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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Tinder Swindler: Superficial or Sacrificial?

Note: This piece contains spoilers for The Tinder Swindler.

The Tinder Swindler is the latest Netflix phenomenon to have us all gripped by a version of reality verging on the fantastical. If the opening scenes had me wondering why my own online dating adventures have never involved private jets or luxury hotels, this was quickly replaced by the realisation that it really was too good – or too bad – to be true.

It tells the story of Simon Leviev, or Shimon Hayut, an Israeli conman who used the dating app to recruit unwitting victims for his fraudulent scheme. He reeled numerous women in with lavish displays of wealth, which they took to be love, then persuaded them to ‘loan’ him huge sums of money, which in turn fuelled his extravagance to the next woman. And so the cycle continues.

The women involved were drawn in by the most attractive and yet ultimately superficial of loves. As we see their relationships play out in their texts to and from each other, it is noticeable that there is none of the clunky getting-to-know-you phase typical of dating app introductions.

Instead, things skip straight to declarations of love, followed – sometimes weeks, other times months, later – by demands for money. None of it stands the test of 1 Corinthians 13. Leviev may have claimed to speak the tongues of men and angels, and boasted of a bank balance to move mountains, but when it all falls away, we see him to be a hollow, clanging cymbal.

There is an obvious moral for us to take from this cautionary tale, about the perils of trusting in love that is superficial rather than sacrificial. But if we draw comfort from feeling sure we wouldn’t be so gullible or undiscerning, we should remember that we are not above falling for the wrong kind of love.

The way that 1 Corinthians 13 describes love challenges us to be patient, kind, slow to anger, trusting, not self-seeking, not proud or envious – no mean feat. But it is also a reminder that we should seek all those things in what and who we love, not the surface-deep characteristics of love the world tells us to value.

After all, loving the wrong thing doesn’t always come with the red flags and hindsight of watching The Tinder Swindler unfold.

Hannah Rich
Hannah is a senior researcher at Theos Think Tank and tweets at @hannahmerich.


Watch the trailer for The Tinder Swindler:

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