by J.B. Durham
Dominion Dating is on a mission to re-enchant our generation with the extraordinary goodness of God’s design for sex, marriage, and family, and that, by re-connecting these gifts to their God-ordained, creational purpose—the Dominion Mandate.
Afflicted With The ‘Gift’ Of Singleness
Let me back up for a minute. I hate online dating! That may sound surprising, given I’m the founder of Dominion Dating. But honestly, dating sites should be your last option. In the ideal world, we’d all love to meet our spouse locally, through trusted networks like church, family, and friends. Sadly, we’re far from ideal. As we say on our dating site, “With so many churches and Christians confused on biblical marriage and sexuality, it is increasingly necessary for many singles to look beyond their local context for a godly spouse.” When all else fails, many godly singles want to know they’re not alone; that someone sees their dilemma and is actively working to help them. Just as Abraham’s servant (Genesis 24) traveled a great distance to find Isaac a suitable spouse, so today’s Christian singles need someone who will go the distance for them.
I spent 10+ agonizing years on a dozen or so dating sites. The only thing I hated worse than online dating was being stuck in a static state of singleness! At one point, around age 32, I felt so richly afflicted by the “gift of singleness” that I put out a $500 bounty on social media for whoever introduced me to my future wife. Prolonged singleness began to feel like an inescapable prison.
In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Andy, the main protagonist, spent years of his life incarcerated. Not one to lose hope, Andy toiled tirelessly towards freedom, eventually tunneling through his cell wall with a tiny rock axe and bellycrawling half a mile through a waste-filled sewage pipe, to make his escape. I think, for many, that’s what today’s online dating can feel like; a non-stop chipping away at the ever growing mound of monotonous dating profiles, swiping “next” late into the night, till your thumbs cramp up, and you wonder, “How much further?” Then you have to bellycrawl through the cesspool of scantily clad women, creeps lurking behind fake profiles, and an overwhelming majority of worldly singles who evidence neither a biblical worldview, nor a godly lifestyle—and I’m referring to the average Christian dating profiles! Who, in their right mind, wants to pay for that!
By God’s grace, and against all odds, I met my wonderful wife on a Christian dating site. Four months, and two international trips (to Brazil) later, we were married! A year into marriage, Amanda became very ill. Then I lost my pastorate. Then the shutdowns hit. Jobs were scarce. I had to do something. Why not something I knew; something helpful, needed. As a wise man once noted, “Civilizations are built by men with families to feed.” And so, the idea for a new dating site was born. As we say on our site, we’re taking my extensive online dating experience, with its many frustrations, disappointments, and hard lessons learned, and we’re combining it with biblical and pastoral wisdom to build a dating pool and process that biblically-faithful singles have been waiting for.
“Dominion” Is God’s Word
This past year, Dominion Dating made headlines when our homemade promotional video went viral, landing us, as a laughingstock, in Relevant Magazine and The New York Post. Critics lambasted us for the name “Dominion” and for our convictional stand on marriage—accusing us of subjugating women, propagating white supremacy, and everything in between. The NY Post reported, falsely, that we used “black face” in our promo. Relevant Podcast bizarrely tried to link us to the January 6 Capital Incident while ruminating on whether we were, “a dating site for serial killers?”
We discussed changing our name, to make a softer appeal, but at the end of the day, our vision is much bigger than launching another dating service. We’re on a mission to recover the dominion mandate and fuel a marriage reformation. To that end, we’ve not shied away from polarity—purposefully driving singles to either love, or hate us, based on their convictions around marriage and sexuality. As one of our founding partners put it, “Let the thorn poke!”
“Dominion” is God’s word, given to us in Holy Scripture. If we don’t define and defend it, then the world will steal and distort it, like so many other words and ideas. The dominion, or cultural mandate, as it’s also called, is our original, God-ordained purpose (telos), revealed in Scripture (Genesis 1:28; 2:24) where God bestows His high and holy blessing upon marriageas he commissions mankind to, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…fill the earth…and exercise dominion.”
Dominion is essentially mankind’s delegated duty to fill & fashion God’s World, God’s way, with God’s blessing, for God’s glory! While there are certainly a multitude of faithful ways to engage this mission (including celibacy), the normative, foundational paradigmfor accomplishing the Dominion Mandate is through fruitful marriage. As founding partner, Pastor Bnonn Tennant puts it; “The purpose of the dominion mandate is to extend God’s image into the whole world, which is done by having children (image bearers); by forming homes that reflect God’s loving character.”
The dominion mandate has been lost on this generation. Pastor Michael Foster, and others, have spoken of a cultural tsunami that has swept away our biblical foundations. After decades of being steeped in feminism, androgyny, and expressive individualism this generation is massively confused about what it means to be a man or a woman. Pastor Doug Wilson cuts straight to the point when he writes, “If boys don’t learn, men won’t know.” The same goes for girls, and women. We’ve had our God-given purpose stripped from us. “Marriage and family” has taken a back seat to “college and career.” The average age of marriage has been delayed by a full decade (32, compared to 21 in 1950), and the birth rate is at a historic, and alarming low.
As Kevin DeYoung noted in his Book, Do Something: “In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men completed all the major transitions into adulthood by age thirty. These transitions include leaving home, finishing school, becoming financially independent, getting married, and having a child. By 2000, only 46 percent of woman completed these transitions by age thirty, and only 31 percent of men.
DeYoung went on to say, “Our grandparents built. Our parents boomed. And my generation? We tinker…We are seeing a generation of young people grow up (sort of ) who tinker with doctrines, tinker with churches, tinker with girlfriends and boyfriends, tinker with college majors, tinker living in and out of their parents’ basement, and tinker with spiritual practices no matter how irreconcilable or divergent…We’re not consistent. We’re not stable. We don’t stick with anything. We aren’t sure we are making the right decisions. Most of the time, we can’t even make decisions. And we don’t follow through. All of this means that as Christian young people we are less fruitful and less faithful than we ought to be.”
I’m persuaded the displacement of the dominion mandate, in large part, explains the failure of the “True Loves Waits” campaign of the 90’s and early 2000’s. An entire generation of Christian young people, surging with a God-given sex drive, were compelled by pastors and parents to signed “purity” pledges and then told, in the next breath, the “wise” thing to do was put marriage on hold for the next decade or more while they pursued a degree and established a career. Sadly, this generation, by the tens of thousands, dove headlong into rampant porn addiction and casual, pre-marital sex, with countless numbers leaving the faith guilt-laden and disillusioned.
Bonhoeffer saw us coming when he wrote, “The essence of chastity (purity) is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity (purity) is bound to become ridiculous.” And so it has, for an entire generation divorced from the purpose for which we’re designed. To quote popular podcaster,Eric Conn, “Delaying marriage during peak sexual years seems to be a catastrophic cultural error.” Consequently, we’ve become a bitter, barren, apostate generation with birth-control pills and abortion as our sacrament.
As the founder of Dominion Dating, I believe men and women are made for the soul-enlarging, God-glorifying duty of dominion, and this good, innate drive for fruitful oneness should propel most godly singles toward maturity and marriage—“for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) To that end, we’re on a mission to re-enchant the Lord’s church with the idea that dating should be reimagined as a wise, intentional pursuit of purposeful marriage.
In his book, A Different Shade of Green, Dr. Gordon Wilson writes, “Look at how wonderful dominion can be when it is done according to the pattern God gave us. Christlike dominion rules through loving sacrifice, not tyranny. Too many Christians have conflated dominion with oppressive rule: ‘Let’s see how much we can exploit those we rule over, with brute force.’ But Christian dominion is servant-like; giving, and not exploitive. It cleanses, and washes, and beautifies. A husband that exercises this kind of headship makes his wife thrive, and flourish, and become more fruitful. Through his sacrificial love and leadership, she also grows more radiant and beautiful…We are to exercise dominion over the living world…so that whatever is entrusted to our care can thrive, and never languish, or be ruined or squandered. It should be made more beautiful, and flourish, just like a cherished wife.”
We’re working hard to create a better alternative to conventional dating sites, and to go the distance to connect godly singles. Our stated mission is “guiding biblically-faithful singles to find biblically-faithful spouses.” So far, we’re the only dating site to vet users for a commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy and biblical gendered piety. Our networking focus is pastors, churches, and communities committed to biblical marriage and sexuality. Our straightforward “Dating Guide” guides every step of the online dating process, laying out a clear biblical path to marriage and helping singles navigate the obstacles and traps of modern online dating.
Saying The Quiet Part Out Loud
Perhaps the thing that raises the most eyebrows is not our bold name, but rather our unapologetic return to biblical gendered piety. For most of church history, the notion that male and female function corresponds with male and female nature has been as obvious to the Lord’s church as the birds and the bees. Suddenly, it’s enough to make everyone spew beer out their nostrils and send pregnant women to fly combat missions.
Our target demographic is patriarchal and broad-complementarian. At the moment, we’re considered “niche,” but our numbers are definitely surging. Recently, author Aimee Byrd sounded her alarm when the pro-patriarchy book, “It’s Good To Be A Man” made Amazon’s best-seller list. Byrd tweeted, “All of you who keep saying this is a fringe few need to wake up.” By the next day, in response to Byrd’s criticism, the book had jumped from #13 to #1 in the Men’s Christian Living category.
Just a few short years ago, someone with Byrd’s clout could have shut down a book like this. But not now.
When I married 5 years ago, at age 36, I didn’t think of myself as “patriarchal.” Like most in our hyper-feminist day, I was trained to have a visceral, gut reaction against “patriarchy” as something decidedly bad, dangerous, irredeemably sexist. I grew up in an ostensibly conservative Southern Baptist world that fancied itself as complementarian; which is to say, we affirmed the distinctiveness of male and female roles within the home and church, but outside of that narrow purview, we basically functioned as androgynous egalitarians, with men and women being interchangeable in every way.
People don’t like to be viewed as fringe, or extreme. That goes for both the right and left, within the Church. There are many complementarians who align closely with biblical patriarchy, but fear being branded as misogynists. Likewise, there are many egalitarian feminists who want to maintain a measure of respectability while they continue overhauling the church to their liking—hence “broad” and “narrow” complementarianism; two opposing parties fighting over who gets to keep the “safe house” of modern evangelicalism.
We want to invite broad-complementarians; those who recognize and uphold consistent gender-distinctions across the board, to consider that they have much more in common with biblical patriarchy than they do with soft-complementarian-styled feminism. Regardless of what banner we choose to fly under, we can’t allow culture to make us ashamed of the way God has clearly ordered His world.
As the old hymn goes, “This is my Father’s world…” “Patriarchy” simply means, “father rule” and for most of church history, it’s been the settled conviction that God made and equipped men for the normative function of wielding a masculine, protective, fatherly rule in the spheres of family, church, and the civil magistrate.
Even as recently as 2006, Christianity Today’s now editor-in-chief, Russell Moore, argued in favor of patriarchy, writing, “Ironically, a more patriarchal complementarianism will resonate among a generation seeking stability in a family-fractured Western culture in ways that soft-bellied big-tent complementarianism never can. And it also will address the needs of hurting women and children far better, because it is rooted in the primary biblical means for protecting women and children: calling men to responsibility.”
To quote pastor, and best-selling author, Michael Foster, “Patriarchy is inevitable. It’s built into the fabric of the cosmos by God. You can [no sooner] smash it [than] you can smash gravity. The only question is what sort [of] men will rule and the shape their reign will take. Will it be an evil patriarchy or a godly patriarchy?”
Bold Move, Cotton
Our marketing focus, for Dominion Dating, has skewed slightly masculine, because we believe if we can attract the best men, we will also attract the best women. Some years back, Mars Hill Church proved this principle. (I realize some valid criticisms & critiques can be made regarding their then pastor, but that doesn’t negate this truth.) In his book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Mark Driscoll recalls how an unmarried lady pastor began routinely attended the evening services of the distinctly masculine Mars Hill. When asked why she was attending, despite her disdain for patriarchy, her response was revealing: “Everyone knows all the best men are here.” That’s what we’re gunning for! We want to attract the best men and women and scale to a first-rate dating site.
On a closing note, Canon Press recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the biblical concept of “dominion.” As they so aptly summarized, at the end of the day, “It’s either dominion (God’s way) or domination (the devil’s).” There’s no middle ground. As the church, we need to choose. Do we want our children devoured by 50 Shades of Gray, or do we return, wholeheartedly to the goodness of Genesis 1, Ephesians 5, Titus 2, & Proverbs 31.
Dominion Dating is on a mission to wrest the online dating game from destructive sexual conquest and gluttonous consumerism and return it to where it belongs; a wise, intentional pursuit of biblical, dominion-taking marriage & family. If you believe in our mission, and want to help us succeed, back us at dominion.dating. If you’re a single who needs some help finding a spouse, give us a look before you swipe “next.”
J.B. Durham is a pastor in Florida, aspiring author, and the founder of Dominion Dating. Read his blog & forthcoming books at durham.media