30 July 2009

Why I Cooled It on Matchmaking

I'm not sure anyone has noticed, because I still get ribbed about my matchmaking hobby, but I actually did reluctantly cool it on that whole gig some time ago. It was too often misunderstood and miscontrued, and therefore counterproductive to my purpose.

Purpose? Yes, there was a point to it. My comments on matchmaking have always been one part affectionate teasing and another part serious counsel, though not in the sense that some may have assumed. I've never actually presumed to matchmake anyone else's children; nor would I attempt to do so. Even in the case of my own children, I have neither dictated nor manipulated their relationships. I have involved myself in their friendships and romance, and I have endeavored to be both available for and welcoming of their conversation in such areas. Along with that, when I have spoken of matchmaking, partly in good humor and partly with serious intent, I have wanted to convey something about the nature of relationships; not only for my own children, but also for the young people entrusted to my pastoral care.

Regrettably, my matchmaking efforts, so to speak, have been regarded as too silly on the one hand, but have been taken too seriously on the other hand. That is why I have cooled it, even if no one has noticed. The point and purpose were being lost, and I feared that I was causing more harm than the good I intended. So now I'll spell it out forthrightly.

I have spoken of matchmaking in the past, because by such gentle teasing I have hoped to convey my affection for the young people in my life. I love my own children dearly, and I love the children and young people of my congregation, too. I care about them and about their lives. My teasing, of whatever sort, is always an expression of that affectionate care for them. It is never intended to shame or embarrass them.

With respect to matchmaking or romance, I have teased in part because I believe it can be helpful to a certain extent. Leastwise, that is how it was for me when I was an adolescent boy. My Grandpa used to tease me about the girls at school, and there was a part of me that really wished he wouldn't; but there was another sense in which I benefited from his teasing. I learned from him that it was normal and expected for boys to begin noticing girls and liking them. I also perceived that such attractions were not dirty or despicable, but something to be delighted in. There was an innocence and sense of fun about it, cradled in the safety of my Grandpa's love for me. Grandfathers, fathers and pastors can gently tease in a way that rejoices in the genuine goodness of romance, without the risqué innuendo of the world's perverse humor.

I have also spoken of matchmaking in order to convey several significant points concerning romantic relationships: First of all, I have wanted to emphasize that parents, fathers in particular, ought to be paying attention and being proactive in their children's relationships and plans for the future. Fathers are fundamental to the way that sons and daughters grow up and learn how to be men and women, how they relate to the opposite sex, and how they know what to do with their lives in this world. Fundamentalist approaches to "courtship" are prone to legalism and contrivance, but they have rightly perceived that a father ought to be actively involved in preparing his daughters (and sons) for holy marriage. Fathers are likewise key to discerning the relatively rare gift of celibacy; which may strike readers as quite the opposite of matchmaking, but is actually quite in harmony with the point of parental authority.

By speaking of matchmaking, I have also wanted to urge the goodness and rightness of marriage. The world in general disparages marriage, and even many Christians have bought into the mindset of delaying marriage on some kind of principle. My point has not been that everyone should or must get married, whether sooner or later, but only that marriage should not be feared, avoided or put off, but rather anticipated and approached with deliberate and conscientious intent. Marriage is a good gift of God; those who deny it are teaching the doctrine of demons, according to St. Paul. Marriage preaches the Gospel of Christ and His Bride, the Church. It is to be received with thanksgiving, and sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. In addition, by the grace and mercies of God, marriage is a powerful protection against the powerful temptations of sexual desire. Matchmaking suggests that parents and their teenagers should be thinking positively about the prospect of marriage, rather than striving to stave it off, leaving it to happenstance, or supposing that the lusts of the flesh are of little concern or consequence.

When I have teased the young people of my congregation about matchmaking, I have never meant to pressure them into anything, to compell or constrain them in any particular direction. I would not want any of them to rush into marriage apart from the carefully considered wisdom, counsel and advice of their own fathers and mothers. They ought to be seeking the counsel and advice of their pastors, too, and not proceeding without that guidance and direction of the Word of God. By the same token, young people should not be pressured or constrained to flee from the goodness of marriage, but catechized in its theological significance, its purpose and benefits. If I'm not able to make these points clearly or well with comments on matchmaking, I shall be looking for other ways to teach and convey the goodness and rightness of marriage, and the role of parents in preparing their children for that blessed estate.


Moria said...

One of the reasons I was a little unsettled about your teasing was because I'm wary about teasing seeming to make light of marriage. Anyone who knows you knows that you would never intend such a thing, and I can understand your comments about why you think teasing can be helpful. Yet it has also been my own experience, both for myself and others whom I have known, that teasing can encourage certain kinds of inappropriate flirting and promiscuity, arousing and awakening love before it so desires (see Song 5:3).

In any case, each experience is different from the next; your consistent and sound advice about fathers and mothers taking the active and preeminent role in this area, in all serious and with pastoral counsel, is very wise. That part of your "matchmaking" I think we all welcome and appreciate.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Such concerns are appropriate, and are among the reasons that I have backed off on my approach. As you say, however, every situation is different. For my own part, I am concerned that a lack of parental and pastoral involvement and conversation leaves many young people far more open to the input, attitudes and behaviors of the world. "Teasing," I believe, can simply be a less threatening way of conveying serious guidance, that would otherwise be offputting or awkward if it were offered in a stiff or formal manner. It largely depends upon the individual and the circumstances. As in most anything else, there is a need for discernment and discretion, rather than a "one-size-fits-all" set of rules.

Similarly, my "teasing" in connection with friendships and romantic relationships between boys and girls is almost always aimed at addressing a particular pastoral concern, especially where I perceive that conflict or confusion have intruded upon an otherwise healthy situation. It isn't the sort of approach that I would take in every case, certainly, but I have found it to be helpful in getting past the embarrassment or defensiveness that sometimes occur with a more direct "confrontation" of concern.

I would also like to believe that anyone who knows me would certainly be aware of the high regard in which I hold the holy estate of marriage. Since my own actual teasing and conversations about matchmaking have only ever been with people I know well, my caution and my "cooling it" with respect to this sort of thing has been due to the way it has sometimes taken on a life of its own and gone beyond anything I have ever said or intended, among people I don't know well or at all. Since I can't prevent my comments from being miscontrued, I have become deliberately more guarded and more precise in what I say, and more retiscent to say anything outside a clear pastoral context.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Some further thoughts that my brain was processing as I slept:

My observation and experience with children has been that interest in the opposite sex is awakened and active, typically, in most little girls by the time they are ten, and in most boys by the time they are thirteen. If that interest is not informed and guided by input from parents (and pastors), it will not be left uninformed, in any case. Even homeschooled children cannot be entirely sheltered from the bombardment of the world's attitudes toward sex and relationships.

My pastoral observation over the years has been that most fathers are not actively involved in the lives of their children in the way they need to be. In the case of their daughters, in particular, especially as those girls become teenagers, many fathers are shy and reluctant, nervous and scared; others are simply negligent. They fear what may be going on, but they would rather not know about it. Instead of being proactive from early on, they tend to be reactive to problems or potential problems, and at that point their approach is more likely to be a heavy-handed legalism than a light-hearted guidance of fatherly care.

It has also been my experience that at least some parents, even among Christians, would rather their young adult children fornicate than get married "too early." I am no longer surprised, but remain dismayed, by parents who urge or insist that their children should live together prior to marriage; presumably to make sure that things are going to work before "jumping into anything" and "making a mistake." This is not only wrong, but gross negligence, which attempts to take the place of parental involvement all along.

My "matchmaking schtick" initally grew out of the conversations that LaRena and I had with DoRena and Zachary as they were growing up. It was a way of expressing what we all recognized, namely, that my wife and I were paying attention, that we were involved in our children's lives, that we were responsible for guiding them and helping them to make decisions, and that we had an active interest in their future spouses. When it came to conversations with our friends and their children, it was fairly natural to use this same kind of language to describe the role of parents in planning and preparing for the marriage of their children. In the past I have been deliberate in doing so in cases where I could see that parents (and fathers in particular) were not in conversation with their children. I could lecture or admonish, but sometimes gentle teasing is more productive and less threatening.

There are any number of cases which, now in retrospect, I should have addressed pastorally. If I had certain things to do over again, I would take a more active interest, and even risk intruding myself, in order to encourage and support a more positive and constructive approach to relationships, with a view toward the goodness of marriage. Some cases may have required forthright admonishment, but as I think about individuals and particular cases, I believe that a gentle teasing, again, would have been the better way of initiating conversation.

In my experience, the humor of "teasing" can be especially helpful in addressing bitter cynicism and angry sarcasm. It can also be helpful in difusing the tendency of young women to say exactly the opposite of what they are really thinking and feeling.

The bottom line is, my number one concern with respect to young people is the need for their fathers to be actively involved in their lives, communicating with them, and guiding them in their choices and decisions for the future. When I have spoken in terms of "matchmaking," my aim has always been to encourage that proactive paternal involvement.

organistsandra said...

This post is helpful to me in understanding your thoughts. I, for one, have indeed noticed your quietness lately in this area.

I believe I've understood your point that marriage should not be feared, avoided, or put off, and I really appreciate that. You are wise, and well-spoken.

What I hadn't been able to understand is this: matchmaking, to me, sort of looks like pressure to get married at a young age.

Obviously, each person is unique. I know you haven't meant to say that it is preferable for everyone to get married at a younger age, but I didn't know how to square that with the matchmaking. It's difficult for a couple to be a couple for many years before marriage. Some of these young people may not get married until age 22 or 25. Encouraging that person into a relationship in his mid-teens seems not helpful.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your comments and questions, Sandra.

This perception of what I have meant by "matchmaking" is one of the reasons I have largely given up this kind of talk.

I don't think that everyone should get married "early." I do believe that the typical or average age at which most people get married should be considerably younger than the standard "norm" has become. What that means, in my opinion, is not that young people should be pushed into relationships earlier, but that parents should be thinking positively toward the marriages of their children, talking to them positively and constructively about the significance, purposes and benefits of marriage, and being actively involved in all of their children's relationships.

The fact is that young people are interested in the opposite sex and are developing various relationships. It's not as though this doesn't happen without parental involvement; it's only that, without parental involvement, it often develops into things that are not right, nor helpful nor healthy. It reminds me of the way that many modern parents take the attitude that they should let their children grow up and then decide for themselves whether and what sort of religion or spirituality they want to pursue. Which is foolish, sinful nonsense.

The teasing or light-hearted side of the "matchmaking" I have talked about in the past, is that of course I have never supposed that I would simply determine and dictate for my children ahead of time who they would marry. Rather, in identifying the children of other families with similar values and commitments and a shared faith as potential spouses for my own children, I have communicated that here are the sorts of things one ought to be thinking about and looking for. Somehow that does need to be conveyed; otherwise, what happens is that young people go off to college and fall in love with other young people, whom they meet outside of any familial context, and often irrespective of any particular confession of the faith.

Young people who aren't in conversation with their parents about their relationships while they are still living at home, are even less likely to communicate with their parents about such things when they are away from home. As it is, I see it happen far too often, already during the teenage years, that boyfriends simply appear prior to and apart from any parental involvement.

So, the serious side of my comments on matchmaking have always been aimed at parental involvement in general, and the responsibility of fathers in particular to train their sons for marriage and to give their daughters away in marriage. That training and preparation ought to be happening, in my opinion, from at least the early teen years. Not that young people should be forced into relationships, but they should be trained and prepared for relationships; and whatever relationships they do have should be undertaken and enjoyed with a view toward the possibility of marriage. "Every date a potential mate," is how one wise woman learned it from her Mom and helpfully summarized it for me. And every "date" ought to be under the oversight of parents.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I guess what has frustrated me is this assumption that I am about forcing young people into romantic relationships. The vast majority of the young people I know have such relationships without anyone pressuring them into it (and sometimes without their parents even knowing about it). So my concern is that parents ought to be aware of and actively involved in those relationships, rather than taking a lackadaisical attitude and approach. I frankly think the Church has been far too nonchalent concerning those things that we confess about the natural attraction of the sexes for each other, the goodness of marriage, and the dangerous consequences of trying to avoid marriage contrary to nature. I'm not suggesting that young people cannot be disciplined. But that discipline ought to include a deliberate and conscientious preparation for marriage, or in rare cases for a life of celibacy, rather than a look-the-other-way and hope-for-the-best strategy.

"Matchmaking," setting the teasing aside, is not about pushing young people into relationships; it's about parents (especially fathers) preparing their children for marriage, and taking an active (even proactive) role in helping their children to determine when and to whom they should get married. In some cases, marriage may come later, in other cases earlier; but I think the positive guidance and assistance needs to begin by the time of puberty: not to force any relationships, but to avoid the bad ones that develop on their own.

The notion that young people are not looking for guidance in these areas is naive. I was reminded of just how hungry even young teenagers are for counsel and direction by the responses I received to my breakaways at Higher Things last week. When they aren't getting that help from their parents (and pastors), they are getting plenty of information from elsewhere: information that DOES pressure them into relationships, but which also points them away from holy marriage. That is why I have consistently urged, also in light-hearted ways, that parents need to be involved in preparing their children for godly marriages.

organistsandra said...

Ohhhhh. I finally get what you're saying. Now I see what you've been pushing for. Thank you for persisting. Yes - I agree that young people need guidance, that parents, and fathers in particular, need to be preparing their children for marriage, this should start when children are young - I agree with all that. Thank you for observing this, helping parents, urging parents, and teaching both parents and young people.

It is frustrating when people make assumptions and I apologize for doing that.

You're talking about parents who love their children and train them in other ways. Here are a few thoughts to add to yours, on why this isn't happening:

I wonder how many people there are for whom this kind of active communication is possible. Yes - we all should talk to our children about marriage and relationships. Can it be done primarily with modeling? I don't know, but I do know so many people who feel unable to put thoughts and feelings into words. I'm not saying this to excuse fathers and mothers, but I'm sympathetic to someone who is silent when they need to be speaking up. This sounds weird, but I really think lots of people can recognize the right thing when someone else says it, but aren't able to say it themselves, for whatever reason. Words are hard.

From another different angle: what is frustrating - and discouraging - to me in all this is, goes back to your comment about using light hearted teasing to address bitter cynicism and angry sarcasm. I'm really listening to this comment - you found that this often helps? There's hardly anything I find more discouraging than the sarcasm and complaining that comes from young people's mothers with regard to the fathers. When wives put down their husbands, do they think the children aren't aware of this? I agree that fathers need to step up to the plate and prepare their children for relationships. Mothers need to let their children see respect from them towards the father/husband. Maybe by doing that, more fathers will have the confidence to counsel their children.

Moria said...

There are a couple other related points.

As you know, I am in basic agreement with you when it comes to parental involvement in leading their children into felicitous and blessed marriages. You rightly criticize social assumptions that young adults must wait until they've completed their education and established themselves in a career before they may marry. And your comments here clearly indicate that you are not simply trying to get young people married, but want to train them in developing right relationships.

In some of our conversations, however, I have gotten the impression that your concern about sexual immorality overshadows other concerns. Yet, I am not sure why we cannot expect some self-discipline in the area of sexual behavior, just as we do when it comes to the other commandments. The church has historically expected people to abstain for periods of time, sometimes even within marriage. Not all of these historical expectations were misguided.

I am not saying that we should put off marriage simply for the sake of testing sexual purity, but there is a difference between noticing and becoming attracted to the opposite sex (which does occur at an early age), and actually reaching a mature and awakened sexual drive (which can actually be quite late for young women, and even later for young men than we sometimes give them credit for). And the maturity needed for marriage is not just bodily maturity, but an emotional, educational, and vocational maturity which, for better or for worse, may take a little longer to develop than in eras past.

When young people are encouraged to marry young primarily for the sake of dealing with sexual temptation, they may overlook other important issues of compatibility such as occupational interests, material expectations, family traditions, and ethical differences (not necessarily directly religious, which are more easily detected and avoided from the beginning).

The second concern I have had in the past is that I have occasionally noticed that the teasing has centered on young children, clearly prepubescent. To be sure, this has been innocent teasing, but the behavior of some of the children in the context of this teasing has not always been so innocent, such as boys touching or paying attention to girls in playfully romantic ways, when the girls were not comfortable with this. To my knowledge, the boys' behavior was not corrected, but ignored or laughed off as boys being boys.

I don't see how young children of around this age behaving this way is healthy, or how teasing is helpful.

Rather, candid, sober, age-appropriate, and even humorous advice is what pastors and fathers can best provide. But not teasing, which implies a general making light of the question.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thank you for your further comments, Pastor Grobien.

Let me clarify that I am not in favor of encouraging young people to get married early on account of sexual immorality. Rather, I am opposed to discouraging young people from getting married "too early," in large part due to my concern over sexual immorality.

We may have different things in mind when it comes to "teasing." I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone should engage in rude or risque humor.

I have never knowingly encouraged or tolerated inappropriate words or actions on anyone's part. Perhaps I am missing something. My constant refrain, especially with my own sons, is that they are to be gentlemen, and in particular that they are to be respectful and courteous of girls, young ladies and women of whatever age. If I have somehow given another impression, I am very sorry for that.

When I speak of an interest in the opposite sex, which develops from rather early on, I specifically do not mean only with respect to sexual desire. In younger children, I don't think that even enters into the equation. The differences between boys and girls are not only physical, but mental and emotional, as well.

I'm not sure what more I can say. My goal and intention, both as a pastor and as a father, is to promote chastity within and outside of marriage, and to prepare young people for their vocations in a God-pleasing way.

Nat said...

I am confused about two things.

First, the idea that teasing is inherently at odds with advice. I don't know about other people's experience, but a lot of good counsel has been imparted to me through teasing. While it's not exactly as information-rich as a good sit-down discussion is, its unserious nature is suited to gentle reminders, or situations in which a face-to-face conversation is not really warranted.

For instance, one of the several games of Red Rover I've played during the past month included a good friend of mine who is rather more flirtatious than I; at one point during the game, he stepped out of our team's line so that he could jovially put his arms around the shoulders of two girls who were next to each other. I asked him loudly whether he was payed to fight in the army, or put his arms around girls' shoulders; we laughed, but he got the point and stopped.

Now, he was hardly being outrageous or greatly offensive in his behavior; he simply did something which struck me as not quite appropriate, which opinion I expressed through teasing. I did not want to let the incident simply pass, but to have tried some more serious approach, such as taking him aside and stating in clear terms my opinion and citing my reasons, would have been both awkward, and (in my eyes) uncalled for.

The other confusion I have I would like to address by asking: Pastor Stuckwisch, what exactly do you mean by your last comment? Its first paragraph ("Let me clarify...") contains two contradictory sentences.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Not contradictory, Nathaniel, but not the same either; I was making a contrast between two different ways of looking at things.

It has never been my goal to urge or pressure everyone to get married "early" (or earlier than the average norm has become). It IS my intention, however, in large part due to the prevelant and strong temptations of sexual immortality, to oppose the discouragement of young people getting married "too early," which is the reigning wisdom in our day, even among Christians.

In other words, my concerns over the dangers of sexual immortality -- such as St. Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and as our Lutheran Confessions deal with especially in opposition to the forced celibacy of the clergy -- cause me to insist that young people should NOT be discouraged from getting married "too early," nor pressured away from marriage solely for the sake of their young age.

That is quite a different thing than suggesting that everyone should (or must) get married "early," quickly or as soon as possible. I don't hold that view and haven't advocated it. I have said, and I do believe this, that the typical "average" age at which most people now get married is much higher than is meet, right or salutary. It is certainly much higher than it has been historically. But these are general observations, not specific rules for everyone. My primary rule of thumb is that discerning when and whom to marry is largely determined by the authority of fathers (and mothers). So I have wanted to encourage parents to be positive and proactive in preparing their children for marriage. In those rare cases where God grants the special gift of celibacy, I believe that fathers are instrumental in identifying that and encouraging their children in that vocation; not legalistically, but evangelically, in faith and love (as St. Paul also implies in 1 Corinthians 7).

My primary reason for lauding and advocating marriage, in any event, is not a negative one; although God has provided marriage as a strong protection against the strong temptation of sexual immorality. But, no, my primary reason for lauding and advocating marriage is the simple fact that it is one of God's best gifts, which ought to be received with thanksgiving, sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. St. Paul specifically identifies the disparagement of holy marriage as a doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4). Yet, such disparagement has become increasingly common in our world, and even Christians are not immune to a cynical, negative view of this good and holy vocation. That continues to trouble me and concern me; and that is why I speak very positively and encouragingly about marriage, even on the part of younger people. I think my Zach and Bekah are a great example of how young people can approach marriage with godly seriousness and integrity.

I don't expect everyone to rush out and get married "as soon as possible." Nor would I want people to attempt such a thing. Marriage is not only good and holy, but a serious matter, and it ought to be approached deliberately and carefully. It is precisely for those reasons, and not to make light of marriage, that I urge parents to be positively proactive in preparing their children for this holy estate from early on.

Moria said...

To clarify and respond to one of Nat's points. You're right, Nat; teasing need not always be at odds with advice. But it depends on the kind of teasing. In the situation you describe, your teasing helped to divert someone from what may not have been appropriate. But the teasing I have been reminded of in the context of this post has been the kind that has been encouraging of boy-girl affections. So, if it helps to clarify my position, I am saying that I am wary of the latter kind of teasing and unconvinced that it is helpful it nurturing such relationships properly. The kind of teasing you describe, Nat, seems appropriate and helpful.

It has also bothered me that the kind of teasing I am concerned about has sometimes occurred about younger children. But I also want to clarify even as I say that, that I don't mean to accuse anyone, certainly not Pr Stuckwisch, of regularly going around needling little boys about their crushes on little girls, and trying to get them to hold hands or kiss. That is certainly not what I mean.

Rather, the activity I'm referring to is really rather mild. In fact, it's probably difficult to describe without exaggerating it (unintentionally) in some way. But I simply mean to say that sometimes the simple affections of a little boy for a little girl (and perhaps vice versa) are pointed out in a humorously approving way. I won't even say that these affections are pointed out to the little boy himself, although I couldn't say for sure that he doesn't get the sense that what he's doing is "cute" and approved by the adults. Thus these affections continue, and in a few cases have manifested in inappropriate behavior. But mostly they remain what is, on the surface and as an isolated event, harmless, such as puppy dog looks or following the girl around.

My fundamental concern is that even light-hearted teasing in these situations over time can lead to the gradual deterioration of behavior, so that by the time a boy does reach puberty, he is trying to hug girls without any basis for doing so, or worse.

It may seem like I am blowing things out of proportion; either in considering the actions of young children as potentially harmful, or in connecting later poor behavior with teasing at an early age. But however minimal the connection, we should be aware of it.

I should also close by saying that if this kind of teasing didn't occur, then we should be sure at least that our words and actions in these matters caused no confusion for boys and girls, in an area that can already be very difficult and confusing.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

These questions, comments, and clarifications on "teasing" are helpful, I think, and bring to light where there may have been some confusion caused by my post.

Nathaniel's example is exactly the sort of "teasing" that I have had in mind: a gentle, even humorous way of calling attention to a potential problem. I have found that this kind of approach is especially helpful when dealing with volatile situations, in which a person is otherwise likely to become defensive. "Teasing" can sometimes be far less threatening and therefore easier to receive.

It is true that I gave the example of my grandfather's teasing, which was in fact more along the lines of what Pastor Grobien has described and expressed some concerns about. It is also true that I have sometimes engaged in such teasing myself, although I do not recall that I have done so in affirmation of handholding or kissing or such on the part of little children. I'm not inclined to say that such teasing is always wrong or harmful, but I do in fact understand the concern, and I would certainly agree that such teasing is not always helpful or appropriate.

Teasing of any sort has the potential to be helpful when it is offered within the context of a fully developed relationship, in which there is communication of a more serious nature, instruction and discipline. In that context, teasing can be a gentle way of pointing a person back to things that have been discussed more carefully at other times. It can serve as a reminder, without being heavy-handed, hurtful or demeaning. Apart from the larger context of a loving relationship, teasing itself can be hurtful and demeaning, or provocative, or whatever.

My grandfather's teasing did not encourage me to be aggressive or rude with my affections; because I knew from all the other things he taught me, and from his own good example, that such behavior would not be okay or pleasing to him. Rather, his teasing helped me to overcome my shyness and my embarrassment about the fact that I actually was noticing the girls and becoming interested in them.

Anyway, my grandfather's teasing was simply a particular example, and probably not the best one I could have chosen in the context of this post. Because the sort of positive teasing that I have had in mind would be the sort that says to a young girl, for example, who shows signs of falling in love: "Your daddy better be polishing his shotgun before long." Within a context in which I have repeatedly stressed the fourth commandment and the role of fathers in the lives of their children, such a comment says far more than it would seem on the surface. It's a reminder that a young woman's "love life" is not a private affair; leastwise not to be hidden from her own father. I could give other examples, touching upon different situations, but this one catches the gist of the actual intention in my earlier comments.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I do think that teasing can be misunderstood, and that it can get out of hand in ways that are not helpful; which is why the initial point to my post was to say, here is what I have intended in the past by my comments on matchmaking (which, as several people have noted, I really haven't talked about in quite some time).

As previously indicated, the whole matchmaking schtick originated in conversations with my own older children. It was part and parcel of our ongoing discussion of parental authority and involvement in their relationships and plans for the future. That concern is omething that all of my older children have taken seriously and to heart in their words and actions, plans and decisions.

Whenever I have spoken in this same manner with others -- which has always been in the context of friendship and either a pastoral or collegial relationship -- the underlying purpose and intention has been to emphasize the responsibility of fathers (and mothers) in preparing their children for marriage. Now I simply try to make that same point forthrightly, rather than lightheartedly or humorously. Nevertheless, in the case of my own children, and in some other cases, I believe the point was made helpfully and well by such "teasing."