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A Pastoral Response to Online Dating

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    A Pastoral Response to Online Dating

    by Isaac Hydoski

    Recently, the team of pastors who lead the single men and women of our church decided to address the topic of online dating. One of the men, Isaac Hydoski, who is a very wise and skilled pastor, wrote a paper that sums up our pastoral team's counsel and concerns for those using or considering the use of online dating services. This is a longer post than we normally share here, but I hope that you'll find it helpful. This is by no means a comprehensive treatment of the subject—it's simply our local church seeking to give wise counsel to the men and women in our care.

    Online Dating: A Pastoral Perspective by Isaac Hydoski

    Don't you wish it was as easy for you as it was for Adam and Eve? Online dating services have been around for just over 10 years, but the idea of finding a spouse goes back to the Garden of Eden. The world looks very different now in some respects, but in other ways it hasn't changed. We still desire to get married and God is still bringing husbands and wives together in marriage.

    But how does the $500 million industry of online dating fit in to the grand scheme of God's plan for marriage? Does the Bible have anything to say about online dating? Can we learn anything from others' experiences with online dating?

    These are some of the questions we hope to bring clarity to through this paper. This perspective paper is the fruit of the application and study of Scripture, pastoral experience with counseling others and an interview with some from our community who have participated in online dating. We believe this paper is timely. We hope it serves you as you seek to obey and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Before getting into the details it is vital to establish that Scripture nowhere forbids online dating and therefore neither should we. It is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture to add 'laws' that God in his wisdom decided not to include in Holy Scripture. Let's all commit to not load each other's consciences with 'sins' that are not in Scripture. This was the mistake of the Pharisees. But we do want to help inform your thinking and practice related to on-line dating that is shaped by biblical principles. (Read more...)

    As we studied on-line dating sites some of the benefits we were able to identify are:

    Online dating allows for interaction with a much larger group of singles.
    If used wisely, it can provide a context to evaluate a potential date before meeting face-to-face.
    In addition, many singles who invest the amount of time and energy into online dating are generally interested in a serious relationship.

    Finally, there are positive examples of couples who have met and got engaged/married through these services.

    These are good benefits. But with any decision we make, it is important to weigh the benefits and the risks before we proceed. Having said this we, as pastors, do have significant concerns about on-line dating services and the unwise use of them, which we will detail in this paper.

    Concerns to consider (not in order of significance):
    Expensive A few of these sites are free, but most average $30 a month and some are as high as $50 per month.

    Time-consuming
    Filling out lengthy questionnaires, sorting through potential "matches", and contacting matches can be a very time consuming and slow process that can distract from other priorities.

    False hope
    Advertising campaigns for these sites such as "finding your soul mate" or "the love of your life" border on being disingenuous. Most sites report that only 1-2% of participant's relationships end in marriage. But the advertisements show couple after couple finding true love, which creates an impression not in keeping with reality.

    Safety
    Most online dating sites have lengthy disclaimers and warnings regarding personal safety when meeting people online.
    Disclosing highly personal information to someone you don't know at all is unwise at best and dangerous at worst.
    Best foot forward syndrome: It is quite easy to become a different person online or to not represent oneself truthfully. Often a person will communicate what they would like to be true of themselves rather than their actual lives in practice.
    Consumer complaint sites list stories of predators, liars, con-men/women who are actively trolling online dating sites for victims.

    Compromise
    Values: Many find that their potential matches answer value questions in a similar way (sexual purity, fellowship, church involvement, etc.) but how they define and practice these values is much different and leads to the immediate need to either end the relationship or deal with the temptation to compromise.
    Lowering standards: Maintaining God-glorifying standards for relationships is much more difficult after you're already involved with someone and as a result it is easy to drift into casual dating relationships and compromise on the significant values of a committed, intentional relationship.

    Doctrinal beliefs: Excitement of meeting new people interested in you can lessen the importance of significant doctrinal differences that will seriously affect any long-term relationship. Consider a marriage where husband and wife cannot agree on how the sovereignty of God is expressed in salvation, or how the role of husband and wife differ, or how they ought to raise and discipline their children.

    Priority of local church: Getting connected with other believers from different areas immediately adds the pressure of the potential of relocation and can affect commitment to their particular local church.

    Can reinforce self-focused view of relationships
    Matches are generally based on what you want in a spouse or how well someone is compatible with you instead of biblical criteria.

    Decisions to contact a match can be based on superficial preferences or how well they measure up to what you want/prefer.
    This encourages sowing towards a selfish view of finding someone who will love you rather than the other way around. (Read Ephesians 5:22-32 for God's perspective.)

    Loss of protection from church community
    Many singles in our community are not involving family or friends in this process due the "stigma" associated with online dating.
    You lose the benefit of dating someone known by others you trust.
    You do not have the benefit of seeing the fruit of their life lived out in a local church context.
    Your impressions of the potential match are almost entirely dependent on their self-disclosure and are subject to their honesty or lack thereof.

    New temptations
    Deception: It is easy to conceal from others involved in your life what you are doing and easy to conceal the truth about yourself to others online.
    Hopelessness: Many singles approach online dating after experiencing disappointment within their church context and can even see this as their "last chance" for a meaningful relationship. Given that only 1-2% of those participating in online dating services find a spouse this can be a significant discouragement if marriage doesn't occur.
    Laziness: Some see online sites as an easier approach to relationships, which hinders a cultivation of a trust and faith in God.
    Discouragement: Many singles find that after a few months of online searching, nothing meaningful comes from the hard work. Some are never contacted at all.
    Distortion of biblical roles: These services can place women in the difficult position of having to lead if paired with a man who is unwilling to lead.

    From our perspective these are significant concerns/risks that you need to prayerfully consider if you are thinking about participating in one of these services. Please do so with the help of the spiritual community God has given you, because "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22).

    Pastoral Counsel to Those Using Online Dating Services
    For those who are currently participating in online dating, we want to counsel you so that you are best equipped to navigate these concerns & risks.


    1. Discern your motives (Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 6:43-45; James 1:14)
    Our motives are constantly driving us to do things--whether good or bad. When it comes to online dating, there is a range of possible motivations one might have. One common motive seems to be a hopelessness in God's provision and timing of a spouse. You might ask yourself this question to discern this, "Is this a means to take the possibility of marriage into my own hands instead of trusting God?" We are not saying that you shouldn't be taking action and specific steps towards pursuing good things like marriage, but if this is your motive you might be setting yourself up for an even greater temptation and struggle because the reality is that the vast majority of those using services like this are not finding a spouse. If you discern this is your motive, then repent of unbelief and start believing in God's sovereign goodness and provision for you in particular. Please also consider if continuing in this service is going to further tempt you to doubt God's goodness for you by trusting in yourself to find a spouse. If the temptation is too strong, it may be wise to discontinue using it and start sowing to trusting in God to provide.

    2. Involve your community (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 20:18, 24:6; Hebrews 3:12,13, 10:24,25)
    The biggest concern we have about online dating is that it seems to go under the radar. People aren't talking to their friends or their care groups or their pastors about the people they are meeting online. We realize that you might be wary of sharing this with others because of a perceived "stigma" that on-line dating has, but you need to be seeking wisdom from others to help you honor God more than you need to maintain a reputation. It is unwise to not invite your friends who care for you and know you well to help you evaluate the type of people you are meeting online. The reality is that no matter how often you re-read their profiles, talk to them through email or phone, you still do not really know this person. What we would suggest is that you invite family or a trusted friend into your correspondence with the people you are meeting. We know this sounds very personal, but consider letting them read the emails, profiles, etc. to get their perspective on these individuals. We are aware of some examples of humble people who have done just this as they sought to apply biblical principles to online dating. Finally, bring the people you are meeting into your community so your family and friends and pastors can begin to get to know them face-to-face. This will bring much needed grace, protection, and wisdom to you as you evaluate this relationship.

    3. Know your values and convictions (Ephesians 5:10)
    What are the non-negotiables in a potential spouse for you? If you haven't spent time considering this in light of Scripture you will likely default to what feels right instead of determining what is most important for you in a spouse. Compromise really is right around the corner when we don't determine what our convictions are. We have seen this time and again with Christians who aren't clear on Biblical criteria and priorities for a spouse.

    4. Communicate your values and convictions (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:15, 25)
    Feelings of attraction and a desire for the opposite sex are powerful realities in our lives. If these are not anchored by your values about the Christian life (e.g. sexual purity, local church, fellowship) they will pull you towards either conflict or compromise. Please do not allow a relationship to remain in an undefined territory where what you believe and hold to is not communicated by you or the other person. This will inevitably lead to either you tempting the person who is becoming emotionally attached to you or it will tempt you to simply jettison important convictions you have because of your emotional attachment.

    5. Ask about their values and convictions (Ephesians 5:6,7; Proverbs 24:21; 1 Corinthians 15:33)
    Don't get entangled with someone who doesn't love what you love, value what you value, desire what you desire--especially as it relates to your relationship with God. Ask detailed, specific questions about their faith and how it functions for them in day-to-day life BEFORE a relationship begins. We'd also like to suggest that you try to talk to this person's pastor or significant leader in their church. Ask them the same questions that you've been asking the person through email/phone and compare notes. They will likely offer a much more balanced perspective on this person. This will be really helpful if the person has spoken much more idealistically about themselves than the pastor's or leader's perspective.

    In summary, if you are participating in online dating, please know that we love you and we support you. Our concerns are just that: concerns. We want to see you experience God's grace in Christ Jesus and we want to be faithful to show you some of the significant pitfalls as we see them, so you can be protected from discouragement and danger.

    If you are considering participating in online dating, please weigh our concerns and make your decision carefully and with much prayer and counsel.

    #2
    I feel like the article was written with an intention to highlight the downsides and just briefly mention the positive aspects of online dating...
    Comment>

      #3
      Originally posted by Lucian Hodoboc View Post
      I feel like the article was written with an intention to highlight the downsides and just briefly mention the positive aspects of online dating...
      Have you ever had any personal experience with online dating?
      Clyde Herrin's Blog
      Comment>

        #4
        Originally posted by theophilus View Post

        Have you ever had any personal experience with online dating?
        Yes. Although my health problems prevented me from bringing the relationship into real life.
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by Lucian Hodoboc View Post

          Yes. Although my health problems prevented me from bringing the relationship into real life.
          Sorry to hear that Lucian.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            Online or Offline? The Return of Offline Matchmaking Services to the Dating Scene



            Online dating has become the norm for dating in recent years. With a few swipes, you can get yourself a date for Saturday night, all on the screen of your smart phone. However, offline dating is slowly starting to gain traction once again as more and more people are starting to realize how easy it is to get tricked by a pretty photo, or hyped up personal information found on an online dating site.

            Opinions from dating forums and personal forums show that the most common complaint by men is that women’s photos on their profiles don’t match up to how they look in real life. Because of the convenience of filters and a well angled camera, it has become easier for people to drastically change their appearance as seen on their online presence. It’s also becoming easier for people to take more photos of themselves and choose the one that displays their best physical features to their advantage.

            For women, the most common complaint from them is the fact that men tend to exaggerate their financial statuses on online dating sites. Women decide to go on a date with these men, thinking that they are financially capable of taking care of themselves and their significant other.

            So they go out, have a nice dinner, nice conversation about interests, politics, and business forum topics, but when it comes to picking up the check, he makes the woman pay for it, says he’ll take care of the tip, but only leaves 3%. These are also the type of people you see zipping around in a BMW or a Lexus, only to find out that they still live in their parents’ basement.

            Women say that men don’t care about the more important things, and only care about superficial qualities, like physical appearance. Men complain that women only care if a man is wealthy or not. Whatever the main complaints are, the ease of access of online dating has made it easier for men and women alike to be pickier about their dating choices. The prevalence of dating advice on love forums only serves to enhance the mentality that you must be as picky as possible when it comes to choosing your significant other.

            To address some of these complaints, some sites have started implementing certain precautionary measures. For example, some websites have tried implementing ID verification. While this is a great way of verifying an individual's identity, this does not help with verifying an individual’s facial features, or their financial status.

            Some sites have tried implementing video call to encourage its members to connect with each other and see what they look like over live video call. While this is a simple solution to the problem, not many people are comfortable with live video call, and choose to opt out on that particular option.

            So many people have lost their faith in internet dating for these very reasons, and are slowly starting to embrace offline dating once again. For the younger generation, they find that the best way to find a long lasting relationship is through personal interactions, like introduction by a mutual friend, parties, bars, concerts, etc. But for the older generation, personal introductions are hard to come by sometimes. Almost everyone they know is in a committed relationship, busy with their careers, or their children.

            This is where offline dating options come in, and these are making a splash in their reintroduction to the dating industry. More niches of offline dating are starting to become more popular, from speed dating to hiring a matchmaker to set you up on a date. Dating coaches are becoming a popular option as well, with people paying a professional for love advice and to help them meet and attract potential partners.

            One of the more interesting offline dating options is through the romance tour or the international foreign bride system. These services are the perfect combination of offline and online dating. They have men sign up for their website, where they are given access to numerous pages of women who are registered under that particular website. These women are usually screened beforehand to guarantee their identity and their motivations.

            They can choose to chat and interact with any of the women who pique their interest. Once they decide to take their relationship offline, men have the option of attending the romance tour affiliated with the company to meet them in person. These romance tours typically take place in international sites, such as Russia, Asia, South America, etc., which provides an exotic backdrop to your potential love story.

            And if this particular romance doesn’t work out, they have the opportunity to get introduced to hundreds of women and find their potential significant other. These romance tours have helped many men and women find and meet each other.

            Although online dating offers you the best convenience of meeting a potential significant other, nothing beats the very real spark of connection of two people meeting in person for the very first time.
            Comment>

              #7
              One of our daughters age 46 at the time tried it. The man she started dating met with my wife and me, gave a good solid testimony, and seemed very nice and a worthy man to date. After three weeks she found out by doing some research at great length, he was married, lied about where he worked and his wife was from Asia and was neglected.

              The dating site she went to calmed they carefully screened their clients, and did a background check of both the men and women. This situation caused our daughter great embarrassment, and she felt like she was foolish to even to have tried online dating.

              My view point; There is no way to know the person you date is a genuine born again believer of Jesus Christ even when you date someone form the church you go to, say nothing about a dating site. I suggest seeking the Lord in asking for someone to find to court. (old fashion way) Ask friends if they know of a man or woman who might be a good person to talk with several times on the phone before going out for a date.

              A woman needs to know if a guy is a Christian, has a job, has a car, NOT HIS PARENTS, if he lives with his parents is it right for his age. A man is expected to pay for the dates, meet the parents, go to the door and pick up his date, no horn honking! Being polite, and treating the woman special like a special lady




              justme
              Comment>

                #8
                Originally posted by William View Post
                by Isaac Hydoski


                Recently, the team of pastors who lead the single men and women of our church decided to address the topic of online dating. One of the men, Isaac Hydoski, who is a very wise and skilled pastor, wrote a paper that sums up our pastoral team's counsel and concerns for those using or considering the use of online dating services. This is a longer post than we normally share here, but I hope that you'll find it helpful. This is by no means a comprehensive treatment of the subject—it's simply our local church seeking to give wise counsel to the men and women in our care.

                Online Dating: A Pastoral Perspective by Isaac Hydoski

                Don't you wish it was as easy for you as it was for Adam and Eve? Online dating services have been around for just over 10 years, but the idea of finding a spouse goes back to the Garden of Eden. The world looks very different now in some respects, but in other ways it hasn't changed. We still desire to get married and God is still bringing husbands and wives together in marriage.

                But how does the $500 million industry of online dating fit in to the grand scheme of God's plan for marriage? Does the Bible have anything to say about online dating? Can we learn anything from others' experiences with online dating?

                These are some of the questions we hope to bring clarity to through this paper. This perspective paper is the fruit of the application and study of Scripture, pastoral experience with counseling others and an interview with some from our community who have participated in online dating. We believe this paper is timely. We hope it serves you as you seek to obey and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

                Before getting into the details it is vital to establish that Scripture nowhere forbids online dating and therefore neither should we. It is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture to add 'laws' that God in his wisdom decided not to include in Holy Scripture. Let's all commit to not load each other's consciences with 'sins' that are not in Scripture. This was the mistake of the Pharisees. But we do want to help inform your thinking and practice related to on-line dating that is shaped by biblical principles. (Read more...)

                As we studied on-line dating sites some of the benefits we were able to identify are:

                Online dating allows for interaction with a much larger group of singles.
                If used wisely, it can provide a context to evaluate a potential date before meeting face-to-face.
                In addition, many singles who invest the amount of time and energy into online dating are generally interested in a serious relationship.

                Finally, there are positive examples of couples who have met and got engaged/married through these services.

                These are good benefits. But with any decision we make, it is important to weigh the benefits and the risks before we proceed. Having said this we, as pastors, do have significant concerns about on-line dating services and the unwise use of them, which we will detail in this paper.

                Concerns to consider (not in order of significance):
                Expensive A few of these sites are free, but most average $30 a month and some are as high as $50 per month.

                Time-consuming
                Filling out lengthy questionnaires, sorting through potential "matches", and contacting matches can be a very time consuming and slow process that can distract from other priorities.

                False hope
                Advertising campaigns for these sites such as "finding your soul mate" or "the love of your life" border on being disingenuous. Most sites report that only 1-2% of participant's relationships end in marriage. But the advertisements show couple after couple finding true love, which creates an impression not in keeping with reality.

                Safety
                Most online dating sites have lengthy disclaimers and warnings regarding personal safety when meeting people online.
                Disclosing highly personal information to someone you don't know at all is unwise at best and dangerous at worst.
                Best foot forward syndrome: It is quite easy to become a different person online or to not represent oneself truthfully. Often a person will communicate what they would like to be true of themselves rather than their actual lives in practice.
                Consumer complaint sites list stories of predators, liars, con-men/women who are actively trolling online dating sites for victims.

                Compromise
                Values: Many find that their potential matches answer value questions in a similar way (sexual purity, fellowship, church involvement, etc.) but how they define and practice these values is much different and leads to the immediate need to either end the relationship or deal with the temptation to compromise.
                Lowering standards: Maintaining God-glorifying standards for relationships is much more difficult after you're already involved with someone and as a result it is easy to drift into casual dating relationships and compromise on the significant values of a committed, intentional relationship.

                Doctrinal beliefs: Excitement of meeting new people interested in you can lessen the importance of significant doctrinal differences that will seriously affect any long-term relationship. Consider a marriage where husband and wife cannot agree on how the sovereignty of God is expressed in salvation, or how the role of husband and wife differ, or how they ought to raise and discipline their children.

                Priority of local church: Getting connected with other believers from different areas immediately adds the pressure of the potential of relocation and can affect commitment to their particular local church.

                Can reinforce self-focused view of relationships
                Matches are generally based on what you want in a spouse or how well someone is compatible with you instead of biblical criteria.

                Decisions to contact a match can be based on superficial preferences or how well they measure up to what you want/prefer.
                This encourages sowing towards a selfish view of finding someone who will love you rather than the other way around. (Read Ephesians 5:22-32 for God's perspective.)

                Loss of protection from church community
                Many singles in our community are not involving family or friends in this process due the "stigma" associated with online dating.
                You lose the benefit of dating someone known by others you trust.
                You do not have the benefit of seeing the fruit of their life lived out in a local church context.
                Your impressions of the potential match are almost entirely dependent on their self-disclosure and are subject to their honesty or lack thereof.

                New temptations
                Deception: It is easy to conceal from others involved in your life what you are doing and easy to conceal the truth about yourself to others online.
                Hopelessness: Many singles approach online dating after experiencing disappointment within their church context and can even see this as their "last chance" for a meaningful relationship. Given that only 1-2% of those participating in online dating services find a spouse this can be a significant discouragement if marriage doesn't occur.
                Laziness: Some see online sites as an easier approach to relationships, which hinders a cultivation of a trust and faith in God.
                Discouragement: Many singles find that after a few months of online searching, nothing meaningful comes from the hard work. Some are never contacted at all.
                Distortion of biblical roles: These services can place women in the difficult position of having to lead if paired with a man who is unwilling to lead.

                From our perspective these are significant concerns/risks that you need to prayerfully consider if you are thinking about participating in one of these services. Please do so with the help of the spiritual community God has given you, because "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22).

                Pastoral Counsel to Those Using Online Dating Services
                For those who are currently participating in online dating, we want to counsel you so that you are best equipped to navigate these concerns & risks.


                1. Discern your motives (Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 6:43-45; James 1:14)
                Our motives are constantly driving us to do things--whether good or bad. When it comes to online dating, there is a range of possible motivations one might have. One common motive seems to be a hopelessness in God's provision and timing of a spouse. You might ask yourself this question to discern this, "Is this a means to take the possibility of marriage into my own hands instead of trusting God?" We are not saying that you shouldn't be taking action and specific steps towards pursuing good things like marriage, but if this is your motive you might be setting yourself up for an even greater temptation and struggle because the reality is that the vast majority of those using services like this are not finding a spouse. If you discern this is your motive, then repent of unbelief and start believing in God's sovereign goodness and provision for you in particular. Please also consider if continuing in this service is going to further tempt you to doubt God's goodness for you by trusting in yourself to find a spouse. If the temptation is too strong, it may be wise to discontinue using it and start sowing to trusting in God to provide.

                2. Involve your community (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 20:18, 24:6; Hebrews 3:12,13, 10:24,25)
                The biggest concern we have about online dating is that it seems to go under the radar. People aren't talking to their friends or their care groups or their pastors about the people they are meeting online. We realize that you might be wary of sharing this with others because of a perceived "stigma" that on-line dating has, but you need to be seeking wisdom from others to help you honor God more than you need to maintain a reputation. It is unwise to not invite your friends who care for you and know you well to help you evaluate the type of people you are meeting online. The reality is that no matter how often you re-read their profiles, talk to them through email or phone, you still do not really know this person. What we would suggest is that you invite family or a trusted friend into your correspondence with the people you are meeting. We know this sounds very personal, but consider letting them read the emails, profiles, etc. to get their perspective on these individuals. We are aware of some examples of humble people who have done just this as they sought to apply biblical principles to online dating. Finally, bring the people you are meeting into your community so your family and friends and pastors can begin to get to know them face-to-face. This will bring much needed grace, protection, and wisdom to you as you evaluate this relationship.

                3. Know your values and convictions (Ephesians 5:10)
                What are the non-negotiables in a potential spouse for you? If you haven't spent time considering this in light of Scripture you will likely default to what feels right instead of determining what is most important for you in a spouse. Compromise really is right around the corner when we don't determine what our convictions are. We have seen this time and again with Christians who aren't clear on Biblical criteria and priorities for a spouse.

                4. Communicate your values and convictions (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:15, 25)
                Feelings of attraction and a desire for the opposite sex are powerful realities in our lives. If these are not anchored by your values about the Christian life (e.g. sexual purity, local church, fellowship) they will pull you towards either conflict or compromise. Please do not allow a relationship to remain in an undefined territory where what you believe and hold to is not communicated by you or the other person. This will inevitably lead to either you tempting the person who is becoming emotionally attached to you or it will tempt you to simply jettison important convictions you have because of your emotional attachment.

                5. Ask about their values and convictions (Ephesians 5:6,7; Proverbs 24:21; 1 Corinthians 15:33)
                Don't get entangled with someone who doesn't love what you love, value what you value, desire what you desire--especially as it relates to your relationship with God. Ask detailed, specific questions about their faith and how it functions for them in day-to-day life BEFORE a relationship begins. We'd also like to suggest that you try to talk to this person's pastor or significant leader in their church. Ask them the same questions that you've been asking the person through email/phone and compare notes. They will likely offer a much more balanced perspective on this person. This will be really helpful if the person has spoken much more idealistically about themselves than the pastor's or leader's perspective.

                In summary, if you are participating in online dating, please know that we love you and we support you. Our concerns are just that: concerns. We want to see you experience God's grace in Christ Jesus and we want to be faithful to show you some of the significant pitfalls as we see them, so you can be protected from discouragement and danger.

                If you are considering participating in online dating, please weigh our concerns and make your decision carefully and with much prayer and counsel.

                My wife and I will soon celebrate 15 years of marriage. We met on Christian Cafe. . . It's a very long story, but she was also in another country, 3,500 miles away! I also never intended to write her. I did it to appease a friend (another long story).

                These sites are tools, and tools can be used wisely or improperly. Use a tool improperly and you can get hurt. Use it properly, and the results can be amazing.

                Comment>

                  #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  by Isaac Hydoski

                  Recently, the team of pastors who lead the single men and women of our church decided to address the topic of online dating. One of the men, Isaac Hydoski, who is a very wise and skilled pastor, wrote a paper that sums up our pastoral team's counsel and concerns for those using or considering the use of online dating services. This is a longer post than we normally share here, but I hope that you'll find it helpful. This is by no means a comprehensive treatment of the subject—it's simply our local church seeking to give wise counsel to the men and women in our care.

                  Online Dating: A Pastoral Perspective by Isaac Hydoski

                  Don't you wish it was as easy for you as it was for Adam and Eve? Online dating services have been around for just over 10 years, but the idea of finding a spouse goes back to the Garden of Eden. The world looks very different now in some respects, but in other ways it hasn't changed. We still desire to get married and God is still bringing husbands and wives together in marriage.

                  But how does the $500 million industry of online dating fit in to the grand scheme of God's plan for marriage? Does the Bible have anything to say about online dating? Can we learn anything from others' experiences with online dating?

                  These are some of the questions we hope to bring clarity to through this paper. This perspective paper is the fruit of the application and study of Scripture, pastoral experience with counseling others and an interview with some from our community who have participated in online dating. We believe this paper is timely. We hope it serves you as you seek to obey and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

                  Before getting into the details it is vital to establish that Scripture nowhere forbids online dating and therefore neither should we. It is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture to add 'laws' that God in his wisdom decided not to include in Holy Scripture. Let's all commit to not load each other's consciences with 'sins' that are not in Scripture. This was the mistake of the Pharisees. But we do want to help inform your thinking and practice related to on-line dating that is shaped by biblical principles. (Read more...)

                  As we studied on-line dating sites some of the benefits we were able to identify are:

                  Online dating allows for interaction with a much larger group of singles.
                  If used wisely, it can provide a context to evaluate a potential date before meeting face-to-face.
                  In addition, many singles who invest the amount of time and energy into online dating are generally interested in a serious relationship.

                  Finally, there are positive examples of couples who have met and got engaged/married through these services.

                  These are good benefits. But with any decision we make, it is important to weigh the benefits and the risks before we proceed. Having said this we, as pastors, do have significant concerns about on-line dating services and the unwise use of them, which we will detail in this paper.

                  Concerns to consider (not in order of significance):
                  Expensive A few of these sites are free, but most average $30 a month and some are as high as $50 per month.

                  Time-consuming
                  Filling out lengthy questionnaires, sorting through potential "matches", and contacting matches can be a very time consuming and slow process that can distract from other priorities.

                  False hope
                  Advertising campaigns for these sites such as "finding your soul mate" or "the love of your life" border on being disingenuous. Most sites report that only 1-2% of participant's relationships end in marriage. But the advertisements show couple after couple finding true love, which creates an impression not in keeping with reality.

                  Safety
                  Most online dating sites have lengthy disclaimers and warnings regarding personal safety when meeting people online.
                  Disclosing highly personal information to someone you don't know at all is unwise at best and dangerous at worst.
                  Best foot forward syndrome: It is quite easy to become a different person online or to not represent oneself truthfully. Often a person will communicate what they would like to be true of themselves rather than their actual lives in practice.
                  Consumer complaint sites list stories of predators, liars, con-men/women who are actively trolling online dating sites for victims.

                  Compromise
                  Values: Many find that their potential matches answer value questions in a similar way (sexual purity, fellowship, church involvement, etc.) but how they define and practice these values is much different and leads to the immediate need to either end the relationship or deal with the temptation to compromise.
                  Lowering standards: Maintaining God-glorifying standards for relationships is much more difficult after you're already involved with someone and as a result it is easy to drift into casual dating relationships and compromise on the significant values of a committed, intentional relationship.

                  Doctrinal beliefs: Excitement of meeting new people interested in you can lessen the importance of significant doctrinal differences that will seriously affect any long-term relationship. Consider a marriage where husband and wife cannot agree on how the sovereignty of God is expressed in salvation, or how the role of husband and wife differ, or how they ought to raise and discipline their children.

                  Priority of local church: Getting connected with other believers from different areas immediately adds the pressure of the potential of relocation and can affect commitment to their particular local church.

                  Can reinforce self-focused view of relationships
                  Matches are generally based on what you want in a spouse or how well someone is compatible with you instead of biblical criteria.

                  Decisions to contact a match can be based on superficial preferences or how well they measure up to what you want/prefer.
                  This encourages sowing towards a selfish view of finding someone who will love you rather than the other way around. (Read Ephesians 5:22-32 for God's perspective.)

                  Loss of protection from church community
                  Many singles in our community are not involving family or friends in this process due the "stigma" associated with online dating.
                  You lose the benefit of dating someone known by others you trust.
                  You do not have the benefit of seeing the fruit of their life lived out in a local church context.
                  Your impressions of the potential match are almost entirely dependent on their self-disclosure and are subject to their honesty or lack thereof.

                  New temptations
                  Deception: It is easy to conceal from others involved in your life what you are doing and easy to conceal the truth about yourself to others online.
                  Hopelessness: Many singles approach online dating after experiencing disappointment within their church context and can even see this as their "last chance" for a meaningful relationship. Given that only 1-2% of those participating in online dating services find a spouse this can be a significant discouragement if marriage doesn't occur.
                  Laziness: Some see online sites as an easier approach to relationships, which hinders a cultivation of a trust and faith in God.
                  Discouragement: Many singles find that after a few months of online searching, nothing meaningful comes from the hard work. Some are never contacted at all.
                  Distortion of biblical roles: These services can place women in the difficult position of having to lead if paired with a man who is unwilling to lead.

                  From our perspective these are significant concerns/risks that you need to prayerfully consider if you are thinking about participating in one of these services. Please do so with the help of the spiritual community God has given you, because "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22).

                  Pastoral Counsel to Those Using Online Dating Services
                  For those who are currently participating in online dating, we want to counsel you so that you are best equipped to navigate these concerns & risks.


                  1. Discern your motives (Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 6:43-45; James 1:14)
                  Our motives are constantly driving us to do things--whether good or bad. When it comes to online dating, there is a range of possible motivations one might have. One common motive seems to be a hopelessness in God's provision and timing of a spouse. You might ask yourself this question to discern this, "Is this a means to take the possibility of marriage into my own hands instead of trusting God?" We are not saying that you shouldn't be taking action and specific steps towards pursuing good things like marriage, but if this is your motive you might be setting yourself up for an even greater temptation and struggle because the reality is that the vast majority of those using services like this are not finding a spouse. If you discern this is your motive, then repent of unbelief and start believing in God's sovereign goodness and provision for you in particular. Please also consider if continuing in this service is going to further tempt you to doubt God's goodness for you by trusting in yourself to find a spouse. If the temptation is too strong, it may be wise to discontinue using it and start sowing to trusting in God to provide.

                  2. Involve your community (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 20:18, 24:6; Hebrews 3:12,13, 10:24,25)
                  The biggest concern we have about online dating is that it seems to go under the radar. People aren't talking to their friends or their care groups or their pastors about the people they are meeting online. We realize that you might be wary of sharing this with others because of a perceived "stigma" that on-line dating has, but you need to be seeking wisdom from others to help you honor God more than you need to maintain a reputation. It is unwise to not invite your friends who care for you and know you well to help you evaluate the type of people you are meeting online. The reality is that no matter how often you re-read their profiles, talk to them through email or phone, you still do not really know this person. What we would suggest is that you invite family or a trusted friend into your correspondence with the people you are meeting. We know this sounds very personal, but consider letting them read the emails, profiles, etc. to get their perspective on these individuals. We are aware of some examples of humble people who have done just this as they sought to apply biblical principles to online dating. Finally, bring the people you are meeting into your community so your family and friends and pastors can begin to get to know them face-to-face. This will bring much needed grace, protection, and wisdom to you as you evaluate this relationship.

                  3. Know your values and convictions (Ephesians 5:10)
                  What are the non-negotiables in a potential spouse for you? If you haven't spent time considering this in light of Scripture you will likely default to what feels right instead of determining what is most important for you in a spouse. Compromise really is right around the corner when we don't determine what our convictions are. We have seen this time and again with Christians who aren't clear on Biblical criteria and priorities for a spouse.

                  4. Communicate your values and convictions (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:15, 25)
                  Feelings of attraction and a desire for the opposite sex are powerful realities in our lives. If these are not anchored by your values about the Christian life (e.g. sexual purity, local church, fellowship) they will pull you towards either conflict or compromise. Please do not allow a relationship to remain in an undefined territory where what you believe and hold to is not communicated by you or the other person. This will inevitably lead to either you tempting the person who is becoming emotionally attached to you or it will tempt you to simply jettison important convictions you have because of your emotional attachment.

                  5. Ask about their values and convictions (Ephesians 5:6,7; Proverbs 24:21; 1 Corinthians 15:33)
                  Don't get entangled with someone who doesn't love what you love, value what you value, desire what you desire--especially as it relates to your relationship with God. Ask detailed, specific questions about their faith and how it functions for them in day-to-day life BEFORE a relationship begins. We'd also like to suggest that you try to talk to this person's pastor or significant leader in their church. Ask them the same questions that you've been asking the person through email/phone and compare notes. They will likely offer a much more balanced perspective on this person. This will be really helpful if the person has spoken much more idealistically about themselves than the pastor's or leader's perspective.

                  In summary, if you are participating in online dating, please know that we love you and we support you. Our concerns are just that: concerns. We want to see you experience God's grace in Christ Jesus and we want to be faithful to show you some of the significant pitfalls as we see them, so you can be protected from discouragement and danger.

                  If you are considering participating in online dating, please weigh our concerns and make your decision carefully and with much prayer and counsel.
                  I've known a few people, some friends, who met online and subsequently married. They're all batting ZERO in their marital success rate. I wonder if the problem is the online aspect of meeting, or the ultimate compatibility of the people, who seem so desperate to meet someone and marry, that they wander onto these "match making" ventures (who seem to be missing an important function in their algorithm—God would call it the "equally yoked" function, I think) in the first place.
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Elda View Post

                    I've known a few people, some friends, who met online and subsequently married. They're all batting ZERO in their marital success rate. I wonder if the problem is the online aspect of meeting, or the ultimate compatibility of the people, who seem so desperate to meet someone and marry, that they wander onto these "match making" ventures (who seem to be missing an important function in their algorithm—God would call it the "equally yoked" function, I think) in the first place.
                    I met my wife online on a Christian Singles website. The site her and I met on is no longer online. I tried it out, fought in the blogs and forums and won her interests. I was only on the website for a month. We continued our conversation through email correspondence a month or two more before meeting. She was located in California, and I was located in Washington State. She flew up to me, and after seeing her in person I almost immediately knew she was the one.

                    Our online conversations were theological in nature, and it was her moral beauty that had drawn me to her. I moved to California, we had to rent another place for me while I went through marriage counseling classes with her through the church. It was against our convictions to live with another before marriage. The church married us, and we are now married 6 years ago last September.

                    I couldn't be happier :)

                    By the way, if you're Reformed and are single one of the sponsors of this website is SovereignGraceSingles.com. I used to be that site's webmaster and have personally met the owner. Great site for Reformed Christians. The owner likes to crash the weddings of people that met through the website so be warned .

                    God bless,
                    William
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