A podcast listener named Nathan writes in to ask, “Is online Christian dating a good way to meet a future spouse if you don’t meet anyone through your church family?”
The biblical issue here is not how you meet, but whom you marry. Let’s just get this clear and then I will circle around to the other part.
Marriage in the Lord
“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). So, a Christian is not free to marry outside the Lord. Or 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Biblically, the bottom line for the follower of Christ is this: Will you marry only a believer?
“The biblical issue here is not how you meet, but whom you marry.”
What saddens me is how many believers get so entangled emotionally with unbelievers that they either throw away their convictions or they stand on their heads to see the other person as a believer when he or she is not. So, let me make it a little more precise. A mature believer will want his or her spouse not just to profess some creed or be willing to go to church. What they will want is not just a marriage that is minimally Christian, but a Christian marriage. And a Christian marriage is described like this in Ephesians 5:22–24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Now what this means is a Christian woman won’t look for a man who just has a cross tattooed on his shoulder, but a man who is ready to die daily in the sacrificial calling of leading a home. “Love as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” And a Christian man won’t look for a woman who just wears a cross around her neck, but one who is willing to die as she submits to his leadership in reliance upon Christ. Both husband and wife are engaged in constant self-denial as they live out the beauty of the Christian marriage.
Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). The Christian man or woman who wants to marry a follower of Jesus must look for a spouse who has learned what it is to die to self in allegiance to Jesus.
Marriage and the Internet
Now, back to the Internet. You are circling around. If you know what you are looking for the way I have tried to describe it, I would think you could rule out a lot of losers by using the Internet. It won’t take long to learn from Facebook and Twitter and blogs if this man or woman is passionate for Jesus or if Jesus is an incidental mark on the shoulder or a trinket around the neck.
“It won’t take long to learn if a man or woman is passionate for Jesus.”
Then, if contact follows, there are great questions to ask. And I wrote down fifty of them — questions couples should ask — the kinds of things that really reveal what people are committed to. And they can be asked on the Internet before you even meet.
So, here is my answer: I am fine with meeting someone online and learning as much as possible about them. I have recently met numerous couples who said they met online, and they are happily married. They are both mature Christians. I have zero problem with that. The great question is this: Are you mature enough to discern a worthy spouse? Put your energies into becoming that kind of person.