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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.Then on his arrival at the home, the details of the Biblical story were followed punctiliously even to offering a drink, presenting gifts, and so on.This procedure with minor variations was still the rule among the Old Order Amish in America until the 1950s.
In conformity with general medieval practice Anabaptists expected to supervise and direct the marriage arrangements for their young people.To a medieval European parent the marriage of a son or daughter without his consent was unthinkable.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.
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.