What are Mennonites allowed to have (Mennonite rules guide)?

As a devout Christian and theologian, I believe we’re justified before God through our faith and not our works. Yet, I have come to learn that many conservative Christian denominations do not see it that way. A great example is the Mennonite church. Two years ago, I visited a Mennonite community in Canada to learn more about their rules. A Mennonite church leader invited me for a three-month stay in his home, where I learned their rules about dating, marriage, and much more. During my weekly bible study, several members kept asking about the Mennonite rules and the penalties for breaking them. Thanks to my first-hand experience on this subject, I was ready to answer all their questions. So, what are Mennonites allowed to have?

Mennonites are allowed to have electricity, drive cars and use telephones. It can be hard to distinguish a Mennonite family from regular Christina denominations. However, there are detailed rules that Mennonite men and women must follow to maintain their positions in the Mennonite communities. Breaking these rules usually means that punishment is underway.

In this article, we will look at the liberties Mennonite men and women are allowed to enjoy. Join me as we discuss dating, marriage, and divorce rules within the Mennonite community. Keep reading to learn more about the punishment for rule-breaking Mennonites.

Mennonite rules for women

What are Mennonites allowed to have?
Mennonite rules for women. Image source: Pixabay

Dress code

Traditionally, Mennonite women were supposed to be the epitomes of modesty. This is because they believe that the importance of outward appearance pales compared to one’s spiritual life. Mennonite women are keen on hiding their legs, even wearing exceptionally long skirts and dresses to the beach. As such, the women are required to wear plain-colored dresses or skirts. The most common dress among the Mennonite women is the cape dress. This dress is usually non-form fitting, and it has a simple design. In the past, Mennonite women were not allowed to wear pants since it was seen as a way of mimicking men’s authority.


Mennonites can wear makeup under certain conditions. First, the makeup should be lightly applied. Second, the makeup should blend effortlessly with one’s features without looking unnatural. That said, some of the most conservative groups of Mennonites do not allow makeup. The main reason is that such cosmetics draw one’s attention from true worship and humility.

Nightwear and Jewelry

When it comes to nightwear, Mennonite women are encouraged to wear handmade nightgowns that are usually made of cotton Lingerie are fancy nightgowns are considered too flashy and a waste of money. The same goes for jewelry. Old Order Mennonites are opposed to wearing expensive pieces. Today, Mennonite women can wear simple jewelry that draws little attention.


Concerning their hair, Mennonites believe it is respectful to cover their heads. The women often have a small cape or a bonnet on their heads as an indicator of their submission to their husbands. They back these ideals with scriptures like 1st Corinthians 11:5-6. According to this scripture, women should cover their heads during prayer. Failure to do this is a sign of dishonor to themselves. According to the Bible, women would rather have their heads shaved than have them uncovered, especially during worship.


During leisure activities like swimming, Mennonite women are advised to dress in decent swimwear. Costumes like bikinis and one-piece bathing suits are not allowed to be part of a Mennonite woman’s wardrobe. Instead, these women wear swimming dresses. It is worth mentioning that the Mennonite faith strongly discourages women from swimming in mixed company. That means that the majority of Mennonite women avoid public swimming pools. You will also rarely find Mennonite women swimming or frolicking half-naked on public beaches.

Mennonite rules for men

What are Mennonites allowed to have?
Mennonite rules for men. Image source: Pixabay

Unsurprisingly, the Mennonite rules for men are not as stringent as the ones imposed on women. For the most part, men are required to adhere to modesty and simplicity. That means that Mennonite men avoid revealing clothing, such as sleeveless and muscle shirts. Mennonite men also strictly wear long pants of certain materials, such as khakis. Unlike their Amish counterparts, the Mennonite church encourages men to keep their hair short and tidy.

Owing to their dedication to pacifism, Mennonite men do not grow mustaches. This is because such facial hair is associated with military men, which goes against their principles of non-resistance. Typically, Mennonite men are leaders and providers for their families. The men in church leadership must wear collarless shirts and plain coats. The Mennonite church requires men to only wear solid colors such as black, brown, or grey. Suits and hats are encouraged but not mandatory among the Mennonite men.

Mennonite rules for dating and marriage


Back in the day, Mennonites were not allowed to date or marry non-Mennonites. However, things have changed over the years. Some progressive Mennonite groups date and marry members of other Christian denominations. Still, the dating rules remain the same.

For starters, Mennonites take the dating process very seriously. They consider it the first step toward marriage. In light of this, conservative Mennonites consider it prudent for a young man to talk to the girl’s father before dating ever begins. The man also consults with his parents to get their blessing.

When both parties get parental approval, they can start dating. Mennonites have several courtship rules that young people must follow to the letter. First, the couple must plan their activities in public areas considered ethical. That suggests that dates in clubs that end in the bedroom are taboo for Mennonite youth.

Physical contact is limited to hand-holding and friendly hugs. The Mennonite church firmly prohibits premarital sex. Consequently, kissing and indecent touching is not part of the Mennonite dating culture. e dating Mennonite youth are allowed to move in together or even have sleepovers at home or in hotels.


In Mennonite culture, marriage is considered a sacred union between a man and a woman. Mennonites view marriage as a lifelong commitment that should be upheld at all costs. Before wedding arrangements, both families must be on the same page concerning the union. This process involves a mediator who can either be a professional matchmaker or a church elder.

The Mennonite religion is very specific about gender roles. Men are considered the leaders of their households, while women should be submissive and recognize their husband’s authority. In a marriage, a woman’s job is to serve her husband and raise children. On the other hand, men are allowed to assume leadership positions in the community and within the church. The unmarried Mennonite women usually remain subservient to their fathers until they get married.


Today, the Mennonite church makes certain exceptions when it comes to divorce. Although they discourage separation and divorce, members are allowed to leave abusive relationships. This is mainly due to the influence of modern society.

Old Order Mennonites are far stricter about divorce. So much so that some members are excommunicated for going forward with divorces.

What are the punishments for breaking Mennonite rules?

Mennonite rules guide
What are the punishments for breaking Mennonite rules? Image source: Pinterest

The Mennonite doctrines are based on separation and consecration. This is why the majority of Mennonite groups forbid marriages to people outside the Mennonite community, and even more for people who subscribe to other religions outside of Christianity. According to Mennonite rules, such infractions warrant certain disciplinary actions against the offender.


Excommunication is the main form of punishment that rule breakers face in the Mennonite community. This form of punishment has been the norm for the Anabaptist and Mennonite communities for centuries. The power to execute an excommunication punishment is left to the Bishop. In some cases, a church elder may excommunicate a person on the demand of the congregation. Still, some Mennonite churches leave the decision to excommunicate an offender in the hands of the church council.

In the Mennonite community, an excommunicated member can regain their position in the church under certain conditions. One, a stipulated amount of time has to pass before restoration is considered. Second, the person must be willing to repent and turn away from the behaviors that led to their excommunication. The level of severity in excommunication depends on the Mennonite group and how conservative they are. For example, Old Colony Mennonites have been known to excommunicate members for engaging in modern conveniences such as photography.

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