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To the Anabaptists, however, marriage like all other human decisions and behavior must conform to the express teachings of the Holy Scriptures.And because no New Testament instance furnished a pattern for the wooing of a wife, some Anabaptist groups accepted the Old Testament example of Abraham's selection of a wife for Isaac to show what is the duty of the parent to his son.Such practices have now almost universally disappeared in America in favor of the personal proposal by the young man to the chosen one.The change has been due to the general adoption of the American concept of romantic love as the basis for marriage.The deacon usually served as the "Schteecklimann." His ordination charge included the words, "and if there are brethren and sisters who wish to marry, you are to serve them uprightly." One manuscript adds the words, "according to the Christian regulation." Among all Anabaptist-Mennonite groups it was once customary for the preachers or elders to make the marriage proposals.The principal reason for this rule was to insure a "marriage in the Lord," that is, the union of two young people who were members of the church.In conformity with general medieval practice Anabaptists expected to supervise and direct the marriage arrangements for their young people.
The conservative groups in Mexico and Paraguay still adhere to it in some modified form.
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.
Under the aegis of Western missions, Western ideas of mate selection by the marrying individuals, preferably with parental approval and sponsorship, have come to prevail among the more educated members of new churches in India and Africa, among Mennonites as well as others.
Urbanization and education in non-Western countries have precipitated major changes in the mate selection process, since many youth have gone to towns and cities for employment or to study in boarding schools (Kauffman, 1976).