eDivinity: Is Promising To Find “God’s Choice” For Your Mate Misleading Advertising?

Recently, I have been seeing more commercials for Christian dating. We have previously discussed new dating companies offering racially correct matches and the implications of such trends. However, ChristianMingle.com raises an interesting legal question in telling subscribers that they can “find God’s Match for You.” When does such an appeal to consumers become deceptive advertising as opposed to hyperbole?

The question came to mind because I recalled reading a story about a church in New Zealand being required to take down a billboard viewed as falsely claiming miracles.Notably, a government agency called the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that a church had to pull down its billboard proclaiming that ‘Jesus Heals Cancer” is deceptive advertising. Napier’s Equippers Church was told that it could not promise such miracles. I disagree with that decision as curtailing freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It seems to be that the church is allowed to proclaim its faith in miracles — though we have seen tragic examples of people who forgo life-sustaining treatments.

Now back to ChistianMingle. On the commercials, the announcer says that the viewer should join and “Find God’s match for you.” Not to be too Clintonesque, but it comes down to the meaning of “find.” One could easily view the site as promising an ability to locate God’s choice for each person. However, their more mundane lawyers are likely to argue that it refers to the ability of each person to find such a person — promising an avenue not an answer to your prayers.

While I do not view this as deceptive advertising, I would be interested in whether they claim first amendment protections under the religion clauses when sued over any later tortious conduct. They are competing with secular sites, but could claim that any lawsuit would intrude upon their free exercise of religion. The case that comes to mind is Nally v. Grace Community Church (1988) 47 Cal. 3d 278 [253 Cal. Rptr. 97, 763 P.2d 948], where the California Supreme Court refused to impose a professional duty of care on pastoral counselors who provided spiritual counseling to a suicidal church member.

I would be a bit careful however. After all 1 John 4:1 warns “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Moreover, God has a mixed record on matches, such as his match for Hosea: “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” (Hos. 1:2). When his wife Gomer later went back to sleeping around, God said “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery.” He eventually buys her back in a slave auction and appears to have worked out their marital difficulties. It was not what most people would have viewed as a perfect match but then again that does not appear the point of the story.

Replacing eHarmony with eDivinity is probably not a good idea if you are expecting a selection directed by the Almighty.

42 thoughts on “eDivinity: Is Promising To Find “God’s Choice” For Your Mate Misleading Advertising?”

  1. I think it’s alright to say that you are creating a place where people of the same faith can find a match based on values, but, to say that it’s God’s will in the interwebs just seems silly more than anything.

  2. I think a quote from Mark Twain’s Autobiography fits: “…she had great faith in prayer and employed it in all ordinary exigencies, but in not in cases where a dead certainty of results was urgent.”

  3. Which supreme being are we talking about exactly? Yahweh? Lovitar? Demeter? The Late Sir Ralph Richardson? Also, some people – myself included – don’t like it when humans play matchmaker. Why would we be interested in matchmaking by a being with the ability to really screw things up performing that function? False advertising or not, the whole idea sounds sketchy to me. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll continue to use the personal interview/free will option.

  4. Anonymously Yours 1, May 1, 2012 at 9:34 am

    If you are chosen she will let you know….
    The female goddess … sounds like you have read the book of Proverbs.

  5. What we dogs do when our pals (no dog calls a pal and owner) hook up with a human mate is wag our tails if we approve and pee on the leg if we do not. The pal can follow our advice or ignore it. But you know what dog spelled backwards is. If you are in doubt about a mingle and have some second thoughts, then walk him or her by your favorite dog and watch for a response. I wonder if they can copyright that name Christian Mingle? We might name a particular pup that name. He has mingled enough and when he gets done he is always cussing and saying DogDamn.

  6. The devoutly faithful, including young children, have been murdered, blinded, maimed, raped, dismembered and tortured to death while praying for God to save them.

    So no matter who you get, eDivinity can always point to the many instances in which their all-powerful God was too busy helping a football team to be bothered saving the life of a 7-year-old rape victim, and tell their clients, “God works in mysterious ways. Brutal, horrific, terrifyingly mysterious ways. But have faith, the mate you hate and the misery you feel is all part of God’s secret plan.”

  7. I don;t think it would be litigatable (is that a word? (: ) After all how could you prove or disprove it was G-d’s match? If it didnt work out then they would say it was not G-d but you and if it works out then it was G-d.

  8. I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
    Long as I got my plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car

  9. I’d be very careful about accepting God’s match.
    There is an unspoken belief here that the match would be blissfully happy.
    God might be a vengeful white guy in a beard and nightie. Be careful what you wish for.

    Sometimes the Lord sends us things to try us – or so I’ve been told.

    The legal question might come to were the burden of proof lies.
    Does the organisation have to prove that the proposition it true? Does a complainant have to prove that the proposition is false?

  10. There is nothing wrong with people trying to weed out others who do not share their values. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual after much prayer to determine if the mate is right or not.

  11. ChristianMingle.com raises an interesting legal question in telling subscribers that they can “find God’s Match for You.” When does such an appeal to consumers become deceptive advertising as opposed to hyperbole?

    I think it depends on jurisdiction and venue. Secular courts cannot determine religious questions.

    Churches are permitted, under U.S. law, to have their own courts. See e.g. PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH v. HULL CHURCH, 393 U.S. 440 (1969).

    Compare ideologically The Vatican with a Communist Regime, a Hindu society, or an Islamic society like Saudi Arabia, for examples.

    I would not expect the same result from the jurisprudence of those differing venues.

    As a matter of fact, seeing as how there are ~450 denominations in the U.S., I would not expect the same jurisprudence even within a so called Christian venue.

    For example, there is very little text with the word “marriage” in the Bible.

    So, it would end up being secular power entering into the religious realm trying to adjudicate which dogma / doctrine has the holy ground, should a secular court put its foot in those waters.

    On the other hand, since states issue marriage licenses, and determine who is or is not married, based on common law marriage concepts, there may be a slice of facts that would allow secular courts to exercise jurisdiction.

  12. As a rector in the church of Murphy, I can only promise you eternal misery, just like all other religions.

  13. Caveat Emptor. And thank you, Jon, for referencing scripture. May I add another? 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. From the sounds of it, it’s not just their ears that are itching, so to speak.

  14. We have a new dog in our dog pack named Gomer and he takes his role in life finding mates very seriously. In fact we have nicknamed him “Rearender Gomer” because he will hump a human leg, any dog, and sometimes tries to get with Jesus by humping cats. His human pal put a cross on his collar and Gomer takes this all seriously and thinks he is acting in God’s name when the worst he is doing is defiling Dog’s name.

  15. I immediately distrust anyone who claims to have an inside line to God. By the way DrMike, I like my 6 cats. I wouldn’t give them up for anything or anyone. The dog is okay with them too.

  16. All kidding aside, as difficult as that might be, are not organized (or disorganized) religions getting close to the line or is the line moving to accomdate the extreme and the silly? As a follower of the Church of the Apothetic Agnostic (We don’t know, we don’t care) I have tried to live and let live but it is getting more difficult.

  17. Then why pay the subsription fee? Just let God do it all for free or accept your chosen fate of owning many cats. .

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