Rating your dating – pt3 – What about online dating?

datingMore questions from our faith family…

Is it okay to be single and NOT be sexually frustrated?

I would have paid money for this while I was single. However, it’s less likely for anybody who is highly stimulated by sight. Modesty is a forgotten virtue, so even if someone starts to break free from porn, there is so much flesh in plain sight that purity is the fight of a lifetime. And if you do believe in spiritual forces of wickedness (a la Ephesians 6) you’d have to bet there is an influence of sexual lust-sensuality-seduction upon the culture at large. It’s like breathing smog in Mexico City; when you live there long enough, you stop noticing the effects. But over a lifetime, it changes the way you breathe.

Is it okay to just be passionate about your God given purpose without the second guessing of “Did I miss my window of opportunity to be married?”

This would be wonderful. Adam was clear about his MASTER. Next he received clarity about his MISSION. Then he was ready for his MATE. It is dangerous to be cloudy about the first two while working on the third.

Online dating – ADDRESS THIS asap with all AUTHORITY LOL (I love you). Is online dating evil?

Let’s try to be as clear as the Bible is clear, and remain as unclear as it is unclear. There is no rule that applies to online dating, so it’s not a question of good versus evil but rather wisdom versus folly. Disciples move beyond the questions of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Is it right? Is it wrong?) and they ask better questions (Will this produce life? Is this the wise thing for me to do?) I’d say this will be a different answer for different people. Here’s what is clear to me.

Online dating services have the potential to help you meet a lot more people than you would otherwise meet. We do not live in the world of 100 years ago; we now live in a global village. The internet allows for business and relationships that would have otherwise never existed or deepened. Because you have to pay for these services, the people involved are actually interested in a serious relationship, which weeds out those who know they are not ready. More than a quarter of marriages are now coming from couples who met online. It would be silly to say that God could not use an online dating service.

Yet wisdom says, keep your eyes wide open. Remember that these companies exist to make money. No problem. But advertisers make their money by stirring in us a sense of discontentedness. That could be a problem.  You’re missing something. You’re not good enough. You’d be happy if only you had XYZ. They show us pictures of giddy couples who found their soul mates and lived happily ever after. Remember that (a) Only 1-2% of online relationships end up in marriage, and (b) even if you are in that 2%, here’s the truth: if you’re not at peace before marriage, you won’t be at peace in marriage. Only one Being in the universe can meet your needs, and if you’re rolling your eyes, you still don’t get it.

There is so much more that I could say, but I’ll just mention this for now: godly, discerning community is a bigger deal than we think. When you read the book of Ruth it’s interesting to note how Boaz got to know Ruth: he discerned her within the context of community. “All my townspeople know you are a worthy woman” (Ruth 3:11). They watched her sacrifice for her mother-in-law. They watched her work when others were slacking off. They watched her stay true to his field instead of “playing the field” with other men. Boaz seemed wise enough to resist the urge of awakening love before Ruth passed the test of community. I have little confidence in the reliability of getting to know someone through an internet profile, and sitting alone in a car on a date. These kinds of dates are like a movie trailer: a highlight reel created to sell you on the product. You’re better off going to Fandango and reading the critic’s reviews. That’ll tell you the real story. If you do choose to go the online route, I strongly suggest: (1) you find a way to involve your community and the leaders in your life, (2) you guard your heart, and (3) you find a way to do a testing process. Pray!

Is it okay to think of our singleness as something else beyond “preparation for marriage” or “waiting room” for your spouse to come?

Dating is not just about dating. Sex is not just about sex. And marriage is not just about marriage. All of these realities are pointing to something deeper. Why do we even have marriage? It’s not like marriage had existed throughout all of eternity’s past, so God decided to use it as an object lesson. No, God invented marriage as a sign to point people to the nature of our relationship with him. We tend to defile a thing when we fail to recognize it’s purpose. If we see singleness as a necessary frustration we tolerate until we reach the promised land of marriage, we set ourselves up for unspeakable pain. Marriage is no promised land. Just ask all the people getting divorced, and the multitude of others who are living in a relationship that over-promised and under-delivered. Every time someone enters the marriage-as-promised-land paradigm they are set up for disillusionment because marriage is NOT about our happiness; it’s about our holiness. You don’t prepare for marriage by getting ready for your wedding day; you prepare for marriage by getting ready for His wedding day (Revelation 19:7-9). If that sounds like a cliche, you still don’t get it. Matthew 6:33.

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