Many Christians struggle with the idea of online dating. They wonder, “How does God feel about online dating? Does he see it as not trusting him? Is online dating a sin? What does the Bible say about things like online dating?”
While the Bible obviously never directly talks about online dating, the wisdom found in Scripture can certainly help us answer many of the common questions Christian singles have when they are considering online dating.
So here are 7 points to consider when it comes to online dating as a Christian single.
#1: It’s Not About How You Meet. It’s About Who You Date and Then Marry
God isn’t concerned with how you go about meeting a prospective spouse. What he really cares about is who you decide to spend time with, date, and then marry.
We should use wisdom here. It would be a lack of solid reasoning to assume you have a good chance of meeting a great Christian spouse by bar-hopping every weekend. Likewise, randomly throwing your profile online for the whole world to see is probably not going to be an effective way of finding a godly spouse with a desire to glorify God. So in that sense, God really does care how you go about trying to meet people.
But as long as you are relying on biblical wisdom, listening to the counsel of your Christian community, and truly trying to honor God, there is nothing inherently sinful about online dating. Again, what God really cares about is who you marry, not how you meet this person.
God commands Christians to marry other Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14). As long as this is your goal, there is nothing wrong with using online dating.
#2: Don’t Use Online Dating If You Lack Discretion
While online dating is not a sin, there are many dangers to online dating for Christian singles. Social media is so tempting to misuse because it is so easy to portray ourselves however we want. We can take the perfect picture, phrase our sentences just right, and reveal only the most flattering information about ourselves.
So if you decide to give online dating a chance, you have to know yourself. Are you easily wowed and gullible? Do you really think everyone online is there with good intentions?
If you know you have a history of picking guys who are handsome over honoring, rich over respectful, or charismatic over Christ-centered, then you need to be very careful online dating. If you are a guy who instantly maxes out the credit cards when a pretty girl gives you attention, again, you need to be extra cautious when mingling online.
Be honest. If you lack discretion, if you are not known for your discernment, or if you are easily wowed by surface information, then online dating might not be for you. If nothing else, at least ask a friend to keep you accountable as you search for a godly spouse online.
#3: Be Transparent With Someone You Trust When Trying Online Dating
Online dating is a pretty bold move. You are making a serious step forward in being very active and not passive in your hopes to find a spouse. The danger here is that once you start pressing forward, you might press forward too hard and compromise since you want to find a Christian spouse so bad.
This is where Christian accountability will really benefit you. Don’t be a closet online dater. You don’t have to broadcast it to the world. I know online dating might be embarrassing for some (even though it shouldn’t be). But make sure you include other Christians in this process who you respect. Bounce ideas off of them. Let them do some searching too on your behalf.
Also, this is just a good safety tip. If you are going to meet someone you met online for the first time, it’s not a bad idea to bring a friend along. If the person you are dating is solid, he (or she) will respect your concern for safety and appreciate the effort you are putting in to find a solid spouse. At minimum, tell other people who you are going to meet and where you are meeting them.
#4: Be Serious in Your Search, But Don’t Take Each Date Too Seriously
Dating is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s unavoidable. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you not to get emotional. I know that is impossible to do perfectly. And quite frankly, this is a serious thing. Trying to find the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with is no small matter.
With all that said, you are going to wear yourself out if you take each date too seriously. Do your best to keep calm, have fun, and don’t over think it. Just go on a date and enjoy it for what it is . . . a date.
Will you probably jump way ahead in your mind, imagining if this person will make a good dad to your 3 children named Heather, Austin, and Frank? Probably. But then come back to reality and live with realistic expectations. You are probably not going to meet your future husband or wife on the first date or two you go on when you begin online dating.
Try to enjoy each date for what it is. It’s okay if you don’t go on another date with that person. It’s all a part of the process.
#5: Don’t View Each Date as Pass or Fail
I believe the intention behind dating should be to find a spouse. If you are dating people just to have fun or fill some emotional need in yourself, that’s not healthy and will definitely lead you into sin. There’s enough temptation to overcome in your life. So you don’t need to become emotionally or physically involved with someone you know you are not going to marry.
Having said that, there are still beneficial parts to dating even if that specific relationship does not result in marriage. Don’t date people you know you won’t marry. But also know you are probably not going to marry the first, second, or third person you date.
Dating people enhances your character. It increases your discernment. It refines what qualities you really care about in another person. Dating people will force you to realize things about yourself you would otherwise never have learned. It can prepare you to become the person you need to be to thrive when you finally do meet your future spouse. If done right, the dating process (including online dating) should enhance your ability to walk with God and follow his leading.
So don’t view each dating relationship as pass or fail depending on if you marry that person or not. Learn what God wants you to learn through each date.
#6: Don’t Forget the True Goal of Dating/Online Dating
The most important goal of dating is to figure out if this person is your future spouse. If the relationship ends, you accomplished the goal of dating because you’ve learned this person is not the one for you. It might seem like a waste of time if you dated someone and then broke up; but if through dating this person you learned he or she is not your future spouse, then you did not waste your time.
Wasting your time in dating only happens when you continue to date someone even after you know for certain you are not going to marry him or her. How long should you date someone? You should date them as long as you need to help you know for certain that God wants you to marry him or her. For some this is a few months. For others this is a few years.
I believe each relationship really is different. But if I had to put a number on it, I personally think a healthy dating season is around a year or two. You want to give yourself enough time to really get to know this person. But you also don’t want to wait too long since the temptation will be to act like your married when you’re not (emotionally, sexually, and etcetera).
You’ll have to walk with God on deciding how long you should date someone before you marry him or her. Just remember the true goal of dating, which is to decide whether this person is the one you want to marry or not. Once you’ve decided that, the dating relationship eventually needs to end either through breaking up or through getting engaged.
#7: Use Online Dating When Traditional Dating Is Not Working
I think traditional dating should be your first option. It’s more ideal to sit down with a real person and get to know someone. It’s just more practical to become friends with someone through common interests, environments, or community groups. But if these traditional means are not working, it might be time to give online dating a chance.
For example, if you are nineteen and want to be married, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I know plenty of nineteen-year-olds who are mature enough to get married. Will they have trouble? Yeah, but everyone has trouble in marriage. Trouble can happen at any age. But I digress. My point is that if you are nineteen, you probably don’t need to online date. You have time.
If, for example, however, you are passed your twenties and you haven’t been on a date in years but you want to be married, it’s time to try something different. If you don’t feel God is leading you to online date, then don’t. But you need to be realistic. The older you get, the less options you will have. If you are a bit older but still have plenty of great dating options because of your church, your community, or your very “thoughtful” friends, then you probably don’t need to online date.
In short, if what you’ve been doing is not working and you want to find a Christian spouse, give online dating a chance. I can’t promise you it will work. But at least you won’t have to wonder if you’ve done all you can do.
Online dating is not a sin. God doesn’t feel negatively about online dating. The Bible does not condemn things like online dating. God is still sovereign over your relational life no matter what course you take to meet your spouse. Even if you try online dating, it’s not like you need to trust God any less than you would if you were trying traditional dating.
Walk with God, be biblically grounded, and stay focused on the real goals of dating. Put Christ first. If you do these things, online dating might really benefit you.