Rule #1: Ladies, if they are not willing to Snapchat or FaceTime, it’s a no-go.
I do not know why the thought of promiscuity prompted me to attempt to tackle the hook-up culture of online dating. What in the world was I thinking when I thought I could talk knowledgably about any of it?
But as I engaged in conversation with a co-worker and did some research about online dating, it became a little clearer.
The first thing I noticed about the design of online dating platforms is the emphasis they place on that first visual impression. We randomly look at pictures that pop up and can swipe left or right on any individual. Have we fallen that far, judging whether people are worthy of us based solely on their looks? Then there are those individual messages that can go from PG to X-rated in the blink of an eye. Listen, if you would slap someone for commenting inappropriately on your anatomy in person, then why would you throw up a silly face or “lol” online? What we tolerate or accept in those kinds of messages creates a perception of us we may not want. There can be a casualness to discussing sexual topics at the drop of a dime. And my favorite is the cutting and pasting of the same message to as many people as possible just for the sake of increasing the odds of a response.
I’m not trying to call out any specific sites, but online dating can be like throwing a fishing pole into the water to see how many fish you can hook and then deciding to release everything but the best one(s). I do not know about anyone else out there, but my purpose is bigger than being someone’s prize bass.
Now in all practicality, if you are currently single, online dating is most likely going to be a reality or a potential option at some point in your life. I think the main thing in online dating is to see it as an extension of regular dating. And whether you meet someone online, through mutual friends, or in person in general, there are going to be some ‘happily ever afters’ and some real horror stories.
Since Christ and I began our world wind romance, I have not really braved the subject of dating. However, my questions are simple: “How does a single Christian woman date? Where do we fit in?” In asking those questions, I felt God remind me that we are not supposed to conform to what the world is doing.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:12 NKJV
Friends, we are called to be transformed. We have the privilege to become new creatures. Even though we have a past, we don’t have to repeat anything in it. We have the free will to choose not to settle for less than what we deserve.
Our culture has fallen so far from what God intended when He created man and woman. Woman was created to be the man’s helpmate. Somehow we have taken the original meaning of “helpmate” and turned it into this notion of meaning “subservient or less than.” But the Spirit reminded me that anything one needs help with means you are unable to do it on your own –you need the help of another.
When God created us, He gave us the ability to have unity with one another as we join one to another. The enemy has attempted to cheapen it. He created the notion that we should sample, test drive, rent-a-person before we make a commitment. When we look at the animal kingdom, the male of the species can readily identify when the female is ready to mate by instinct. But humans were made differently. We were designed to have to have relationship and to make an investment in one another prior to sex or procreation.
Now quick note on attraction. I do think as Christians we tend to minimize the importance of attraction fearing we are falling into lust. But the Holy Spirit has told me that while not the most important thing, it is important. God is proud of His handy work and He wants us to appreciate the time and talent He took to make each of us, but He doesn’t want us to go overboard in that area.
So, let’s back up just a minute because the two biggest factors in developing a relationship with someone else is you and God.
Let’s start with ourselves first. I love a good meme, and a recent one I saw asked: “Would you date you? And don’t just say ‘yes’ because it’s you.”
Before beginning the journey of dating, I think there are a few questions that we need to consider about ourselves. If you think about it, in this whole wide world, God only created one of you!
First, ask yourself what problem you are responsible for solving in the world (a.k.a. what is your purpose?). Next, do a self-assessment to recognize your value, uniqueness, assets, and weaknesses. After that, then move into what your goal is for dating. What is your end game? Answering that last question will help guide you in your approach to dating and how successful you are in finding the right relationship.
Maybe you just want to see who is out there. Maybe you genuinely want to get to know more people. Maybe you want to have the title of “Mrs.” Maybe you are out there trying to help your God-appointed helpmate to find you!
I think a lot of us start the journey of dating not clearly understanding the questions or answers above.
In the end, however, God should have the final say, so be open and pliable to His will. Many times, we have our heart set on someone that is not in His plan, so we try to convince God that our choice is better. Sometimes He protects us from our choices and sometimes He lets us learn from the consequences of those choices.
In that regard, I think it is important to understand the difference between rules, standards, and criteria. Often, the lines become blurred on what each means and sometimes we interchange them. Here is how I would explain them. God the Father provides the rules we should live by, Jesus shows us the standard in which to live by those rules, and the Holy Spirit keeps us aware of the overall criteria of living in God’s will.
I think this type of outline is better to follow versus trying to follow a list of things that need to be checked off. The enemy does not play fair and will often attempt to deceive us by showing up with something or someone who seems to check all the boxes.
God’s rules for us in the area of developing relationships are not hard to understand like some of the rules in Leviticus. They simply help guide us to select our helpmate based off of God’s nature instead of physical attributes or material standards set by the world. Jesus shows us how we should be related to and how we should relate to others. How do we or the other person handle our/their emotions? How do we or the other person see ourselves, and how do we both treat others? Compatibility in these areas matter. Connecting with the Holy Spirit will help you stay focused on your specific purpose and assist you with finding the person who will support that purpose the best (as well as you supporting theirs).
For far too long, society and the Church have been quick to assign the value of a woman to the roles of wife and mother. We almost automatically adopt them as life goals and begin the process of dating. The problem is not with being either of those two things. The problem is the cost we pay to obtain those statuses and what we lose in the process. From elementary school valentines, to middle school crushes, to high school sweethearts, we have been told what love is and what relationships should look like.
Unfortunately, for most of us, God has either never been our first love or we have allowed ourselves to veer away from Him as our first love. We need God’s love before all else when venturing into the world of dating. We need to strive to keep Him at the center of our hearts whether we date in person or online. And with that we need to have love for ourselves as His daughters. When we lack either, we may choose incorrectly and miss out on that special someone God has picked out for us!
I pray for your success in dating – whether online or not!
Written by Katrina Hodges
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.