Should Christians use Tinder?
A glimpse into the world of online dating
I’m sure you’ve heard of Tinder. You’ve either heard a horror story on TV, or a success story from a friend of a friend. But, in case you don’t quite understand how it works, here’s a little tutorial.
It has generated more than 9 billion matches to date. The median age is 26 years old.
Tinder is an app that uses your GPS location to find potential romantic matches near your location. After creating your own profile page with a photo, you are shown potential matches and if you’re not interested, you swipe their photo to the left. If they take your fancy, you “swipe right.” If they also swipe right on your photo, then bingo – it’s a match and you can start messaging.
It was launched in 2012, and in 2016 had 9 million monthly users, going upwards. It has generated more than 9 BILLION matches to date. The median age is 26 years old. It is by far, the most popular dating app, with the second most popular app based on numbers being ‘OKCupid,’ with 2.5 million monthly active users; significantly less than Tinder.
It is now more widely known and accepted as a dating service rather than a ‘hookup’ service.
Before moving on, I feel it’s important to clear up a common misconception some readers might share: Tinder isn’t just for casual sex. It did initially have that reputation, but that stigma is reducing and the app has evolved to become much more of a general dating app, branching out and providing more services. It is now more widely known and accepted as a dating service rather than a ‘hookup’ service.
But why use Tinder when there’s plenty of Christian dating sites?
It’s not like I don’t want to meet a great Christian man in real life! I am a 29-year-old single woman who’s been around Christian circles as long as I can remember, and I’ve dated some great Christian guys. But I can tell you that as the clock ticks it’s becoming increasingly hard to meet single Christian guys at church, or in my social circles. By the late twenties they’re all already married! And if not already married, they’re engaged, or in a relationship. So I’ve also tried out the Christian dating sites, and well….they’re a bit naff to be honest.
I’m a millennial, and millennials like progressive things, and the truth is that I want to use something a bit more socially progressive than Christian Connection or Christian Mingle, and that means Tinder. So a few months ago, I decided to give it a go. (Read on to find out if I’m still using it)
Curiosity sparked and I ended up engaging in conversations with quite a few unbelievers.
On my personal bio, I explicitly stated that I’m a Christian, looking to meet another Christian. But this didn’t stop guys from all sorts of religious backgrounds and walks of life from contacting me.
Curiosity sparked and I ended up engaging in conversations with quite a few unbelievers. There were some lovely guys that I spoke to, and even met up with for dates, but upon finding out that they weren’t Christian, with no intention of ever becoming one, I had decide how to proceed.
It got me thinking about a couple of things…
It’s not how you meet, but who.
In a podcast interview with US Preacher John Piper, a listener wrote in to ask him: “Is online Christian dating a good way to meet a future spouse if you don’t meet anyone through your church family?”
He suggests that the bottom line for a Christian is: will you only marry a believer?
Piper points out that the biblical issue isn’t how you meet, but who you actually marry. He suggests that the bottom line for a Christian is: will you only marry a believer? John Piper says that a Christian is not free to marry outside outside the Lord, and quotes 2 Corinthians 6:14 which says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
He says, “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 head to see the other person as a believer when he is not.”
I think this is a great point by Piper that we need to consider – WHO are you looking to meet?
If it’s about who you meet, where do you look?
Undoubtedly, out of 25 million active Tinder users, some of them will be Christian. I actually met two lovely Christian guys on there. So I know they’re out there. But, it was a very small percentage of the guys that I interacted with. The ratio would have been close to 2 out of 10.
Whilst they weren’t just looking for ‘casual sex’ – they’d definitely expect it inside of a relationship.
This meant that I was spending 80% of my interaction with unbelievers. I have nothing against unbelievers, but it’s a known fact that there are some significant lifestyle differences especially relating to premarital sex. Some of the men I spoke to made me feel like a commodity. Whilst they weren’t just looking for ‘casual sex’ – they’d definitely expect it inside of a relationship.
“If you play with fire, you’re bound to get burnt.”
So, if I were to proceed with going on dates with an unbeliever, I could end up compromising some beliefs that I hold quite dear. As the saying goes, “if you play with fire, you’re bound to get burnt.”
I’m not saying whether you should, or shouldn’t date an unbeliever, but – if you HAVE decided you want to only date a believer, then being on Tinder means you’re really playing with fire.
Is a secular dating app the wisest place to be looking for a partner?
It’s not a cure for loneliness
Interestingly, most online dating sites report that their busiest day of the year is the Sunday after New Years, when people are faced with the end of the holiday merriment and have to return to work. On Sunday January 3rd 2016, Tinder experienced the most downloads and the most growth of active users in a single day. Is this saying something about what’s driving people to use the app?
“Congratulations! You have a new match”.
Just like other social media platforms, Tinder is very accessible, and can quickly become highly addictive. I found myself checking it multiple times a day! There was something rewarding about getting a notification on my phone saying, “Congratulations! You have a new match”. You can immediately enter into a conversation with a complete stranger, with the only known thing in common that you both find each other attractive!
There’s something about being online that gives us confidence to say things we might not say in person, and so the conversations can progress and become deep quickly. You obviously have to establish a connection before proceeding with meeting them in person for a date, but this means you are divulging information about yourself very early and sometimes going much deeper than you should. I just don’t know if it’s healthy.
It’s not an alternative to God’s Sovereignty
It’s easy to convince yourself that you trust God, but then be doing everything you can to make things happen.
I’m a proactive, ‘go-getter’ type person and so I’ve convinced myself that I should at least be doing everything in my own power to get out there and find a relationship. It doesn’t sound bad at surface level, but deep down I think I didn’t really trust God. It’s easy to convince yourself that you trust God, but then be doing everything you can to make things happen.
“The problem is that most of us aren’t willing to leave the pen in his hands.”
I think deep down we need to really ask ourselves if we trust God. In an article called, “Is Online Dating for Christians?” popular author and speaker on the topic of singleness, Leslie Ludy said this: “It’s true that you might find a decent partner by reading books on how to get noticed or by joining an Internet dating service. But what amazing heaven-scripted beauty we forgo when we try to write the story ourselves. God is in the business of writing incredible love stories. The problem is that most of us aren’t willing to leave the pen in his hands.”
Leslie’s words struck a chord with me. In the deepest part of my being, I want to leave the ‘pen in his hands’ and have God write me an incredible love story, and somehow, I don’t think that story involves Tinder.