Online dating is huge in the US evangelical community, according to research from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) released yesterday.
In a survey of its members, NAE asked: "Has someone whom you know personally tried an online dating website? And if so, was it a Christian dating website?"
Nearly 93 per cent of respondents said they knew someone who had used an online dating website, while almost 60 per cent said it was a Christian website. A further 22 per cent said they didn't know whether it was a Christian website while 19 per cent said it was not.
While the survey asks whether evangelicals know an online dater rather than attempting to assess how many NAE had used such a service themselves, it provides some indication of how prevalent the practice is within the wider evangelical community.
Many respondents said the experience had been positive for friends or relatives who had used the service, with roughly a quarter saying they knew someone who had married as a result of the contact they had made.
Just under eight percent of those who responded said they had met their own spouse through an online dating website.
One contributor said his online dating friends "believe they knew each other better than people often do via traditional courting practices. This was especially true where some time passed before they were able to meet in person."
Another said that the couple they knew has "been happily married for two years now. Because of the distance, they would have never found each other without it."
Some cited ambivalent or negative experiences with online dating, while one participant suggested success may be based on stage of life. He felt that those who were successful were "mature individuals seeking second spouses, following death or divorce... Young, restless, inexperienced online daters have often been disappointed or sadly misled."