I remember when meeting someone in a romantic way online was a novelty.

People would whisper, “They met online,”  at wedding receptions.

It’s commonplace now. My brother and sister both met their spouses online. I know lots of other people who have, too.

Now, the more common question is, “Which online service did you use?”

E-Harmony? Match.com? Those seem to be the standards. There are others. Some of them with a hint of scandal, some of them outright flaunting it. For a while now, I’ve been getting spam about Ashley Madison along with offers from Match.com and all the rest.

Now, I’ve started getting spam from Christian Mingle.

God, just the name of it! On the one hand the attribution of sanctity, on the other the juicy possibilities of mingling.

It was only a matter of time before this tweet came along in response to someone who had gone Ashley Madison on Christian Mingle:

“For those who divorce because of @christianmingle, we pray.
— Unvirtuous Abbey (@UnvirtuousAbbey) January 20, 2014”

(@UnvirtuousAbbey deleted that tweet the next day.)

Funny. Unless you’re caught in the middle of it.

In one of my early church assignments, one of the deacons was divorcing his 4th (or maybe it was his 5th, I don’t remember) wife so he could marry a woman he’d met at church. He asked me to preside at their wedding.

He was significantly older than she. She had grown up sheltered from the world in a Christian family and had never left home. She was going on 35 and he was her first boyfriend.

Nearly everybody at the church thought it was terrific. An engagement between two committed Christians! Except her family thought it was a lousy idea.

I refused to do the wedding and took all kinds of heat for it. They called the previous pastor, who agreed to do the wedding, but then backed out when he realized what he’d gotten into. They had the Justice of the Peace do it at the trailer park.

At the groom’s 6th wedding, he was three sheets to the wind and could barely stand up. I think there’s a statute about the validity of legal contracts when performed under the influence. The JP did it anyway.

I haven’t kept close track of them. As of a year ago they were still together. It would be about 15 years.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it just takes some people 6 tries to find the right person.

Maybe going Ashley Madison on Christian Mingle can work.

More often, though, it ends up in a cluster-cuss. Everything you’d imagine could go wrong with that kind of meet-up does. I’ve seen that, too.

More times than I care to remember.