I’ve been spending time in a Amish community off and on for a long time, and I have a few interesting observations about the Amish I want to share.
Today’s Little Lesson is a continuation of yesterday’s little lesson where we asked the question, “are Amish people Christians?” I hope I satisfactorily answered that question.
I said, of course, just because you’re Amish doesn’t mean you’re a Christian, but if you believe in Jesus Christ, that He’s the Son of God and there’s some evidence in your life that you believe that, because you’re obeying his commandments, well then you’re a Christian, even if you have some other false doctrine or funny doctrines. And I certainly think the Amish do. But I’m not just a theorist in this or a distant observer. I’m a very close observer.
I’ve been spending time in a Amish community off and on for a long time, and I’m actually in the process right now of having an old barn that I inherited from my late dad and having it repurposed and remodeled into a place where I and my wife intend to live. And it’s right in the heart of an Amish community. Several thousand Amish folks live within a certain circumference of where I’m going to live and I’ve hired Amish carpenters and Amish guys to work for me on this remodel. And so I’ve gotten to know them quite well and I’ve gotten to love them, I have to say, very very much and appreciate them. They’re Amish because they were born Amish, that’s the story behind 99.9% of all Amish people. They all descend really from just a few families way back in Germany, I guess about 400 years ago.
And one interesting and actually tragic fact about the Amish is because of their genetic legacy of all being related, if you go far enough back it results in a lot of children being born with birth defects. And that’s kind of a curse that’s on the Amish people for their exclusivity because they are a tight knit group and you’re not going to visit one of their church services unless you’re Amish and so forth. And then you only get so close. Although I’ve gotten real close, I would say, to my Amish friends and we spend time together. We’ve had meals together and so forth. I’ve been eating at their house, they’ve eaten at my house.
But I’ll say this much, I tried to hire some Amish carpenters, roofers to come and put a new roof on the house where I’m filming this right here and it’s a couple of hours away from the community where that barn is being remodeled. And, my Amish roofer friend said that he could come and do it but it would be about a four or five day job and they’d have to go home two hours. They’d have to come two hours and every night go home two hours. And I said, “Well can’t you just stay overnight with me?” He said, “Nope that’s not allowed”.
I guess there’d be some potential temptation that might go with being away from one’s family, which is a good, wise thought. But the Amish take extraordinary precaution in order to avoid sinning. That’s why most of the old order Amish would never own a cell phone. Because I asked my friends about this and they said, “Well, cell phones today are just like computers and you can get on the internet and search the web”. They know all this stuff, and you could potentially view pornography on your cell phone. Well, they’re right about that and so they avoid that temptation by not having cell phones. And it causes all kind of problems because if you want to communicate with an Amish person you’ve got to go find them physically.
And I’ve even put it out to my Amish friends, to their wives, and their wives complain. I go to see my Amish friends and their wives say, “My husband’s not here”. “Where is he?” “I don’t know where he is.” Because they’re out doing stuff and they wander around all day long doing their business and they come home and the wife has no idea. Well, okay, you could roam around and if your wife doesn’t know where you’re at all day, I suppose you could be tempted to do things you shouldn’t do as a husband then too, couldn’t you? I even told them, jokingly, that there’s applications you can get now that allow wives to know where their husbands are all the time. You just look on your cell phone and there’s the map and it’ll show his exact location. So, it could be said that one could avoid sin by having a cell phone!
My Amish friends also don’t own cars, and it’s funny because I’ve asked them a question about that. Because they come to my barn and they use my hand tools, my electric hand tools, my saw, and drills, and so forth all plugged into the electricity. Of course they don’t have any electricity. They use them all day long and I have a 1953 Farmall Cub tractor that they drive around on my property to pull wood and so forth. And if there’s a back hoe sitting there that someone’s left they know how to back hoe. They can hop right on that back hoe and use it.
And so, I suggested to one of my Amish friends, “I have to pay for someone to pick you up everyday and bring you here. It’s costing me money because you don’t believe in cars and it’s too far for you to come with your horse and buggy. How about if I just park, I’ll buy another car, an old car, I’ll park it at your house, and then you can just use it to drive to my place and back to do work everyday and it’ll save me money?” And he said, “Oh no, we can’t do that”, and I said, “Well why not? You use my power tools everyday. I know you don’t own any yourself but you use mine. You don’t own a tractor but you use my old ancient tractor. You don’t own a back hoe but you’ll use a back hoe if it sits right here.”
So he said, “Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.” And he said it it even in a way that was suggested he himself doesn’t understand why these lines are drawn. Because they don’t own cars but they come to work everyday in car driven by a non-Amish person. And they don’t have electricity but they use electricity all day long. They have to in order to do their jobs. Okay.
So, those are interesting facts. I love these guys. I love the Amish. I don’t believe that in order to get to heaven you have to shun cars and electricity, and I do think it’s a little bit funny that anyone could say it’s wrong for us to own something, but that it’s okay for us to utilize if it belongs to somebody else. None of them have phones but all the guys I know have to use phones. And so they’ll go to someone’s house and say, “Can I borrow your phone?” And they’ll talk on the phone. One of my Amish friends uses a phone in a little phone booth across the street. It’s a landline, it’s not a cell phone, and he can use that to call. He has to pay every time he does.
So, just kind of funny and I don’t think I’m ever going to persuade them to change because there’s just so much pressure upon them to conform and they’re in trouble if they don’t conform. Alright, well that’s all for today. I just thought you might find some of those facts interesting as you gaze upon those Amish buggies in your travels. Thanks for joining me. God bless.