and then explain how important my faith is to me."
Is it harder to meet Christians on a dating app, and how do people respond to your faith? "It's easier because of the filters. I rarely match with people who aren't Christian, so the responses are usually less dramatic than sharing my faith in real life."
How many people do you know that have married someone from a dating app? "Three if you include old-school online dating, and my sister met her husband on an app."
When I first asked this friend what she would like to say about dating apps, her response was, "It sucks." So clearly, there are ups and downs. That was after a disappointing date, which led to her telling the guy that she didn't want to go out again. Rejecting and getting rejected are awkward parts of dating, no matter where you meet the person. It can happen more often with online dating because you have certain expectations before you actually go out. You know you both are looking for a romantic connection, and if you don't want to waste your time, it's a good idea to express your specific intentions from the start. Don't use dating apps as an easy way to "weed people out;" use it as an introduction and then go from there with real communication. Finally, it's important not to box yourself into one "source" for meeting people. If you're using apps, still seek out other social opportunities for people with your interests. Get involved in different outreach programs on top of a small group. Share your character and goals with all the people you socialize with; that way, when you bring someone special into your life, that person will see your fruits reflected in your relationships. So when you wonder something like, "Should I put Jesus on my online dating profile?" my answer is a resounding "yes." You don't need to (and probably shouldn't) fill every conversation with references to the Bible, but the most important part of your life should be the first thing that someone knows if your goal is a healthy relationship.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.