Divine Intervention: The pros and cons of cyberspace dating
- Created on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 15:51
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:50
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"Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...Amen".
Being rather new to computers, a few years ago I was taught the basics and began searching the information highway - previously unchartered waters. I approached the World Wide Web with nervous excitement. Having been warned of the dangers of the internet, (which I still watch and pray about every day), I investigated various search engines.
Click! Through cyberspace navigating I came across various ads for "Christian" dating or "meet and greet" websites. I paid a fee and began to browse many profiles with a particular "Christian" service. Over time I discovered a number of familiar faces. Sadly many of them were sisters and brothers in the Lord who had the same foundation as I had - and yet some (not all) were willing to compromise in their search for a mate by corresponding with unbelievers. Many as well had subscribed to other sites searching for that elusive spouse. I came to realize that these websites, though "Christian" in name, were not necessarily so in content and purpose. Not that it is "wrong" to correspond with unbelievers, but the Bible clearly states that we should not be "unequally yoked" (2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1). As a result I had a lot of online correspondence with those I knew on the site warning them to be discerning (test the spirits) and not trust every site or person who claimed to be "Christian".
During my time on the site I met a dear sister in the Lord. Over time our correspondence and encouragement continued until one day she informed me that the Lord had led her to someone else, another brother in the Lord that she had begun to court. Later I received a wedding invitation from her. This was to be a Reformed wedding, a relationship built on the promises of God's infallible word. We still remain friends and she credits me for being used by the Lord to introduce her to the riches of the Reformed faith. And how rich they are!
In the mean time the Lord had begun to stir a brother in the Lord to create not only a truly Christian online singles website, but a Reformed Christian online website called Sovereign Grace Singles (SGS). Gradually, many friends who had been on the other sites switched to this Reformed website as well. I decided to try it out, and I'm very thankful to the person who led me to it.
After a "failed" second online relationship, I became disillusioned with cyberspace and with "Christian" websites. Yet as I've said various times throughout my life, "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". And, perhaps for the first time, I took this prayer more seriously. Recalling someone's advice to surrender all of my desires to the Lord and his will, my approach changed. I decided to contact another sister on SGS. I didn't know at the time, but the Lord had also placed on her heart the same approach and attitude: wait on the Lord and let "His will be done." The decision was to give "cyberspace relationships" one more try. After sending a message I waited for a response. My expectations were low, meanwhile praying, "Your will be done". Two days later I received a reply.
Our correspondence became more frequent and in the Lord's sovereign grace and providence, we became a married couple, united as one in Christ. "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
Sovereign Grace Singles has served as a bridge for up to 67 couples at last count in the Reformed community, not to mention the many friendships that have been made and solidified. Does this mean that Reformed Christians cannot use other "Christian" or singles websites? If you do, be aware of the dangers. Some are willing to compromise and have either left the Reformed faith, or have been misled by those with whom they have taken up contact.
Some tips for those interested in internet relationships are as follows:
- Never presume anything, and when in doubt, ASK!
- Get to know his/her Pastor, Elders, Deacons.
- If possible see them in their natural environment and community.
- Ask for a character reference or referral.
- Take time to get to know your suitor's family, closest friends, congregation.
- When appropriate ask about how they handle their finances.
- Most of all, ask yourself serious questions. If it is a long distance relationship, am I prepared for long intervals apart? Am I prepared to be faithful, both mentally and physically?
My dear wife Robin would also like to make a few comments about her online experience, and long distance relationship.
I was initially skeptical about the whole online thing - until I saw that SGS was a smaller, more close knit and "safer" community and would be good to try even to just make friends. Then, Peter from Canada (it seemed so far at the time) wrote and I wondered what to do. I prayed about it, and thought to myself (with nudges from the Holy Spirit, I'm sure) is anything impossible for God? Maybe he wants me to go through this type of courting, rather than the type I had always imagined. I thought someone would just be "sent" my way and we could spend time in groups and get to know one another over a long period. Yet the Lord had something different in store!
Something about Peter was different. I wasn't afraid, although I was very cautious at first. We both enjoyed our correspondence together. With the proper prayer and caution, I don't think distance should prevent a relationship. But it is difficult, at the same time. Being apart between visits was hard, yet it forced us to really get to know one another through talking and not just going to movies together, or getting too physically involved (in fact Peter and I chose not to even kiss until our wedding day). We prayed regularly for one another, and trusted God to work out the immigration details as well. It was a lot to handle, but I wouldn't trade the whole experience, or having Peter as my husband now, for the world. I see how God led us through everything step by step. "Step by step" - I guess that's the key. Try not to feel rushed - and if a gentleman is rushing you, slow down and see if he'll wait or cool it a bit. That's what I did with Peter for a time, too. We both knew it was right when we felt the same after the "test."
So...are YOU considering looking for a mate online? First of all, make sure you have a right relation with God. Spend time praying and in the Word. Be involved in your local church. Do the work the Lord has given you for employment with all your heart. And pray. Wait on him and ask for healthy relationships. One of them - whether online or in the more traditional way - may just turn out to be a lifelong love, blessed by God and truly joyful.
A few books we'd recommend:
- I Isaac, take you Rebecca by Ravi Zacharias
- Passion and Purity: Learning to bring your life under Christ's control by Elisabeth Elliot.
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
- When God writes your Love Story by Leslie and Eric Ludy