#1 Why Do Mennonites Drive Black Cars?

Historically, Mennonites driving cars has not always been acceptable.

This controversial subject matter was actually the cause of a split within the Mennonite faith regarding the Horning Church of Weaverland (splitting in 1927 because they desired the use of vehicles while Old Order Mennonites refuted it).

The reasons why progressive Mennonites deem it acceptable to drive black cars are:

  • To remain modest and simple
  • To not attract any unwarranted attention
  • To embrace conformity amongst the community
  • To establish equality and avoid competitive hierarchy pertaining to one’s possessions
  • To reject superficiality and frivolity
  • To keep the focus on the church

Related Scripture(s):

  • “As obedient children do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” – 1 Peter 1:14.
  • “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

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#2 Why Do Mennonites Wear Black?

Not all Mennonite disciples wear black, and there is no regulation against wearing brighter colors (as you will see by the image below). Often utilizing scraps of fabric or discounted textiles, Anabaptist communities in rural areas will commonly use whatever material is available to them. Although they embrace black as a simple and dignified color, it is certainly not the only color that Mennonites adorn.

The reasons that Mennonites sometimes wear black are:

  • To dress almost professionally and simplistically
  • To adapt and conform to an acceptable color in the Mennonite faith
  • Black bonnets are worn by female Mennonites that are unmarried, signifying that they are open and interested in obtaining a husband (while married women generally wear white bonnets)
  • Traditionally, men will often wear black hats, black suspenders, and pair these accessories with a white shirt.

Therefore, it can be summarized that Mennonites wear black to dress plainly, fit in, signify marital status, and to honor tradition.

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30.
  • “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” – Matthew 5:33-37.

 

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#3 Why Do Mennonites Cover Their Hair?

There are biblical and non-biblical justifications for why female Mennonites cover their hair.

The scriptural reasons are:

  • 1 Corinthians 11:1-34 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”
  • Corinthians 11:10 – “That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:15 – “But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:9 – “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”

The non-scriptural reasons are:

  • Conformity with the rest of the Mennonite community
  • Respecting tradition and customs that date back for centuries
  • To keep their heads warm, often cited as a reason in the Winter
  • To avoid tempting other men with one’s beauty or superficial qualities
Mennonites in Idaho

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,” – 1 Corinthians 11:4

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#4 Why Do Mennonites Wear Suspenders?

Most conservative or Old Order Mennonite males will wear:

  • Suspenders
  • A black hat
  • Dark pants
  • White button-down shirt
  • Black shoes
  • Beard
  • No mustache

The reasons why Mennonites wear suspenders are:

  • To conform to the culture’s attire and match everyone else
  • To establish that no one is better than anyone else
  • To make clear that belongings do not offer social status. Because everyone is dressed uniformly, this results in a society that rejects hierarchy or social standing
  • To embrace simplicity
  • To remain modest
  • To allow more time for worship, work, and family

The largest reasons would be to embrace uniformity and allow more time for the Christian endeavors that matter most.

With a similar dress-code to the Amish, Amish America answers the query:

“Do Amish men wear belts? No. Amish men wear suspenders. Most who do wear suspenders, wear a set of two. One group in central Pennsylvania wears just one, strung diagonally over one shoulder. And another group wears none. Their trousers seem to remain in place (supposedly, hidden drawstrings keep them up). In some more communities, Amish men forego suspenders in their everyday wear. This can be seen in places such as northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”

Hate Crime Laws: What the Amish Beard Cutting Case Means | Time

Related Scripture(s):

  • “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” – Romans 13:14.

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#5 Why Do Mennonites Wear Black Caps?

The reasons why Mennonites wear black caps are to:

  • Honor the bible’s many scriptural references to covering one’s head (cited below)
  • Establish themselves as unmarried (for women with bonnets. White means married)
  • Dress for grief or mourning
  • Eliminate social status through embellished clothing or colors (to keep clothing simple)
  • Men wear prayer caps to remind them to live holy lives

The Daily Record adds:

“In Conservative Mennonite groups and less conservative Amish groups, women wear smaller head coverings, usually pinned on and in varying sizes and shapes… In cold weather, most Amish women will wear a heavy, often quilted, black bonnet over their covering to protect and warm their heads.

Related Scripture(s):

  • 1 Corinthians 11:15 – “But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:9 – “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”
  • Corinthians 11:10 – “That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

Related Video(s):

#6 Why Do Mennonites Wear Veils?

Most Mennonite females disregard this practice and view it as outdated. Some argue that the practice of veiling is a symbol of subservience.

Nonetheless, the reasons that people still may veil are:

  • To hide one’s face
  • To remain modest
  • To avoid unwarranted male attention
  • To look less attractive and feminine (long hair being a distinguishingly female quality)
  • To focus on religious practice, worship, and prayer

A Mennonite member, Esther Stenson (of Harrisonburg, VA) wrote in her piece’ Veiled Free,’ through Anabaptistworld.org:

“I was the only one in the group wearing a veiling and obviously looked Catholic to some observers, although I am Mennonite.”

The ‘Veiled Free’ writer also adds:

“A young Muslim woman in my class says wearing her hijab gives her a feeling of freedom and rightness with God—especially when she prays. She feels more comfortable and at ease within the given structure of her religious practice than were she to discard her veiling and live without boundaries. She also finds freedom in not having to worry or think about how to fix her hair. Protection from unwanted male harassment is another positive aspect she notes for wearing a veiling. These justifications are not unlike those given traditionally among Mennonites.”

VirginiaLiving.com

Related Scripture(s):

  • 1 Corinthians 11:1-34 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”

Related Video(s):

#7 Why Do Mennonite Women Wear Skirts?

The main reason that Mennonite women avoid wearing masculine clothing is to honor what they translate as being explicit rules from God.

Deuteronomy 22:5 instructs:

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

Because women are not meant to embody the strength and authority of their male counterparts, they avoid masculine attire and dress according to their historical code.

Mennonite women wear skirts because:

  • The Bible commands it
  • Male Mennonites don’t want to feel encroached upon
  • Females don’t want to threaten the male authority (men seen as primary providers and workers while women take care of the children and home in Mennonite societies)

Their skirts will generally be:

  • Long
  • Conservative
  • Simple

Ultimately, it will depend on how progressive the community is. An Old Order Mennonite community would encourage women to wear long skirts as a method of inciting conformity; however, there are modern Mennonites that dress in a mainstream manner (regardless, they will almost never dress in a sexual- or flashy-style).

Dupont Circle

Related Scripture(s):

·         “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13.

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#8 Why Do Mennonites Have an Accent?

With some disputing about whether Mennonites are a religion or an ethnicity – This cultural subsect has spread across the globe for the last five centuries.

The radical immigration from Switzerland to Germany to Russia to America (Pennsylvania Dutch) to Canada to Mexico to Belize – has led to vastly different and versatile dialects.

Today, most outsiders would imply that Amish and Mennonite conservatives tend to sound most-aligned with the languages of Dutch or German.

The reasons why Mennonites have an accent are:

  • They originate from Swiss-German roots but have immigrated expansively across the North and South Americas for the last few centuries
  • The Pennsylvania Dutch language is strongly influenced by the Anabaptist roots in Germany
  • Mennonites have developed their own dialect and way of communicating from multiple moves and recolonizations of new lands

According to The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada – Who are the Mennonites, they write:

“Today, Mennonite churches in Canada are not limited to English and German. Groups meet regularly who worship in Laotian,  Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Spanish, Japanese, French, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin), Hindi, and Punjabi. On a global level, the Mennonite church includes people of about 75 languages and over 100 cultural groups!” 

Overall, the unique accent of the Mennonites can be accredited to a:

  • A rich history of migration
  • Their former colonization
  • And cultural saturation around the globe

Related Scripture(s):

  • “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34.

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