Ministers, church members respond to rising popularity of Internet matchmaking
February 1, 2006
To whatextent do singles in your church use online dating services? Has anyone in yourministry met his or her spouse online?
DeanBarham, campus minister, Christ in Action Student Ministries, Lubbock, Texas: “I am not positive ofthe extent of the use of online dating services, but I suspect that it isrelatively low when it comes to official ‘dating services’ per se.
“However, manystudents use chat rooms, instant messaging, and the now incredibly popularFacebook to meet people online. They have little problem developing some kindof relationship through cyberspace.
“As for folks in ourministry actually tying the knot, one couple for whom I performed their weddinghad their first anniversary the beginning of this year and they lived indifferent states for the entire courtship leading up to their engagement. Theywere introduced to each other from a mutual friend, not a dating service; butmuch of their ‘dating’ experience took place online.”
LanceOwens, a minister for the Landmark church, Montgomery, Ala.:“I only know of a fewsingles in our church that use online dating services. The main reason thesequestions are hard to answer is that for many Internet dating is still a bittaboo. Most of the people I’ve actually talked to about it try to keep itreally quiet.”
Is there astigma about using the Internet to find a spouse? What are your thoughtsabout this subject?
JasonLocke, a minister for the Morgantown, W.Va., church: “In this part of thecountry, where there are smaller churches and fewer avenues for meeting folksfrom other churches of Christ, I think there is little stigma associated withefforts to meet other Christian singles via the Internet.
“I know of severalcases where someone has met a spouse via the Internet. All of these casesinvolved people who were above the ‘standard’ marrying age — they were well outof college and had been in their professional careers for several years.
“My personal feelingis that this avenue of relationship-building is more helpful in thosesituations than for college students or other singles in their 20s.”
DraskoDjenovic, minister for the Belgradechurch, Serbia and Montenegro: “It is not ‘healthy’to live in a virtual world. Since many sick people are on the Internet wecannot be 100 percent sure who is on other side of the global village. Becauseof that we do not recommend people try to find a spouse (through the Internet).
“On the Internet we all can bemuch better than what we are.”
LawrenceOkorafor, church member in Newcastle, United Kingdom: “Yes there is astigma about using the Internet to find a spouse. The relationship might bebuilt on false premises. The partners often know too little about each otherbefore making commitments and there can be impostors on the prowl.
“However, there arestill good sides to it, because I think it is an easy way of getting intorelationships — especially for people who have a fear of rejection and(difficulty) talking face-to-face with the opposite sex.
“Online dating tendsto break down that barrier, thereby creating room for the man or the woman tofeel more at ease when an actual date is arranged.”
MarkMiller, young adults minister for the North Atlanta church: “I thinksome people think it’s (an act of) desperation — that you can’t or won’t findthe right person, so you’re led to look online. But then again, it’s justanother tool to meet new people.
“Manypeople have used friends and dinner dates and other various means to meet newpeople, and this is another tool to introduce people.
“Onlinedating comes with a risk, just like dating does.”
The Internetis a haven for sexual predators, pedophiles and other unsavory characters. Hasyour site encountered any problems with such people? How have youresponded?
JimFoster, administrator of churchofchristsingles.com: “This is something Itake very seriously, and this is something else I pray aboutdaily.
“Each user is trulyanonymous to the other users. The advantage is that you can decide if the otherperson is trustable with any additional information as you go.
“Once you get to thepoint of sharing e-mail addresses, we recommend NOT using your work e-mailaddress (often this is too descriptive — first, last name, sometimes even yourwork location). This really is the best line of defense.
“Once you are pastthat, we do have other tips (available on the Web site).
“The longer I dothis, I’m also starting to think that if things are getting serious between twofolks, they should do some serious research via marriage license checks, felonychecks etc. There’s so much you don’t know about someone when you haven’t grownup around them.
“The issues we haveexperienced with this have been fairly minor when you consider the numbers ofpeople we’ve had on the site — mainly things like users that weren’t as theyclaimed (divorce not final when they said it was, someone lying about theirmarital past, etc.) and sinful/inappropriate behavior.
“I credit us nothaving many problems to both God and to our users being savvy to the issue.”
How domembers of your church (married and unmarried) regard the Internet when itcomes to dating? Do they see it as a helpful way of meeting people or as adangerous haven for predators to be avoided?
DianeWalls, member of the MacArthurPark church, San Antonio: “I have taken a fewguys to church I have met (online) and I tell people I met them on the datingsite. Most people kind of look at you funny, but they soon realize the personis a very nice person.”
DeanBarham: “I would say theirattitude is in between these two extremes. The words ‘cautious acceptance’capture where I think most of our students are.
“Most students in ourministry certainly see the norm as dating in the typical way and would approachonline relationship connections with some initial skepticism.
“Butthis is a generation that likes to keep its options open, so many of them wouldnever close the door completely on any avenue that might help them find amate.”
My name is Cindy McDonald, owner of www.christiandatingsites.net, and I really enjoy your website. My website is for Christian singles who have contemplated using an online Christian dating site, to better understand how they work and to learn how to safely make the most out of your experience,
Would you mind taking a look to see if it could be a valuable resource as a resource? Any effort would be appreciated to help spread the word and get some exposure.
Cindy McDonaldCindy McDonaldQuestionHouston, Texas
United StatesJuly, 20 2012