Can Amish Date Outsiders?
The Amish community lives in isolation from the rest of modern society. The Amish sometimes interact with non-Amish people, especially for work purposes, but what happens if these interactions lead to a romantic interest? Can Amish date outsiders?
We examine the answer to this question by delving into the reasons behind their isolation. We also look at the unique Amish courtship culture.
The Amish have honed their traditional dating and marriage customs for centuries, and have largely continued them since they settled in North America. These customs can seem a little odd to those in the secular world, but they’ve stood the test of time and, not only have they helped Amish communities survive, they’re thriving. In fact, they’ve become one of the fastest-growing groups in North America.
So, keep reading to discover the fascinating world of Amish dating and how it relates to outsiders.
What this article covers:
- Can the Amish Date Outsiders?
- Amish Dating Culture
- Amish Marriage
- Why Do the Amish Separate Themselves from Society?
Can the Amish Date Outsiders?
Are the Amish allowed to date non-Amish people? Amish youth date at about the same age as teens from non-Amish communities, but the Amish don’t ‘date’ in quite the same way that outsiders do, and their interactions with outsiders are limited.
The youth aren’t forbidden from engaging with non-Amish; they just don’t have all that many chances to do so. The Amish youth usually date fellow community members that they meet at community festivities and functions.
The Amish take courtship very seriously. Its intention is to find a life partner and start a family. Marriage is deemed a sacred act in the eyes of God. As marriages between Amish and outsiders are forbidden, instances of Amish dating outsiders are rare but not entirely unheard of.
What About Dating Mennonites?
The Amish and the Mennonites share a cultural and religious heritage. Does this mean that they intermingle? And can Amish marry Mennonites?
The Amish and the Mennonites share a common heritage. The founder of the Amish sect of Christianity, Jakob Amman, was influenced by certain Mennonite teachings before he established the Amish community.
Therefore, certain Mennonite practices, especially religious rites, may be similar to Amish ones, but that’s where the similarity ends. They don’t live in the same communities or date each other. The Amish may not marry anyone not baptized as a member of the Amish congregation.
That includes the Mennonites, who would be seen as outsiders in much the same way as any other non-Amish person. Amish marriage is seen as the pathway to adulthood with the promise to remain true to the Amish faith.
Should a Mennonite wish to marry an Amish person, they would have to convert and be baptized just like any outsider.
Amish Dating Culture
Why doesn’t the Amish community want their young people to experience outside influences? And why is it more important to marry within the community rather than actively convert outsiders to their faith?
The Amish don’t proselytize or encourage outsiders to join their community. They focus, instead, on maintaining the status quo within their settlements. If the youth go dating outside their community, they may expose themselves to worldly temptations that distract them from their duty to their faith.
Like the youth in non-Amish societies, Amish teenagers are allowed to date each other. But there are distinct differences in their courtship behaviors. Amish dating rules are usually strict as with all the rules by which they live. There’s one exception: ‘rumspringa’.
It occurs during the late teens before baptism into the Amish community. Young people are allowed to have a brief taste of ‘outside life’. Rumspringa is not an excuse for revelry, though. The purpose is to show them what lies beyond the community and what they’ll have to give up once they’ve been baptized.
How Amish Dating Differs from Secular Dating
Old Order Amish communities are the most conservative. Yet they have a dating ritual that may seem very modern. The more traditional communities practice what is known as ‘bundling’.
Bundling entails the dating couple spending the night together. It’s not nearly as racy as it sounds, though. During Amish courtship, premarital sex is forbidden.
Although the couple spends the night in the same bed, both remain fully clothed. They’re supposed to practice self-restraint while getting to know each other by talking through the night. And although it seems modern, this is an ancient custom practiced by many groups through the centuries.
Amish marriage age is quite a bit younger than the average for outsiders. Usually, the Amish get baptized into the Church by 18-22 years of age and can marry soon after. It’s one reason why Amish couples tend to have such large families.
Marriage between Amish and outsiders is rare. That’s because it’s not allowed by Amish Law. However, should an outsider decide to convert to the Amish faith and get baptized, they’ll be accepted as a member of the Amish community.
They’ll then be allowed to marry an Amish person. They’ll be in for a surprise, though, as Amish wedding night traditions aren’t the same as for outsiders. The concept of a ‘honeymoon’ is foreign to the Amish. A newly married couple always spends the night in the bride’s parents’ home.
The morning after the marriage won’t be quite what an outsider envisioned, either. The bride and groom will rise early to help with the post-wedding cleanup. Amish-born people are used to this, as they tend to rise early and go to bed again early.
They will be spending a while there while the community builds them a new home. Fortunately, Amish men have been handing down the art of building and carpentry for generations. So they’ll get that new home in no time.
Amish weddings are similar in practice to other weddings. There’s a ceremony, followed by a communal feast of Amish wedding foods.
Nearby that iconic hand-woven wooden bread box in every Amish kitchen, you’ll find a recipe box full of delicious recipes. The Amish love celebratory feasts like any other cultural group do. Their traditional wedding food recipes get taught to each new family through the ages.
There’ll be very little in the way of wedding reception table decoration, as the Amish avoid ostentatious displays of any kind. Even the bridal dress is simple and modest, sewn by hand, especially for the occasion.
The Amish are ahead of the rest of the world with sustainable living, though. The Amish bridal dress, unlike modern bridal gowns, continues to serve its owner. Amish women wear their bridal dresses to church and even get laid to rest in them when they get buried.
The Amish & Divorce
Divorce is an unfortunate reality for many marriages in today’s society. So, do Amish get divorced? In the Amish community, divorce is forbidden by the Amish church. If a community member violates this law, they aren’t only breaking the vows that they took during their marriage.
They’re also breaking the vow they took during their baptism, to uphold Amish Ordnung Laws. Divorce is therefore seen as valid grounds for ex-communication, except in extreme cases. Separations sometimes occur, but every attempt is made by the Church Elders to reconcile the couple.
Amish polygamy is one of those myths that probably arose out of confusion with other conservative religious groups. The Amish don’t practice polygamy, but they’re required to marry only within the Amish community.
Why Do the Amish Separate Themselves from Society?
All Amish settlements isolate themselves from modern society, but what purpose does it serve? The Amish aren’t anti-outsiders. They love all people and have no ill will towards the many non-Amish cultures.
The reason for their separation is actually quite simple. The faith dictates that they lead honest, simple lives. They’re expected to wear modest clothing, work the land by the sweat of their brow, and stay faithful to God’s Will.
The ‘outside world is full of temptations that would conflict with Amish values. To keep their culture alive and their faith pure, the Amish decide right from the start to live separately and avoid these worldly distractions.
When Is Fraternizing With Outsiders Allowed?
Are the Amish completely forbidden from interacting with outsiders or simply advised to resist ungodly temptations? Amish people aren’t forbidden from interacting with outsiders, whom they refer to as ‘the English’, but there are only a few situations where this is allowed.
An example of such a situation is their work. Just like any other community, the Amish people need to earn a living and support their families. Most Amish are involved in farming, agriculture, and animal husbandry. They also earn income engaging in the traditional crafts handed down from each generation to the next.
One of these crafts is the age-old tradition of basket weaving. Rustic wicker baskets are making a big comeback into modern decor, and these Amish Baskets are now highly sought after.
Everything from wicker harvest baskets and vintage easter baskets to under-bed storage baskets is all lovingly made by hand. These are put to use in the community as well as offered for sale to outsiders. And it is mostly through their work that Amish people get to know outsiders.
How to Tell if an Amish Man or Woman Is Single
The Amish don’t wear jewelry. This is because of the requirement to dress simply and modestly. That means that they also don’t wear wedding bands. So, you may wonder how you can tell if an Amish person is single, and therefore, ‘available’.
There’s a simple way to tell if an Amish woman is married. Amish women wear bonnets called ‘kapps’ on their heads to cover their hair. These bonnets are a part of their daily dress code, which requires simplicity and modesty. The bonnet’s color signifies the woman’s marital status.
A white bonnet means she is married, and a black one means she’s single. So you needn’t fear talking to an Amish woman thinking she’s single when she is not.
The Amish believe that men shouldn’t shave their faces. Therefore, they all grow beards. That’s how to tell if an Amish man is married. Amish men grow their beards out to signify that they are married.
Before they marry, they’re expected to cut and trim their beards. This stops as soon as they marry.
The Amish are an extremely devout Christian denomination. They live separately from non-Amish people in a bid to preserve their culture and resist sinful temptations.
While there are certain situations where interaction is necessary, these are kept to a minimum. However, should an Amish person want to date an outsider that they have met in one of these situations, there’s hope.
If the outsider wishes to be baptized into the Amish faith and live within the Amish community, their union will be accepted.
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