Courting in Geneva

Peter Jones, pastor in West Virginia, has done some excellent work culling historical research on courtship and marriage in Calvin's Geneva.

Geneva had a very developed system, assuming parental authority and guidance in match-making, but also forbidding setting up children against their will and other heavy handed parental practices.  Parents couldn't refuse to give their daughter a dowry if she married against dad's wishes, for instance.

One of the ugliest aspects (rare, too) of modern courtship is painting it as such a blessing when a father interviews a young man extensively without the daughter knowing it, and then presents him to his daughter with high expectations.  Her refusal of that man would be ingratitude and rebellion.  Father has provided for daughter; she's supposed to submit to them both, after all!  Calvin's Geneva would have forbidden this, if the daughter didn't want to marry him.

Sometimes we react against recent history, but find help in less recent history.

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