Surfing through profiles on www.ChristianMingle.com, it seems the prerequisite is to already be in a committed relationship — with the Lord.
“I’m looking for a God-fearing woman, a woman who loves the Lord…” beckons a man from his bio photo. On another page, a woman in mid-giggle from her photo exclaims: “I am a Christian woman who is passionately in love with the Lord…”
Could this be a match made in heaven?
For singles of all faiths, salvation (or at least love) can be found online with dating Web sites that narrow in on all religions and beliefs. Jill, 28 and Mathew, 27 of Marine Park, had briefly met through mutual friends, but it took crossing paths on JDate, the go-to online dating site for Jewish singles, to result in many daters’ ultimate goal — marriage. And Faye, a 24-year-old Muslim, met her husband on ArabLounge.com.
“Arranged marriage is no longer acceptable in most Arab families. Instead, a method of courting has taken over,” she explains. “Young people who are of marrying age attend a number of social gatherings. This puts those of us who are busy with educational and work-related obligations in somewhat of a bind. For a lot of young Muslim professionals, the Internet is a great way to meet someone of a similar background.”
But for many in the real dating world, and not the virtual playground, the singles’ scene for faith-minded folks can be less then divine. Mohammed — a Brooklyn Muslim who, like many others in his religion, doesn’t believe in conventional dating, but wants to court a wife through friends and acquaintances — says at age 25 he’s “way overdue.”
“I’ve waited this long out of fear. It’s new territory — your whole life changes when you make that choice,” he explains.
For religious singles who regularly put themselves out there, they don’t have just the small talk to worry about, but also in some cases, that pink elephant in the room — their faith.
Lisa, 33, a New York transplant, who converted from Judaism to Christianity as a pre-teen, describes one date she had with someone who wasn’t like-minded.
He brought up astrology, and when she asked him if he believed in it, his response was, “Well, I’d sooner believe in it than a guy standing on a rock telling me, ‘God wants you to do these 10 things and you’re damned if you don’t, but don’t worry, he loves you anyway.’”
That pretty much ended that date, like so many others before it: “Basically New York City is a culture where ‘Christian bashing’ is encouraged and I have encountered it at many turns.”
For Lisa, going out with fellow Christians has provided beneficial aspects to the usual dating woes, “There is something comforting about dating a Christian and knowing they won’t push [sex]… It’s the same feeling as bowing your head in prayer before dinner and knowing the other person isn’t looking around to see who is watching.”
Cindy Galdal, director of the Tri-State Oasis Singles Ministry, a Christian-based organization out of Bay Ridge, holds various annual events designed to take the pressure off finding someone. She founded the group because as a single woman she was tired of attending singles events where she would end up feeling “more lonely” afterward.
“So many singles watch their friends get married, and the Oasis events allow people to branch out and make deeper connections,” explains Cindy. “We want them to connect with Christ, live a life of service. Not get wrapped up in being single.”
And for some of those unattached, like Tom, 37, who comes from a traditional Catholic family, the preference is to let fate take its course. He says he mostly meets women by accident, on the subway, parties, through friends, rather than seek through church or singles groups. He feels that sometimes the “religion angle almost becomes a counterpoint.”
And although he prefers to date women who have a similar value set as him, he admits that he’s not as strict as he used to be about finding someone who is specifically Catholic: “I allowed religion to erase some possibilities in the past, and I regret that. What I’ve learned is that relationships on a personal level are about how you can relate, get along and respect the differences.”
Hooking up — online
Here are some of the most popular online religious dating sites (with their mottos).
• www.ChristianMingle.com (“Christian web site for Christian singles.”)
• www.JDate.com (“Explore the possibilities.”)
• www.LatterDayLove.com (“Helping Latter Day Saints find love.”)
• www.ArabLounge.com (“Connecting Arabs worldwide.”)
• www.CatholicMatch.com (“Dedicated to Saint Raphael — patron
saint of single people.”)
• www.DharmaMatch.com (“Where spiritual singles meet.”)
• www.ChristianCafe.com (“All Christians. All single.”)