What’s Wrong with this Picture?

I’m in the middle of another bout with bronchitis (I think I’m losing), so I planned to skip my blog this week. But last Sunday, a TV advertisement for a Christian dating site changed my mind.

A walk on the beach r1

I’ve never used an online dating site (I found my wife before Al Gore invented the internet), but I know many believers who found like-minded spouses online. The concept makes sense.

Last Sunday I tuned out the clichéd advertisement for Christian dating, with its images of smiling couples holding hands while strolling on a beach at sunset. But then the ad ended with this tagline:

“Helping good people find good people.”

Am I just overreacting?

The image of “good people finding good people” broadcasts all kinds of bad messages:

  • To non-believers: it reinforces the image of pompous Christians (“We’re the good guys and you’re the bad guys”).
  • To believers: it reminds me of the Pharisee who prays, “Thank you God I’m not like….”
  • To everyone: didn’t Jesus say he came not to the “well” but to those who know they are sick?

How can a “Christian” website get it so wrong? I’m all in favor of finding “like-minded” people or people with “shared beliefs” about God.

But to label ourselves as the “good people” undermines the essence of the gospel; because Christianity begins when we finally admit we aren’t.

There’s nothing wrong with a sunset walk on the beach, but to appeal to our superiority doesn’t make us look very … good.

Sam

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18 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with this Picture?

  1. I don’t think you’re overreacting. The theology behind that statement is flawed. No one is good but God alone. Reminds me of a quotation from Ravi Zacharias, “Jesus didn’t come to make good people bad. He came to make dead people alive.”

  2. I guess that as Christians, they could have said, “Helping sinners find other sinners.” But i don’t think they’d get many takers!

  3. Great read and very valid point. It’s just like in the bible days with the separation between the Gentiles and the Jews and who was entitled to the Kingdom and who was considered righteous based on their cultural beliefs, practices and lineage.

    It’s a contradictory statement that segregates the Christians from everyone else but appeals to and entices everyone.

    Also, As Christians, what does this imply to the Christian women who are taught Proverbs 18:22 He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtains favour of the Lord. I understand that the woman must be ready and make herself available, however it takes away from the direct wisdom given to us by God to go on aa manhut.

  4. I don’t know. I think I see how it could strike someone that way, so I suppose it should be reworked by the marketer to not be open to that reading. BUT I doubt that was the intent of the writer. I found my wife on a dating site, (married for two wonderful years after being single for my first 4 decades). In the common lingo of dating online anyone who matches you is still either good or bad.

    The factors are: Compatibility & Character & Relationship goal.
    Just because we match doesn’t mean our life paths are in sync or that you are being honest with yourself and me about who you are and what you want. Clearly some people are on these sites to find their next conquest, but even if you have good character and your well matched you might have a different biological timetable driving your desire for marriage and children.

    So in the computer dating world “good” implies something other than a morally upright person. The explicit “marketing promise” of helping “good” people find “good” people is meant to create exclusivity in a marketing sense. If I’m a real estate agent and I create a “veterans only program” to market to veterans because I want to specialize in VA loans I’m not saying your evil if you never served in the US military. I’m just carving out a niche market.

    In my opinion, the ad writer is not using “good” as in saved. He’s using “good” as in not hunting for a cheap thrill and desiring the right person to wed. The niche is Christians and the promise is that the site in some way screens out bad prospects. I don’t think they are saying that they only allow Christians so you’ll be guaranteed a moral person.

    That’s my read of it anyway.

    • HI Andy,

      I want to be open to thinking that their slogan was a marketing goof and not intentionally exclusive. That’s why I didn’t name their site.

      I do not want to (or mean to) criticize the idea of finding “good” matches. If their website said, “We specialize in making ‘good’ matches,” I’d be happy. Instead, they say (paraphrased), “We specialize in matching ‘good’ people.”

      Even if their language choice is accidental, believers need to be extra-cautious about appearing as pompous jerks.

      (And I’m happy for you that your found a terrific spouse.)

    • I think Andy is on to something here. When I see the picture and tagline, helping good people find good people, I think–automatically–yeah, I’m “good people.” And, “yeah, I’d like to be happy.” And the contrasting image is that of people who aren’t interested in being “settled down.” Being “good people” seems to equate with “not trying to do everything in life but settling down” and in contrast to those who are attracted to YOLO and making the most of every opportunity and living ethically on the edge. Someone who lives on the edge might read that and know that the women and men at the other end would not be a good match for themselves. They might feel shamed, wrongly, but they would rightly self-select out of the dating pool being drawn.

      • Yes, I forgot to mention that I agree that such sites can help Christians find people who are looking for more than a one night thrill. Again, I wish they used different language, such as “shared beliefs” or “like minded believers.”

  5. Sam, God brought Kathy and I together back when Al Gore’s father was still in the US Senate, and we are still together. Our youngest daughter and our second son-in-law, an information technology consultant, met via a Christian dating site, and I ask him how God ever managed to function without online technology. They are fast approaching their first anniversary.
    In addition to revisiting the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, we need to be asking ourselves if we as believers are drifting into an idolatrous relationship with an increasingly ubiquitous presence, placing increasing reliance (faith?) in our apps, rather than in our heavenly Father who clothed the hills and fed the birds long before they ever #tweeted.

    • Hi Doc,

      Good food for thought. Just today I read something in Jeremiah that condemned trusting in man.

      It’s fine to use earthly tools (like going to a doctor! or using online dating services for personal compatibility) but our trust in the end must be in God.

      Thanks

  6. Marketing departments do that all the time. They create “little lies” that people do not perceive and accept as truth. They are all over media about all sorts of things: food, dating, prescription drugs, etc.
    As for your sickness, you should try cleaning up your diet. Since March 2015, our family has adopted a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle, aka vegan (without the religious side of it) and I dropped 56 pounds, my husband 40 pounds and no longer has blood sugar or pressure issues, is off the BP meds and feels like a 25 year old guy. 😉 It’s been amazingly wonderful for us! We haven’t even got sick this year at all. If you can’t make the jump with both feet, just try not eating any dairy whatsoever. It will revolutionize your life. You won’t have as many infections and you will even lose a little weight. Check out Dr McDougall’s site for more information. Or my YouTube channel playlist of what we have been eating. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJzYOOjLxae3y_VDnCUTU0G0cJVt2uRO1

  7. When I read the statement, “helping good people find good people” it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling until I read your piece then, wham!! Excellent insight Sam.

    • Hi Terry,

      Love that “warm and fuzzy feeling” because I had the same reaction too. At first. And then it scared me about myself!

      A friend of mine has great relationships with non-believers. After reading this, he asked them what their reaction to that tagline was, and their reaction was just what we might imagine: those arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, etc. It’s not the way I hope we come across.

      Alas!

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