Choosing to Become Amish (part 1)
The Amish have a very unique and unusual way of doing most things. At least it seems that way to most outsiders. Many people who don't understand the ways of the Amish wonder why anyone would want to live the plain and simple life in today's modern world. Some people even think that the Amish force their children to live that way, but in fact the Amish let their members decide if they want to join the Amish church once they're old enough to make such a life changing decision. Those who have not grown up Amish can't understand why people would choose a life of wearing plain clothes, avoiding electricity, tilling fields, and making Amish quilts over all the things the modern world has to offer. While it may be difficult for outsiders to understand why they choose to stay, approximately 80 percent of Amish young people decide to live the rest of their lives in an Amish community.
The Amish live their lives according to the rules set forth in both the Bible and the Ordnung. The Ordnung is a sort of Amish how-to guide that sets forth every detail of how the Amish should live, including everything from how they should dress, to how they should behave, to how they should raise their children. Following the laws that are set forth in the Ordnung applies to every member of the Amish community, however a person is not bound by the laws of the Ordnung until they are officially baptized. The Amish do not believe that babies or children should be baptized. Instead, baptisms usually occur sometime between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four. The Amish believe that a person should choose to be baptized once they're old enough to understand the consequences of that decision. This is a very important concept in the Amish community because they only want people who are truly devoted to the beliefs and teachings of the Amish church to be a part of the community.
During the time when a young boy or young girl turns sixteen, many Amish communities practice a tradition that is known as "rumschpringes" or "running around" time. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, Amish youths are allowed to experience what life's like outside the Amish community. They are permitted to engage in whatever activity they choose without fear of reprisal from the Amish church. This can include just about everything, including drinking, smoking, traveling, getting an education, using electricity, and owning a car. At any point during this time, an Amish person can choose to become baptized within the Amish church or to leave and pursue a life on the outside. If a young person decides to leave the Amish at this time, they are not punished or excommunicated. They can come back for visits with their families and are generally accepted.
If a young Amish person chooses to be baptized, it means that they are committing themselves to God and to the ways of the Amish for the rest of their lives. Once a person is baptized, they are immediately considered an adult in the community and given all the responsibility and respect of the other adults in the community, even if they are sixteen at the time of their baptism. When someone decides to be baptized in the Amish church, they must first attend a series of baptismal classes that generally occur from May until August. All the baptismal candidates are then baptized together sometime in the fall. During the baptism, each candidate will pledge their lives to the Amish and agree to follow the rules set forth in the Ordnung. Once this is done, the bishop will shake the hand of each member and welcome them into the Amish church. Once a person is baptized, they can then take part in the church communion services, vote on church issues, and marry another member of the Amish church.
Choosing to Become Amish (part 2)