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Carl Büchsel, Protestant Pastor, Describes Rural Courtship and Marriage (1865)

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particularly when the candidate is barely known to her or hasn’t attracted her attention. It certainly is an expression of despicable carelessness, absolute unreliability, and most malicious infidelity when the man withdraws after the engagement and leaves the girl in the lurch. On the other hand, though, one should not judge quite so harshly if a girl – pressed to make a quick decision – subsequently wavers as she gets to know the prospective groom and becomes convinced that they would not make a good match. The deserted bride is very unfortunate and is the object of grave suspicion, even though she is often completely innocent. The young man seeks to excuse the wanton carelessness with which he has disturbed the serenity of another heart – but her tears condemn him before God. Every pastor who enjoys the trust of the village youths knows full well about the inner struggles many a poor bride has to endure when a man other than the one she had yearned for and chosen in her heart comes along to pursue her. The divine order and customs forbid her expressing her own wishes; she has to wait until the man takes the first step. But love and affection cannot be commanded; they evolve in complete freedom and according to absolutely incomprehensible laws. The advice that a girl had better not marry at all, except when true affection exists, is much easier given than heeded. The institution of marriage was created in paradise, and thereafter came days full of toil and full of pain. So it is also a wonderful thing when marriage finds its paradise in a happy state of betrothal. – The question of whether a religious girl may marry a secular man or vice versa is much more difficult to answer than it seems at first glance. That a Jewess or a heathen marries a Christian, or vice versa, clearly contradicts not only the scripture, 1 Corinthians 7, but also the Prussian Civil Code, which no one has ever accused of being petty when it comes to marriage; at any rate, when such cases have occurred in recent times, they have been meet with general disapproval. However, it is very clearly laid down that when Paul speaks of infidels in the chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians mentioned above, he only means heathens and Jews, not secularized Christians. Nevertheless, there are bounds that cannot be overstepped. If the prospective husband is decidedly disposed against the church and ridicules that which is sacred to the virgin, and if he absolutely will not and cannot maintain a household that is Christian, she ought not to enter into marriage with him; and it will not be difficult to refuse the proposal.

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