Question: Should Christians use Tinder?
There’s nothing like wading into a topic where there is no definite right or wrong answer, is there? So here goes…
Everyone is talking about Tinder these days, and it’s not just the Christians who are shaking their heads at it. Vanity Fair recently wrote a raw article delving into the hook-up culture that apps like Tinder are cultivating. It likened the ease of hook-ups to a sort of sexual obesity that is causing young adults the same sexual addiction problems porn does. (Warning: We’re not linking to the article here, but should you find it, know it’s quite graphic.)
So yeah, right off the bat, any Christian downloading that app or another one similar to it, like Hinge, Bumble, or OK Cupid, should proceed with caution.
When we have conversations with married and unmarried Christians about Tinder, we often find that their information about it comes second hand. Kinda like how everyone hates Common Core yet few—besides teachers—could really tell you what it is or what means for the future of education in America. They just know everyone in their Facebook feed says it’s awful, so therefore it is.
We think the sentiment toward Tinder is kinda the same. We hear people say, “It’s just basically ‘hot or not,’” or “You’re just judging someone based on their profile pics. That’s not what Jesus would do.”
WWJD bracelets aside, there is a bit of misinformation out there about what a Tinder profile looks like.
Yes, when you download the free app and set up an account, you are primarily judging someone based on a profile picture, but there is slightly more to a Tinder profile than just a picture. Tinder also connects with your Facebook account, which means a match can see your Facebook likes and discover if you have any shared friends. There’s also a place to write a quick paragraph about your self.
Sometimes that’s more information than you’d get on a full Match.com, Christian Mingle, or eharmony profile.
Here’s the thing: We don’t LOVE Tinder for Christians, but we think if we’re going to discuss whether or not Christians should use it, we at least need to be discussing it from a starting point of what the app is really like. Yes, the tendency for some is to swipe left or right based on a profile picture and not care about the rest of the profile, but if we’re being honest, the same tendency is real on any online dating site. Many of the traditional online dating sites are offering that same option as another feature.
But back to the original question: Should Christians use Tinder?
<Deep breath to gather our thoughts.>
We know Christians who have used Tinder successfully and found quality, Christian dates on it.
Remember Lauren, who participated in our Online Dating Experiment? Lauren and her friends have all been using Tinder off and on for a while now. Here’s what she said:
“You have to be so much more wary on Tinder than in the real world. It’s easy to romanticize it and feel like you’re making real connections, when really your entire knowledge of that other person boils down to a few paragraphs of text messages at best. I actually did go on a couple of Tinder dates with guys who I could attest were solid, Christian men (after a LOT of messaging back-and-forth and asking the right questions)…but they were by far the exception and not the rule.”
We think Lauren’s assessment is pretty spot on. Finding legit Christian matches on Tinder is possible, but it’s not simple. Those who do find dates have usually loaded their “About” paragraph with lots of references to Jesus and church to ensure matches know upfront that faith is a clear prerequisite.
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23 reminding us that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial certainly apply to Tinder. Here are other things we would suggest you think about if you’re considering downloading Tinder:
1. Know your weaknesses.
Tinder has a reputation as a hook-up app for a reason. Many, many of its users are looking for sex, and they don’t mince words about it. If sexual sin is an area where you struggle—and for many of us that is the case—then don’t open the door for your pursuit of holiness to be derailed by it.
Furthermore, if you want to marry someone who is a deeply committed Christian but you know that in a moment of weakness you’d easily enter into a relationship with someone—anyone—who made you feel special, then Tinder probably isn’t a good idea either. There are far less believers using the app than there are committed ones.
Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and give you wisdom before making your decision.
2. Realize it’s not a quick fix for loneliness.
Everyone struggles with loneliness; some more than others. If deep down you think that going on multiple dates a week with various people is going to help your loneliness, you’re believing a lie. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with dating, you’re only substituting one form of loneliness for another if you think it can be cured by being around members of the opposite sex.
Loneliness is always there to cause us to press harder into Christ. Thinking your loneliness will go away with a date, a relationship, or even marriage is faulty if you’re using any of those things as a substitute for Him.
3. If you’re nervous, get some help.
Lauren talked about asking the right questions of her matches in order to find the Jesus-loving guys. If you’re concerned that you might not know the right questions to ask or that you’ll be scammed in some way, use Google to find out more. Or, if you really want to play it safe, invest in a background check service. Sure, there’s a fee, but Tinder is free, so you can afford it.
Should Christians Use Tinder?
To answer that, we’re going to refer you to paragraph number 4 where we said to “proceed with caution.”
Technology always comes with cautionary tales. Some people use Craigslist or Snapchat for <ahem> illicit purposes. But those who’ve made money selling old furniture on Craigslist or those who Snapchat to communicate with friends will eye roll when people speak of the dangers of using either one. They’ve had success with it and know how to use them well.
It is possible for Tinder to be a useful tool to find a date…for some Christians.
So what are your thoughts–should Christians use Tinder? Feel free to weigh in on the discussion, but let’s be nice to each other, okay?
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