Mennonites and dating
After they had consented the young man would come to the home of the girl and the engagement took place.(Daniel Chodowiecki's painting "Mennonite Proposal for Marriage" illustrates this.) After some visiting among relatives the wedding would take place, usually in two weeks after the engagement.Anyone who disregarded the rule was subject to church censure.Even such groups as permitted the young people to make their own promise of marriage required them to obtain the consent of their parents.Among certain of the more conservative groups in Europe, however, the parents still in fact have a large share in selecting a marriage partner.Among the Mennonites of Prussia it was customary into the 19th century for the young man to approach the , a sort of deacon, who would consult with the parents and the daughter of the house making known the young man's desire.Among the Swiss Anabaptists in the Vosges mountain region of Alsace the wooing of the bride was carried on according to the most literal interpretation of Gen. The deacon known as the Schteecklimann" took the place of the servant who was sent out to win a wife for Isaac.In carrying out his mission the "Schteecklimann" mounted a horse even though the prospective bride lived near at hand.
This procedure with minor variations was still the rule among the Old Order Amish in America until the 1950s.Tobit of the Apocrypha still serves the Amish as a model of betrothal and marriage.The rules of the Frisian Mennonites prescribed that young men and women should not associate too freely.These youth, living many miles from their parents in the agricultural villages, meet informally, develop a rudimentary "dating" system, and eventually fall in love and marry, with or without parental consent, and sometimes avoiding the traditional customs of bride price, betrothal rituals, and family-oriented wedding celebrations in the villages.As a result, major tensions and disaffection develop sometimes between traditional parents and their modernized offspring.
To the Anabaptists, however, marriage like all other human decisions and behavior must conform to the express teachings of the Holy Scriptures.