Confessions . . .and not the Augustinian kind
For this post I have to admit something rather embarrassing. A few years ago I joined a Christian dating site. Me, being cheap and without any reason for monetary investment, not to mention the lacking desire to take it seriously, I found Christiandatingforfree.com. If the site sounds too funny to be true just type it in, you will quickly believe me. Sitting here thinking about this now I am reminded of a quote frequently stated by my grandfather over anything labeled as free “If it is free, it is free for a reason.” While I could say when I joined the site it was mostly for entertainment, I would not be kidding anyone if I said no part of me was not interested in seeing who was out there. Going back to what my grandfather often said and applying it to this, that website was indeed free, but as I used it I came to realize there was a reason for that. At the end of the day the site was at least interesting as it has served as a nice petri dish to a wide insight and views regarding many in Christianity.
1. Bad theology. Many of the believers on the site when talking about that faith had some pretty out to lunch thinking about theology and the Christian faith. The more interesting ones I would have conversations with, and for many of these folks it seemed as if they had very little understanding of Christianity. Now, I will say that with this point I believe this is a trend not just amongst this website, but with Christians in general. Any more the Christian life ends at salvation, and any learning, knowledge, or growth stops there for many.
2. There were A LOT of single parents on this site. Over the years of browsing the website, it has seemed as if every other person was a single parent of some sort. On top of this there were also outrageous numbers of people who were divorced. I wish I could say that this was an exaggeration, but trust me, I have seen enough on there to say this trend is consistent and data accurate. Not to mention that there are few exceptions for divorced people to be able to remarry without doing so sinfully. Now do not think I am judging these people at all, because I am not, I just think it is interesting that one of the first variables seen in many of these folks was bad theology, then secondly for many they are single or divorced parents. Connection? Maybe. Are there any less of people? No. We all face things in life, for some their lot is different than the lot of others.
3. The third major reality I saw profile surfing on the site were the many “when God writes your love story” generation of believers. For many Christians marriage has become something ever believer is entitled to. Not only that, but for many the things they want in a mate or marriage is just that, what they want, and not what God wants. Their states on marriage are “WHEN” they get married, not “IF” they get married. Many I have talked to or read about have this sense of discontentment along the lines of the fact that God has not provided them a spouse, so they have to take the task into their own hands. Maybe this is a cause to the effect of point two for some? I know that my initial joining of this site was because of being discontent. God did not had not brought someone into my life, so I joined a site where I could push His hand by looking for what and who I wanted. Notice how many “I’s” are in the previous sentence. Christiandatingforfree, a site for the discontent looking for what they want, not what God wants.
1.Theology and the Christian faith are the most important elements to any believing human being. Unless you are growing in your knowledge of God, your experience of Him, you are not going to be transformed in Christ. You have to know how to live in Christ, how to follow God, if you are to actually do so. Salvation is the beginning, not the end, and if our theology reflects someone who is a baby Christian the only logical conclusion is that they probably are a baby Christian. At the same time this is important when it comes to our value of people, whether they are someone we would like to date, or jut a friend our ours. Our theology and faith is all that matters in the end, and should be our primary draw to people whether romantic or platonic.
2. Marriage and relationships are a serious business. We have one shot in most cases, and beyond that most divorce and remarriage is simply unbiblical for the most part. Again when I say there were a lot of single and divorced parents on that site I cannot stress how many of those actually were. The alarming fact about this is that many of those people identify their selves as Christians or believers on some level. What this shows is that when people say “I do” what they are really saying is “I do until I don’t.” Granted with some of these folks I am sure there are exceptions to what they are showing to the public, but with statistics out there which say divorce rates amongst Christians are almost as high as among the unbelieving, you have to stop and wonder. Marriage and relationships are not things we should flippantly enter into or pursue. Marriage is a great thing, and there is nothing wrong with believers pursuing it, but they should do so for the right reasons. Are you doing so because of your position in Christ, because of the desire to grow with and alongside another person, or because you want it for yourself. I can guarantee you many believers never enter a marriage thinking they want a divorce, yet somehow, someway, that is where they find their selves going. In the past year I have personally known six couples, who were at one point in solid marriages, who have gotten divorced. Why did they do so? Because marriage was the thing to do, they did not take it seriously, viewed it the way God views marriage, rushed into it all and when the focus on each others self was not enough, instead of trusting the Lord, they called it quits. Loving someone is a choice, and if you are not willing to allow Christ to be the center of your marriage, leaving divorce as an option, you have no reason to be married. Of course this is coming from me, someone who is single, and while for me this is theory, I have known enough solid, as well as not so solid, couples to know what works and what does not.
3. I am not entirely sold on Christian dating websites, I mean people have been getting married for thousand upon thousands of years without them. In some ways it feels like dating websites are an easily accessible venue for desperate people looking for other desperate people. On the other hand I cannot overlook the fact that there are solid marriages due to online dating, not all are destined for disaster. In the end I think the question comes down to how much do you trust the Lord and what is your motivation for using these tools. First of all contentment is a wonderful thing, more often than not I do not have it, but when I do the Lord does some pretty cool things. 1st Corinthians 7, our status does not have to change for God to produce in us change. If you want to be married, pray for it, pursue it as the opportunities arise, but find your contentment in the Lord regardless of if or when marriage comes. With contentment we also need fulfillment. The only source for lasting fulfillment we will ever find is in the Lord. If we think fulfillment will come from other people, if we are dependent on another person to fulfill, eventually we will cease to be fulfilled. When we place our need for fulfillment in other people, we run the risk of hurting our relationship with them when they do not fulfill us, and hinder our relationship with God as we are search for fulfillment apart from Him.
4. When we are looking for someone to pursue marriage with, God’s views on what we need should always trump our view of what we want. Are we looking for idealism based off of our flesh and fantasy or realism based on position in Christ and Biblical truth? Relationships are not a Disney cartoon, Taylor Swift song, Nora Ephron film, or Nicholas Sparks novel, people are not perfect, and we have to take the good with the bad. For the Christian what we look for should be based on Biblical characteristics that define one in Christ, not secular reasoning on what makes the “perfect” man or woman. God does not have one soul mate out there for any of us, but if we are pursuing His will, and that person is doing likewise, that is all you need to begin a relationship with them. Look for qualities that signify depth and true pursuit of God, because shallow Christians can only make shallow relationships. I have heard story after story from married Christian couples, who have said the things they look for were so different from that which in the end God provided, and it was for the better. It is so easy to get caught up in physical qualities, or common interests, but in twenty years what will those things matter, in serving God together? Not very much at all. Make what you look for in a person of faith synonymous with what God says is a person of faith.
What I am Trying to Say is. . .
Do I recommend Christian dating websites? Not really. Do I trust in God when it comes to matters of the heart, or do I think a website can accomplish more than what He could? Do I think they are wrong? Not particularly. My goal in these observations and thoughts is to say I am single, and I know how hard it is to be a twenty something single Christian. I can empathize with many of you. My single friends have dropped like flies and it is hard to not think about. In light of these hard realities, our goal has to be further transformation in Christ, and if we do that, whether if or when we are married, our dependency, fulfilment, and contentment WILL come from Him, not our relationship status or other people. Pursue Him first and the rest of these things after. If you truly want Christian dating for free, trust the Lord’s provision to for it, the cost is nothing, and the reward great.