UL student’s depiction of Jesus saves Tinder users from pits of boredom
From his depiction of Christianity’s messiah to witty one-liners sent to girls on a popular dating app, one University of Louisiana at Lafayette student turned a Halloween costume into an online sensation.
On Feb. 10, TJ (or Tinder Jesus — his real name has been withheld at his request) launched a dating profile on Tinder that showcased his long chestnut hair and the white-and-red robe he bought as a joke in October. Posing in front of a Girard Park gazebo, TJ can be seen transforming Smart Water into wine in front of a wooden slab of Swedish Fish paired with corn tortillas. The idea stemmed from a pre-existing Jesus Tinder profile; however, the pictures were of artists’ renditions of Jesus as opposed to full-fledged depictions of his miracles.
Within a week, TJ’s profile became the talk of the twittersphere. Now, he said he is “lying low” until the sensation has worn off.
“A lot of my matches are like, ‘Oh my god, you’re famous,’” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want that to mix in with going on dates and stuff. I still talk to people, but I don’t try to further it, I guess.”
With phrases such as “Upside: I would die for you so you know I’m committed” littering his bio, TJ quickly became the topic of articles, posts — even a Facebook page made in search of the person behind the profile.
TJ said his puns are a combination of friends’ suggestions, ideas from the internet and puns of his own conception.
“Not all of them are original, but it’s surprisingly easy to come up with cheesy Bible and Jesus-related puns,” he admitted.
TJ said fellow UL Lafayette students have caught onto his double life.
“I’ll have people stare at me now,” he said. “It’s so funny: This one girl was sitting at dinner one night, and she kept staring at me … 30 minutes later, she finally screamed across the table and said, ‘Hey, excuse me — are you the Jesus guy?’”
Tinder, which is known best for its fast-paced matchmaking system, pairs users who have “swiped right,” or indicated that he or she is interested in someone’s profile. Users can set where they wish to be discovered, whether in the town they currently dwell or in a different city, state or continent.
“I moved myself to Australia when I started blowing up — that way, nobody recognized it,” TJ said.
Tinder is something else my dude pic.twitter.com/bv86lbF0PJ
— ♡ 🌻JUJU🌻 ♡ (@QueenIdle) March 4, 2017
Although his satirical salute to the son of God was met mostly positive feedback both online and in person, some online commenters have called his rendition of Jesus offensive.
The Rev. Bill Baker, director of Wesley United Methodist Church located on General Gardner Avenue, said the post made him “chuckle;” however, he noted some of TJ’s messages to his matches may have been “a little too sexualized.” He said there is a line jokesters must consider when satirizing an iconic religious figure.
“You gotta be careful of that line,” he warned. “A lot of us are serious about our faith, and Jesus has literally changed our lives.”
However, he also said people must learn to laugh at jokes such as TJ’s.
“This is some guy right here in Lafayette who’s basically trying to entertain people,” he said. “He’s not saying ‘this is how Jesus really is;’ he’s trying to get a date … When people do that, you gotta try to take it with a grain of salt and understand where they’re coming from.”
“It kind of goes against the religious, but it’s still funny,” said Samantha Trail, a junior marketing major.
Chi Alpha Campus Ministry and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry declined to comment, and Our Lady of Wisdom was not immediately available for comment at press time.
TJ said he apologizes to anyone who may have been offended by the profile.
“If God made us in his image, then God has a sense of humor,” he said. “There’s not really much else I can say about that because I understand where they’re coming from. It wasn’t meant at all to be sacrilegious or taking a hit at Christianity or Jesus or religion in general — it was just meant to be fun, enjoyable and give people laughs.”
Grant Miller, a freshman creative writing major who once played Jesus in a theater production, compared TJ’s description of the figure to comedic depictions of Napoleon Bonaparte as an “ill-tempered little tyrant.”
“I’d say it takes a bit of respect to (depict Jesus) and play the character,” he said. “This guy seems to be more like a comedic Jesus — kind of like a parody of Jesus — and I’m pretty OK with that.”
Lafayette residents cannot currently access their soulmate site savior. TJ said he is considering “hiding” his profile or making it private.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to be deleting it,” he conceded, “but I don’t want people swiping on me if I’m not going to be able to match with them and reply back to them.”
As far as people who are swiping through possible partners on Tinder to find Jesus, TJ said patience is key.
“Give me a few days, and I’ll come back,” he said. “Like, three days.”