Meeting a Christian online?
The web offers new opportunities for Christians to meet someone else who loves Jesus, as well as some new challenges to think through. Matthew and Ruth very helpfully talk us through their experience:
People meet their partners in all sorts of ways, at the bus stop, in the church pew, home group (like my cousin), on holiday (like my sister), and online (like Ruth and I).
For many Christians there’s a whiff of suspicion surrounding online dating, as though it’s not quite the proper way people should meet their future husband or wife. But just as we don’t bat an eyelid about buying granny’s Christmas present on Amazon or booking our holidays on AirBnB, neither should we be surprised or alarmed that people meet their partners online, even through dating websites.
There’s lots of dating websites out there each catering to different groups within our community, even sites seeking to help Christian men and women meet and hopefully find their life partner, or just making new friends.
The Bible surprisingly has a lot to say about dating. Even though marriage customs of the ancient world are noticeably different from today, some things still remain the same. Read Proverbs to get a sense of warning about seeking the wrong partner. But look out for Aquila and Priscilla (they are mentioned in the book of Acts, Romans, and Paul’s first letters to the Corinthians and Timothy); from Paul’s personal experience we see that this Christian couple were devoted to each other and were able to be a huge help together for the early church and the spread of the Gospel. As you think about dating, just think what sort of partner is going to be a help to you in your journey with God.
From my point of view:
In January 2014 I took the plunge and thought I’d give online dating a go, seeing. I chatted to a few ladies, but one in particular clicked and we went on a few dates, but we decided it wasn’t going to work out, and parted on good terms.
I then joined a different dating website and with the help of a good friend, wrote a profile, uploaded my best photos (I know, I struggled to find 3) and started browsing. I can’t remember what filters I put on my searches, but a profile popped up with a beautiful smile and the most striking thing, a Christian girl very open about her faith, her favourite Bible passage and similar interests in the outdoors. So over a few weeks we exchanged messages through the site, then agreed to meet for lunch one Saturday, which turned into spending all day in the park chatting about our families, our church and church experiences. We then met up the following Saturday for a walk in the countryside, and then went for Pizza… and from there we met up every Saturday until we got married 12 months later. And in case you were all wondering about that first lady - turns out to be a friend of Ruth’s and she is now engaged to a nice Christian guy from Yorkshire.
Ruth’s point of view:
Eight years ago I started a 10-day free trial on Christian dating site with a half-hearted profile. I soon realised I needed to invest a few pennies if I was going to be serious about this dating malarky, but wasn’t convinced there were many guys on their worth a monthly subscription. Time passed and more of my friends were meeting people through dating sites, so I found a free one and started chatting to a few guys. What I realised was, that there were a lot of people who are awkward at initiating the first real-life meeting so online chats can descend into mere pen-friend friendships (where’s your faith guys?!). I did go on one date which didn’t go anywhere romantically but we became good friends, which was good as it widened my circle of friends (he’s now married to a lovely Christian girl who he met online, thanks for asking).
Not really sure why, but I decided to pay the subscription and give online dating a serious go, read Matthew’s profile and gave him a "wave". He sent back a one-word answer to a comment on one of his photos, so I assumed he wasn’t interested… but later that day we chatted online through the website, rather than leaving posts on each others' profile. He made me smile and was open about his faith. Matthew was quick to want to meet, unlike all the past over-cautious pen-frienders, which I took as a positive sign that he was serious. It was nerve-wracking to meet someone for the first time, I was nearly at a loss for words…
Words of encouragement:
- If you live in a small town, or part of a small church, you might be thinking it’s hard finding your ideal partner. Online dating opens up a whole world of possibilities.
- You can meet other Christians outside of your church or denomination group, which is a great thing. Ruth comes from a Presbyterian background, and I’m from a Christian Brethren background, and ordinarily our paths would never have cossed.
- I set out to meet someone in my area, but ended up meeting someone nearly 2 hours away. This worked out for us, seeing we both had weekends and evenings free. Long distance relationships have their challenges, but the upside is that you make the most of all your time you spend together, even if it’s the mundane stuff like trips round Morrisons, rather than every date being a candlelit dinner for two. (Matthew: chance would be a fine thing!)
Words of wisdom:
- Being online offers a degree of anonymity, therefore be careful with what information you share with someone online, not everyone is who they say they are.
- When you get round to meeting someone in real life, meet during the day, in a public place, like a coffee shop, and let someone know you are going to meet someone - you can’t be too careful.
- ‘Normal dating’ has some strong social conventions, like not dating all the eligible ladies in your church simultaneously, if the minister doesn’t pass comment on this, someone will! But being online does offer the possibility of ‘dating’ a pewful of potentials, so be careful and be honest with yourself and others.
- Online dating has a drawback in that it’s more difficult to know someone's friends. If possible, use social media (Facebook, Google+ etc) to chat early on so you can get to know their friends and family.
- Be honest if you are still chatting to other potentials online.
- Don’t be surprised to see people you know, either from your church, or your town.
Final words, remember that online dating is never the last resort, and being single can be hard at times (just ask either of us) so be honest and open with your closest Christian friends.