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Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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February 18th, 2006

Pure Sex, Pure Love

How Can Churches Help Young Catholics Find Their Match?

 
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So you’re single and looking for love. What’s on your list? Does she have to be beautiful, smart and funny? Does he have to be caring, tall and handsome? What about the bigger things: Does she share your dreams for the future? Does he want to have a family? And on this list of must-haves in your true love, where does religion come in?

“Every time you slice the pie again, the potential piece you are looking for gets smaller and smaller,” a 29-year-old woman recently said to me recently. “Did God really intend for it to be this difficult for me to find a man who shares my faith and who I want to kiss?”

The Un-Guide

Todd Hertz and Camerin Courtney address this and other challenges of faith-based dating in their new book The Un-Guide to Dating: Simple Formulas Don’t Work Anymore.

“Despite what many Christian dating books suggest, there is no formula for love. There’s no one thing we can do better—and poof—we’re married,’ writes Hertz.

Yet young-adult Catholics yearn advice: More than 35% of respondents to our recent BustedHalo poll said they have purchased and read a Christian dating advice book.

One-third of our respondents said they have used a religiously based online dating site (including me), and although several readers complained that the websites were geared toward the orthodox members of the Church rather than mainstream American Catholics, the sites received generally good reviews.”

So let’s all agree: There’s no formula for love. But there are certainly things we can do to improve our chances of meeting our match—and many ways that churches can help.

Only 20% of respondents to our recent BustedHalo poll said their church offered singles’ events or other dating outlets for young adults. There is a need—and a desire—for more cool, young-adult events: 88% of respondents said they would want individual churches to do more to introduce Catholic singles. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Young Adult Groups.

Where possible, churches should form a young adult group—not necessarily a singles group, but a social and spiritual support group for people in their 20s and 30s. Readers have written in with great ideas: churches could offer weekly dinners, book discussions, trips to hockey games, dances and concerts.

Vocational Classes or Continued Catholic Study for Young Adults.

It’s in your 20s that you start to question your faith and come to it as an adult. Vocational classes—to help young adults discern if they are being called to marriage, single or religious life—would be a safe way to talk about some of the deepest ‘what next’ questions that we have in and after college.

Ecumenical discussions of faith.

You know how much fun it is to sit around a dinner table with your friends and debate big life topics? Well, the Church could make a forum for those discussions more frequently. One problem I’ve found is that a lot of people don’t think it’s “cool” to be religious (or to talk about it). But once you get them to open up, most people have many questions and are willing to engage with the topic. By encouraging discussions about young adults of all faiths, the Church could help make it OK to talk about faith.

Taking it On-Line

God helps those who help themselves. So as we’re encouraging our priests and lay ministers to help create young-adult events at church, many Catholics have explored religious online dating sites.

One-third of BustedHalo respondents said they have used a religiously based online dating site (including me), and although several readers complained that the websites were geared toward the orthodox members of the Church rather than the mainstream American Catholics, the sites received generally good reviews.

CatholicMatch received the best reviews from BustedHalo readers. “My boyfriend and I have successfully been dating for two years,” said one woman who had used CatholicMatch. While she said she did meet a few “frogs” first, she feels “truly blessed to have met the man of my dreams, even if it was accomplished by using an online dating service.”

EHarmony, Catholic Singles were also mentioned as top sites to meet Catholics nationwide, although several respondents were put off by the “hyper-orthodox” profiles that users had posted.

Do you have ideas for how individual Churches could improve their young-adult network? Any thoughts or activity suggestions that draw in young non-practicing Catholics back into the Church? What are your thoughts, concerns and success stories about dating within the Church? Write me at puresex@bustedhalo.com and share your thoughts!

 
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The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
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