Culture. Say this word to Christians and it’s bound to bring up a bunch of ideas of things like compromise, losing religion, and other fear-based beliefs. And that’s not completely unfounded. A lot of what happens in so-called modern culture is a bit of a travesty to our faith. Plus, the Bible does tell us to “not be conformed” to this world (Romans 12:2). However, there are ways in which we can work within the culture we’re part of to make an impact. Not everything “modern” or that introduces change into our lives is inherently bad. That being said, there are some areas where we as Christians are conforming to modern culture in ways that are unfortunate.

Modern Dating Culture and Christianity
One area where Christians have conformed to culture in a less than positive way is in modern dating. Let me just say this plainly–modern dating culture is trash. Why? Well, let’s see… Thanks to the onslaught of dating apps, people can make snap decisions about others based on their face alone. There is an endless supply of new people, making it easy to ditch someone when the relationship starts to become work and there’s no real accountability, so it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of using people like commodities and moving on to the next person before there are any consequences for actions.

Those of us looking for a real relationship (and as Christians, this should be all of us if we’re bothering to date at all) get stuck in this cycle of getting thrown away for the next best thing. Some spend a little too long on the apps and become just like the world– swiping mindlessly and not connecting with anyone in particular. And some have become so jaded they lose all hope for finding a godly partner.

Someone recently admitted to me that he doesn’t know if he can actually have a healthy relationship after being on the apps for so long. This is not a rare case! This is modern dating culture and it has infiltrated the church.

How Do We Make a Difference?
It’s one thing to complain about this phenomenon, but what can we do to change it? I have three suggestions for dating Christians who want to find ways to work within the modern dating culture of apps, but without getting sucked into the dark side. 

Read profiles before swiping
Yes, that sounds like a no-brainer for those who maybe haven’t been immersed in this culture, but it can become very simple to swipe on faces with no consideration for the person behind the photo. What is this person saying about themselves? Do they mention their faith at all? Think about this person as someone made in God’s image, and you’ll be less likely to make snap judgments or treat them like an item for sale. 

Only match with one person at a time (2-3 at most)
It’s really easy to just match with a ton of people and have surface level conversations that turn into glorified penpal relationships. What’s not as easy is actually putting in the effort to get to know someone. I am of the mindset that it’s better to talk to one person, figure out if there’s compatibility, and then move on to someone else if it’s not a fit (letting this person know of course). I know there are a lot of dating coaches who would disagree with me, but I believe that “keeping my options open” and not focusing on someone and giving them my time and attention prolongs the idea that people are commodities. 

Meet in person
Texting is fun and all, but it’s not the greatest way to get to know someone new. It’s also really easy to hide things, continue conversations with several people, or be someone you’re really not through text alone. Instead, try to meet someone fairly quickly to assess whether there’s a good reason to continue talking.

How to Relate to Friends Who are Dating
If you’re not someone actively dating, you probably know someone who is. And, if you’ve been married for a while it might feel like good advice to tell others how you met your spouse and to talk the apps down because hey, you never had to use them, right? 

Let me assure you, the culture today has changed dating for everyone. Trust me. I come to this world of dating after the devastating end of a 14-year marriage. I never thought I’d be dating again. I never wanted to be dating again. When those who are looking for partners today tell you that it’s nothing like when you met your high-school sweetheart, trust them. It’s the truth. I truly believe God can use the apps and every other resource available to us in modern culture to bring about His will, but things are different now. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. 

The best way to relate to your friends who are dating is to be supportive of their journey. You may not have experienced what it feels like to be ghosted after meeting someone for coffee, or to have someone randomly unmatch with you for what feels like no reason, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have empathy for their situation. Point them to Jesus without judgment for the path they’re on, and of course, if you happen to know a single person that might be a good fit for them, ask if you can introduce them! 

Modern Dating Culture is Not All Bad
Things might seem bad right now, but not every change is evil. When it comes to dating apps, there are some pretty awesome factors as well. First of all, you have the opportunity to meet people outside your specific sphere of influence. You can even meet people all over the world should you choose. Thanks to dating app profiles, it’s easy for someone to make it clear that their faith is important to them (which is not something you’ll know instantly if you meet in a coffee shop or a store). 

As Christians, we know that ultimately, dating is for the purpose of finding a spouse and that marriage should be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. If we keep this in mind as we search for love, it should help us focus on the right things and realize that while there might be a lot of dating games being played, and people using the apps more as a form of entertainment than engaging in real relationships, modern dating culture doesn’t have to be something we fear. God can bring us to the right person at the right time, no matter what time in history we’re looking.

 

Photo from Chad Madden on Unsplash

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