“I believe God made us equal. But with that said, I believe there is a headship order also.”
In this brief audio interview (~3 min) Amish couple Ivan and Ruth Chupp of Burr Oak, Michigan discuss the roles of women and men in the Amish church.
Ivan starts by describing Amish beliefs on headship and the woman’s role in church, with Ruth adding some comments at the end.
“We also believe that Paul teaches that the women should be silent in church, and we take that literally,” says Ivan. “So she would not have…a teaching role in church.”
You don’t hear women’s and men’s roles described in these terms much in modern society. But the Amish are guided by a strict Scriptural reading as this interview illustrates.
Ivan reads from Ephesians 5 to discuss the idea of submission: Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord (v. 21). As Ivan explains it: “that means with respect. I’ll submit to hear, she’ll submit to me, it’s a mutual thing.”
Ivan then elaborates on the headship order and what “submitting” means here, before passing the baton to his wife (“Express yourself Ruth, I’m talking for you”).
Ruth shares how things look in practice: “There’s decisions to be made in the house or with children sometimes…none of us aim to make a huge decision without talking to each other.”
“Sometimes he’ll say well we’ll do it the way you thought this time, and then see if it works, or next time we’ll do it how he – sometimes you don’t know which way he should go, especially with children.”
“You kind of know what he would decide, by working together for 25 years already, you start to think the same.”
This short conversation gives an idea of how the dynamic between men and women in Amish society is supposed to work. Of course things can differ in practice with individual couples.
Ruth’s final line above, at least, doesn’t strike me as too different from how well-functioning “modern” couples work together.