chapter  Seven
18 Pages

Mixed Marriages and Social Change

In the early modern era, the boundaries separating confessional communities were reinforced from both sides. On the one hand, Mennonites, like Calvinists, Catholics and Jews, were not fully enfranchised members of northern German Lutheran society. And, on the other hand, although the Mennonite community was formally a voluntary one joined by adult believers, it was in practice a community into which individuals were born and in which they were raised to accept certain rights, responsibilities, disadvantages and beliefs. Marriage practices, like so many other aspects of Mennonite life in the seventeenth century, were affected greatly by the experience of migration. The Mennonites' long-standing concern about maintaining the moral purity of their religious community is shown in the following example, one of many from the early modern era. The kinds of social relationships that developed as a result of the behaviour of young couples had a slow but transformative effect on the congregation.