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The Dating Apocalypse: Tinder and the Hookup Culture

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, contributing editor Nancy Jo Sales introduced readers to what passes for the “dating scene” among many millennials today.


At the heart of her article, which was entitled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’” is the app Tinder.


Tinder uses Facebook data, including pictures and geographic information, to create a user profile. Users who are deemed compatible are then placed in a list of matches. People on the list can “like” the other person by swiping right on their picture. If two people “like” each other, they can then chat using the app.


That’s the theory, at least. But as Sales documents, the reality is somewhat different. According to one recent study, “there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida.”


Or in Nancy Sales words, “Hookup culture . . . has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship.” She adds that the "lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.”


And most of those messages are sent by the men. As David Buss of the University of Texas told Sales, “Apps like Tinder . . . give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there.” Thus, they don’t feel the need to treat any woman as a “priority,” especially if their sexual desires are being gratified, as they are. Instead, what women become are “Tinderellas,” a series of disposable sexual conquests.


As one woman told Sales, “There is no dating. There’s no relationships . . . . They’re rare. [Hooking up] is a lot easier. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface.”


Isn’t that last phrase telling? Once you get past the rhetorical smokescreen of sexual freedom, it’s clear that the sexual revolution has had a lot of victims.


As Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas might put it, what we see in the Vanity Fair article is an example of how low the “market price” for sexual relationships has dropped. Historically, the price for relations was the man marrying the woman and supporting her and her children.


But since the Sexual Revolution, the “price” men must pay for relations has dropped to a swipe on an app and a text message. And the drop in price has been accelerated by the denial of the “basic differences” that Regnerus mentioned. We were told that women enjoyed casual promiscuity as much as men.


But it's just not true. As Regnerus told Christianity Today, “There are plenty of women… who would like to be legitimately asked out, but they feel like they can’t get it. He texts, and they ‘hang out.’ How lame is that?”


Lame, indeed. It’s difficult to think of a better example of two core BreakPoint worldview convictions: first, that ideas have consequences, and second, that bad ideas leave victims in their wake. That’s the Sexual Revolution in a nutshell.


And that’s why there’s an incredible opportunity for Christian witness today. The Christian view of human sexuality is good. God created it for our well-being, for mutual joy of husband and wife, and for the future of humanity. And the Christian view is always redemptive. God’s healing work through the Church can bind up wounds and make things whole again.


Tinder is not leading to the blessed flames that God intended for human sexuality. Instead it’s leaving a lot of people burnt and broken. So don’t think for a minute it’s over just because the legal and cultural consequences of the sexual revolution mean that Christianity is unpopular. Lives are at stake, and the opportunities to offer hope to these broken lives are all around us.


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at where you can read and search answers to common questions.

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.


Publication date: September 9, 2015

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