|Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony, with his wife Marylyn|
I know several people who have used matchmaking services like Christian Mingle to find companionship and even spouses. And now, thanks to Paul Putz, I know that Christian matchmaking services have a long history. Here is a taste of his short essay on the subject at Religion & Politics:
THE HISTORY OF MATCHMAKING as a mass-marketed commercial enterprise stretches at least as far back as the late nineteenth century. The earliest matchmaking bureaus advertised their services in newspaper personals sections. They developed a reputation for fraud because they often exaggerated and embellished the number of single, wealthy clients on their rolls. As a result, few Americans held commercialized matchmaking bureaus in high esteem. And most Americans simply did not need additional matchmaking help—friends and family played the part just fine…
Evangelicals—a small core of them at least—were early adopters of the online dating trend, and Clark Sloan was one of the pioneers. Out of a job in the early 1990s, Sloan drew entrepreneurial inspiration from an ink-and-paper Christian singles periodical published by his father. “Classified ads back then didn’t seem to work very well,” Sloan recalled. “I thought, ‘why not take this into the computer stage?’” The ensuing company, Christian Computer Match, utilized a computer program created by Sloan to match people based on answers to a 50-question application. Sloan advertised his new service in the handful of Christian singles newspapers still in circulation. By 1994, he claimed to have 8,000 members in his database, which, as far as he knew, was the only Christian-oriented computer-matching program on the market. His program, already technologically advanced for its time, was a natural fit for the transition to the Internet. He made the move online in 1995 when he started the Single Christian Network at singleC.com, which launched around the same time as the first widely used, mainstream personals site, Match.com. Sloan’s website caught the eye of Sam Moorcroft, who cited singleC.com as one of the websites that inspired him to launch his own Christian matchmaking site, ChristianCafe.com, in 1999 (singleC.com is now a site affiliated with ChristianCafe.com).