Tough and Tinder

Tinder is a popular dating app driven by the premise that relationships should be easy to fire up. Smartphone users are served a stream of images of available singles. Swipe-left to disregard. Swipe-right to show interest. If the same person counters and swipes-right back, a conversation is initiated. It is all driven by geographical vicinity, with the highest rates of connection being with users within one mile of each other.

And the app now has ten million active users each day.

Tinder’s popularity also raises many questions. Like how does swipe-liking the mere image of a potential mate fundamentally skew dating standards and expectations? And how will men engage dating relationships in a society where they are presented with a limitless digital harem of options from which to choose?

Love Me Tinder?

Even more fundamentally, I want to ask a more common question: What is Tinder useful for? Is Tinder really just a place to initiate a “casual sexual hookup,” as some suspect, or is it a platform where healthy, long-term relationships are sparked?

“This is a false dichotomy,” wrote one psychologist in his defense of Tinder. “As a psychological researcher who studies online dating, I believe that Tinder’s approach is terrific for pursuing casual sex and for meeting a serious relationship partner.”

If that sounds terribly confusing and potentially misleading, it is. “If you are on these dating apps, the game is different for men and women,” wrote one CNN commentator. “Men ‘rack up’ as many sexual partners as they can. Women try not to lose the person they’re ‘hooking up’ with. How can you possibly win a game with different rules? You can’t.”

The prime illustration of this Tinder confusion was a detailed, and graphically explicit, feature article published by a major periodical. In it, journalist Nancy Jo Sales quotes several Tinder users, including heartbreaking stories, like one young woman, who admitted, “I had sex with a guy and he ignored me as I got dressed and I saw he was back on Tinder.”

Stop and think about this for a moment.

And weep.

So why would a man connect with a woman on Tinder, sleep with her, and then ignore her immediately as he turned his attention to the next object of his lust?

“I wondered if there could be a parallel to [feminist] Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth (1991),” writes Sales. “Wolf posited that, as women achieved more social and political power, there was more pressure on them to be ‘beautiful’ as a means of undermining their empowerment. Is it possible that now the potentially de-stabilizing trend women are having to contend with is the lack of respect they encounter from the men with whom they have sex? Could the ready availability of sex provided by dating apps actually be making men respect women less?”

And that gets at the question of huge importance: Does easy sex make men harsh?

The implied answer is yes — but why?

“Young women’s expectations of safety and entitlement to respect have perhaps risen faster than some young men’s willingness to respect them,” posits Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College. “Exploitative and disrespectful men have always existed. There are many evolved men, but there may be something going on in hookup culture now that is making some more resistant to evolving.”

Does easy sex make men harsh to women? Yes. But is this caused by an evolutionary lag in men? No. The real answers for why easy sex makes callous men is a compilation of four key biblical truths the church can re-claim and proclaim in the Tinder age.

1. Easy sex predates the digital age.

Easy sex roving local streets was a problem long before GPS technology in a smartphone could connect available partners in a city. Scripture tells us of the lure of such easy sex, offered by an alluring woman who walked the streets herself (Proverbs 2:16–19; 5:1–23;6:20–35; 7:1–27; 9:13–18; 23:26–28).

It lures, not macho men, but gullible men, too ignorant to see it for what it was: a self-destructive lust trap.

2. Men (and women) who grab at easy sex are selfish.

Sexual idols are always manifestations of self-centered greed (Ephesians 5:3). And as manifestations of greed, sexual idolatry must always dehumanize the objects of lust.

Men, lured by the heart for the next moment of sexual ecstasy, necessarily objectify and degrade woman in the pursuit.

3. Easy sex is a killjoy.

The pleasure of sexual idols, like any idolatry, is strangled by the law of diminishing returns. Lust cannot satisfy the heart for long, as Solomon learned as he filled his life with hundreds of partners (Ecclesiastes 2:8). At the end of the experiment, his soul was numb and empty to the pleasures of life. Whatever he thought was gained only worked to further empty his soul. Easy sex grew dissatisfying.

Limitless sexual partners empties life of the pleasure being pursued.

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Source: Tough and Tinder | Desiring God