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CULTURAL NEWS
Can True Love Be Found Online?
11 July 2005

It’s summer, and we are in the thick of wedding season. It’s time for joy, flowers, caterers, something borrowed, and something blue. Do you feel the love?

I guess not. In the midst of all this wedded bliss, you’re just trying to avoid your newly engaged friend and sparing yourself a six-hour conversation about the difference between egg white and winter white.

Maybe it was getting that last wedding invitation of a college friend or browsing through Bed, Bath & Beyond with a gift registry full of expensive silverware. Somehow, you can’t help but feel a little left out.

Let’s be honest. Growing up, you always took for granted you’d be married by now. It didn’t seem like rocket science. Some of your less-coordinated friends have managed to do it. Couldn’t be that hard.

So you got a house, a car, a degree, a job, did some traveling, and built yourself into somebody rather enviable. But one thing today’s singles are finding out is that there is one thing in life you can’t work for, be good enough for, or accomplish through any persistence of your own. You can’t make love happen; it just does.

Or does it?

Today, singles all over the world are kissing fate goodbye and looking for love online.

This is hardly a new phenomenon. Online dating has been around as long as the Web made it possible for two people to communicate. Now, millions log on everyday to search through profiles and photos of total strangers, hoping to find that special someone.

Of course as long as there has been online dating, there has been a stigma attached to it. Five years ago, had anyone told you, “We met online”, you may have tried to stifle one or possibly all of the following:

A giggle
An awkward smile
A look of shame

It was the equivalent of saying, “I’m desperate, and the ticking of my biological clock keeps me up at night.”

However today, with the bombardment of television ads and word-of-mouth praise, online daters are coming out of the closet. And no one is more into the trend than Christians.

I didn’t believe it until I began researching for this article. I took a random, informal survey of several graduate school students, encouraging them to share their thoughts on dating online. First came the cynics:

“Personally, I would not use it. I believe nothing is impossible for God and no matter how probable or improbable it is for me to meet someone in my given circumstances, God can do all things… I feel it would be irreverent to not include God in the mate selection process.”

“I'm a single skeptic, emphasis on skeptic! It’s very ironic because I am very tech-forward! I conduct most business online but somehow I don't trust online dating...seems like people can camouflage their issues if they can hide behind e-mail. Plus, you can tell all kinds of tall tales unchallenged [and] unchecked...heck, sometimes it’s hard enough to tell when people are fibbing to your face!”

“I am single, but I would never consider an online dating service. In my opinion it is a sign of desperation and could be very dangerous as well.”

… and this was just the printable stuff. I was almost convinced this was a practice only for the lonely and sexually deviant.

Then the testimonies poured in:

“I will be celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary. It was truly the most romantic mind-blowing experience that I have ever had… We were matched and actually spent hours e-mailing and talking on the phone. It was wonderful. I did not believe in soul mates until I met him.”

“I wouldn't have dared to dream of a man who knows instinctively when to put his arm around me, take my hand, or take me home when I'm exhausted. I'd always dreamed of a man who loved Jesus, wasn't afraid to show it, and would worship with me at church and home. I now have that. We are so grateful, and we remember to thank God for bringing us together… God saved each of us for the other.”

“We talked for about six months via e-mail before we ever moved to talking on the phone. After a while of talking on the phone, we knew we had deep feelings for each other. Eventually, we decided to meet, and there was no turning back. It will be two years since we met the first time, and we just married.”

Who knew this was the new hip way to get hitched? I received email after email from happy couples. Apparently, there is something special to be found online for the single heart that chooses to look there.

As popular as this is becoming, e-love still begs a few questions:

Where Does God Factor?
All good little Christian boys and girls are taught that God will bring you your future mate. This passive approach to life is especially impressed upon us women. It’s “he who findeth a wife” after all. We’re not supposed to be actively looking. It’s a sign that we don’t trust God.

In response to this, a friend of mine told me, “Look, you hire an agent when you buy a house; you have an advisor to help you choose courses in college. Why not have someone help you find the love of your life?” He had a point. Why have we been leaving the most important decision of our lives up to chance?

When asked, many of my happy couples said that God led them to the Internet, and they know that it was His guidance that brought them together in this non-traditional sense. It makes sense since He is a non-traditional God.

What If He/She Is a Psychopath?
Another concern is the perceived increased chance of meeting someone crazy, transgendered, socially inept or worst yet… married.

It’s certainly valid. The anonymous nature of conversing online is like a call to the weirdos of the world to come out and play.

The good online services have methods to minimize your contact with these types of people. Extensive questionnaires, private chats with usernames, and in-depth personality profiles are now common features on the leading matchmaking services.

Some of these test results are surprisingly insightful. The process of finding someone could actually help you find yourself.

Go with sites recommended by friends who have used them. With the right service, meeting someone online is no more risky than meeting someone at Starbucks.

Whatever Happened To Romance?
Your eyes meet from across the room. You reluctantly go on a blind date only to be enchanted by a stranger. He grabs your soy latte by mistake. You laugh, you talk, you marry two years later.

We all have our fantasies about that first magical meeting. I doubt any of us envisioned beginning our love story with “I logged on and liked his profile so I sent him an ‘ice-breaker’.” Not romantic.

Of course, if we really think about it, many events in our lives haven’t gone according to plan… and maybe for good reason. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” One thing that makes God God is that He doesn’t have to follow our roadmap. That’s a good thing. Which would you rather have: a life designed by Someone who’s omnipotent and omnipresent or by you, a vapor who still can’t solve a rubix cube?

Life is full of surprises, and it would be quite tragic if you missed out on someone great because he or she didn’t arrive the way you expected.

There are a lot of good reasons to stop envying the bride and groom and go find your own wedded bliss on the Web. But the most important thing is to listen to the Lord. What is He saying about your future spouse? Pray. We must, above all else, seek His will for our lives.

It is easy to let the feelings of being left out of love cloud our thinking. Free your mind to the possibilities. Whether it happens in the aisle of a bookstore, the counter at a coffeehouse, or in cyberspace, there’s nothing wrong with holding out for the fairy tale.

By Jennifer Jones - CBN Music Producer


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