The Amish community is known by outsiders for being devout Christians who adhere to biblical rules. They have completely shunned modern comfort aside from certain farm equipment.
With such restrictions on worldly things, outsiders would think this applies to alcohol too. What the outsiders or Englishmen do not know is that the alcohol matter is much more complicated.
Some Amish groups drink alcohol, while others prohibit it. In the Old Order Amish community, which is the larger denomination, alcohol is not prohibited.
Conversely, in the New Order Amish, a more recent Amish sect, drinking alcohol is prohibited. The Swartzentruber Amish are stricter on many things, such as having no indoor plumbing or motors, but their Amish men can take alcohol in the confines of their homes.
Amish also drink wine at the twice-yearly communion services, and some may have a glass of wine at weddings.
Why do Some Amish Groups Prohibit Drinking Alcohol?
With some religious groups, there is a collective belief that the outright alcohol consumption ban is the ultimate wisdom.
One such group is the New Order Amish group, which initially split from the Main Amish group, which is now the Old Order Amish, in the 1960s due to differences in several subjects, such as alcohol, tobacco, and courting customs among teenagers.
The New Amish Order believes that the consumption of alcohol is wrong because it destroys the body. A substance that is destructive to the body contrasts with their belief in treating the body with respect.
Substances that could, therefore, potentially damage the body, like tobacco and alcohol, are banned. Unlike the Old Order Amish, the New Order Amish are more relaxed and accommodative to modern technology such as landline phone usage and planes for traveling.
They are, however, more conservative than the Older Order Amish in morally questionable issues, and thus they believe that alcohol usage is dangerous. Regarding certain issues such as courting, where a common practice known as bundling is common in the Old Order Amish, the New Order Amish tend not to partake in it.
Overall, these restrictions and alcohol rejection is connected to their conservative worldview in matters related to morality.
The New Order Amish puts more effort into spreading their beliefs and doing mission work. Prohibiting alcohol consumption is one unique way the New Order Amish differ in their faith from other Amish sects.
The emphasis on a clean way of life among the New Amish Order without many common vices appeals to potential converts.
Do the New Order Amish Drink Alcohol?
In New Order Amish churches, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is strictly restricted.
They did not want their young people to have to go through the "Rumspringa" process, which is one of the reasons why the New Order church broke away from the Old Order church and formed its own sect.
They did not want anything to do with alcohol or cigarettes, which are considered grave sins among the communities who adhere to the New Order Amish faith.
This is the same for Beachy Amish and strict Mennonite communities, which also prohibit the use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Why do Some Amish Groups Permit Drinking Alcohol?
The Old Order Amish appear plain and devoutly religious, but they do not have a comprehensive restriction on alcohol consumption.
The issue of alcohol consumption was the main reason why the New Order Amish split from the Old Order Amish. The Old Order Amish did not see any reason to prohibit all alcohol usage and believed that it was okay to consume alcohol in moderation because it is mentioned in the Bible.
In fact, alcohol is seen as very important to the Amish Germanic Heritage, and, therefore, the Old Order Amish do not need to prohibit alcohol usage.
In the Old Order Amish, alcohol is not banned, but alcohol use is less common than in English communities. The Old Order Amish communities may drink alcohol when celebrating weddings or relaxing after a long week.
Some Amish people can even make wine, ciders, and beer. During these ceremonies and other special, the Amish drink in moderation without breaking social norms. With other Amish people, such as those living in Lancaster and Pennsylvania, their alcohol consumption is done in private.
These Amish avoid drinking at bars or other public spaces. There is some stigma which is attached to alcohol consumption, but its use is not outright forbidden. Drinking alcohol in private ensures that there is no judgment on this indulgence.
Similarly, among the Amish people, alcohol use is used to help them bond as a group and liven the mood at a celebration. Alcohol can also be used to relieve stress. For most Old Order Amish, consuming alcohol in moderation is not a morally bad act and, therefore, the reason why they allow it.
Old Order Amish Rules on Alcohol and Alcohol during Rumspringa
The term "Rumspringa" is when many young men and women of the Old Order Amish community who are not yet members of the church are given permission to "sow their wild oats" beginning at the age of sixteen.
Before settling down and joining the church, individuals are permitted but not encouraged to sample life outside of the rigorous Amish norms.
Nowadays, youngsters opt to obtain driver's licenses or even purchase their own vehicles. They are also free to use store-bought clothes and accessories, etc. In the same way, during this stage, youngsters who are residing at home spend a lot of time drinking, partying with friends, and dating.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that many young Amish individuals indulge in heavy alcohol consumption at this time which can often lead to complications.
Eventually, they tire of it and surrender their independence. Those who choose to wed as Amish must first become members of the church. As a result, many of them commit to a life of stability by settling down, joining a church, and getting married.
Do the Amish Youth Give up the Alcohol When They Join the Church?
When some young Amish individuals commit to joining the church, they make significant lifestyle changes, such as giving up alcohol, selling their cars and other material possessions, and living more simply.
They give up everything and try to live as good Christians. Some people may have a tougher time letting go of everything.
Furthermore, while many Amish communities see alcohol consumption negatively, others may not have a firm policy against it. A member of the Old Order Amish Church probably will not be spotted at a bar or with a beer in hand, though.
This is frowned upon by the vast majority of communities; therefore, they tend not to drink in public, and when they do, it is typically in private.
Is Alcohol Abuse Found In Amish Communities?
Alcohol abuse can be found in the Old Order Amish Communities, but it is no more or less common than in other communities.
Some of the members of this community may be more prone to abusing alcohol than others, just like in other communities.
The only difference is that in the Amish community, strong ties and strong faith may be helpful in providing a support network to the Amish people who have cases of alcohol abuse.
Because Amish live in relative isolation, one cannot really tell whether alcohol abuse is prevalent or not as compared to the Englishmen. There are, however, some suggestions that the restrictions that are put on alcohol may lead to some Amish overindulging, especially among youngsters.
This overindulgence is stereotypically common during the "running around" stage or Rumspringa. It can also happen before or after a young person joins the Amish faith.
The Rumspringa phase is characterized by youths leaving their communities to go and experiment with worldly things before fully committing and joining the Amish church.
During this phase, the youth engage in drugs, sex, or binge drinking, but it is usually not as common as in pop culture.
Among adults, alcohol abuse can also be found, and because there are different views on alcohol usage, there is no unified teaching on how to handle alcohol indulgence.
Parental intervention or other forms of peer pressure to refrain from drinking are examples of the kinds of social consequences that can be imposed for persistent or repeated alcohol abuse.
Many of us would probably agree that the world would be better if alcohol and intoxication were eliminated.
Remarkably, some Amish congregations permit alcohol and tobacco use, given the Amish's stringent restrictions and efforts to adhere to the Bible. But this is only one more example of their contradictions.
Religious authorities determine policy and may have different interpretations, therefore the contradictions.
Additionally, if the bishop is a social drinker, one should not expect a prohibition on alcoholic beverages from his office or rules against alcohol indulgence. To answer the question of whether Amish drink alcohol, some of them drink alcohol.
To answer whether Amish are allowed to drink alcohol, some of them are allowed to, and some groups have no problem with it while others are not; in fact, they are strongly discouraged from alcohol consumption.
Alcohol consumption, therefore, depends on the Amish community or the individual.