Tobit of the Apocrypha still serves the Amish as a model of betrothal and marriage.
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.
This practice must have been of Dutch Mennonite background and was transplanted from Prussia to Russia and America.
The conservative groups in Mexico and Paraguay still adhere to it in some modified form.
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).
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.
Among these groups, dating and boy-girl contacts, prior to engagement, have been restricted, and there is considerable distrust of a young couple out somewhere on a date by themselves.