This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice (conflictofjustice.com). Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.
Alright, let’s get beyond the misleading title. We are not talking about pressuring anyone into anything they don’t want. We value people’s right to choose for themselves and direct their own lives, and that includes selecting whom they love.
As lockdowns, societal oscricizm, and societal breakdown make it harder to meet people face to face, the question of how church members find dates online needs to be addressed. We are talking about how to advise church members and what, if any, role the church could play in bringing people together.
Wikipedia defines “arranged marriage” as marriage “where the bridge and groom are primarily selected by individuals other than the couple themselves.” We’d like to think today’s culture offers zero pre-selection as we search for friends and partners, but how true is that? In high school and college, we are surrounded by people who someone else has selected. The classes we attend are filled with pre-selected individuals. Our moral and religious values limit the dating pool further. As for dating apps, they use algorithms to select a small handful of individuals that they figure will be the match most appealing. How different is that from arranged marriages of the old days, when a match-maker presented a line of candidates for your selection? The big difference is a machine is doing it rather than a human being who would be personally intimated with your situation and character.
This is an archived copy. See Original Article Here
The Value Of A Human Match-Maker – Well, we should consider also that the dating app searches for matches based strictly on what you find appealing while a human match-maker considers what they think is best for you. This makes it all about your personal preferences, right? We don’t want someone else deciding what is best for us, right?
For one thing, you are limited by your location with dating apps–they tend to search closer to your proximity so you can meet up easier. They give you greater priority the more money you shell out. But the most important factor is that you are not their only customer. It is not only about what you find appealing but what their millions of other customers find appealing as well. Everyone using the site is a customer, and those who are most appealing get the highest priority because they are scarce. It’s not you choosing from the line of suitors. If the dating app were to match you with the same individuals that everyone else finds appealing, those few individuals would be bombarded with nonstop matches. The app must sort out everyone except a select few whom those individuals find most appealing. It is really a question of how scarce you are based on how appealing people find you. Let me repeat: dating apps match based on how appealing other people find you. How are these dating apps therefore preferable to human match-makers? A human match-maker is more likely to match you with the person you find appealing because you are less likely to get sifted out of the picks of whom others find appealing.
Maybe there is some value to what a professional human match-maker thinks is best? Maybe we aren’t drawn to what is actually best for us? I pose that as a question, because it would be easy to make that generalization, but this is something each person must decide for themselves. I think some people are more confused about what they want than others are, yet to some degree we all are manipulated by popular culture. A certain camera angle, a certain amount of revealing flesh, and a saccharine blurb about long walks on the beach speak more to what society has taught us to value rather than what is best for us.
I guess if you look like James Bond or Jennifer Anniston, the dating apps will make your preferences a high priority. But even then, is it better? You are still relying on photographs and short blurbs to judge who a person is. You have an overload of pool to select from with little valuable information to use, and that is on top of your imperfect criteria of whom you find appealing. Dating apps make money by the number of matches they make, not by the long-term quality of matches, and that makes hook-ups their priority. That is why they tend toward unchaste one night stands. They are motivated to use the shallow values instilled into you by popular culture to make it easy to create a quick match and to keep you coming back to feed your dopamine addictions. Your craving for sensuality and the easiness to provide such an arrangement is a corporation’s bottom line. A match with a potential eternal mate is much harder to find.
The Value Of A Religious Match-Maker – A match-maker provided by a religion avoids these problems. The church is not motivated to keep you coming back for more searches, but wants you to find an eternal mate as quickly as possible. The church is not motivated by the money you will spend on a dating app, but knows that a person will end up paying more tithing if they start a family. Latter-day Saints are much more likely to be dedicated and faithful church members if they are settled into a good family arrangement, and their children are likely to follow the same path in the church. The church has every reason to help members find the right person to marry — a person that you will love and be happy with.
Religious criteria will be placed at the front where they belong. The wisdom of a well experienced matchmaker or council of matchmakers can definitely benefit from spiritual leadership.
A religious matchmaker does not give greater preference to the most physically desirable members based on their scarcity. A religious matchmaker does not give greater preference to those who spend more money. A religious matchmaker is not even limited by proximity: the church is international and there is no reason why someone in Thailand cannot meet up with someone in Zimbabwe.
Dangers Of Match-Makers – There are, of course, dangers. Here are the main dangers I’ve thought of:
- Must Value What Individuals Want – On my mission, I once met a family that had been matched together in a religious cult, and I had to wonder if the father and mother really loved each other or were attracted to each other. The rumor I’d heard about this cult is that members had no say over who they got partnered with. Attraction and individual desires must be respected. In an effort to make everyone happy and develop a solid community, a matchmaker might be tempted to partner people up with people they don’t like or people who are not good. It needs to be about what is good for the individuals before it is about what is good for the community, and one uncompromising part of what is good for the individuals is what they want.
- Corruption – There is always the danger of corruption and personal bias. Everyone has certain personalities they like or don’t like, societal biases, gossip they heard about certain families, and everyone has friends at church and members they don’t like. A matchmaker will almost certainly give preference to his own friends and family. A dating app algorithm at least reduces personal biases. We have all felt the disappointment of a priesthood leader judging us based on our family’s reputation rather than personal character, and I imagine that sting would especially hurt when it comes to matters of romance. This is the biggest danger of a church matchmaking system, I expect.
- Must Value Merit – Logically, there is some truth behind the movie trope of all potential suitors being rotten. Arranged marriage removes the element of merit, taking away motivation to attract others by excelling. Why work hard to get a good job, to clean up your life, to have a healthy body, to be righteous and spiritual, or to become a pleasant person when you are going to get arranged to be with someone regardless? The romantic motive behind working hard to be successful in life cannot be understated. We don’t talk about it, but really, isn’t that the main motivation to work hard in life?
Solutions From A Church Match-Maker
Encourage Merit – The question of merit is partially solved by the elimination of scarcity. In the movie Aladdin, the suitors who arrived to court Princess Jasime were all spoiled royal princes because there were only a small handful of princes to be matched with. They could afford to be rotten, as their wealth and social position would guarantee them a beautiful wife. If there were thousands of princes for Jasmine to pick from, they would have to compete to be more appealing. A successful matchmaking process needs to use competition to motivate members to excel by ensuring that a person is judged by their true merit and not because of scarcity. There needs to be a healthy pool to select from.
The problem with dating apps is they remove much of the element of merit by not making merit visible. Much like a job resume with a list of qualifications does not really portray a person’s abilities, a dating profile does not tell much about a person’s merit. Men who have been on two year missions often turn out to be worse than men who didn’t go on missions. Men who manage to achieve the highest priority qualifications like missions and handsome photos become like the royal princes and are not motivated to develop attractive personalities because they are such a scarce group. Conversely, there is a huge amount of people out there looking for matches and we can easily get lost in the abundance. This can be solved with a religious matchmaker who does not only look at the dating profile but considers the full merit of a person. They also train with the contenders to improve their lives to be better catches.
Encourage Diversity – An eye for diversity also helps. When everybody is looking for personal taste rather than the universal criteria fashioned by popular culture, a diversity of criteria develops and a lot of scarcity and abundance disappears. For example, it is much easier for a matchmaker to look for someone who plays the piano rather than someone who has the smallest waist. Rather than pressure anyone to fit a mold, a matchmaker should recognize unique traits and help members thrive in their best way.
Valuing What Individuals Want – What if everybody in a Single’s Ward makes a list of whom they would date and then a program match that up those who are on each other’s list? Why don’t we do this? It could be done anonymously, and what the individuals want is the the prime priority.
Well, making the individual’s desire the prime priority takes us back to two disadvantages:
- This does not solve the problem of people being drawn to what is not best for them. Sometimes those who we would not consider dating turn out to be who we would love the most. Members need to be convinced to give a try and date someone they wouldn’t choose on their own.
- A few top priority individuals tend to be liked by everyone while some would not be on anyone’s list. How depressing would that be to not be on anyone’s list? We come back to the scarcity problem. A few individuals would end up with a long list to choose from and the majority with nothing.
I suggest such a program but with some kind of human element over it to solve these problems.
Realistic Expectations – This is one major hurdle that needs to be overcome. The simple reason many don’t date is because they demand a type of person who does not tend to be attracted to them. This is solved by both improving who they are and changing expectations. These two things needs to be a focus of any matchmaking system. The brutal truth needs to be told about who they need to be in order to expect the type of person they desire. And I have noticed that this goes both ways: those who would be desired by a potential match don’t bother because they think they are not good enough. A good match could be missed because someone would omit a name thinking “they wouldn’t ever date me,” when in reality they would. I suggest personal improvement and confidence be a main focus of match-making.
Liabilities & Practicalities – The greatest challenge is the liability of managing a social media platform. It is going to be abused. It is going to be a mess moderating and fixing everything. There will be bad publicity, as the news media will certainly misportray this as something cultish (I wouldn’t be surprised if Anti-Mormons lie about this article in some Reddit thread). Anti-Mormons would make a satirical musical about a bunch of dorky effeminate guys being arranged to marry hapless poor girls. Members would cry to the newspapers about being pressured to fit a certain mold and pairing up with someone they don’t love. The general population will chuckle about “Mormons” needing arranged marriages.
It is silly to think we even need such a system, right? Are things really so bad that single folks can’t find people they like on their own? Do the boys need mommy to find girls to ask out? Well it is kinda to that point. Yeah, they do need help. It feels patronizing to need a match-making advocate to help with such personal matters, but we can just get over our pride and admit the way things are in the world. It’s not personal failing but the circumstances of the world. This is not the 1950’s.
Most people use dating internet apps, right? What’s the difference? People used to think internet dating was pathetic. At least get someone wise to advocate for you who is trained to search effectively through a large pool of candidates. Isn’t it more pathetic to throw your money at some computer program and hope for some “You’ve Got Mail” moment that will never happen?
My suggestion is to treat religious matchmaker’s as the single members’ advocates, a bit like how ward occupation specialists are advocates for the unemployed. I suggest a mix of technology and human advocacy to help single members find the right one. The Single’s Ward is a great organization that has served the church very well, but with “home centered” church, modern circumstances, and the challenges hindering the strengths of the Single’s Ward, I propose it is time to start inventing new solutions. As with the invention of the Single’s Ward, the last thing we should do is just imitate what the world has already put out there. We shouldn’t just make some internet dating app. We should innovate our own solution which overcomes the shortcomings of online dating and utilizes the strengths of gospel principles. The main focus should be the promotion of righteousness, with Jesus Christ as the leader and the atonement of Christ as the means of improvement, and with an eye of faith focused on eternal family.