The Amish Culture is driven by the Amish religion which teaches that they must be separate from worldly sin to receive salvation. Everything Amish people do is pointed toward the goal of maintaining this separate way of life.
To help you get a better insight into the Amish Tradition, imagine that you are Amish.
Your Amish history dates back to 1693 when your forefathers split from the Mennonites. From that time forward, Amish men and Amish women have had their roles in the church and community dictated to them by the Ordnung, a set of unwritten rules that are based in Scripture.
Since agreement with the Ordnung is voted on yearly by the members of each individual congregation, there are variations from church to church.
In the Amish culture, the word "church" doesn't refer to a building, but to the people in the congregation. Since in most sects there is no church building, services are held in individual homes on a rotating basis. This limits the size of the church district to the number of members that can fit in a home, usually thirty to forty households.
Your church services are held every other Sunday. The "off" Sundays are spent visiting or taking it easy. You look forward to these social times along with the occasional wedding, barn raising or other frolics.
The actual service usually lasts around three hours. Afterward lunch is served to the entire congregation in shifts, while those not eating socialize. After their parents depart, young adults stay for the Sunday night singing.
This is a time when they look to pair off with dating partners. Amish dating begins at age sixteen, conforming with the Ordnung.
Conforming for salvation
In the Amish Culture your road to heaven is paved with conformity. The outside world is full of pressures to succeed and stand out from the crowd. But to the Amish, standing out is a sure sign of pride. And pride paves the road to a much hotter place.
You on the other hand, are not pressured with decisions on how to conform and get to heaven. No, your decisions are already made by the Amish Culture. Everything is laid out for you so you know exactly what to do and how to live.
The Ordnung specifies such details as...
...to list just a few.
Everybody knows that the horse and buggy is the icon of the Amish Culture. Though it has been a symbol of separation for only about the last century.
Prior to that time, driving a buggy was the preferred modern mode of personal transportation. Old order sects all use buggies while some others such as the Beachy sect own cars.
In fact you, also, might have owned a car in the past, before you joined the church and were yoked to the Ordnung.
According to your Amish beliefs, no one can be baptized until they can make an informed decision to join the church. The young Amish teenagers need some way to become informed of the outside world.
So between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, comes a period known as rumspringa or running around.
This custom, which might include owning a car and partying, lets the young people experience the outside world. Maybe you will find that it isn't as great out there as you thought. It might actually act as a vaccination against future temptation. At least it allows you to make an educated decision on whether or not to join the church.
This educated decision is important because once you join the church, it is for life. If after joining, you decide to leave the church, you will be subjected to shunning. This is usually enough to keep you in the church. It also creates a tightly knitted society.
So should you decide you want to live the modern life, it's far better to not be baptized. Then, you won't be shunned because you aren't a member of the church. You are just a wayward child who might eventually see the light and come back to the open arms of the church where you belong.
Coming back is not such a rare thing.
Leaving the Amish
Imagine for a moment, leaving your Amish community.
You're on your own. You have only an eighth grade education. And you have lost the support system that you have relied on for your entire life. After a year or two on your own you've had your fill of TV and working at dead-end jobs. The future is beginning to look pretty pitiful.
Face it. The modern world doesn't appear as rosy as it did before you had to make your own way in it. You don't know who you are or where you're going. The old security and support systems are starting to look pretty darn good.
So you rush back to the welcoming arms of the Amish community.
The church provides security from cradle to grave for all the members of the congregation. If sickness strikes, church support is there with labor and financial help. Or if calamity hits the farm with a lightning strike and a barn is destroyed, the community is there with a barn raising. The Amish culture provides sense of security that is very hard to give up just to drive a car and have electricity.
Surviving and Thriving
The feeling of belonging, knowing exactly who you are and what is expected of you gives you an inner peace. This contentment probably accounts for the fact that 80 to 90 percent of the children who grow up in the Amish Culture stay and join the church.
The Amish population in has doubled to nearly 230,000 in the last 17 years. These people who seem to give up so much in this modern world, are thriving and will most likely continue to do so in the future.
This brief look gives you a better understanding of the Amish Culture. You can see that the reason for their strange (to us) behavior is to remain separate from the world so that they can go to heaven. They also seek to maintain their tightly knitted communities by making sure that their children grow up to join the church.
The Amish culture is a way of life that the Amish people have been born and bred to live. Most would struggle with the loss of this ingrained identity if they left the church. So they stay. They are a people who know who they are and why they are here. Not a bad place to be in this world of confusion and chaos.
So what do you think? Do you want to become Amish?