Current Events

A Spike in Online Dating and the Need for the Gospel

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A few years ago, BBC published an article on Trump and online dating and one of our contributors wrote the following blog. As we draw near to Valentine’s Day during this final season before the next presidential election, we thought it might be a good time to reconsider the power of the gospel and the power of the church.

On Valentine’s Day, BBC released an article about Trump’s election and online dating. You can see the article here. The article indicated that after the November elections, eHarmony showed a 35% increase in usage despite the month of November’s historically low online dating usage. eHarmony’s chief executive, Grant Langston, likened the spike to a similar surge seen after the 9-11 attacks.

Langston states, “You see a spike in usage after Donald Trump and people’s desires to be in a relationship, so if they’re in a bad relationship they don’t want to leave, and if they’re not in one, they want to get into one.” He later says, “When times get unpredictable, they just want to be with someone.”

These are uncertain times. No matter which side of the political discussion people stand on, many of them are afraid of something right now. For years, people in our country, both Christians and non-Christians, didn’t always have to think about what was happening in the world. They could complete their everyday tasks in peace. They could live most days without a care in the world. They could make themselves the kings and queens of their realities.

But in times like this, that reality crumbles. Their world spins out of control. And suddenly, the most mundane tasks are filled with anxiety and fear. And in Langston’s words, people “ just want to be with someone.”

spurring the church to action

Langston’s words should spur the church to action. No, I’m not advocating for dating as a missions strategy. But I do think we, the church, need to see these people for who they are: broken people who have had their safe realities shaken and are searching for something. They want people who love them. They want hope. They don’t want to be alone. They are searching for something to make sense of their broken dreams. The culture tells them that the answer is a romantic relationship. The Bible tells the world that the answer is Christ and His church.

But what does that mean?

First of all, we recognize the power of the gospel and take it to a hurting world.

The gospel is the only thing that can redeem the broken narratives of those around us. And in a time when people “just want to be with someone”, we, the church, must seek out the lost. Instead of coming with a canned speech, we hold out our hands to these people, offer them a listening ear, give them a shoulder to cry on, and sit with them as they mourn the loss of what they hoped for.

Simultaneously, we offer them the hope that they are searching for. We proclaim a good world created by a good God. We hang our heads in shame as we describe a man and a woman who had a perfect relationship with God and chose to turn away from Him. We mourn the guilt, the shame, the fear, the sin and the death that followed their rebellion. But we joyfully speak of a promise of One who will set things right—who came once as a baby, lived a perfect life that we could never live, died a cruel death on a cross and rose a victorious king. This king displayed his power over sin, darkness, sickness, hatred, evil, and even death. And it is this King who gives us hope because one day, he will return and restore all things, and there will finally be nothing to fear.

Secondly, we recognize the power of the church.

In these times of uncertainty, we do not offer simply a simple “me and Jesus” kind of faith. We are Christ’s church. We are called into the the family of God, the body of Christ, the community of faith. Instead of fracturing due to our fear, we stand united–not by our political party, our common hobbies, or our earthly citizenship, but by Christ our King, who saves us. We are now resident aliens living in this world, waiting for His return and calling others to follow Him. Our churches are previews of a coming kingdom, a community bonded by our love for the Savior and for each other. Yes, we live in surreal, frightening times, but as the old hymn says, “[We] can face uncertain days because He lives!” (Gloria and William Gaither, “Because He Lives”).

With the strength and unity that come from Christ, the church walks into the darkness of uncertainty, standing together as one, calling people to follow our King and join our community. We take the message to those who “just want to be with someone” and we offer them a relationship with Jesus and a place in Christ’s family, echoing Paul’s words: “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

A version of this article was originally published on February 20, 2017.

Anna Daub is a PhD student in applied theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lived in South Asia for two years and has traveled to many other parts of the world. Anna’s interests include orality, Bible storying, the arts, and anthropology. She loves sitting around with friends drinking a cup of coffee, hosting people in her home, traveling, and other adventures.

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