Recently, a pastor friend of mine explained why he is not only against online Christian dating, but also the concept of dating in general. While he did not come out and say that dating is unbiblical (there are some Christians who feel this way), he argued that it cheapens the courtship process and encourages single Christians to enter casual relationships that are here today and gone tomorrow.
The pastor started out by rightly reminding me that dating is a relatively new phenomenon of the last hundred years or so. Before that time, singles were said to court one another. Courtship was not a casual thing to do on a Friday night, but a serious process whereby the families of the single gal and single guy decide whether or not marriage should be the end result. Romance and personal choice took a back seat to practicality: Is he able to support her? Does she cook, sew well and love children? Do the families make a good fit?
Overall, my friend feels the courtship system is much more advantageous than the present system of dating:
- Courtship will save singles from entering casual relationships where sexual impurity and heartache can occur.
- Since courtship is more or less supervised by the families, singles have less a chance to make wrong, harmful and impulsive decisions.
- Courtship encourages commitment to one person, which carries over into the Christian marriage relationship.
Dating and Courtship is Not an Either/Or Proposition
I had several responses for my pastor friend. The first sentences came out this way: Get real! While the idea of an old-fashioned courtship has some virtue in it, how many twenty-something or thirty-something Christian singles would buy into such a system? How many Christian families would be willing to make a courtship covenant? A solution must be realistic if it is to be the norm.”
Secondly, Christian dating does not have to devolve into the sex sin relationships that we see in the world. Christian dating services fill a need that many families and churches are not meeting. So why condemn all forms of dating just because the world abuses it?
I have one dear friend who met her fiance though an online Christian matchmaking site. Their two year long distance dating relationship has been anything but casual, but a conscious process leading toward marriage. Before committing in person they had spent over six months just communicating on a heart level via e-mail. Afterwards, they both met each other’s families, who approved of the relationship. Each party also enlisted the help of their respective pastors and friends to help them through the engagement process. I am happy to say that my friend is getting married this coming June (and I am singing in the wedding). 🙂
Here we have an example of a single Christian couple who used an online Christian dating service, but incorporated elements of the courtship process by seeking advice from their families and churches.
The lesson here? Dating and Courtship does not have to be an either/or proposition for Christian singles. It’s possible to combine the best of both. So what are your thoughts about online Christian dating and courtship? Do you take an either/or stand on the issue?