Since many Christians today meet online, dating apps are a new normal. Online dating can be an excellent way to meet people who share your values, but dating apps don’t always approach relationships the same way eHarmony does.
Typically designed to be quick and easy to use, many of the most popular dating apps (such as Tinder) encourage face-value judgments based on little more than appearance and hobbies. This is not a wise way to go about relationships, particularly as a believer. That said, not all dating apps are created equal, and it’s possible to use the right ones in a God-honoring way.
Of the dozens of apps currently available, here are a few.
Tinder was initially created to echo the feel of Grindr, an app for gay and bisexual men. It’s primarily known for its use in hookup culture. As one article on dating apps described it, Tinder encourages “shallow, snap judgments about potential partners.” Swipe right for love, left for the trash can.
The concern with Tinder is threefold. First, it’s primarily based on visual judgments. You know very little about a person by their appearance alone, and judging someone by their face or body not only objectifies them, but also sets a relationship precedent that can easily veer into lust. Second, Tinder is not set up to help Christians find people who share their values; it’s a surface-level dating app. And finally, the kind of people who use Tinder are most likely NOT looking for a Christ-centered, lasting relationship, so if that’s what you’re looking for, Tinder is most likely not for you.
The draw of OkCupid is that it’s free. Because it started as a website, not an app, there are more options for your profile. This means more criteria to work with when perusing potential matches. Unfortunately, it also promotes casual sex and offers that option on the profile. While you don’t need to check that box, be aware that plenty of people WILL be using the site and app for that purpose.
Hinge starts out as a free app, but if you want more options, you can pay per month. Similar to Tinder, it offers a few more profile options—including religious preferences. This is important, since a date’s religious preferences tell you his general worldview toward life, family, work and sexuality.
Hinge uses your Facebook account to make match recommendations, so if you’re not comfortable looking for people you actually know, this one wouldn’t be for you.
Match.com, like eHarmony or ChristianMingle, is first a website and secondly an app. You’ll have a more extensive profile and more options for where to find matches (many dating apps use your Facebook account to show local matches, which limits you by location). Match requires a paid membership, but a paid membership usually means higher-quality matches and a more rigorous profile creation.
Why is a paid membership better? When we pay money for something, we tend to be more serious about it. App users who pay for their membership are probably serious about building a relationship with a fellow believer (since that is what you should be looking for). This makes higher-quality matches more likely in your search.
Despite the name, ChristianMingle is not Christian-owned. However, it provides dozens of options for filtering your preferences and specific beliefs. This is also a website-based app and requires a membership for full use. You can decide where in the country you are open to meeting matches.
I have personal experience with ChristianMingle (a short stint before I met my husband!) and have helped friends set up accounts since then. Though a little clunky as a site, the ability to create an exhaustive profile and expand your location makes it a great option for believers.
When using any dating website or app, attitude is important. Dating apps should not be used in desperation or to fulfill a need for dependency. Rather, they should only be used as a step of faith in God’s provision of a relationship if it is His timing. It may not be the right time—online or in “real life.” Start by aligning your heart with God’s. Then let Him lead you to the wisest decision, in dating or anything else.