Sharon is a Melbourne artist, writer, storyteller, and recently also a plant curator as a result of covid-times. A former commercial property insurance underwriter, she now works for City Bible Forum whilst completing her Master of Divinity. Her colleagues at City Bible Forum are not-so-secretly envious of her ability to make everything look aesthetically pleasing. (A foretaste of our next session of RAW: UNMUTE on Workplace Envy.)
If stigma is the horse, then shame is the cart which follows.
The theme of Headstart Term #4 in 2020 is RAW: UNMUTE - Cutting through the stigma. We seek to boldly explore topics that we might feel uncomfortable discussing with others. Yet we are able to discuss these topics because God has designed us to live in community with one another, to be honest and to help one another live lives which reflect God’s grace and truth.
Ron (in Melbourne) and Jess (in Sydney) are both workers who are Christian and have had experiences with different aspects of dating online. They dived head-first into the raw topic of online dating and shared from the heart.
What is the stigma on online dating?
"Fear of being seen as weak or desperate"
"Being laughed at"
"Not fitting in"
"Not trusting in the sovereignty of God"
"Shopping around for people feels wrong"
We asked young workers what stigmas were attached to the idea of online dating, and why it's not a topic we hear discussed often in our churches. The reality is that you won't find the phrase 'internet' let alone 'online dating' in the Bible. It's important to recognise that Headstart discussions are not here to provide a doctrine of online dating, nor give definitive answers; we are here to help each other answer this questions: How do I love God and others in all that I do?
Some things to consider before signing up for a dating app
Jess shared that she'd used dating apps before. Ron had not, but due to the lockdown restrictions this year, he had taken dating online. Both shared the pros and cons of online dating from their perspectives as Christians.
God is concerned with all areas of your life
Both Ron and Jess have learnt that God is the God over all areas of their lives. He is a God who knows everything about us - and still loves us! Knowing this helps us to bring all matters to God in prayer, and also helps us to break the stigma when discussing these issues with our Christian friends.
Dating can become an idol
So much of the entertainment we consume often elevates romantic feelings and sexual endeavours as the highest fulfilment of being human. However, if we keep our dating life isolated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we lose Christian accountability and may become blind to our weaknesses. Dating online has made it easier to keep this part of our lives hidden.
Let dating be an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God
Christians can choose to use a dating app for very different reasons. One person may be using it out of fear and distrust that God cannot be good because they are still single. Another person may be using it out of faith, that God has provided different ways to meet new people. Humans are complex. The outcome of whether you use a dating app or not is the surface level outcome; let this instead be an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God by allowing Him to expose your heart and motives.
The place to start a healthy conversation: Romans 10:10-11
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, "Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame".
To wrap up the night, Mark 'forever young' Leong shared a short Bible reflection on Romans 10:10-11. Whether you are considering using a dating app or have friends who are using it, as Christians we need to remember that the words of Romans 10:10-11 are true. If they are true, then we can be courageous in diving into 'raw' topics such as online dating, and we can begin healthy, honest and God-honouring conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ without the stigma.