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Staying faithful: How the Internet changed the Christian dating game

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 2 2014 8:20 a.m. MDT

Eugenio Marongiu, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anne Kolsky wasn't sure online dating was for her.

Kolsky's 15-year marriage ended in 2008 because she adopted Christianity, and she knew faith would be the foundation of any new realtionship she built. But when she tried a few different Christian dating sites, she didn't have much luck.

"I was amazed at how many were ready to get married before even meeting. It was scary and very discouraging," Kolsky said. "There were a few men from my church that were interested, but I just did not feel a connection with them."

Then she met Mitch, a blind man who was working toward a career teaching blind children and had even uprooted his life in California to help start a church in the Midwest. Now, more than a year later, Kolsky says the two have a strong relationship thanks to the faith connection she didn't have in her marriage.

"I would rather be single than do it the wrong way again. If my future husband leads me closer to Christ, then great," Kolsky said. "If he takes away from Christ, I'm not interested. It is that important to me."

Dating sites like ChristianMingle and JDate have opened the floodgates for people of faith to find friendship or love with fellow believers outside of their local churches, but the services could also be bucking stereotypes about Christian relationships.

Director Corbin Bernsen wanted to explore the idea of faith as an individual journey — and dispel stereotypes about Christians — with the romantic comedy called "ChristianMingle The Movie," set for release in October.

The film’s main character meets a proverbial "nice guy" on ChristianMingle.com and decides she has to lie about her faith to keep him interested. In the process, she reawakens her Christian faith. Bernsen says the message is that there are many paths to God and faith is no guarantee for a good relationship.

A February Christianity Today article addressed the problem of conflicting media reports about divorce rates among Christians versus nonbelievers. Some reports erroneously said that divorce rates among Christian couples were the same or even greater than those for society as a whole, the article noted.

Yet Christians are actually less likely to divorce, as the book "Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ... and Other Lies You've Been Told" points out: Catholics are 31 percent less likely and Protestants 35 percent less likely to divorce. Jews are 97 percent less likely to divorce than greater society. The American Psychological Association reports that the divorce rate for married couples in the U.S. is 40 percent to 50 percent.

“There’s this weird blockage when you say you’re of the ‘Christian' faith. Nobody’s going to fault you for being a Catholic or Jewish, but when you say you’re Christian, people react almost like they do to Scientology, like, ‘Oh, you’re one of them,’ ” Bernsen said. “I just wanted to make a fun movie about faith and say that you don’t get to the Christian faith with an IKEA manual. There’s an infinite amount of ways to put this chest of drawers together."

Click the slideshow on the top left of this page to view 10 celebrity couples who have made marriage work.

Faith up front

Cyber dating expert and digital matchmaker Julie Spira says the beauty of dating online is that many sites recognize how individualized faith can be.

"There’s not just one kind of faith on these sites," Spira said. "It allows you to have respect for each other's faith without trying to change it."

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