On Friday, June 1, 2012 Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work (CFW) hosted two distinguished gentlemen in a sold-out discussion entitled “Overworked and Looking for Love.” Neil Clark Warren, chairman and co-founder of eHarmony and Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, tackled some of the hard realities of living in a city where people often prioritize their work over relationships.
What does the co-founder of the largest, most successful online dating service have to do with the president of one of the most influential seminaries in America? It came as a surprise that before launching eHarmony at the age of 65, Warren had served as the Dean of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a matter of fact, it was his work in marriage counseling that fueled his concern over the state of marriage and un-marriage today.
Over many years, Warren and Mouw developed a deep respect and admiration for the other’s academic contributions and Christian commitment. Their close friendship and jovial camaraderie was evident in their buoyant interactions and thoughtful engagement of the other’s work.
The CFW has brought in Christian practitioners over the past few years to speak on a variety of topics relating to faith and work in the areas of politics, business, arts, etc. It was a particular honor to hear two recognized experts—one a clinical psychologist and the other a leading theologian—discuss the realities of trying to find love in the midst of over-worked and over-booked schedules. Through the research and data he’s accumulated over the many years, Warren has identified 29 dimensions of compatibility that are important factors in understanding compatibility in marriage. From a theological perspective, Mouw validated the importance of such sociological data when it comes to understanding how common grace is at work to strengthen relationships and marriages—Christian and non-Christian alike.
In the midst of fascinating statistics and trends, both Warren and Mouw stressed that the key in finding lasting love was to first know yourself. Too many people are looking for that perfect someone without first knowing themselves. This can and has led to disaster. Warren followed up by saying it is only the Christian gospel that ultimately can help people get right with themselves, by first getting right with God.
His response echoed what Tim and Kathy Keller taught at the Sex, Singleness and Marriage conference a few months prior to this event concerning how we need the gospel to expose our tendency to idolize relationships. It is the security and love revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ that uniquely enables people to look at themselves and others with a humility and sobriety that brings a loving and wise discernment to all our relationships.
For New Yorkers, there seem to be inumerable and daunting challenges to dating and marriage. People study longer to prepare for their vocations and relocate frequently to advance their careers. The drive to remain competitive and successful escalates the number of hours we find ourselves at work. Singles have a hard time meeting other singles and marrieds have a hard time building deep and lasting bonds. Despite even the remarkable claim that eHarmony is currently responsible for 5% of the new marriages in the country, much more needs to be done to help heal many broken relationships. But, as a concerned and committed academic, entrepreneur, and Christian, Warren has been a significant agent of cultural renewal, whose contributions have made a considerable impact in the church and our culture at large.