Question: "Should a Christian use a dating service to find a spouse?"
Answer: The Bible doesn’t tell us how to “date” or “court,” whichever we call the process we use to get to know a potential mate. In the Bible times, neither of these existed in the same form that we see them today. Back then, families helped young women and men meet and become engaged and often chose their children’s mates for them. Today, singles are more on their own to find a mate. Some singles don’t bother to look for a spouse, believing God will bring the person to them, while others are forever on a feverish search for one, fearing they may miss him or her. There should be a balance, as we remember that God is perfectly loving (Ephesians 3:18; 1 John 3:16-18) and perfectly sovereign over every situation, desire and need (Psalm 109:21; Romans 8:38-39). Unless we are rebelling against God in sin, we can be sure that He is not punishing us through our singleness and that He is very likely bringing the right man or woman our way…eventually! God uses our choices, other people, and sometimes even modern technology, to bring about marriages.
Before a Christian single considers any of the “newer” methods of finding a spouse, it’s helpful to consider whether we may be engaging in any self-defeating behavior. Is it possible we are being too picky, looking for the fairy tale prince or princess, and by doing so, limiting the possibilities of what God may know is best for us and which we have not yet considered? Are we not being picky enough, forgetting that God calls all Christians to marry only other Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14), or are we considering someone who is stuck in a serious, life-altering sin that could endanger the marriage? A Christian man should take the lead in relationships, asking the woman out, calling her, and making sure their relationship glorifies Christ in all things. A Christian woman should let the man take the initiative as the leader God made him to be and resist the temptation to initiate the relationship. And, finally, as believers, we should able to stand on our own two feet, relying on the Lord to fulfill us rather than feeling a need to be married in order to be whole. Once we have these common struggles sorted out, we can begin to pursue a woman or be pursued by a man, with an eye towards marriage.
As in all our decisions, we should ask God to direct us clearly as we continue, just as we should in any dating or courting situation. It can be difficult to meet single Christian men and women, especially if most of our friends have already married. We can put ourselves in a position to meet other Christians by looking for a church singles group. We may want to volunteer for a cause we care about or join other groups, being sure that we are doing it because we enjoy it, not just because we want to meet as many potential mates as possible. Some people prefer to meet their spouse through friends, family, or in a chance meeting out in the world, and many do just that. But others believe they are limited in the people they meet because of their profession, the size of their city, or the nature of their activities. For these people, it may be wise to consider other methods. Some of the modern methods of finding a mate include internet or online dating, professional matchmaking services, and speed dating. Each has its pros and cons, and none is right for everyone. Before beginning any of these methods, we should begin in prayer, asking God whether it is the step He wants us to take.
Internet dating is currently the most popular alternative way to meet singles. There are Christian dating websites, including www.togetherchristian.com. There are secular dating websites that allow you to limit your search to Christians, and they (like the Christian sites) often let you specify the denomination you are looking for as well. Some of the most popular websites are www.match.com, www.cupid.com, and www.eharmony.com. (Please note that GotQuestions Ministries does not personally endorse any particular dating site.) eHarmony is unique in that it uses an extensive personality test to provide customized matches to each person, though each user must only choose from the matches given to them—they cannot communicate with anyone they choose. Most of the other sites (Christian and secular) provide various ways that men and women can quickly assess compatibility before beginning any form of communication. Most sites charge a monthly or yearly fee, ranging from a few dollars to twenty or thirty dollars a month. eHarmony requires that members proceed through several “steps” of communication before they are allowed to e-mail and exchange phone numbers. The other sites offer quicker communication. While it is easy to meet new people on all of the websites, anyone trying out internet dating must be very careful.
One major downfall of internet dating is that you can never be sure who is being honest and who is pretending to be someone they’re not. The results can be humorous or even deadly. It’s a good idea to never answer any communication from someone from another country, unless you are able to conduct an extensive background check on them. Some of these people are trying to con the men and women they meet. Always begin by meeting the person in a public place—never allow them to drive you anywhere or take you somewhere where you will be alone. It is wise to plan a double date, so that a close friend can offer his or her opinion on this (let’s face it) complete stranger. Listen to your instincts and get away fast if you ever feel you are in any danger. Warnings aside, though, many happy Christian marriages have come out of internet dating.
Professional matchmaking services are usually safer than internet dating, but are less popular, and don’t always have a very large pool of people to choose from. They can also be more expensive, usually involve more extensive applications, and require some type of background check. Speed dating is where singles circulate systematically through a room of tables in order to assess a potential date in only a few minutes per rotation. At the end of the night, they turn in a card that indicates who they would be willing to be matched up with. The couples who have mutual interest will receive each other’s contact information. Professional matchmaking and speed dating can be just as dangerous as internet dating, but, if done safely and wisely, can potentially lead to a successful Christian marriage.
In all of the choices we make, though, it’s crucial to remember that it is God—not us—who brings us together with a spouse. As simple as it may sound, we shouldn’t have to work to find our spouse; we should be living out our lives with any desires for a spouse on the back burner and our desires for knowing God at the forefront of our hearts. Men do need to take the initiative in a relationship and pursue the woman, but God is still the one who brings the couple together. Seek God and He will fulfill (or change) your desires (Psalm 103:5; Romans 12:2) in His perfect way and His perfect time (Romans 5:6; Romans 8:26-27). When you think about it, would we want it any other way? Look at the story of Isaac and Rebekah and how God brought them together (Genesis 24). It was sovereignly planned and controlled by God and miraculous. The marriage of two people is nothing short of a miracle, but, then again, the same could be said of our birth and of even our living to see the next day. God holds our every moment in His hands (Psalm 31:15), and He will not let us slip through the cracks of His gentle fingers. He cradles our lives and our hearts in His hands, and He will not forget His children.