I will not lie. I am a big fan of online dating sites. Although I didn’t meet Patti this way, I know of many couples who did meet online and who now have healthy, fulfilling marriages. There’s something to be said for a resource emphasizing compatibility in the areas of life that matters most to us—whether spiritual beliefs, personality type, number of children desired, career goals or other.
But there’s one thing I don’t like about online dating sites. The very first thing a user sees is a photograph. Whether on a website or at a co-ed party, many will instantly eliminate 90 percent of potentially great partners on the basis of looks and body type alone. We’ve all heard it before, and some of us have even said it: “He isn’t the best looking guy in the world, but at least he has a warm personality,” or, “She isn’t what most people would call ‘hot,’ but at least she’s really nice.”
In spite of what we know Scripture teaches, that “charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting” and though “man looks at outward appearance, God looks at the heart” (Proverbs 31:25-31; 1 Samuel 16:7), in practice we easily exchange substance for cosmetics, internal holiness for external “hotness,” godliness for eye candy, the heart for outward appearance.
We have it backwards.
In the consideration of love and marriage, there are really just two questions wise people will ask as they consider who their mate and closest friends in life will be:
First, does being with this person motivate me to move toward Jesus?
Second, is this person looking for me to motivate her or him in the same way?
Even more than a pretty face or a chiseled body, the main things we should be looking for in our deepest, most enduring relationships are:
a) a humble, honest heart, and
b) a well-worn Bible.
In a sexually charged, consumer-and-image-driven culture, these essentials are easily forgotten.
Another important part of long-term relationships is the ability to feel safe when our fragility, incompleteness, sin, high maintenance habits and not-having-arrived-yet nature are discovered by the other. We all need to feel confident that when we are at our worst, we won’t be abandoned.