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March/April 2006 Issue

FROM THE EDITOR:
Blind Dating Online
By Gail Reid

Online dating has become an effective way to meet people—but it requires spiritual discernment.

We hear such horror stories about people meeting over the Internet. Police are always warning parents to caution and protect their children from trusting online strangers who might be predators trolling for victims. We hear warnings that online chat rooms can be dangerous, that adults and children can be lured into dangerous relationships causing physical or financial harm. Though these incidents may be rare, the consequences are devastating. But what about Christian websites—are they safe?

Our Faith Today cover story explores the growing industry of Christian online dating. Most of you will be as surprised as I was by the number of Christians who not only use these websites for companionship but have succeeded in finding a spouse. The numbers of marriages forthcoming from Christian sites should modify our fearful prejudices toward Internet dating.

Of course, one would expect Christians to behave well in all circumstances if they are closely following Christ’s call. But does that make us more vulnerable when we use these sites?

I was reassured to learn that most Christian sites provide the opportunity for members to fill in a comprehensive faith profile and that they encourage a higher standard of behaviour. After viewing the profile questions, I realize it’s possible for someone to find out more from these profiles than you might know about the person sitting next to you in church. However, online there are few ways to ask for verification. Think of how often we ask others for information about a new person that we meet. On the Web, the challenge is different.

One manager built his website with these concerns in mind because he wanted to create a safe place to meet someone with whom he himself could communicate. He sought a safe place and solid boundaries that offered clues into a stranger’s personality and faith. In the end he created a very successful site—and found his wife.

More than blind dates, electronic dating forces one to look for other ways to assess people. It demands scrutiny of communications and a discernment that looks for consistency and validation of information. Most people interviewed for this story agreed that it requires adult maturity and the ability to keep your own longings in check.

Many of the Christians interviewed said they prayed about their communication and their contacts. Spiritual discernment is an important asset in any relationship but especially when the usual cues are limited.

While there are still sensible cautions to follow, the statistics show that Christian online dating has become a popular way to meet others who share beliefs and interests.

And why not? This really isn’t new—though the vehicle may be. For centuries people have sought out companionship and a mate in creative and new ways—often outside their own community. People have found them through travel, mail, club memberships and many other creative ways. The Web simply expands the possibilities. It means that one is no longer limited to their community or even their country.

Gail Reid is managing editor of Faith Today and director of communications for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Other Articles
Mar/Apr 2006 Issue

Cover Story
Meeting Christians Online: Does Internet Dating Really Work?

Beware of the Con Man

Featured Articles
Church, Conscience, Corruption and the Conservatives

Four Types of Canadian Voters

A Provocative Public Voice

How to Lose Weight and Gain a Congregation

From the Editor
Blind Dating Online

The Gathering Place
Have Evangelical Optics Changed?

Guest Column
Is Homelessness a Government Problem?

   
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