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Religion and romance don't often mix easily.
Although Christian dating continues to expand as a niche online matchmaking sector, there remains conflict in different faith groups about whether digital dating meets with the morals and ethics of religious doctrines.
However, marriage, family life, and love are vital fundamentals of Christianity - so it's less about whether dating - as a construct - is 'wrong', and more about how contemporary dating might jar with traditional Christian values.
That said, the Internet can be a power for good as well as bad.
Particularly this year, during a global pandemic that has brought with it economic chaos, hundreds of thousands of deaths and a significant impact on daily lives, digital worship has been a lifeline to Christian communities unable to meet as they usually would.
Let's look at online dating, what Christian dating does differently from the mainstream, and whether faithful followers can enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, without questioning how it aligns with their core beliefs.
In a word, I'd say no. As a little bit of background, I grew up in a Catholic family but attended a Baptist church (since it was all that was available in my area of the city!).
I attended a Catholic convent school, got married in a C of E church, and my daughter attended a Christian nursery school.
Although that's a smattering of churches and denominations, I think it does give me a broad oversight as to how different faith groups view modern romance, and what it's like growing up as a teenager in a faithful household - but still wanting to enjoy the excitement and freedoms of youth!
In the Christian Church, we view God as our father, and yes, it can seem uncomfortable to think that He has a plan for us that involves dating, marriage and sex.
Yet, these things are all as crucial to our health, societal values and relationships as any other - and being Christian, or indeed of any faith, doesn't mean you experience emotions any differently from anybody else!
In my opinion, it works like this:
So, in my view, going online isn't bucking Christian values. You're not signing up to a casual hookup site, throwing your belief system out of the window, or behaving in a way that would be frowned on in Church.
Instead, you are being proactive about finding a life partner, using the tools and resources that we are all fortunate enough to have at our disposal in the modern era.
We're all encouraged to be active members of our Church communities - attending clubs or social occasions, gathering together and sharing our challenges.
Likewise, Christian dating is exactly the same type of community; but spread over a wider geographical area. For my money, it's no different at all than meeting a date through the Church!
On the flip side, it's essential to acknowledge that my opinion is just that - my personal opinion. Some Reverends, Priests and Vicars might have very contrasting views, and if you're thinking about looking for love online, it's worth having a well-rounded opinion.
Here's the opposing argument:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5 - 6.
This bible verse tells us that we should trust God's timing, and believe that the right person for us will come along according to God's plan.
For me, that doesn't quite mean avoiding an opportunity to meet like-minded people.
It means that we trust that if we feel excited about meeting a partner, and have the option of joining a digital Christian community, we have come across the plan - and should grasp it with open arms.
It's also worth considering vital factors outside of your faith:
Online dating, therefore, is a tool. It means that you can expand your social circle instantly, and harness the power of digital communication to meet people you'd never have come across in your everyday life.
If you are Christian, single, and looking for a partner, I'd say online Christian dating websites are the way to go. The community is supportive, friendly, and welcoming, and you'll only come across members who share your faith, and will similarly be looking for their life partner.
Sitting at home and waiting for the perfect guy or girl to arrive on your doorstep? It's just wishful thinking.