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Ask A Pastor: Are Dating Apps Sinful?

Question

If you go on dating sites or apps is that wrong? If it is wrong, what is the explanation? Is there such thing as a good Christian dating site? If there is, which one would you recommend? Or what other recommendations would you suggest for men and women from other churches to get to know each other? Any other thoughts, tips, suggestions, or encouragement on this topic?


Answer

First, using most online dating sites would indeed be foolish and sinful. It is well-known that most sites are used by disreputable people and contain inappropriate content. There are many accounts of their use leading to immorality or even victimization. Though some on these sites may represent themselves as Christians, even that “status” could easily be used for deceptive purposes. The vast majority of online dating platforms should be completely avoided. They are a recipe for unequal yoking. (2 Corinthians 6:14)


Second, building a network of genuine face-to-face friendships is a better starting point for building relationships. Do not start with finding a mate as a main motive. Start with the right motive of serving the Lord, then look for opportunities to volunteer in church, community, or missions. Attend Christian conferences and events, visit various churches, and work at being a good listener and a friend. You might also want to consider travel, even with a group of friends, to other regions where there are Reformed churches in order to expand your network of contacts. Start by prayerfully building friendships with all kinds of people in various stages of life, including become friends with older folks, widows, and orphan.(James 1:27)  Some older folks even have grandchildren, or perhaps nieces and nephews, that look up to them!  Work on conversational skills, and be prepared for some awkward moments. For some people, fear of failure keeps them from building relationships.  For some others, talking too much and listening too little can lead to awkwardness. Pray for balance, and learn to serve others.  “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Third, I do know a number of couples that met through Christian dating sites, and who have been very blessed in their marriages.  There can come a point where due to your geographic location, or simply running out of options, that it could be helpful to use these means. One challenge is that Christian dating sites may lose their “respectability” over time.  Once they become known as a place where upstanding Christians develop meaningful relationships, they may tend to attract a broader and less principled crowd.  I would hesitate to recommend specific sites, having heard that some are not what they once were. If you were to use a Christian dating site, make sure it values good doctrine, Church membership, and accountability.  This will allow you to build a relationship over time with other people that know him or her well. Though a Christian dating site or social network could open a door, that door would hopefully lead to a relationship that grew in the covenantal context of church accountability.


Finally, remember to first seek the Lord’s guidance in these matters. Begin with confession of sin, repentance for wrong motives, and looking to Christ. Those that are not secure in their relationship with the Lord will not be ready for a fruitful relationship. Covetousness for a different state of life might come across subtly in a sense of desperation, nervousness, or being coldly withdrawn. Superficial use of dating websites could be a crutch that fails to help develop character.  Also consider that the Lord in his mysterious providence does call some Christians to be single, and that though this is a uniquely challenging calling, there are some that it is best for. (1 Corinthians 7:8)  Embracing the possibility that singleness may be your calling could help smooth out the emotional roller-coasters of trying to build relationships. Pray that you will learn to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  – Philippians 4:11–13


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