So the other evening I posted a somewhat cryptic status update on Facebook that simply said “Dating is weird.” I received a lot of likes and a slew of comments ranging from “Dating is wicked weird” to kind notes of sympathy (even though I just said weird, not bad) to even a slight rebuke claiming that posting about it on Facebook makes it worse (to which I replied “I figure if Anne Lamott can can write a whole blog post for Salon about it I can kvetch a little in a wee post on FB).
The next morning a few likes and comments were still coming in and someone warned that ChristianMingle.com is weirder. I jumped right in and reminded my friend that I would not be welcome there even if I wanted to give that bizarre notion a try. And then that maniacal lightbulb that I’ve begged the super to replace went off in my head. Challenge!
So off I dashed to create a ChristianMingle.com free account. I was doubtful that I would even get past the registration bouncers but I uploaded a few pictures and wrote an honest and openly lesbian profile intro that included lines like:
“I care deeply and write frequently about the rights of LGBT folks in religious communities.”
“I am looking for a woman who is honest, kind, tender and affectionate. If you enjoy intellectually stimulating conversations but can’t help giggling at a good fart joke, we might just get along.”
“I am attracted to classically feminine women with a good sense of humor, deep sense of compassion and unquenchable intellectual curiosity. A sharp wit is incredibly sexy when coupled with a tangible empathy for the world around us. Biggest turn on? A gorgeous set of ample, firm and perky BRAINS. The bigger the better.”
And after “careful review” by the bots at ChristianMingle I got the approval email. I was IN!
I was unable to set the gender of my match preferences (it was determined for me to be male) but I was able to create a general search for women. So I set about search for women in about a 10 year age range around my own and started browsing.
Can I just say that the Christian ladies take real good care of themselves. I wouldn’t mind a little Christian Mingle…woo, I digress.
At first I was overtaken by a full-on, rollicking mock-i-tude. The profiles were just cram packed with Jesus jargon – how God is the center of their lives and how blessed they have been to honor the Lord in their single-hood and looking forward to honoring Him in marriage with a God loving and fearing man. I was a bit overwhelmed (and totally turned off) by all righteousness posturing exhibited by men and women alike. I swear I could hear the wheels turning… “If I can just type all the right Christian lingo then the mate of my dreams will just know I am a REAL Christian and we will live happily on this sinful earth until Jesus returns to take us both to heaven where we will get the best McMansion in the sky EVER!” I read some of the profiles out loud to coworkers and tears of laughter were just rolling down our condescendingly secular faces. This video y’all, yeah, it’s like that.
But before long I started to feel like a top notch jack ass laughing at people’s deeply held beliefs no matter how odd they seemed to me. Now don’t get me wrong, some of what I saw was just plain ole cray-cray and creepy.
One oddity appeared in the menu bar alongside the Search, Profile Activity and Matches – a Worship Center tab. I will let y’all discuss amongst yourselves if and why that is just freak-tacular.Another oddity was the question of the week which was “Who do you most want to see when you get to heaven?” – Overwhelming the answer was “Jesus” followed closely by “Lord of Lords and King of Kings” or “King David and Apostles Paul & Peter & Ezekiel” and one fellah answered “My Lord to report for duty”. Now I was back to rolling in laughter (with a side case of the heebie-jeebies) when I ran across answers like “my deceased six year old daughter” or “my wife of 25 years who I miss very, very much” and once again, through oddly blurry eyes, I felt like a complete shit. An unwelcome, voyeuristic shit.
Then the more I looked around the more loneliness appeared like so much invisible ink made plain by a damp sponge. Online at that moment were over 3,000 people. People searching for someone. People who have likely been told their whole lives that they are incomplete as humans and worthless as Christians without a husband or wife. Sure, many of these people might also deny me that same blessing, but their loneliness and searching struck me to the core. Not just because (well maybe a little because) I am still raw from the demise of my own marriage but more so because they outright stated their loneliness in profile names, long introductions and more than a few in sad-eyed photographs.
And then as I browsed one particular woman’s profile I felt worse yet again, I imagined how she might feel when seeing among her “Who’s Viewed Me” list a woman amidst the rows of men. Based on her effusive use of evanglicalisms in her profile I realize she might very well have been raised to dislike and distrust me simply because of a label, she may have even been carefully trained to hate and quite likely fear me. Would she feel like some pervert had abominable thoughts about her? She had one picture that included her kids. Was she now frightened for them? As a mother myself I would never in a million years, regardless of the ignorance, want a mother to fear for her children’s safety.
Well damn, so much for my plans for a scathing satire post. What had started out as a snarky experiment fueled by a slight superiority complex (it is slight, right?) became something more complex that I have not yet sorted out fully. Here were all these people putting their longing, insecurities, and loneliness out there on, what, faith that God has a perfect match for them somewhere? That sounds oddly familiar. Then along comes a gawker to mock them in their vulnerability and hope. How very compassionate and enlightened of me.
- Many, many of us long for love that is exciting, safe and everlasting. Even though Jesus makes a damn fine boyfriend he just ain’t that into snuggling or changing our oil (euphemism if you like but not what I meant).
- Our faith can and should be central to our relationships. We may articulate it differently but it is indeed for me as much as it is for anyone on Christian Mingle.
- Our intellect, certitude OR doubt do not give us permission to make laughing stocks of people on different journeys. No exceptions.
- Our religion should lift up every life as good in God’s eyes regardless if it is lived out in single-hood or in long term partnership.
- Our reason is a gift from God that we must constantly and vigilantly employ in the face of indoctrination into systems that thrive on fear and loathing.
And mostly I was reminded that a heaping helping of compassion and a generous portion of grace can really help in nearly all situations, especially when there are lessons to be learned about being a snarky a-hole.