I am primarily a pastor in Southern California, but I also serve as a spokesperson for Faithmate, an online dating service. Not long ago, I was interviewed about the site by one of the leading gospel radio and magazine personalities in Houston, and we were bombarded by callers questioning whether the church should support online dating. I held my own, but the conflicting views of callers placed us at an impasse.

I was about to reach into my bag of rhetorical persuasion when my host was asked, “How did you meet your wife?” His response was shocking: “Online.” He went on to extol the virtues of meeting his wife on the Internet and the happiness they now share.

I believe Christian online dating is just one more avenue to meet people. It does not replace conventional ways of meeting, nor does it add to or negate the intellectual and cognitive process associated with establishing a relationship. It simply puts more potential prospects within your reach.

You scrutinize a person online as you would if you met them in any other context. The criteria you use to decide to be with someone do not change online. The same potential for people to deceive you in person exists on the Internet, so you must use discernment either way.

There are advantages to being introduced to someone by a friend or a relative. First, there is the comfort of having someone whose opinion you trust make the recommendation. This person, who knows both of you, can also be a good source of advice. And should it seem that something is going wrong with the relationship, this person likewise becomes a source of comfort.

There is no such safety net when you meet someone online, but one advantage is that your decision to continue or stop a relationship is not influenced by a third person to whom you feel obligated because he or she made the introduction.

But there is another, spiritual issue surrounding online dating: the guilt instilled by some Christians who accuse online seekers of not waiting on God. My response to this argument is that the Internet is simply a place to position oneself in a larger arena. How many people position themselves for dating in the church by being available for a plethora of different services, going to conventions, singles ministry functions and all else that the church offers? There is nothing wrong with that. It is putting oneself in a more effective position to wait on God. It does not mean you are desperate. To the contrary, it simply means you are ready for the next level.

One of the mistakes we often make in the urban Christian community is to become extremely mystical in our quest for solutions to life’s issues and challenges. We speak so eloquently and ebulliently about what God is going to do in our lives as it relates to certain essentials.

Two of the more common issues are our financial and personal relationships. We are repeatedly told that God is going to do marvelous things for us in our finances and relationships. After myriad prophetic utterances and prayer lines, no one ever thought to ask the prophet or preacher, “How is God going to do it?"

In many instances, we want God to do things for us but not through us. This seems to be the stumbling block that keeps our faith from moving from the mystical to the practical. God does more through us than for us. In fact, God does it for us by doing it through us!

We are co-creators with God. In the same way that you will not receive a check in an envelope postmarked “heaven,” you will not receive a husband or wife lowered from heaven through your chimney. You and I have to participate in the process of achieving both success and a good relationship with the right person.

We need the opportunity to be exposed to a larger universe of potential mates. Indeed, if there were enough candidates in the local church, many of us would have already found a life mate. We need to broaden the playing field to a larger market of potentially qualified mates.

Online we can literally browse through thousands of profiles and reduce the numbers of prospective candidates without the laborious, agonizing, and expensive prospect of going out with the many to find the one! This is the joy of online dating.

Proverbs 18:24 says: “If you want friends, you must make yourself friendly.” Online dating is a wonderful way to communicate and to efficiently assess someone’s character and personality. It is through communication that we identify the qualities and dispositions others possess. Online, we have the freedom to communicate without fearing someone’s reaction as we would necessarily do if we were physically in their presence.

This is what Faithmate and other dating sites are designed to help us do. Being online simply widens the playing field.

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