Technology has changed the world of dating with the existence of online dating. It used to be that to meet someone you had to go to a bar or school or club or church or any public place, interact with people and meet potential significant other’s in person. This could prove to be emotionally difficult for people who were extremely introverted. However with online dating people are paired up with potential matches based on quizes and using computer algorithms. This creates an interesting topic for christians because there are so many directions to take the discussion.
Like so much of the modern world there is no biblical precedent with how to deal with online dating. So how christians should approach this topic is largely debatable and based on personal and denominational differences in beliefs. For this article I’m going to set up what I believe are the principles that should be at the heart of Christians when it comes to online relationships.
Let me start by defining online relationship. For the sake of this article I am only focused on relationships that are formed online. Mainly focusing on online dating sites such as eHarmony. Lets establish some biblical precedents. The internet did not exist in Jesus time as such the bible makes no mention of it and there is not a biblical absolute surrounding the world wide web in general. However the bible does set sexual precedents. Namely that we should never be united to someone not our spouse. Depending on how you read that it’s either a restriction on premarital as well as extramarital sex or it’s a caution in picking your spouse because you’re supposed to be biblically united to them for life. One needs to also remember that in jesus time dating didn’t exist. marriages were arranged between a man and the woman’s father usually with the woman’s consent. Dating is a western 21st century custom. As such If someone wishes to dismiss online dating biblically they must also dismiss dating in general and be willing to return to arranged marriages. The only other biblical precedent is that Christians should not marry outside their faith. Dating sites pose a large risk in this department. As christians I would say that online dating poses a slightly greater risk of dating outside of God’s standards. As such we should be careful when approaching this world, however I would not recommend against it as there are many success stories that have come out of online dating.
If we are going to accept online dating we need to be aware of a major problem called romantic ADHD. What this refers to is an inability to focus on one relationship when the excitement fades. This problem exists because with online dating sites such as Christian Mingle and Plenty of Fish, people have more opportunity to run out of the relationship and into a new one if things start getting bad. The commitment no longer has to be a priority.
If we are losing commitment then we are also losing out on the main idea of romance. What we gain is the butterfly feeling that never stay for the long term. In doing so we risk wearing out our ability to commit. Studies have shown that the more partners someone has the less able they are to commit for the long term later on. This can’t really be fixed but can be prevented in future generations by teaching children to value commitment from a young age and demonstrate commitment between parents. If children are taught to value longterm relationships over short term flings then online dating shouldn’t be a problem for future generations.