Can Amish get divorced?

Divorce in the Amish church is grounds for excommunication

amish divorceAmish take their wedding vows seriously.  Divorce is not sanctioned in the Amish church, though may occur in rare cases.  Divorce is seen as reason for excommunication.  Separations, however, do occasionally occur among Amish.

Do Amish remarry?

Amish do not remarry so long as their previous partner is alive.  However, Amish do frequently remarry in the case of a partner’s death.  Older Amish may remarry for companionship.  In order to support themselves, Amish widows may take on work outside of the home or may receive financial assistance from church and family.

amish married couple
Marriage in the Amish church is for life

Hurst and McConnell describe a gender imbalance between widows and widowers in the Holmes County, Ohio Amish community.  This is rooted in the fact that men die earlier, and that men are more likely to remarry.

Interestingly, Hurst and McConnell note that courtship which occurs when one of the partners has been widowed tends to be very private.  “It is sometimes done through the mail—the couple might not even see each other during their courtship—“, the authors note, “placing the Amish at the cutting edge of “mail dating.”

For further information, see:

An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell

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    1. Bobby Chavala

      what would happened if an amish couple gets divorced?

    2. Robert in MI

      Can Amish widows marry outside the Amish community?

      Are older (60+) Amish widows permitted to marry outside the Amish community? Perhaps to a Christian Englisher who respects Amish beliefs and would provide for her, allowing and even assisting her in maintaining her own beliefs?

      1. Lance

        Robert in MI,

        In general, Anabaptists, Amish included, do not allow marriage outside of their order. Order being defined as all churches that your church would have full fellowship with. These people use this scripture to justify their position: 2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    3. Robert in MI

      Lance, thank you. Well stated … but the voice from heaven also said to Peter in Acts 10
      vs. 15 “What God has cleansed, call not common” and again in vs. 28 Peter testified “God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” If this is true, how much more would it not apply to a Christian Englisher who steadfastly studies and lives by the scripture? I do not mean this disrespectfully, but scripture should come first above all tradition or ideas of man, no matter how well intentioned.

    4. Valerie

      Amish vs English perspective of living by scripture

      The Amish & former Amish I’ve come to know personally have made it clear that the Amish have their perspective & interpretations of following scriptures that do not agree with Englishers perspectives & interpretations of scriptures, therefore they wouldn’t necessarily see the Englisher as following & living by scripture,as they do, even though recognizing they’re a Christian. So they must be like minded in their own Order, in own community I believe.

      Either the widow would have to leave community, (& be shunned) to marry outside or the Outsider would have to become Amish to marry, from all I’ve learned. Would be difficult at the age you gave example of, it seems, Robert.

    5. re: Amish vs English perspective of living by scripture

      Thank you Valerie (and Lance earlier) for honest and clearly accurate analysis of the real world situation. I would not wish to see a woman shunned nor would I be a good candidate to join an Amish church at this time due to my use of technology, which would be unnecessarily interruptive to them. Yet I need to retain the technological edge as I feel that there will come a time when on-site Christian missionaries will not have access to much of the world and a creative approach must be taken to get the Gospel out. My intent is to preach the gospel via satellites that are not subject to damage by coronal mass ejections and solar flares, and use these same satellites to assist keeping America free. I am not yet willing to give that technology up so I would likely not be accepted in an Amish community, nor wish to be a nuisance to them. Non-the-less I find the more simple Amish lifestyle attractive, their diets healthy and so may endeavor to live at the outskirts of an Amish community should the door ever open up. Rbt-

    6. tiffany rangier

      my vote

      divorce is always bad.bad things are what cause divorce.could it be avoided if other life changes took place?

    7. Question

      Just a question. Do Amish believe in divorce for the reason of adultery? And if so, is the partner who was faithful permitted to remarry?

      1. Gerald

        Divorce & remarriage

        “Amish do not remarry so long as their previous partner is alive.”
        According to Jesus only the man has the privilege of divorcing his wife and marrying another woman, and that only for immoral sexual conduct on the part of the wife.
        This sounds unfair, and it is from the world’s judgment. But the world does not regard marriage as its Creator does, and does not regard the male and the female as our Creator regards us.
        Eve did not choose to marry Adam. The Lord (the One by Whom all things were created, see John 1:1, 2) created her and gave her to Adam.
        Throughout the Bible the woman was sold by her father to her husband for fifty shekels. She might be asked, as Laban did of Rebekah, “Will you go with this man?” But unless she was granted choice by her father, she became the man’s wife, like it or not. If an unmarried, unbetrothed virgin was subdued and taken by force (“raped”), if caught in the act (two or three witnesses) the man was compelled to pay her father the fifty shekels. It was up to her father to decide whether the man had to take his daughter to wife. She was not asked and had no choice in the matter if her father did not grant her choice.
        Israel was the Lord’s “wife.” God declared that He took Israel out from among the nations (“goyim”) and made “her” His betrothed “wife.” After a time, when His “wife,” Israel, attained puberty (I think this was when Israel left Egypt), He consummated His “marriage” to His betrothed “wife.”
        Later, after the division of Israel into Israel and Judah, Israel and Judah were God’s “wives.” He divorced them both for their “adultery” with foreign gods. But He did not grant them freedom to “marry” these false gods. He retained ownership of them both.
        Israel (Samaria) was invaded, conquered, carried off by Assyria and dispersed among the nations. Then Babylon besieged and conquered Judah, but did not scatter them.
        After Khurush (Cyrus) the Persian took Babylon, he restored a remnant of the (now-) Jews (< Judah) to Jerusalem. God reunited with His remaining "wife," Judah, but "she" soon became unfaithful again.
        This time, God did not reunite with Judah, rather took a new "wife," the Church – the one that Jesus said that He would build. The Church of Jesus Christ was not invited to choose to become the "wife" of Christ. He bought "her" with His blood.
        The concept of the equality of man and woman is as false as claiming that the Church is of equal authority to Christ. Spiritually the woman is of equal value to the man, for both are bought by the blood of Jesus. But in this life the woman is subordinate to the man, the wife to her husband, the Church to Christ.
        Paul explained why the woman is subordinate: 1) she was created second following the man; 2) she was created from the man*; 3) she sinned first; 4) she was deceived (Adam was not deceived); 5) she was created to be an assistant, not a superior, to the man. When she has questions she is not to speak in the church (ekklesia – assembly) but to keep quiet and to ask her husband at home.
        The Bible is clear that women are the property of men: first, of their fathers and second, of their husbands. The world does not value women. They are treated according to the whims of the men who rule over them. Only under the law of Moses, imperfectly, and under Christ, perfectly, are women valued and protected.
        *The woman is created from the man. His sperm is either an XX (female) or an XY (male). The mother does not determine whether the conceptus is male or female. If the ovum (egg), which is always an XX, supplied by the mother is fertilized by an XY sperm, a male develops. If the ovum is fertilized by an XX sperm, a female develops.
        Both as a conscious being and biologically the female is subordinated to the male. She does not function fully without the male element, the semen he supplies. She produces ova (eggs) which if not fertilized are wasted and discarded. She will produce at the most only around 400 in her lifetime. The man, though, produces sperm by the billions whether they fertilize an ovum or not. His testicles produce sperms at a rate unaffected by a woman.

        1. Sarah

          Argument is strange and doesn’t justify viewing women as property

          Sir, the comments about the female needing the male biologically don’t make sense. With or without a man, a female’s body will function and vice Gerda with the male. Neither will be sick or die living a single life. For childbearing, both genders are needed. As far as how women were viewed in the Old Testament and how He views the Church, there is far more than a “property” mentality going on there. God was setting up protection for women because, being more vulnerable in a world of sin and disorder, they needed this support from their families. The same can be said of men and children except the support needed varied. Also, God set up courts and human priests to serve Him which also served to provide order to the society. If you are trying to justify treating women like property, please be careful. If you are not, please make your purpose clear. If all you are trying to say is that some men took the protections set up by God as an excuse to treat women as less in the past and sometimes even presently, I retract my request for you to
          go on and wholeheartedly agree, albeit sadly and indignantly. And I hope you feel the same.

    8. Snowysays

      What about cases of abuse?

      I know that many Christians who are normally firmly against divorce consider it acceptable when there is continued and serious abuse in the marriage. I think the idea is that the abusive person has broken the covenant of marriage by acting in this way. How do the Amish deal with cases of domestic abuse, either towards children or a spouse?

      1. R

        The Bible lists only adultery as an acceptable ground for divorce, and we may not add to Scripture. Matthew 5:25.
        Abuse, though wrong, is not a ground for anything more than moving to a different house, which you don’t need a decree of divorce to do. I think, given the closed-off tendencies of the group, abuse might not be checked well.

    9. R

      The Bible gives adultery as the only ground for a divorce. How then does a group that lives by the Bible seem to forbid divorce in all cases?