How Tinder helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.
In 2016 and 2017, when the term “evangelical” was flung from putrid trenches on television news networks and Twitter, I ducked. By “ducked,” I mean that dropped the word “evangelical” from my vocabulary in every social setting. Although my theological convictions were still solidly evangelical, as a white, female seminarian at Yale, the evangelical label itself had come to carry connotations that made me uncomfortable.
However, a dating app of questionable reputation—Tinder—helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.
I worked for a startup a few summers ago and, as part of my job, researched how like-minded strangers connect over digital platforms. Thinking that I’d kill two birds with one stone, I downloaded every free dating app populated by straight men in New Haven, Connecticut. What could be better than first-person experience? Maybe I could teach myself app design and meet my husband.
I also saw my foray into the digital dating world as a healthy rebuff of the evangelical purity culture that marked my adolescent years. I figured this was my chance to learn how to date—connecting in a context where you don’t need to guess if the other person might be hoping for more than friendship.
Online, I met plenty of the nice Christian guys I used to write about in journals at church camp. I also met lots of other men, too—ones that fell far outside the parameters of someone I would ever want to date.
To screen my potential suitors, I filtered nothing spiritual out of my answers to get-to-know-you questions, which produced fascinating results. I thought words like “Jesus,” “Christian,” and “church” would drop like severed …