Here Are Some Of The Strict Rules You Must Follow When You're Amish
What with being such a private, insular community, many people are curious about the Amish lifestyle and beliefs system. Leaving the Amish faith is extremely hard on any individual who decides to become "English" (the Amish term for everyone who isn't Amish), but, fortunately, ex-Amish stories have provided us with a fascinating glimpse into the Amish way of life. To put it simply, people living in mainstream America would consider Amish laws and punishments to be harsh, but it’s important to note that not all Amish follow the same rules. There is some bending and even breaking of typical Amish traditions. That being said, most Amish rules are laid out in the Ordnung – an set of guidelines that governs all aspects of an Amish person’s life. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it's like to be Amish, this list is for you.
Amish Women Have To Keep Their Hair Up And Are Not Allowed To Cut ItPhoto: Pasteur / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
While most people would call them bonnets, the white headdresses Amish women wear are known as “prayer coverings,” or a kapp. Underneath that prayer covering is a mane of long flowing hair. Amish women are not allowed to cut their hair. The justification behind never cutting their hair stems back to biblical passages in Corinthians I. But, they do not always wear their prayer coverings. They brush their hair either in the morning or evening. Sometimes, they will also let their tresses down at night when they are winding down with the family after a long day of churning butter.
Rumspringa Is The Only Time They Don't Have To Follow All Those Strict Rules
When Amish teens turn 16, they can leave the community for a trial run of the English life known as Rumspringa, which translates to “running around.” During this time, teens can indulge in drugs, partying, technology, and pretty much anything that the Amish would consider a vice. While a handful of Amish teens choose to stay in the English world, the majority of teens on Rumspringa return to the community. However, once they return they must shun English living and devote their life to the Amish church. If they return, become baptized, and then decide to leave the community again, they risk being excommunicated.
The Way Couples Have To Date Is Straight Out Of The Old TestamentPhoto: History / The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
While it is falling out of fashion in Amish communities, bundling - also known as "bed courtship" - is still practiced by some ultra-conservative Amish today. It involves a courting couple lying together fully-clothed in bed. While lying in bed, the couple are encouraged to speak to each other all night to become emotionally closer. While some Amish still practice bundling, the tradition originally stems from the Old Testament, and was mentioned in the Book of Ruth as a common Jewish practice.
They Have To Make The Dedication To Baptism On Their Own
Unlike some other Christian sects, the Amish don’t believe in baptizing children. They believe one must make the conscious decision to dedicate their life to the church before they can become a fully-fledged member of the community. The Amish broke off from the Anabaptists in Switzerland in 1693 to form a more conservative sect known as Ammann and settled in America in the 1730s. One of the core beliefs of the Anabaptists was adult baptism. Anabaptists “felt that baptizing babies could not be supported by Scriptures. They argued that sin entered the world with a knowledge of good and evil (Gen.3). Since an infant does not have this knowledge, it cannot have sin,” wrote Amish-born scholar John A. Hostetler.
Kids Have To Play With Creepy Faceless DollsPhoto: Sima shimony / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Amish children are allowed to have some simple toys, one of which is a creepy faceless doll. There are a couple of lines of reasoning as to the purpose behind the faceless doll. In the Bible, the Book of Deuteronomy forbids the creation of “graven images,” which means that people cannot create an idol with human characteristics, as only God can make humans. Another belief is that a doll with a face (a pretty face, at that) will make the child vain. Vanity is severely looked down upon in the Amish community. Also, the Amish believe in equality among members of their community. A faceless doll lacks any particular identity, and it can therefore not be considered better than the rest. But, nowadays, many faceless dolls are made to satisfy an English demand for Amish crafts.
The Amish Have More Beard Rules Than Any Hipster GuysPhoto: Ivan McClellan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Just like a woman’s hair is sacred in the Amish community, so is a man’s beard. Not all Amish men will sport a beard, though. Unmarried men must remain clean shaven, and only when a man has wed is he allowed to grow out a beard to signify his transition into manhood. Amish men do shave above their lip. The Amish are pacifists, and mustaches at one point were associated with military men. But, in bizarre acts of punishment, there have been incidents where Amish will cut off the beard of another man they disapprove of to bring shame upon him.