Online Dating… Friend or Foe?

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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4 Responses to Online Dating… Friend or Foe?

  1. Greg Linscott says:

    Allen,

    As I quickly skimmed your headings it occured to me that many of the same things could be said for the limited interaction that takes place in the average Fundamental Bible college…

  2. Allen R. Mickle, Jr. says:

    Greg,

    I did not attend a Fundamental Bible college but understand what you mean. My New Evangelical Bible college really did not facilitate well the interaction necessary between young people to develop relationships.

    It is amusing though that you bring it up because my mother said I should go down to Bob Jones so I could find myself a wife!

    I think the best forum for this is in the local church but how do we make this a reality? I am really puzzled at how to do this effectively in our churches.

  3. kevin mcfadden says:

    Allen,

    I think some of the churches in the Detroit area are doing a good job of getting singles groups together for volleyball tournies, hayrides, etc. This can create dating opportunities. You do make good observations about internet dating. The perceived anonymity on the internet can creat a false reality.

    Kevin

  4. Allen R. Mickle, Jr. says:

    Kevin,

    What do you do in a scenario like mine out here on the East Coast where there is not the group of churches like there are in the Detroit area? You gotta admit, the Michigan area is much different than Canada when it comes to Fundamentalism!

    But I think it’s a valid point about churches getting together with churches. My observation though is that it seems blatantly obvious that these are almost “dating” events. I struggele with having events just for the hope that the people will meet and start dating. These kinds of relationships should be natural; the normal outflowing of a life in the local church.

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