WHY CHRISTIAN MINGLE FEELS SO CREEPY

I am a Christian who is weirded out by Christian Mingle.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Christian Mingle is a Christian dating site known for its audacious tagline, “Find God’s match for you.” In the last year, Christian Mingle has grown in notoriety thanks to an extensive marketing campaign. The ads are all over television—especially “Christian” programming like The History Channel’s The Bible–and the ads frequently appear on my Facebook sidebar as well (probably because I’m a Christian, though I am not single).

With its bold tagline and slightly awkward name, it’s no surprise that Christian Mingle has become a popular brunt of jokes. Occasionally trending on Twitter, the hashtag has appeared alongside snarky comments like,

It’s a good thing God licenses his romance database to #ChristianMingle.

I just saw a commercial for #ChristianMingle.com and I couldn’t help but think they should change it to firstbaseonly.org

I wore my Christian shirt today and no one tried to mingle me #ChristianMingle

Just saw another #ChristianMingle commercial, “find God’s match for you” how did Christians meet before God invented the Internet?

Apparently alt-rock bands from the early-00s can find work writing background music for #ChristianMingle#probablycreed

Despite the mockery, Christian Mingle seems to be doing quite well. Not only does it have the financial resources to purchase some pretty prime ad spots, but they boast a database of 8 million registered users. Judging by the tweets I read, a number of those accounts were created as practical jokes, but still. As a business model, Christian Mingle is doing something right.

Christian Mingle is a business, after all. So why does it rub so many people the wrong way? Here’s a few ideas:

The tagline is outlandish. The first time I heard it, I think I laughed out loud. This dating site identifies itself as an instrument of God’s will, and promises a product it can’t reliably deliver, or even verify. Just because two registered users meet and fall in love, does that prove they are “God’s match” for one another?
The online ads are subtly sexual. In one ad that keeps popping up online, a blushing bride grins as the words “Single and Christian?” appear just below her face. Further below, one finds the tagline “Find God’s Match For You,” which just happens to appear right above her cleavage. That’s right. In an ever so subtle way, the ad’s text accentuates the woman’s chest. I’m hoping this was a graphic oversight, but every time I see it, I can’t help but think they are using sex as a marketing strategy.
The music. A lot of tweeters complained about the song that accompanies the commercials, but I happen to like it. The song was written by Christian music artists Jars of Clay, and it’s called “Love Song for a Savior.” What irks me is that the song was written about Jesus, not a girlfriend.
Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not against dating sites, or even Christian dating sites, for that matter. As more and more affinity dating sites pop up, this was inevitable. And it makes sense. For many people, faith isn’t simply a dating preference, like “Loves Will Ferrell movies” or “Must get along with dogs.” Faith has a real impact on lifestyle choices and raising a family. Given how profoundly faith shapes the lives of practicing Christians, Christian Mingle helpfully gathers like-minded singles.

In that sense, Christian Mingle is just like every other dating site. It’s had its success stories and its failures. I talked to friends who used the site and liked it, while others did not. I even heard from couples who met, fell in love, and got married through Christian Mingle. As these couples would affirm, God can use Christian Mingle, and sites like it, to connect Christian singles.

The problem I have is co-opting God as a marketing tool. From a business perspective it might be smart, but it also feels manipulative. Of course, that’s what advertisements do all the time. They play to our felt needs and insecurities in order to sell a product. Some ads are shamelessly manipulative. But when it’s an explicitly Christian business that wields the name of Christ to increase profits, that’s when it starts to feel really icky.

My advice to Christian singles looking to mingle? Go ahead and try Christian Mingle. I’m not here to start a boycott. But if you do, make sure your expectations are appropriate. Christian Mingle does not have a monopoly on God’s will anymore than any other dating site out there. God works in an infinite number of ways; Christian Mingle is only one of them.

But more importantly remember this: finding a mate on Christian Mingle is no more likely to guarantee marital success than any other site. Even among the most perfectly matched couples, marriage takes work. While single people certainly need God’s help through the confusing season of dating, married couples need it just as much in all the seasons that follow.

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