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Should Christians Use Dating Apps?

by | Tue, Mar 3 2020

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Woman using dating app

Recently on our Facebook page, a Vision listener wrote about a woman who’d accessed a Christian dating app, and suffered sexual assault at the hands of men she thought were trustworthy. We put up a poll about Christian dating apps, and more than 70 per cent of respondents said they are “not safe”.

Wendy Francis is Queensland State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, and Director of the Centre for Human Dignity, uniting people against sexual exploitation. Talking to Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty program, Wendy pointed out that dating apps and websites almost all offer advice on avoiding getting into trouble or danger. “Obviously they’re aware that there’s a huge risk in what you’re doing.”

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One of their suggestions is that we don’t use our real names in our profiles, and there are good reasons for this. With enough information, predators can stalk you or even steal your identity. “But imagine that if you met somebody face to face, and you found out they weren’t using their real name. Immediately, you would feel suspicious, but in online dating, that’s what’s recommended.”

Man using dating app

As Francis points out, there’s a long history of predators targeting the Church for personal gain. The same is certainly true of Christian dating apps. “I also think that predatory person can see that the people in the Church, or people going on a dating site, perhaps may be more trusting, and they may even see them as more gullible.”

“If I’m meeting someone face to face, I don’t know straightaway whether they’re available or not. When you’re going on a dating app, every single person on that dating app is saying I’m available. So you know that this is somebody who’s looking for love, so you know you’ve got someone who’s vulnerable.”

Francis believes that here in Australia, and around the world, we’re facing a loneliness epidemic. According to Lifeline, 60 per cent of Australians frequently feel lonely, and 82 per cent of us believe loneliness is on the rise. “This is why I think these dating apps are becoming so popular, because people are lonely. We’re not meeting in the normal places as much as we’re used to.”

Couple on date with mobile phones

But of course loneliness isn’t a new thing, and as with all the problems we face, God has the remedy. In Psalm 68:6 (NKJV), David says that “God sets the solitary in families”. One listener called to describe a 94-year-old spinster, who despite never having married, has never felt lonely, thanks to her busy church life.

“Being single, in a church even, is a very lonely place, because your friends of the same age, they’re talking about their kids going to school, or whatever their husband is doing. And so our churches do need to do more I think.”

“But we sometimes wait for our church to do something, and I guess what inspires me about that ninety-odd-year-old woman is that she didn’t wait for other people to do something for her. She’s obviously gotten out and done it. And in doing that, she is blessed, but also a blessing to others. So the ultimate solution to loneliness is that God is with us, but I think Christian hospitality is a huge antidote to loneliness.”

So is it safe to use online dating apps, particularly Christian ones? Multiple listeners called in with happy stories about online dating, but we have to be wise and cautious. “If something looks too good to be true,” Francis said, “it probably is.”

She warns that there are countless instances of people using false photos and identities to lure unsuspecting people, so it’s important to verify that the person you’re talking to is real. If a Facebook profile is newly created, or has few friends, that’s a bad sign. You can now use a “reverse Google image search” to see whether a photo exists anywhere else online. If this search shows that someone’s profile picture is actually of someone else, stay well clear.

There’s still a lot of shame, especially within the church, around online dating. But Francis wants us to resist the temptation to hide what we’re doing. “Your safety is what is really paramount in this situation, and secrecy only adds to the danger of a dating app. So right from the very start, tell your friends about the online relationship that you’re developing.”

She points out that the people who care about us are our best sounding board, to see whether what we believe is a new romance is really genuine. “They’re the best ones to be saying ‘hang on a minute, that’s a bit odd’. They’re the ones who would help you. They’re a little bit removed from the situation. Then, as it develops, and something might go wrong, you’ve got people to go back to as well.”

Listen to Neil Johnson’s conversation with Wendy Francis below for much more advice on online dating, as well as stories from listeners about their own experiences.

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Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times and more interviews.

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