Amish & Sex: Rules, Beliefs & Taboos


Amish Sexuality

For the Amish, sex is reserved for marriage, meant for purposes of procreation. But Amish still deal with the same issues surrounding sexuality that the rest of the world does.

Sexual abuse, sex education, contraception, homosexuality, sex before marriage, and related issues are all things that Amish must face as well. How do they deal with matters of sexuality in a conservative, traditional religious culture? Read on for answers to questions on the Amish and sexuality.

Questions on Amish sexuality

  1. Do Amish use birth control?
  2. Are there gay Amish?
  3. What are “Amish sex rules”?
  4. Is sex education taught in Amish schools?
  5. Do Amish have sex before marriage?
  6. Does inbreeding happen in Amish communities?
  7. Does sexual abuse occur in Amish communities?
  8. Are there Amish polygamists?

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Can Amish use birth control?

Amish officially oppose artificial methods of birth control, basing their beliefs on Biblical principles and the injunction to “be fruitful and multiply” found in Genesis 9:7, among other places.

However, this does not mean that all Amish abstain from using birth control, including natural methods of family planning as well as barrier methods. Some studies have shown a declining average family size, suggesting that in some communities, there may be a gradual increase in acceptance of contraception. More on the Amish & birth control.

Are there gay Amish?

Amish feel strongly that homosexual relations are sinful. Gay individuals within the community may seek counseling or otherwise keep their preferences secret. Open homosexuality is not condoned or seen among the Amish. The same goes for individuals of transgender or other LGBTQ identities.

Gender roles are distinct and traditionally “male” and “female” in Amish culture, with the traditional nuclear family the main building block of Amish society. Gay individuals may struggle in Amish society. Those with same-sex attraction may in turn end up leaving the community. Read more on the Amish and homosexuality.

What are “Amish sex rules”?

The term “Amish sex rules” simply refers to conservative traditional beliefs and behaviors regarding sexuality. As a conservative Christian group, the Amish do not condone premarital sex, or casual sex. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is considered a sin.  Homosexual relations are also out of bounds (more on that below).

Amish take their cues from the Bible when it comes to sexuality. The Amish are human, so these rules or standards are broken from time to time. Adultery is expected to be confessed to the church, as are other sexual sins. For example, Amish couples who have had sex before marriage, are expected to confess their behavior before being married in the church.

Is sex education taught in Amish schools?

No, Amish schools do not provide formal sex education. In Amish Society, John A. Hostetler writes that “adults purposely ignore any mention of the subject, especially in the presence of children. Very little sex instruction is given to the ordinary Amish child.”

Amish children and youth learn about the birds and the bees informally. Hostetler adds that “the child acquires gradually, piece by piece, an elementary knowledge of the process of biological reproduction. The Amish child most certainly does ask questions about the sexual behaviors of animals on the farm. To satisfy his curiosity, the child more often than not talks such matters over with associates his age” (see Amish Society, p. 160).

Do Amish have sex before marriage?

Yes. As in any community, premarital sex may occur in Amish relationships, sometimes resulting in pregnancy and accelerated or out-of-season weddings. If sexual relations occur out of wedlock, Amish couples may be obliged to make a confession before being baptized or taking marital vows. Premarital sexual relations are considered a sin, and like other sins of a sexual nature it is taken seriously in the community.

Does inbreeding happen in Amish communities?

Some claim that the Amish are inbred. Is this the case? Since the Amish population pool is limited, and few outsiders join the community, it’s not surprising that married couples might be distantly or even more closely related (second cousins, for instance), in some cases.

Amish are aware of the potential hazards of endogamy. In some smaller settlements finding marriage partners for youth can be an issue. With this in mind, Amish youth of courting age may be encouraged to visit other communities. Read more.

Does sexual abuse occur in Amish communities?

There have certainly been cases of sexual abuse in Amish communities. Some have been reported in the media. The nature of this crime occurring in a distinct religious culture like the Amish means it will naturally get more attention. Additionally, ex-Amish people have reported on their own abuse in their former Amish communities, drawing attention to the issue. At the same time, there are occurrences of sexual abuse that go unreported by Amish.

In some cases the matter may be “handled by the church”, meaning church discipline is imposed on an offender, but authorities are not alerted and no one is criminally charged. Some Amish have attempted to improve this approach to reporting. As the Amish are naturally reluctant to involve police, outside bodies have encouraged education and reporting in Amish settlements, with some success in changing attitudes and actions when abuse occurs.

It should also be noted that Amish communities differ. There are over 600 distinct Amish communities and more than 350,000 Amish people. Some reporting suggests that sexual abuse is “rampant” among the Amish. In some dysfunctional communities and families, this may well be the case.

However it does not mean that sexual abuse is widely condoned across Amish society. Encouraging reporting of criminal behavior in order to preserve the safety of victims, while at the same time respecting Amish culture is one way that outsiders have helped to address this issue.

Are there Amish polygamists?

No, polygamy has never been practiced by the Amish. Amish are sometimes confused with other religious groups which have this practice in their history. But the Amish are not, and have never been, polygamists. Interestingly, there is at least one example of polygamy in Anabaptist history, occurring before the Amish emerged from within the Anabaptist movement.

More questions on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the FAQ main page.


  • Cates, James A. Serpent in the Garden: Amish Sexuality in a Changing World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020.
  • Hurst, Charles E, and David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox: Diversity & Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
  • Cates, James A. Serving the Amish: A Cultural Guide for Professionals. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
  • Hostetler, John A. Amish Society. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
  • Stevick, Richard A. Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Sex.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 9 Apr. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <>.

Image credits: bird and bee- ritavida/flickr

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    1. nick

      meeting an amish girl

      I am wishing to come over from New Zealand to meet a amish girl and talk to her?

    2. Aaron

      Intercourse Only For Reproduction

      Is it true with in the Amish community the intercourse is only use the reproductive reasons?

    3. Aaron

      Intercourse Only For Reproduction

      Is it turn to say that was in the Amish community that intercourse is only use reproductive reasons ?



    4. Pu Lee Hong


      When the Amish have sex is it through a hole in a sheet? I herd that it was.

      1. Debbie

        No, some Catholics used to do that.

    5. John

      Are you serious

      Amish people are a lot like other people so I can’t believe the comments on here are for real. Wow

    6. Rex

      Sex wife

      How can I find me a amish young woman to make love to and have her for keeps like to start a family it’s always been my dream

      1. Cecilia

        SEX WIFE??? Lancaster Amish Country native speaking up

        Amish people are still people, and you absolutely should not be fetishizing them. You don’t get to “have” an Amish woman like a collectible toy to start you fantasy family.

        What you’d actually want is to fully join Amish society (incredibly difficult, practically unheard of). To marry an Amish woman, you’d need to become Amish and be fully accepted into a church, learn Pennsylvania Dutch, and give up all modern luxuries (including deoderant).
        You’d need to be willing to work from before dawn to after dusk each day, and do your share of housework and child rearing. Amish fathers don’t just leave the house 9-5 and leave all the kid stuff to their wives to raise children, you’d likely take children with you to work and teach them manual labor skills.
        Without Amish parents to set up a match marriage for you and chaperone, you’d likely never even court a lady. Since you haven’t grown up in an Amish church, you wouldn’t have been in youth group with other teens and young adults, where most unwed meet their future spouse.
        You could never divorce. You would likely never have sex or perform sexual acts for fun, only to bear many children. You wouldn’t own a car or even gasoline-powered farm equipment. You wouldn’t even have the convenience of zippers on your clothig anymore.

    7. Stephanie Berkey

      Why are you, and a few others here, referring to sex as if you are an animal? I know sometime people can be clumsy, inexperienced, or ignorant but did you read the previous posts? Cause the answers can be found there. Not sure if your trying to be offensive and mock our Creator, but it’s coming across that way. We are children of God and He ordained Holy Matrimony as the way to fill needs for sex. I’d recommend sincere prayer, scripture study, and research.

    8. Serge Bottelli

      Comment on

      Fidelity is strong and well among the Amish; this explains why their families are solid, loving and numerous, separations are very rare and children are invariably raised by a two parent household, which is a blessing. In contrast, promiscuity and infidelity is tearing the English society apart which creates all sorts of problems. As opposed to the English who constantly fail to keep their vows, how can the Amish maintain fidelity as an unquestionable value that everyone in their community adhere to and will last forever?

    9. David


      Hello! A couple of years ago, I approached a group of Amish women in Walmart. They were doing one of their rare trips to the grocery store so we saw so many Amish people shopping in the store! I drew up a conversation with what seemed to be a mother and two of her daughters. After my telling them how interested in Amish life I was, they invited me to their country!

      This was a few years ago and of course I don’t have any of their contact information. I know this isn’t sex related but I’d love to hear from other Amish people! Does anybody think it was a real invitation? Do people ever get to hang out with you all for maybe a day or a week, help around with work, and learn about the culture there? Also, I’m a black man with an Afro. Are there ANY black people there? Lol is that why I got invited? I’d love to receive another invitation! Is there anywhere I can go to talk to Amish people in person?

      1. Ron


        The Black Quakers are members of the Society of Friends and are African Americans, since before slavery ended. They have a very conservative lifestyle and may be better suited to your needs. It does appear that American Amish are extremely diverse and an Amish church may or may not welcome you, it’s their privilege.

    10. Arnie


      A: Knock knock?

      L: Who’s there?

      A: Apple!

      A: Knock knock?

      L: Who’s there?

      A: Apple!

      A: Knock knock?

      L: Who’s there?

      A: Amish you glad I didn’t say apple again?

      A – Arnie HAHA!
      L – Loser getting pranked!

    11. Kathy Cornell Baumbush

      Question concerning incest

      My friend decided she didn’t like the Amish because of recent publicity about some Amish fathers and brothers who abused their daughters/sisters with the complicity of the children’s mothers. There is a video out this year called “Sins of the Amish” concerning 4 Amish women who were victims. I am very upset to hear this. I have always believed that the Amish didn’t have a huge problem with incest, but the video seems to allege that it’s extremely common and that the bishops and ministers put the blame on the girls. Do you know anything about it? I can’t believe it’s as pervasive as the video infers. I guess we English do tend to put the Amish on a pedestal and forget that they’re human like us, but I hope the problem is not as bad as they say. I would appreciate any insight you can give me.

    12. Ron

      Wanting sex with Amish girl

      Wanting sex with a Amish girl