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Online Dating: Sign of Not Trusting God?

Jul 16, 2014 | 7 Comments

In our last installment about the stigma of online dating, we hit the issue of Internet dating being perceived as an act of desperation. Linked to that perception is the view that using the Internet to facilitate meeting a spouse means playing God–taking things into your own hands and not trusting God to do the work for you.

“You just need to trust God to bring the right one into your life!” is the advice one Marry Well member was given.

Does using the Internet to find a spouse show a lack of trust in God? This is an important question. In no area of life do you want to fail to trust God and strive in your own strength. Proverbs reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:4-6). Psalm 127 reminds us that “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

The high-stakes significance of marriage makes this issue even more important. You don’t want to feel like you failed to trust God, labored in vain and “made it happen.” Maybe that’s how online dating feels to you–that you just bypass God, pull up a Website, shop around, click “add to cart” and get your spouse.

Underlying Questions

When it comes to this issue of trusting God and not wanting to make things happen in your own strength, there appear to be two underlying questions.

The first is “Do I have a role to play?”

Does trusting God mean a complete lack of activity? Or are there steps He expects you to take? A common temptation is to do as little as possible while counting on God to do it all. This seems like a very spiritual approach, but it comes up against Scripture’s charge to be a good steward (Matthew 25:24-27) and pair faith with deeds (James 2:14-24).

The concern that any activity will get in God’s way is tied to a commonly expressed desire to be in God’s will. This is something that author and pastor Kevin DeYoung addressed in an interview with Marry Well:

MW: When it comes to something as important as who we marry, many Christians are eager to know what God’s will is. That’s a good thing, right?

Kevin: Eh, depends. God’s will in Scripture is our sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). God wants us to be holy and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. So knowing god’s will means understanding what is commanded of us in God’s word. In this way, it is always a good thing to seek God’s will. But if we expect God to tell us whom to marry, we are barking up the wrong tree. God doesn’t work that way. Or almost never. His way is to have us grow in wisdom so that we can have his heart and make decisions that honor him.

DeYoung goes on to answer a question about the common desire believers have for a burning bush:

MW: How might a desire to hear clearly from God–to get a burning bush or another sign from heaven–set someone up for disappointment?

Kevin: Well, first off, you probably won’t get the sign. So that will be disappointing. Second, you may look so hard for a sign that you see something, but the “sign” is nothing more than what you are reading into it. Then if something goes wrong, we are tempted to blame God or freak out because we misread the signs. It’s a mess of hopeless subjectivism.

Marriage researcher Dr. Scott Stanley also took up the burning bush topic in an interview with Boundless Webzine:

We are lots of times waiting for the burning bush, but if one is waiting for the burning bush it’s not real consistent with something else Paul said that was pretty important. He said “we walk by faith and not by sight.” So if we’re supposed to be walking by faith and not by sight and that’s what it means to really be a deeply committed Christian, that means He’s usually not giving us a burning bush. If He is, there’s no faith in that. Faith comes from having a pretty good sense of what God cares about and doing our best with the choices and then struggling with what that means.

The second underlying question is “What does it look like for God to be at work on my behalf?”

One of the best explanations available for how God tends to work on our behalf comes from a book by Gene Veith called God at Work.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to that book:

When we pray the Lord’s prayer, observed Luther, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does give us our daily bread. He does it by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, the person who prepared our meal. We might today add the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers in the food processing plant, the warehouse men, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter. Also playing their part are the bankers, futures investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, and every other player in the nation’s economic system. All of these were instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning bagel.

Before you ate, you probably gave thanks to God for your food, as is fitting. He is caring for your physical needs, as with every other kind of need you have, preserving your life through His gifts. “He provides food for those who fear him” (Psalm 111:5); also to those who do not fear Him, “to all flesh” (136:25). And He does so by using other human beings. It is still God who is responsible for giving us our daily bread. Though He could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did for the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other. This is the doctrine of vocation.

To use another of Luther’s examples, God could have decided to populate the earth by creating each new person from the dust, as He did Adam. Instead, He chose to create new life through the vocation of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. God calls men and women together and grants them the unfathomable ability to have children. He calls people into families, in which–through the love and care of the parents–He extends His love and care for children. This is the doctrine of vocation.

When Jesus talks about marriage in the Gospel of Matthew, he uses the phrase, “What God has joined together…” Throughout history, God has joined couples together and yet people report meeting each other through friends and family, at church, at school, at work and so on.

GodatWorkGod has been at work and has used the means of parents who facilitate meetings, friends who suggest a good potential match or host a double-date, churches who organize events that make it possible for singles to observe and interact with each other and also men who ask women on dates.

The same can now be said for the means of the Internet. Much like the way God has used the means of the Internet to spread the gospel, deliver encouragement to the downcast, facilitate missions work and numerous other examples of kingdom work, we believe He is using it to join men and women together in marriage.

Are there still other ways that you worry that using a service like Marry Well may show a lack of trust in God?

This article was originally published by Marry Well on May 5, 2010.

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