The Amish adhere to a set of unwritten rules and regulations known as the Ordnung, which governs their daily lives.
This German word, which can be translated as "order" or "discipline," takes on a more profound significance when used in an Amish setting.
The Amish Christian community is built upon the Ordnung as its primary guiding document that was created to preserve the community.
One of the requirements for membership in the Ordnung is strict adherence to its regulations, and the Amish believe that following the rules outlined in the Ordnung can assist church members in leading more Christ-like lives.
The Ordnung structures are not contained in the Bible, but they are typically established on principles found in the Bible.
Certain kinds of actions and technologies are outlawed by the Ordnung.
They are the following: public electricity, legal action taken at a judge's court, possessing particular pieces of technology, like autos or televisions, vying for a seat in a political body, divorce, as well as activities like gambling and other forms of entertainment.
Other kinds of technology might be allowed under specific conditions, such as riding in a car (as a passenger, not as the driver) or even renting an automobile (for example, while traveling a long distance for work or pleasure), but not owning one.
The Ordnung allows the use of certain technologies, for instance, in non-Amish jobs but prohibits ownership.
Behaviors like adultery, lying, and cheating are forbidden by the Ordnung, which also prescribes certain aspects of daily life like fashion and tailoring of the garments, hairstyle, permission of marriage between baptized members, and carriage design.
Who establishes the Ordnung?
Because Amish people value their heritage, the Ordnung rarely undergoes significant transformations. The Ordnung of a particular Amish church district is the culmination of a long and eventful history.
It is a common misconception that the Amish bishop enforces the norms of the Ordnung hierarchically, but that is not the case.
His primary authority lies in deciding which subjects will be brought up for discussion and which issues will be put to the vote during a meeting of the members.
On the other hand, when a sufficient number of people living in a community firmly believe that something ought to be permitted, this can put a large amount of pressure on the leadership.
The leadership of the church could decide to make an exception to the rules regarding a certain technology before bringing it up for discussion. The Amish can use a "wait and see" strategy to observe the effects of a technology adapted in another Amish district.
Before participating in Communion services, the Amish go over the Ordnung twice a year. At the meeting of Counsel, which occurs two weeks before Communion, the Ordnung is discussed, and the church members are polled to determine whether or not they agree with the changes.
For Communion to happen, a congregation's members need to be on the same page about the Ordnung, and any unresolved concerns must be dealt with.
Insubordination to the Order
There are situations when Amish people may act in a manner that is contrary to the Ordnung. A member of the Amish community may secretly obtain a piece of prohibited technology or flagrantly disobey church laws about attire or commercial activities.
An Amish individual is capable of committing activities that are more generally acknowledged as being morally repugnant, such as cheating or adultery.
In these kinds of situations, the church ministry will go to the offender's home and ask him to "put away" a prohibited technology or stop engaging in inappropriate conduct.
Excommunication, also referred to as Bann, is synonymous with the act of social shunning known as Meidung. Meidung is a part of the ritual of excommunication.
There is always the potential of a person returning, even after they have been excommunicated from the community.
It is possible for a member who has been excommunicated to return at any time, make a confession in front of the bishop or the church, and then, often after a period of six weeks, is reinstated into the church. Shunning and excommunication are two forms of public reprimand in Amish communities.
The practice of shunning is not intended to serve as a kind of punishment in and of itself; rather, it is intended to send a message to the rest of the churchgoers that they take their baptismal promise seriously.
Alterations to the Ordnung are made over time, just like societal norms, and technological advances are made.
Additionally, the Ordnung is not a stringent set of rules as it may shift throughout time as new technologies are analyzed, considered, and either adopted or rejected.
What is "Gap Year?"
The term "Gap Year," also known as "Rumspringa," is commonly associated with "adolescence" among the Amish.
Rumspringa is loosely translated to "running around." Beginning around the age of 16, Amish children and adolescents enter a stage of Rumspringa, during which they are no longer subject to the complete authority of their parents on weekends.
Because they have not been baptized, Amish children and adolescents are not yet under the jurisdiction of the church. During this time, a significant number of Amish children and adolescents continue to behave in an Amish-traditional manner.
Others venture into "worldly" pursuits such as purchasing a car, going to the movies, or dressing in clothing that is not of the Amish tradition.
If you are conversant with the stringent lifestyle the Amish adhere to, then you can probably see how this represents a turn-around in the values they have traditionally held.
Because the Amish live in such a close-knit community, they place stringent restrictions on how and where individuals can and cannot use technology and move about in their society.
The three primary focuses of Amish life are the worship of God, the upkeep of one's family, and involvement in one's community.
The behavior that youngsters exhibit during Rumspringa is frequently ignored by both their parents and the elders in the community.
They think everyone should have the opportunity to experience life outside of the Amish community before deciding whether or not they wish to continue living the Amish way of life.
What Gap Year/ Rumspringa Entails?
Traditionally, the "Gap Year" involved a period of heightened participation in social activities like volleyball, swimming, ice skating, picnicking, hiking, and hosting huge outdoor "supper" parties with "Singings."
After singing hymns in German and gospel songs in English for several hours at a time at someone's home, the gathering would break for conversation and food.
The search for a life partner is an essential part of the Rumspringa experience. During this time, Amish young adults start dating, and most of them eventually discover someone they describe as a "dear companion." The dating practices of Amish teens, however, differ from community to community.
During this stage, a variety of behaviors can take place, including but not limited to drinking, using drugs, and driving cars.
Within the Amish community, the use of any mode of transportation other than horse-drawn carriages is strictly forbidden. Some groups even visit the local nightclubs and pubs in the vicinity. In addition to this, youngsters can experiment with normal hairstyles and outfits.
The term "dressing English" is used to describe this method of behavior. How one conducts themselves during Rumspringa is in some ways dependent not only on the individual but also on the community. During this period, many continue to live with their families, and the behavior is significantly less intense as a result.
Consequently, they will continue participating in tame activities such as bowling and attending Sunday singings. It is essential to understand that Rumspringa does not translate to "going wild."
Gap Year/Rumspringa in the Social Media Age?
Rumspringa has been dramatically revolutionized for young people as a result of the accessibility of websites such as Facebook.
The internet and texting have become quite important in today's society. People believe that having access to Facebook during this time is required to have a social life.
It would appear that Amish adolescents use it more than their non-Amish counterparts.
How Long Does Rumspringa last?
Although the duration of Rumspringa varies from community to community, it is typically between 1 and 2 years.
Adolescents are free to live wherever they want outside of the Amish community during this period.
Once the allotted amount of time has passed, the individual in question is required to report back to the community and make a choice.
What Happens After Rumspringa?
After the individual has returned to the community and made the decision to continue living the Amish way of life, he or she will be baptized by the community's elders and will be required to follow the Ordnung beginning on the day of the baptism.
If a member decides to leave the Amish ways after being baptized, they are shunned from the community and asked never to return.
According to estimates, around 90% of youngsters wind up staying put in the community and getting baptized after contemplating their options.