There was a time when online dating was taboo for the Christian community. Today, with over 40 million people who have tried online dating (that’s more people than the entire population of New York and Florida combined!), you have to believe there are some Christians included in there. In fact, a Christian, a clinical psychologist with a Master of Divinity degree by the name of Neil Clark Warren, heads one of the leading online dating organizations called eHarmony. The site claims that an average of 438 singles marries a match that they had found on eHarmony every day. Some Christians still have reservations about online dating: can God really be at work here?
My wife and I have been married for four years. Without fail, one of the first questions most people ask us is how we met. There was a time where the question, “So how did you guys meet” made me break out in cold sweats. Those were the times when I would want to change the subject—and fast. Imagine being asked that question in 2013 and the answer you give seems as antiquated as a Model T Ford. My wife and I met online, but we didn’t meet on eHarmony or any other popular online dating site. We met on MySpace.
MySpace isn’t even a dating website; it was Facebook before there was a Facebook. I started blogging in 2006. So in terms of blog years, I’ve been in the game for a very long time. At the time, I was trying to grow my readership, so I decided to filter search results for men and women within my demographic to have them check out some of my notes and posts on MySpace. Long story short, my wife was included in that mass mailing list. She responded and gave me some positive feedbacks on my blog; we started chatting via Yahoo Messenger, and eventually decided to meet one another for lunch. The rest, as they say, is history. But articulating how we met wasn’t always easy early in our relationship. Back then (not that it was that long ago), there was a stigma attached to people who met each other online. And this was especially true of a relationship started on MySpace of all places. Many Christians espouse the view that online dating is either secular or for those who lack the confidence to go about dating traditionally.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY- ONLINE
God’s Sovereignty is a buzz phrase today, especially with the increased presence of free resources from various Reformed teachers online. People are really starting to dig in and understand what it means to say that God is sovereign. So I guess the question becomes: Is the same God who is sovereign over the universe and our daily lives also sovereign online? Or is God’s sovereign limited to “real world” encounters? If we believe that all things are under God’s rule and control, is there an internet exemption at play?
Theologically, we all know the answer (yes, he is sovereign), but practically, I’m not so sure if that plays out in our lives. What’s the first thing you think when a couple tells you they met online? For some, God’s sovereignty is probably the last thing they think about. But if God has determined the time and location of our birth and charted the courses of our lives (see Acts 17:26), can he not also be at work in the lives of a couple who find themselves walking down the aisle after filling out an online profile? Can anyone deny God at work in the lives of two twenty-something year olds who had been widowed who happened to find one another through mutual friends on Facebook?
Dating is always a hot topic among young adults. And for the past several years, young men and women have been looking for alternative ways to find someone they feel is compatible with them. Right now, 20% of all current committed relationships say that they met their significant other online. The online dating industry brings in about 1 billion dollars annually. So for many people, there’s no longer a stigma attached to the words, “We met online”. It is possible that online dating will eventually become the norm. Is it the future of dating as we know it? Its increased presence in our social lives suggests that it may be. Whether it is or not, Christians should be confident that the sovereign God is always at work. A chance encounter isn’t always a chance encounter. Often, it’s a God-ordained moment that furthers his purpose and will for your life. I’m glad I didn’t ignore that fact. Today, I’m a better man (and husband) because of it.