Rules of a Godly Life: Appearance

Rules of a Godly Life is a concise devotional read by Amish.  Last week we looked at what it has to say on speaking evil.  I thought I’d share another today.  This is rule #11, from Section 3 (“Works”):

Rules Godly Life DevotionalPractice modesty in the wearing of clothes, and have nothing to do with pomp and luxury in raiment. It is great vanity to spend as much on one suit as would ordinarily be required to clothe two or three persons. When you become old and think back to the time when you sought to adorn yourself, you will feel only regret that you once loved such vain display. Read much in God’s Word and you will find many warnings against pride. No other sin was punished more severely. Pride changed angels to devils. A once powerful king, Nebuchadnezzar, was transformed into a brute beast [to eat grass like an ox]. And Jezebel (a dominant queen) was eaten of dogs as the result of her pride. II Kings 9:30-37.

I cared a lot more about how I dressed when I was younger.  I guess that’s not uncommon.  I hated clothes shopping, but was actually pretty picky about what I put on.  Amish people, for obvious reasons, have less of a problem with that.

These days I’m not at all concerned with wearing the nicest or most fashionable clothes. I do think it’s important to maintain a good appearance.  Frankly, though, today’s styles sometimes shock me.

The question of appearance extends to tattoos.  Going by how much I see of them, tattoos are at epidemic levels.  It’s gone well beyond a small hidden design that used to be the extent of it.  Forearms, calves, even necks are drenched in blotches of ink.  And not just males’.

Will people regret their tattoos 10 or 20 years on, or will they be “normalized” enough that they won’t carry a stigma?  I do not know, but I’d hate to have to wear an ugly mark on my body as a permanent reminder of youthful folly.

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    1. Britt

      I too will look at some peoples “sleeve” tattoo and what not and I will think to myself I wonder if they will regret that when they are a mother or a grandmother!! My oldest brother got a tattoo when he was young.. One was a mean looking clown! He didn’t care much for it when he became a dad..My other brother joined the air force and got 2 tattoos only to try to get them removed with that laser treatment 10 years later.. He says he wished he never had gotten them! Now money is tight and he has had to stop the removal. He is now left with very light looking blobs!!

    2. I have a tattoo

      Good post Erik and you can include me as one of those folks that is having regrets about getting a tattoo which I recieved about 14 years ago or so , and its a hawks head with flames coming out from the back. It was a good idea at the time and to be honest that design was not my first choice, I was going to get one of me getting a tatoo,lol. Now how funny would that have been, so stop laughing everyone because I do really have a tattoo! Richard

    3. Randy A

      When I was growing up, wearing a suit and tie to any social event was de rigueur (i.e expected). Today, a majority, or a large minority, of people at social events dress as slobs (i.e. what appear to be pajamas, low fitting jeans, stained clothing, etc.). And don’t get me started on what people wear to church.



    4. Anne Hendrix

      I am a believer in dressing modestly, but I try to dress attractively, especially for work and church. I believe we should put our best foot forward. As for tattoos, I used to dislike them, but as I approached my 49th birthday, I suddenly had a desire to get a tattoo. Call it a mid life crisis or something! I chose to get one that put together two of the most important things in my life: my faith and music (I am a professional musician and music teacher). I have a treble clef with a beautiful faceted cross superimposed on top of it. I got it on my thigh, where it wouldn’t be seen except when I was in a swim suit or otherwise. I got the itch for another one a year later, and I now have a stylized female swimmer on my ankle. Swimming is something I have done competitively as a kid, and now as an adult in the Senior Olympics.

      1. marcia bryan

        reply to anne h rules of a godly life: appearance

        Anne, I don’t spend much on clothing nor do I care that much about fashion, but I did get one tatoo. It’s a small braclett design on my to wrist. Over six years ago my son died suddenly, getting the tatoo to symbolize permanently the pain I went through seemed right. I don’t regret it.

        1. Tattoo bearers

          Folks with tattoos, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing. I hope I don’t have to say that my dislike of tattoos is nothing personal. I have to confess I don’t quite understand what the motivation for getting one is, though Anne and Marcia I appreciated you explaining what yours were. Even though I was never attracted to them, I realize it is not always just a rash decision as I implied above.

          I also wonder what % of the population has tattoos? If I were to take a wild guess…10-20%?

          1. Brandon c gille

            Well I guess it's a good thing you don't have to wear my tattoos.

            This was incredibly insulting. The the Pentecostals in the south judge for tattoos too. My tattoos are beautiful, I’m not part of an epidemic of ink, I’m part of a movement separating from ridiculous conformist from a rightfully forgotten era. An era of religious domination of expression, women outcast for being unwed mothers it’s just disgusting. I respect that Amish allow people to escape into the real world. I think it must be like time travel to them. Just rocketing 200 years into the future that is just a couple miles away. I can’t understand what it must be like to be oblivious to the extent of the data that is flying over the Amish, they are blind to it. I got lost there but oh well.

    5. Lance

      Le 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD.

      Re 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

      1. Anne Hendrix

        Wow. The verse from Leviticus is Old Testament, and we are under Christ’s grace now, not the Mosaic law. My tattoos are not the mark of the beast. In Revelation we see the mark as one that was mandatory for people to buy and sell. YOU HAD TO RECEIVE THE MARK. NO CHOICE, OR YOU WOULD DIE IF YOU REFUSED. Lance, how dare you judge me like that. And I can already hear your reply, “I’m not judging you, God is.”

        1. Lance

          Only the ceremonies of the OT are canceled by Grace and the Cross. The morality portions of Mosaic law is still God’s Will for mankind. The OT is still God’s Word.

          2Ti 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

          1. Anne Hendrix

            So you are telling me that getting a tattoo is immorral? Yes, maybe you should keep your mouth shut. “Judge not, lest you be judged”.

            1. Lance

              Anne and all other readers who found offense at my posts,

              That scripture was not pointed at anyone in particular. It was sent to the blog, as a whole. Just because it happened to be right after your comment did not mean it was aimed at you, Anne. I apologize that you felt hurt, but I was not singling you out in any way. The other posts were responses to direct accusations and I stand by them, but I was not attacking you or anyone else. Please forgive any perceived slight as none was intended.

              To those that think I ‘hated’ on someone, know that the scripture quote was a witness to all that read the blog because no one had yet witnessed scripture. No one person was personally attacked. The scripture was used as a witness to the subject of Erik’s post, appearance and tattoos, which was part of the original post. I don’t see how you discuss the beliefs of a highly religious people without including the authority of that group. I witness scripture because the Amish use scripture in their beliefs.

              I am sorry we all got bent of shape on this as it was completely unnecessary. Please forgive me.

      2. Lucie

        Respectfully, whenever someone quotes this verse to someone who has a tattoo, I want to ask that person how many of the Old Testament laws they actually live by.

        1. Lance

          As many of them that I can that are not part of the ceremonial law. I make no claims to perfection or even being good. However, this is a scripture I can and do obey. Since, I know this scripture and believe it to be the Will of God for mankind, to disobey it would be much worse to me, despite it being in the Mosaic Law. It’s God and specifically the person of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to obey Him, when we lean on Him. I thank God for this obedience, where ever I have obeyed Him and give Him all the Glory for it.

          I originally only witnessed scripture, trying to use God’s Word in context. Now, some of you want to judge me for that, in return. Okay, I guess one can expect that. All Amish I know would have agreed with the way I used those scriptures, but most of them would have kept their mouths shut in public. Thank you for pointing me back to where I need to be and how to be that way.

          1. Lance, I dont think you necessarily need to “keep your mouth shut in public.” I would love if you could encourage your Amish friends to speak up more. Remind them that Jakob Ammann was a first generation Anabaptist, along with hundreds of others in the mid to late 1600s who got swept into the Swiss Brethren movement by zealous preachers who risked life and property to “speak up.”
            Read Leroy Beachy’s book Unser Leit, the Story of the Amish.
            By the way, I just go through doing a major rewrite of the Jakob Ammann article on Wikipedia, including some of the recent research that is rewriting the story of the Ammann/Reist schism. Jakob Ammann was not as bad as history has treated him. He spoke up quite loudly against sin and worldliness. 🙂

            1. Valerie

              Thanks PC

              I agree with you. I know the Amish way of evangelizing is by living what they believe but they also, could be a little more proactive in not discouraging their members to verbally share Christ. This is exactly why one of my friends left the Amish-his God given gifts were being quinched-

              At the same time, we could learn alot by Amish who live what they believe more in depth and not just gloss over scriptures pertaining to Godly living-I believe some of the focus on Amish & other Anabaptist groups that are getting so much attention these days is to expose how far as Christians in general, we have fallen from what we used to be-and pass it off as “culture” when the modern culture has had more affect on Christians, than Christians have on the culture-

              If people are interested in Amish-we cannot leave out scriptures-for scripture is what started the Amish people to be who they are-

              1. Daryl

                Hi Valerie
                You are right that the Amish should witness more, but please observe the begining of this post. Lance merely quoted scripture that was against tatoos and he was attacked and told to shut up. Clearly his opinion is only valid and permitted if it agrees with whomever. Must be a very bland world one lives in when one only allows opinions that support and agree with one’s own and attack anything thats different. Pretty insecure actually.

                So tell me why should the Amish risk life and limb to save those who are to proud and wilful to be saved. Those who are ernestly seeking salvation know how to find the Amish, the toursit busses carry in thousands every day seeking to satisfy their lust of the eyes and their lust of the flesh to see the Amish in real life and own something Amish.

                So how many busses arrive carrying in seekers looking to find salvation on the narrow path, Amish style, do you think?

                1. Valerie

                  Amish Opportunity

                  Hi Daryl,
                  I suppose my answer would be, to make the most out of the opportunity that they have now to perhaps make a difference-
                  example, I Peter 3:15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

                  Yet the answers cannot be “because this is the way our forefathers did it” because that is not giving the answer that Peter was encouraging-
                  IF someone in a community does have the gift to share Christ they shouldn’t be cast out for doing so, in my understanding of, as the Bible teaches, doing the work of an evangelist-it happens-and how people react shouldn’t stop us because Jesus said if they hated Him, they would hate those that follow Him-that shouldn’t stop us.

            2. Lance

              Thanks for the support PC. I too wish that Amish would witness to those that are attracted by the distinctive lifestyle. It is a perfect witnessing tool that they never take off, but mostly they don’t have a clue, spiritually, what to say to the people that approach them. A common statement is ‘we are just doing what our forefathers taught us’. Hardly pointing the seeker towards Christ, now, is it? The origins of the Anabaptists did not have this problem, as they were evangelical, but the active people were martyred, leaving the passive in control and it has become what it is. I have been pointing people to simple inexpensive writings that explain Amish ways and theology much better and more thoroughly then I ever could. Maybe I should get several copies of them and give them away to truly interested people. God Bless you, Mike.

              If anyone is wonder what my recommendations are, look here:
              Then look at the next comment about shipping from Pathway.

        2. Galen

          Thank you Lucie. I was reading through Lev. last night and I’m appauled at some of the things it says, or what the author states God says.

          Erik did not provide this site for us to attack each other’s religious beliefs. It’s nice to hear another person’s opinion but the bible quoting and the hatred should stop.

          Stick to the subject matter.

        3. Daryl

          it matters not how much scripture Lance knows or follows, what is relevent is that he knows that one and he quoted it correctly in the context of this discussion, would have been strange quoted in a subject on milking or something,

          So instead of attacking him, acknowledge that he raised an inportant verse that the Amish no doubt will and do use against tatoos and proceed from there to discuss the subject on hand.

          Y’all over sensitive people need to get out more and toughen up your over sensitive hides by mixing with some real people in the real world.

    6. Naomi


      When I was in high school I attended a summer music camp that required a very old-fashioned uniform: navy blue corderoy knickers, a light blue button up shirt, red sweater, and tall knee socks. It was a great experience not to have to worry about what to wear each morning. We just got up and hustled to start our day, which made each day very productive. On Sunday afternoons we were allowed to wear “civilian clothes,” and I always hated those times. All of a sudden everyone started focusing on appearance instead of the more important things, and it also became immediately obvious and significant who was attending on a full scholarship vs. those who were attending because their parents could afford to send them.

      1. Anne Hendrix

        Naomi, did you go to Interlochen? I always wanted to go there, but it was too far and too expensive. I went to Sewanee Summer Music Festival at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. It is sometimes called the Interlochen of the South. Very similar format. As for the uniform, I have always been in favor of school uniforms. I think they are great equalizers and take the focus off of what people do and do not have. Of course at a high end music camp, everyone knew who had the most expensive instruments! My daughter only had to wear a uniform in middle school, and she hated it. It certainly was easier to buy clothes for school!

        1. Lara

          Ha ha you Americans always fall for the “school uniforms are so great trick!” I spent 12 years in school uniform and finally found peace with “anything goes” at University and jeans at work. Uniforms are horrible to wear and teachers punish over the stupidest things. I was always in trouble lol!

    7. Tom Schulte

      A function of youth

      It seems to be a function of youth to try something new that shocks the older generation.
      In my day it was long hair now the youth shock me with their tattoo.
      I guess nothing really changes.

      1. Tom this is a good point. I also wonder if tattoos had been as accepted when I was a teen as they seem to be now, would I have been tempted to get one. I still very much doubt it, even in my most “rebellious” period (which looking back seems pretty tame now). I knew a few people who had them, but they were outliers at the time.

    8. Theresa

      A Godly Life

      I never have cared about a fashion statement. As long as I had on clothing it didn’t matter how old it was/is or what it looked (s) like. I’m still like that today. My mom keeps saying I’m out of style. I could care less. A friend of mine says I need to get off the farm & into some modern day clothing. Why? To make a fashion statement?

    9. Galen

      I was a model when I was in my teens and early 20’s. I had a low self-esteem (as most models do) and felt it helped me with that. I also was amazed by how much money I could make in a short period of time. I struggled with this because I was a new Christian and yet I put a lot of focus on my looks. My family was not supportive and would skirt the topic if it ever came up.

      Back then tatoos where out, a person should not show a shirtless photo in their portfolio or you’d be sure NOT to get the job.

      How funny things change. A shirltess photo is now required….I guess less is more.

      I think it is important that we take care of ourselves. I always dress nice for church but I no longer dress like I just came out of a fashion show.

      I’m sure most of us look back on our lives and see the journey we’ve been on. I was a teen farmer turned Boston model, next on to real estate, then accounting, next physical therapy and now hospice work. No tatoos were involved but my timeline shows how I’ve grown and how my priorities shifted (not to mention the hair and clothing styles.)

      Whoever thought that a “skinny little farmboy” would end up at a person’s bedside, holding their hand and calming them as they wait to meet their Creator.

      I guess this is growth. 🙂

      1. Galen thanks for sharing this. That’s quite a journey. Your present job sounds especially difficult to me.

    10. Valerie

      Tattoos-God's prinicipals in OT

      Wow-I’m on a Christian discussion forum where topic of tattoos became several pages of posts!
      That being said, alot of Old Testament laws were God’s heart on matters that still could/should be applied today-
      Look at them and ask why He would have made something law then-and why might He still feel same today? That’s at least how alot of churches view it-
      Also, it might be seen as conforming to the “world” that as Christians we do not follow after-is also how some churches see it today-
      There was a time tattoos were associated with biker gangs, and other groups/peoples that tended to not be thought of as following after Christ so Christians abstained from practices like this-
      Now it seems everyone has them but doesn’t take away from what the Lord originally intended it seems when He made that particular law.

      Of course, alot of things like this are up for debate-and judgement isn’t intended just clarification on the intent on Old Testament that could also be applied today?

      1. Tom in Ky

        Yes I agree Valerie; Old Testament law is still relevant to us Christians. Christ came not to change the doctrine of the Old Testament but to provide reconciliation for humankind. John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”. I am often reminded of John chapter 8 verses 1-12
        (But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
        7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”11 She said, “No one, Lord.”And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”)
        This depiction of Christ is a powerful one and referencing it in light of John 3:17 demonstrates how Christ came to offer humankind a direction to return to God. Christ did tell the woman to go and sin no more, meaning he confirms that adultery is a sin and should not be done.
        I believe that the OT such as the Ten Commandments for an example should be followed because they are the will of God and God does not change. James 1:17 “ Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. And Psalm 102 24-27
        I said, “O my God,
        Do not take me away in the midst of my days;
        Your years are throughout all generations.
        25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
        And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
        26 They will perish, but You will endure;
        Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
        Like a cloak You will change them,
        And they will be changed.
        27 But You are the same,
        The penalty of sin is death, so god has not changed in the OT or the NT
        Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

        There are also other verses I could provide. However, as Christians we should be thankful that Christ has prepared a way for us to go, and despite that all of us have sinned Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, we can still have life.
        John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

        1. Valerie

          Thank you Tom!

          Great and important message for today.

          There needs to be some damage control over incorrect teaching in modern Christianity today-we need to take some steps backwards as we move forward.

          God said to His chosen people in Jeremiah 6:16:
          Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

          Sad, eh? Of course, we know what happened to ancient Israel, our Heavenly Father had no choice but to follow through with His warnings-how can we refuse an offer like that? He offered rest for their/our souls if we would return to the old paths?

          1. Linda

            Old Testament/New Testament

            No Amish have tattoos that I am aware of; I did know of one but he had it removed.

            Thanks, Lance, for bringing out the interesting verse in Leviticus 19:28. I wonder if that is why some people are opposed to autopsies?

            One way to interpret the Bible is that the New Testament would have more importance than the Old Testament. For example, OT murder was changed in the NT to also include hatred and anger (Matthew 5:21, 22 and I John 3:15).

            A Beachy Amish bishop explained it this way:

            “The following four rules on how to know what to use and not use from the Old Testament have been preserved and handed down for many generations from our church leader forebears, as excerpted from a 1973 article in the Christian Contender by J. A. Birky.

            Some things in the Old (Testament) are carried over into the New.
            We keep the two.

            Some things in the Old are changed in the New.
            We change too.

            Some things in the Old are dropped in the New.
            We drop those too.

            Some things in the New are not found in the Old.
            We keep those too.”

            I am presuming the Amish would have the same theology, but maybe not.

    11. deb from long island

      I just bought this little book at the Gordonville Bookstore for my son who is working out in the world and coming upon circumstances and people who will try to take his eyes off God. I read through it and thought it was a very good guideline as to the standard that God has set for His Church. While we do not live remotely close to the extreme that the Amish do, modesty and purity are a key part of being light and salt in this world.Of course while the Gospel of Jesus, as Tom lays out, opens the eyes of the understanding, the principles laid out in Rules of a Godly Life should go before and follow every believer in their daily life.

    12. Kentucky Lady 717

      I am proud to say I do not have a tattoo and don’t want one… son has a couple which he got in his 30’s , he sure wasn’t living at home then….I would never have approved of them and I still don’t approve of them…but I guess they are better to look at than all the piercings in people’s eyelids, tongues,nose,eyebrows,etc……guess I don’t like pain that well and have to pay for it too…..and it’s not cheap……I have better use for my hard earned money… to charity……or to the Church where it will be used for helping someone….just sayin…..

    13. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I avoid clothing, shirts in particular, that has writing or images on it. Following the old order rule, liberally, I stick to solid colors for “golf shirts” and t-shirts, solids also, white, blue or currently light patterns on “dress shirts”.

      Day in and day out I wear jeans, either blue or black. I will not wear torn or frayed. I have several pairs of “dress pants” that I use depending on what is needed that day.

      I have a suit that I wear for formal occasions like weddings or employment interviews.

      I often think to myself that I try to dress generically, I do so because I wouldn’t mind dressing to easily fit in to a casual dress office space, like where some of my friends work, which is very casual many days, or, also because I was once an extra in a made for TV movie, and always hoped to do it again one day, and I decided to dress “generically” even if it is just a far flung hope, I feel its better to wear clothes that easily fit with any modern set background actor.

      My father and close uncles also dressed nicely and mature man style, so it comes natural to me I think.

      PS: Ladies, you’d be proud of me, I only recently got my closet organized, I’m still working on rather or not to put worn that day clothes back on the hangers or toss it in the laundry hamper waiting for wash day.

      1. Carolyn B

        Rules of a Godly Life: Appearance

        Shom, loved your post and end note. I would recommend that worn shirts should be washed after one use (perspiration).

        Lance, I know you’ve had a time of it with this topic. I’m very proud of the way you’ve handled yourself with your apology and witness. I’ve inadvertently offended very dear friends and it took years for healed relationships.

        Erik, thanks for not blocking Lance from your blog. He’s one of many from this community of commenters I really enjoy reading and learn much from.

        1. Thanks Carolyn, it’s not so easy to earn a ban from this blog…though a few have accomplished it 🙂 Lance makes a lot of valuable contributions here which I am grateful for, and the thought would never have crossed my mind. I know disagreements and misunderstandings will happen, but I’m glad when we can keep it civil and respectful, which is typically the case here. Just glad to hear from different sides of these issues.

    14. The other day I had a quote from Mennonite preacher John Brenneman, from the mid 1800s. I have finally gotten that whole booklet uploaded, and its even available in epub and mobi for Kindle (besides pdf). Brenneman was “Mennonite” (although Amish used to come hear him preach, so the story goes), but what he writes would reflect pretty closely the current Amish view of pride in dress.
      So here’s the link:
      Sit in on an old-fashioned Anabaptist sermon. 🙂

    15. Valerie

      Thanks for the link

      I want to check this out. Some dear former Amish friends of mine gave me a complete set of Brunk Mennonite Revival from the 50’s, if I remember right. I believe Amish snuck over to those as well!

      Anyway, thank you!
      You mentioned the Amman/Reist schism-In my Mennonites in Europe history book, Reist mentioned a “spirit” that troubled him about Ammann. Wonder what your thoughts would be on that spirit in Ammann?

      1. In “Letters of the Amish Division” you can read some of the actual letters themselves and come to your own conclusion. In the end, Ammann (in my opinion) exonerated himself better then the other side. He lifted the bann he had put on the others and put himself in the bann realizing he had acted too quickly. What more could he have done?
        History has blamed him for the split and gave him the reputation of being something close to a cult leader that went around banning anyone who disagreed with him. But he had been deputized by a committee of elders/churches to go to Switzerland and make the contact with the churches there as they were being lax in discipline etc, and when he was there he made his rash decision that has cost him his reputation. However, he always admonished people at least twice before excommunicating, and always with witnesses. And the bottom line is that historically there is a grand total of 7 people that he is known for sure to have excommunicated.
        That said, he himself acknowledged that he had acted too rashly with Reist and the 6 others, and a few years later excommunicated himself for that until THEY would reinstate him.
        That’s the other side of the story. 🙂 Well part of it. There is a lot that could be said. A couple of us are planning on writing a biography of him, stitching the little pieces of information together that are available. As he was probably illiterate, he didnt write a lot (probably dictated what couple of letters are extant) so that is probably why the other side has been handed down through the last 200 years, people not realizing that it was a bit one-sided view of the events.

        1. Valerie

          Curious PC

          I still need to make time to read this, but thank you-
          Since you have studied him and have a better feel for how he “ended up” feeling about the bann-how would you compare that to the way the bann is handled today? Or will that be a part of the writings? Do you feel Jakob would approve of today’s practice?
          Reason I ask, is because that is one of the issues that make so many concerned for the Amish children that leave being put under the bann and why alot of people feel the need to then teach against the Amish ways-as in ministries to the Amish.

          1. One difference I see in how the bann is used today is that it sometimes (not always) seems to get used as a punishment or sort of revenge, rather than a redemptive warning. The idea of someone getting put into the bann for two weeks because they sinned and confessed it seems more of a punishment idea than a purification.
            Both the Ammann and Reist side of the schism talked about penance in relation to banning. Penance goes back to the early church and is different than general repentance in that penance is speaking specifically about the repentance of someone who has already become a Christian but has fallen into sin.
            The early church would excommunicate people who had sinned, and not receive them back into communion until penance was done. In other words, one couldnt just sputter out some cheap words of “I’m sorry I did that” and expect to get accepted back into the church. There had to be some signs of real change of heart and intention. Some of these signs of repentance would be, for example, open confession, restitution, fasting, prayer, etc. When the church saw these signs of repentance, the person would be reinstated.
            Well, eventually it got to the point of the church leaders spelling out the requirements for penance rather than it being a free choice, and penance picked up the idea of a “check-list” sort of thing that people went through to get reaccepted. (Like, “Ok, I said 7 prayers now, gave X-amount of alms, etc, and etc)
            The same thing happens when the bann is used as a punishment. Instead of fruits of repentance that spring up naturally from someone who is really sorry and is trying to turn their life around, it becomes a thing of getting a spanking from the church, enduring the “spanking” of a two-week bann, and then getting accepted back.
            I dont know if this is making sense to you, but there is a difference between redemptive banning and waiting (with great hope!) for true penance, and using it as a rod to whip people with a revengeful attitude. The paradigm change can make a big difference in how those who are banned respond to its use.

            1. Lattice

              I read the Pride and Humility link you submitted and appreciate it very much. Every time I think of churches handing out punishments, I remember when the woman “caught in the act” was brought to Jesus. The Law required that she be stoned to death, but Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). Jesus then told the woman to go and “sin no more.” If someone repents of their transgression, I feel like all should be forgiven. Otherwise we shall stand a harder judgement. It is my belief that excommunication should be reserved for those who will not turn from their sinful way.

            2. Daryl

              Sadly PC I understood you clearly, punishing someone for confessing sounds very Catholic and is a sure way to make sure people stop confessing.

              the reason that one desires to confess is because one has realized the seriousness of the sin and seeks forgiveness not punishment.

              Sounds too much like the punishment is the redemtion for the sin and not the blood of Jesus.

            3. Valerie


              I understand what you’re saying and thank you for taking time to explain. My concernis when some leave Amish for a walk with Christ that their particular community doesn’t favor or encourage, as in Bible studies and such-and the concern I would think, would be how the Lord would see this kind of banning if they are simply wanting to follow Christ this way-I realize, Amish fear that their young might go down the wrong path, even doing this, but is that a proper reason for banning your children? For their desire to follow Christ in another setting? I was given a transcript of that very question-where the Amish were challenged about the seriousness of banning when the person wasn’t in actual sin-
              I hope I’m making sense now-

    16. I didn’t have time to read all the comments that have been posted, but like you said, I liked the honesty of those who have said they do have tattoos. I don’t have one but I do think a lot of times, people get them when they are younger or maybe during a period of self-discovery of some sort. You never know their path and what His plan is for their lives, so who knows, they may come to really regret it…or not. But either way, I don’t think those who get tattoos maybe know what scripture says about it or may interpret it differently. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it is what it is. Condemning them after the fact seems a little pointless to me. I will say I wish there was something that was temporary (and I don’t mean a Sharpie) so that if they do regret it, they know it will eventually go away. I’m sure that’s what the next generation will come up – a generation of grandmas with butterflies on their shoulders. HA HA And if you are a grandma with butterflies on your shoulders, I’m not judging you, believe me – it was a lame attempt at humor. 🙂

    17. Elizabeth Snoke

      I was a teenager in the 1950s in Goshen, Indiana (heavily Mennonite, lots of Amish around, etc.) Followed some fashion for fun like grey and black felt skirts (that came well below the knee) with sequined poodles on one and same kind cats on the other.

      When the miniskirts/pouffed hairstayles came in the 1960s, I had NO desire to try them. All my life have preferred skirts that came to mid-calf. After going to grad school in Hawaii and returning there to work for 5 years, I adopted the ankle-length muus and still wear them today. Much more modest coverage. Didn’t mean I couldn’t wear pretty colors–without being garish. Also never wore high heels–bad ankle precluded that even if I’d wanted to.

      Always wanted to have a tiny dragon tattooed on my shoulder as I collected little dragon figurines for many years and loved the sci-fi works of various authors about dragons. But never gave in/could afford to get one.

      I don’t appreciate having to see too much of people’s semi-nakedness. Also don’t appreciate foul-mouthed people. In a supermarket the other day I was behind a young woman and fellow. She was as beautiful as a young Elizabeth Taylor until she opened her mouth and every 3d or 4th word was “f@&!”, rattling it off like some use the phrase, “you know”. The cashier in our line happened to be the store manager. He said to her rather sternly, “We don’t appreciate your using that language here. If you can’t speak normally then please don’t speak at all.” She erupted into full foul-mouthedness at him ending with “I won’t be back here again.” He responded, “That’s fine with us!.” And all of us in the line behind applauded!!!!!

      1. Carolyn B

        Elizabeth, this is priceless. Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us.

      2. Well-done supermarket cashier! Thanks for sharing this Elizabeth.

    18. Kentucky Lady 717

      Hooray for the manager who said that to the foul mouth lady…need more like him around….don’t understand the reason for these filthy mouth people using such language in public…if they want to do that in their own homes, then go for it, but there are some people who do not use that language and do not appreciate hearing it in public….BTW what supermarket was that in ? That manager needs a raise :)just sayin……………..

      1. Elizabeth Snoke

        It was an Albertson’s market here in Tucson.

    19. Margaret

      I’m not attracted to tattoos at all, because growing up the only person I knew with tattoos was a man who was mean to me. He would tease me unmercifully, even when my parents and his wife would tell him to leave me alone. Those times left a powerful,painful memory with me, even though I know one person doesn’t mean everyone with a tattoo is mean like he was. There are some people so covered in tattoos I can’t bear to look at them. I know they have a right to do it, but I have a right to be uncomfortable with it, too.

      I also don’t get people who go around half-naked. It is like they don’t have any respect for themselves or others. But, I have trouble wearing a v-neck, so I know I’m not the norm!;)

    20. Annmarie

      I honestly am not judging anyone with tattoos…but, it does amaze me(especially at water parks-where people have less clothing on than usual) how people use their body as a doodle pad. While I do not have any tattoos and I try to ingrained in my children NOT to do anything SO PERMANENT to their bodies…I can and DO admire some tattoos that are of sentimental and artistic value. While I was raised that your body is a temple..etc…and I do believe in that bible verse..I simply do not think that lends us the ability to be judgmental…such an UNchristian value. I will leave the judging for God…

    21. Brenda


      It was my understanding that the verse in Leviticus was wrote to the Jews,not the rest of us.On that note I did get two tattoos last year.Both with alot of meaning to me.One was angels wings with my baby daughter initials (who died at birth)and the other to honor my son (in the military).I don’t regret getting them and in a way it opens up discussion to talk to people,so that’s cool.

    22. Kentucky Lady 717

      Definitely NOT for me .......

      I do not have any tattoos, nor care to ever have any…..I do not like them, but I am not your Judge…..God will be your Judge…..
      but when you are young, you think they’re cool, but are you still going to feel that way when you get 80 yrs. old in a nursing home and/or on the operating table and all those tattoos are there ???? who will you be trying to impress ? This is what I would think about…….just sayin………………