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Christian Dating:


Does Technology Help or Hurt Dating?

“I haven’t met anyone in a while, and I haven’t been on a date in a couple of years. I’ve thought about trying a dating site — what do you think?”

Having ministered among college and post-college men and women for more than a decade, I’ve heard some version of this question again and again. Each time, it’s clearer to me that Christians today are increasingly dating in a different world from the one I did (and I’ve been married only since 2015). Many experts have already observed the obvious: dating (like so much of life) is changing rapidly because technology is regularly revolutionizing everyday life. And dating websites aren’t the only flashpoint.

  • “A guy from church started texting me. What should I do?”
  • “She hasn’t texted me back in a week. What does that mean?”
  • “He liked a couple of my old posts on Instagram. Does that mean he’s interested?”
  • “She started following me yesterday. Should I ask her out?”
  • “She still uses Facebook. Should I be worried?”
  • “My friend found someone on an app. Should I try that?”

You’ve likely heard other questions (or asked them yourself). If you had to ask all the questions in one, you might ask, Does technology help or hurt Christian dating?

Blessings of Technology

As we ask about the potential benefits and dangers of technology in dating, I need to say up front that technology was a massive blessing in my wife’s and my story. We met at a wedding and dated long-distance for two whole years. Some 95 percent or more of our interactions before our wedding were made possible by technology. Our honeymoon was the longest stretch we’d ever spent in the same city.

Three days after we met in Los Angeles, I flew 1,911 miles away to Minneapolis. Why didn’t the relationship end right there? Because she had acquiesced and given me a special nine-digit code (a much longer story), which I could then type into a small plastic box and immediately hear her voice anytime anywhere, even from faraway snow-covered hills. Fifty years ago, every phone was attached to a wall. One hundred fifty years ago, you couldn’t make a phone call. And that’s to say nothing of the opportunities of social media and instant messaging (or cars and planes, for that matter!). Imagine dating in a world where you could talk only face to face with people nearby or else write long letters (which might take weeks or months to be delivered).

Were it not for planes, phones, and Wi-Fi, my wife and I probably wouldn’t be married. And with technology, long-distance dating wasn’t only possible, but came with its own advantages and benefits. So I thank God for technology, and specifically for how technology can serve dating and marriage.

Hurdles of Technology

Now, someone might read about our story and conclude technology is all blessing and no curse when it comes to dating. The reality, however, is that the blessings (which are real) come with equally real dangers and consequences — and all the more so in the pursuit of marriage.

“We were made to know and be known in real time and shared space.”

While technology makes many aspects of relationships easier (or even possible!), it can make other aspects more challenging. Probably the highest hurdle of technology is achieving and maintaining meaningful levels of relationship. We were made to know and be known in real time and shared space, to experience the kind of love and joy that’s possible only through physical presence (2 John 12Romans 1:11–12). Technology can effectively (and even beautifully) complement that kind of togetherness, but it can’t replace it. We’re learning this again and again and again (for evidence, revisit the heartaches and challenges of the last three years).

For sure, technology allows us to have and keep many more relationships (or, in this case, allows us to “meet” many more men or women whom we might date), but technology struggles to create meaningful relationships where there wasn’t one already. Even how we talk about technology confirms its less-than-ideal role in our relationships: “I’ve tried everything else and come up empty, so I’m thinking about trying a website.” Technology connects more dots over larger distances, but the dots are unavoidably fuzzier (no matter how high-definition our cameras become). We simply can’t get to know people virtually the way we can in person (I mean, we call them virtual interactions). I would argue, then, that technology is weakest in what dating relationships need most: clarity and depth.

People pursuing marriage want to get to know each other well enough to decide whether to make an exclusive, lifelong, for-better-or-worse vow. So how well is technology helping us make that decision? Well, it depends on how we use it.

Two Kinds of Technology

I recently stumbled onto a new way to see both the benefits and the hurdles of technology in the pursuit of marriage. In his book The Life We’re Looking For, Andy Crouch helpfully differentiates between two kinds of technology: devices and instruments.

Devices, he says, are kinds of technology that discourage human effort and eventually replace human labor altogether (the furnace, the phonograph, the Roomba). Instruments, on the other hand, encourage and extend human effort and ingenuity (the bicycle, the piano, the telescope). Here’s how Crouch describes instruments:

There is a kind of technology that is easily distinguished from magic — a kind that involves us more and more deeply as persons rather than diminishing and sidelining us. This kind of technology elevates and dignifies human work, rather than reducing human beings to drones that do only the work the robots have not yet automated. It does not give us effortless power but instead gives us room to exert ourselves in deeper and more rewarding ways. (134)

As he goes on to observe (and this is where the distinction becomes hyper-relevant for dating), our phones can be devices or instruments, depending on how we use them. “With the right software it can become the ultimate instrument for any number of exercises of personal heart, soul, mind, and strength. Or, of course, it can serve as the ultimate device” (146). Our phones can encourage and extend our effort and ingenuity, or they can discourage and replace them. And perhaps never more so than in how we woo and date one another.

Two Kinds of Men

One question we could ask about technology and dating, then, would be, Is the way we’re using technology — phone calls, text messaging, social media, dating websites and apps — encouraging and extending the right kind of effort? Or is it rewarding (or at least compensating for) laziness? And while this question can go both directions, I have men particularly in mind, because I believe God wants men to bear a greater responsibility for leadership and initiative in marriage, beginning with dating. In the hands of the right kind of men, technology can strengthen and multiply blessings in a relationship. In the wrong hands, however, it can become a relational curse.

So when does technology help in Christian dating? When it helps us (again, men in particular) rise to meet the demands of love, rather than helping us avoid them. Technology helps when it draws the right kind of risk-taking initiative out of a man. And it helps when it serves what happens when we’re face to face (like we’re meant to be in relationships). Technology hurts when it replaces initiative and displaces presence.

The kind of man who uses technology well in dating wears the selflessness of Philippians 2:3–4, even when he’s online: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” He wears the intentionality of 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” He wears the humility of 1 Peter 5:5: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.” Above all, he puts on love (Colossians 3:14), even when shielded by a keyboard.

Dating Devices or Instruments?

Let’s try to apply these principles to some real technology today. For single women, how do the men pursuing you use their phones?

Take social media, for example. Do they use social media to flirt and signal interest in order to avoid the possibility of rejection (device)? Or are their interactions with you marked by honest and intentional initiative (instrument)? Is their general presence online the typical exhibition of impulsiveness, laziness, and self-gratification (what social media companies prey on)? Or is it refreshingly selfless, considerate, self-controlled, and valuable to others (instrument)? I’m not encouraging you to over-analyze every post or like, but on the whole, what patterns do you see?

Or what about dating apps or websites? Do their profiles exaggerate their better qualities and hide their weaknesses (device)? Or are their profiles refreshingly honest, modest, and Godward (instrument)? When they call, are most of your conversations meaningful and beneficial (instrument)? Or are they shallow, meandering, and self-indulgent (device)? Are their texts consistently thoughtful and caring (instrument) — or listless and cavalier (device)? Do they text in ways they wouldn’t speak to you face to face (device)?

We could ask dozens of more questions. In short, are phones drawing the right kind of effort and intentionality out of the men interested in you? Men, you can ask some of the same questions of women you’re interested in, but over time men will inevitably (and rightly) set the tone in relationships. Technology can help relationships, and technology can hurt them. Unfortunately, many naively assume the former, while living the latter.

What Do You Want from Dating?

Another good way to assess technology’s role in your dating might be to ask, What do you really want from dating? For what it’s worth, this question is a good one for how we use technology in every area of life. Far too often we assume technology is helping us achieve what’s important to us. Often technology promises to help us, and convinces us it’s helping, but only ends up distracting and undermining us.

“Technology can facilitate clarity or impede it; it can accelerate clarity or slow it.”

When it comes to dating, then, what do you want to accomplish? Have you even thought of dating in those terms? As I’ve said elsewhere, the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy; the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Technology can be a wonderful vehicle to that kind of clarity (I know, because airplanes and phones helped bring my wife and me together). Technology can also be an obscurer, hiding concerns and dangers we would easily spot face to face. Technology can facilitate clarity or impede it; it can accelerate clarity or slow it. So, are the ways you use technology in dating helping you see each other more clearly? Over time, are your calls and texts and posts and video chats helping you each decide whether you want to marry?

If you want the short-lived, adrenaline-filled pleasure of thin, low-commitment romance, technology has very effectively reproduced those relationships by the millions. Billion-dollar companies are wholly devoted to this kind of “love.” You’re just a few quick swipes from your next fling. If, however, you’re looking for a deeper, safer, more durable, more satisfying, more Christ-exalting love — for the kind of holy intimacy and security only a covenant in Christ can provide — if you want to live out the mystery of the gospel in a lifelong union (Ephesians 5:32), if you want to see and enjoy more of God in the harrowing and thrilling trenches of marriage, then technology may still help you, but only when it complements and encourages what can happen face to face.


 is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have three children and live in Minneapolis.


How to Encourage Spiritual Habits in Kids


I took my Bible to college. I think.

Well, I meant to anyway. I was saved. In fact, I had grown up in the church. From as early as I can remember, we sat in the pew twice on Sundays and on Wednesday nights. I remember VBS, memorizing Scripture, favorite Sunday school teachers, rededicating my life as a teen, and what I thought were life-changing youth camps.

But I don’t remember opening my Bible in college. When exams were giving me ulcers and boyfriends were pressuring me for intimacy, I don’t remember ever opening it. I don’t really remember praying, either. I think we went to chapel a few times in my freshman year. But then classes started and life got in the way.

If you’ve been a reader long, I don’t have to tell you where this story becomes a train wreck. But it did. Two husbands, four kids, and a heap of brokenness later, I found my Bible.

My story is not unique. It might be yours too. But since I have children, I find myself focused on figuring out what they can do in their lives to miss the train wreck. You see, for me, it wasn’t a series of bad choices—at least not the kind you think of. I never did drugs, never drank alcohol, and have never once been in jail.

But I’ve known an insatiable emptiness that kept me dependent upon men who didn’t love me, all the while not even acknowledging that I was already loved by a gracious and merciful Father. What I missed was the relationship. Growing up, church was something we did. So when I got to choose, it became something I didn’t do. And the lack of God’s guidance in my life cost me years of abuse, betrayal, and brokenness.

So how can we encourage our kids to have spiritual habits that help them grow in faith and develop that personal relationship with Christ? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I’d love to share just a few simple steps in the right direction.


Have you ever seen the video with the child trying to buckle herself into the car seat? Rose is probably somewhere between two and three years old, and she’s trying to buckle her car seat despite her heavy winter jacket being in the way. Her dad asks to help, and she says, “No, thank you.” Then he asks, “What do you want me to do?” And she answers, “You worry about yourself.”

Every time I see it, I can’t help but chuckle. It’s so adorably cute. But it also reminds me that we are VERY much busted when it comes to the things we say as parents. Little Rose was simply responding that day in a way that she had already heard her parents respond. (Ahem . . . how many times have we told a child to worry about themselves?)

I’m glad kids are so cute, and I really enjoy laughing when my kids mimic something I know they got from me. But it’s more than just something to make us smile. These fun times should remind us that our kids are watching every single move we make.

So what about the big stuff? Are we modeling spiritual habits that will help our kids grow in faith? Or are they watching us check the time during the sermon or make a grocery list in the bulletin? Do they hear us pray or see us run to a friend when we have a problem?

I don’t mean to point out just those two behaviors. There are a host of poor spiritual habits that we are all pretty guilty of. Most we should work much harder on. But knowing that nothing we do will ever be perfect, we’d better also be doing some intentional teaching of the kind of spiritual habits that we want our kids to have.


Hopefully, my story is enough motivation for you to realize that it simply isn’t enough to take your kids to church. There absolutely has to be more. We’ve got to intentionally teach them about the habits that will help them grow in their walk with the Lord.

I think this should start with quiet time. It’s absolutely never too early to begin this habit. If we don’t start our day with God, it’s impossible to walk the path He has laid out for us. I’ve written a post on how we teach the habit of quiet time in Devotions for Kids.

Second, and very closely related, is developing the habit of prayer. This is something that was very weak in my life, even as late as age 33. I never really knew how and never really saw a reason to learn. Sometimes churches make so little of this prayer thing with comments like “just talk to God” that we don’t stop to consider that it doesn’t come that naturally. Teaching our kids and giving them tools will really help.

I also think it’s crucial to have some sort of family devotions. I’ve written a lot on this topic too, as I know it can be scary, frustrating, and easy to give up. But we can’t! Even five minutes together pointing our children intentionally to God will help us. This is also a great time to teach your kids what you believe. Trust me, when they leave home (and maybe before), they are really going to need this foundation.


Now, I love my mama, so I don’t want you to think badly about her. Trust me—she did a lot with some crummy circumstances. But she did neglect this, and I imagine it was because she didn’t know how. She probably felt as though she didn’t have the knowledge about God personally to be giving it back to us. Oh, friend, don’t believe this lie. It’s so not true. God can and will use anyone who is doing the best they can to be faithful to His Word. You don’t need to worry about messing up.

Deuteronomy 6:6–7 tells us to talk about God and His laws constantly. God says to do it “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” We can’t be taking this lightly. God didn’t say it because He thought maybe it would be fun if we got around to it. This one thing is EVERYTHING to our faith. Our kids need to hear us discussing God as a part of our lives.


Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.

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