Online Dating… Friend or Foe?

September 24, 2006

I have kept to my promise so far to only post when I feel I have something that might be of value to say. This post does not fit necessarily in with the purpose of my blog but I thought sharing my thoughts on this subject might be helpful for some people.

As the popularity of the internet grows, so does internet dating. Many find that their choices for finding a possible mate grow slimmer and slimmer. There just seems to be less and less places to find people that one might be interested in marrying.

The problem has grown to exponential levels for those inside the church. Many find it difficult, if not impossible, to find Christian men and women to meet with the possibility of pursuing a relationship that will lead to marriage. Many conservative churches are small with unfortunately, a limited number of young unmarried people. A bigger problem for those in the independent Baptist movement is that there is little forum for introducing people to each other with those of other churches.

Because of this growing problem, many have turned to the internet to search for God’s choice for husband or wife. Do not get me wrong. God has brought men and women together through the internet. I do not doubt that it can have its benefits; but it can surely have its weaknesses too. Sites like ChristiaNet.com or ChristianCafe.com are meeting places designed to introduce Christian people to other Christian people with the hopes of helping them find who God has chosen for them.

I want to present a few concerns I have with the concept of internet dating. This is not one from the outside looking in, this is the perspective of the one who has been on the inside and is now looking on getting out!

1) The Internet Obscures Reality

The first, and most important problem with Internet dating is simply that the net allows for, even unconsciously, the obscuring of reality. When one interacts with people in person, they are able to see their problems as well as their pluses. When you are communicating on your net, it allows for the obscuring of your foibles. Only the best of the best comes out as you are not forced to interact with the immediacy that in-person conversations bring. Before you send that message, you can re-write it, tweak it, and then send it. The internet simply obscures who you really are. On the internet, you can be anyone; whereas in person, you are simply yourself.

2) The Internet Does Not Allow For Clear Communication

I have found in the past that communication can be wholly unclear on the internet. When you are in person talking, you have body language, facial expressions, and the like which aid in our understanding the other person. On the net, it is so easy to take things out of context because there are no emotions behind it. The use of smiley faces or emoticons hardly help. Simply, conversation via internet hardly communicates intent like conversation in person.

3) The Internet Allows For False Assumptions

When two people are communicating on the internet and allowing themselves to become emotionally attached, it is easy to assume things about the other person without actually knowing them. Interacting in person always reveals who people really are, whereas interacting on such a limited basis as communicating on the internet tends to create in our minds unfounded assumptions about the other person. We may think one thing about the other person and yet be totally wrong once we meet them in person. Face to face always presents a clearer picture of the other person.

4) The Internet Prevents True Depth In A Developing Relationship

It is easy to become attached to a person via the internet. You think you can talk about things you normally do not talk about in the early stages of a relationship when you are with them in person. Yet, in reality, this forms a relationship with breadth but no depth. When all one can do is talk about issues and never truly experience them in real life with another person, they never get a full, deep picture of the other person as they are trying to develop that relationship.

There are probably other issues I could bring up, and the above are all sort of interrelated to the first one, but I feel that these are some major hindrances to online dating.

Well, if online dating might not be the best solution for the Christian to find a mate, then what is? I really do not know the answer to that question. I think a step in the right direction would be for churches to realize the need in their midst. There are single men and women looking for their future wives and husbands and having an incredibly hard time at it. Independent Baptists (of which I am a part of) should be willing to work with churches of like faith and practice to help their young singles have opportunities to meet other young singles.

The best place to meet your potential mate most clearly would be in the context of a local church. What can we do as pastors and leaders in our churches to facilitate that?

Allen Mickle

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An Anniversary We Would Like to Forget

September 11, 2006

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Here on the east coast, Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State for the US government, is arriving to commemorate the kindness of the people of Nova Scotia who took people into their homes when their planes were forced to land. At least 5 articles were in today’s Chronicle Herald newspaper.

I recall the event vividly in my own mind even today. I was in class at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary that day. I was the only Canadian at the school that day. It was if what I heard and saw truly were not happening. I waited for almost 4 hours at the border trying to re-enter Canada. The after effects were immense as crossing the border for a few weeks after that was almost impossible.

It was truly a world event that has affected us all even if we do not realize it. What struck me the most after the event was more theological than anything else. Many church leaders could not fathom that God could have had anything to do with that tragedy. That it must have been out of His control. Now, I know I am not saying anything here that is new. In fact, better men than I have eloquently explained how a sovereign God did control these events. But I want to focus on a few passages of Scripture just to remind us once again, that we serve a God that is sovereign and in control, of the good, and the bad.

Amos 3:6 often resonates in my mind as I think of the relationship of God to world events. It reads, “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it” (NIV). Disasters, calamities, and suffering, are not outside of God’s control. We do not serve a God who is impotent, but a God who is omnipotent!

Daniel 4:34b-35 also reminds us of the sovereign control of God. “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him ‘What have you done'” (NIV)? Nebuchadnezzar, the major world leader at the time, realized that God is sovereign and in control of all events. He does as He pleases.

There are many other passages which demonstrate that God is sovereign. He is not weak like Open Theists would argue. Our God does in fact know the future. He knows the future because He has planned the future! That is designed to be a comforting thought, not a troubling thought. God is in control of all events in world history. Even 9/11.

On this 5th anniversary of a terrible event in human history, let us remind ourselves that if God was not in control of that situation, then we serve an impotent God. I do not want to serve an impotent God but an omnipotent God! What an amazing God we serve, the sovereign Lord of the universe! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Allen Mickle


Ministry: Professional or Theological

September 10, 2006

Being that I am transitioning in some ways in the ministry I have been taking some careful thought to the nature of ministry. Over the course of the last number of months I have been reading David Wells, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology. In that book he takes a great deal of time to investigate the idea of a professional ministry. He demonstrates that the concept of professionalizing the ministry is in fact destroying the very nature of the ministry. He explains that the theological purposes and nature of the ministry are being destroyed in modern evangelicalism by the pursuit of professionalization. He has a very telling section where he wonders aloud what the pursuit of ministry would be like for the apostle Paul if he were alive today.

“We can only guess how well the apostle Paul might have fared had he sought pastoral employment among evangelicals today, but we would not be risking much to suppose that he would start out with a few strikes against him. Happily, there would be a constituency deeply appreciative of his teaching and service. But he would not be without his critics. Indeed, they might very well be numerous. Some churches would doubtless be delighted that he was willing to support himself and leave more of the church budget for other matters, but the ore professionalized congregations would probably be embarrassed by this. Who, they might ask themselves, really wants a cut-rate pastor? Few would warm to his personality, and that would be no small matter. Today, most pastors stand or fall today by their personalities rather than their character. Many would be agitated about his insistence on discipline in the church. Many would be offended by his refusal to grant the legitimacy of each person’s private views so long as they were held sincerely. His insistence that truth is given objectively in Christ, not subjectively through private intuition as the pagans thought, would make him sound strangely out of touch. Indeed, his preaching, judged by contemporary standards, would be considered by many a failure because the brief summaries that we have of what he did show no penchant for telling stories at all. Besides, Paul was apparently in the habit of extending his discourses long beyond the twenty minutes to which many churches would limit him. He would probably end up provoking a churchly insurrection–for all the wrong reasons. Few would be able to make much sense of his concerns with the connections between New Testament faith and Old Testament promises, because the Old Testament is terra incognita in the Church today. His passionately theological mind would get him into trouble on two counts: his preaching would be judged hopelessly irrelevant because its theological focus would put it out of step with modern habits, and his passion would simply prove embarrassing. His vision of God’s purposes in the world, one supposes, would probably seem interesting but, in the small world of church life, not really compelling. And so the difficulties would mount. Paul would probably be condemned to flit from place to place, not out of choice but necessity, never finding secure lodging anywhere, his resume fatally scarred by his many pastoral failures until, abandoned and worn out, he would be left to pass his closing days in a home for the aged” (David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993], pp. 290-291). Emphasis in original.

The professionalization of the ministry is killing the ministry. The lack of focus on the minister as the pastor-theologian is killing the church. The one called to shepherd and guide the flock into all godliness and to instruct in the knowledge of God through His word is absolutely necessary for a healthy, godly, theologically mindful community of believers.

Our focus, as we pursue the ministry, should be less on mimicking the business world but instead mimicking the example and teachings of the New Testament. It is a sad day we live in when one such as the apostle Paul would be found “ineffective” in the ministry today. Using him as an example, may we constantly be focused on leading our flock into godliness and fulfillment of the mission of the church to make and mature disciples, and to instruct them in the Word and theology. As one of my seminary professors has said, our love of God should increase proportionately to our knowledge of God. Therefore, the pastor is not a professional but a theologian.

I leave you with a remark by John Piper from his fascinating book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. This book cannot be more highly recommended for all pastors today.

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake” (John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry [Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2002], p. 1).

Your Fellow Servant in Christ Jesus,

Allen Mickle


Back on the Web

September 10, 2006

I apologize for being gone so long. I had been doing a lot of thinking about the purposes of blogs as a medium of communication. After much thought and prayer I thought it was necessary to start over. The name of the blog is the same, but hopefully, the posts will be better thought out, more helpful, and overall glorifying to the great God of the universe.

My intention then is to not focus on personal items in my life, but simply communicate my thoughts on the Word, theology, ministry, and church history as I seek to serve the Lord in all that I do. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or what not, please do not hesitate to e-mail me with them. I want this blog to be helpful to those who read it.

Your Fellow Servant in Christ,

Allen Mickle