Monday, June 6, 2011

The Dating Name

I’ve been seeing ads on cable TV for an on-line dating service called Christian Mingle. As you probably guessed, it’s for Christians.

The site shows a nice young white couple — a man and a woman — on a beach and smiling happily. The tag line is “Find God’s match for you,” probably working on the premise that while God is the one who is supposed to bring people together, they help. For a fee.

I have no problem whatsoever with on-line dating services, and I have no problem whatsoever with an on-line dating service geared toward a particular group, be it Christians or whatever. There’s a dating service for Jewish people, too, (No, their slogan is not “Find the match even your mother would love”) and I am sure there are plenty of sites geared toward every ethnic, racial, or sexual orientation you can come up with, and probably a few you didn’t know were out there, too. Ah, the beauty of the internet.

Christian Mingle looks like a very nice place; you can find your soulmate and exchange your favorite bible passages and thereby see if you’re compatible — “Into long walks on the beach, loaves and fishes, and reading from The Song of Solomon.” If that’s what you’re looking for, then I wish you all the best. But Christian Mingle also limits your choices: you can be a man looking for a woman, or a woman looking for a man, but that’s it. No “Man seeking man” or “Woman seeking woman.” (JDate, by the way, does offer same-sex selection. Mazel tov.) The people who run Christian Mingle have determined that you cannot be Christian and be anything other than straight.

That’s okay; it’s their site, and they can set the rules for it, and far be it from me to stomp in there and demand that they provide dating services for non-straight people. What I find objectionable is that they have hijacked the word “Christian” and defined it in their own terms. There are a goodly number of Christian denominations that are open to same-sex couples, and they, along with a number of Unitarian congregations and Quaker meetings, perform and celebrate same-sex marriage where it is legal, and even in places where it’s not yet. Since when did these people at Christian Mingle get to decide the rules for other Christians?

So if I may be allowed to offer a little Friendly advice to Christian Mingle: You can call yourself “Christian Mingle” only if you’re truly open to all people who call themselves Christian. If not, then change it to something else like “Uptight Religious Zealots Looking for Same (as long as it’s the opposite sex, of course).”