When a son joins the Amish: What about photos?

Last week Anne shared her experience as a parent of a son who joined the Amish.

Anne shared some of the wonderful things, as well as the difficulties of her son Ed becoming a member and marrying in an Amish church.

Today we hear about another challenge her family has faced.

This is an issue any family of an Amish convert would encounter…but as you’ll see below, one that’s a bit more problematic in Anne’s family:

Ed and Sister
Ed and his sister on a visit to Minnesota

One other thing we struggle with is the “no photographs” policy.

Ed’s dad is an artist, very visually inclined and gifted. He paints in oil and mainly does landscape paintings. A side benefit of this is his love of photography. Our home is filled with not only paintings, but also photos of family, all of whom live quite far away.

It was a grief to us that we were not able to take photographs at the wedding (ok, we snuck a few :)) and that when Ed and Ruth came for a visit this past March, Ed brought ALL the family photos he’d had with him, and said he could not have them anymore. Seems so sad to us!

I admit that I can understand this prohibition more easily than the other [having Ed’s wedding service in PA Dutch only], as it is based on principle (in their view).

However, I also know this is normally up to the individual family’s interpretation, and would expect that in Ed’s community, there would be some slack extended for him, even encouragement to not dishonor his dad by rejecting something so core to his life. One thing I know, when we are there this fall, getting to know our new grandbaby, we will sneak some photos so we’ll have something to send to the extended family!

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    1. Roberta

      While this may normally be up to the individual family’s interpretation, I am not the least surprise that Ed’s community (or even Ed himself), would not cut him any slack, even to avoid dishonoring his dad. I know converts to several other religions and they are more observant of the rules than people who were born into it. Why should the Amish be any different?

    2. B. Ro

      Maybe not?

      It would be good for you to spend some time wondering why people would think it better not to make pictures of people. I don’t mean that you and your husband should not have family photos.

      And yet, you could make beautiful images of the place your son and his family live in, or of your grandchildren’s playground. Of trees, fields, even gardens if your family had come to trust that you would not be sneaking something more personal than they would like.

      It would be best if your son respected his father’s photos of others, and if you and his father came to respect the wishes of your son and his new family. You can imagine how mad I would get on your behalf if they tried to take down the pictures at your own house!

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

      1. I appreciate this perspective B.Ro, and while I don’t want to speak for Anne, I do sympathize with her. I can imagine it is traumatic enough for a parent to have a child move far away so that they rarely get to see each other–much less join a group which makes that contact and connection even more difficult to sustain.

        Even though I think Anne well understands why Amish reject photography, that doesn’t automatically make it an easy thing to accept. There is a lot of emotion tied up in photos of actual people; photos of things are rather a poor substitute. Especially when photos are a normal and natural part of your life for 20 years, and factor into how you relate to and remember a loved one.

    3. George Vanderwoude

      Respect His Choice

      As difficult as it may be to respect the rules of the Amish Community’s Ordnung.

      I hope that you will be loyal to your son.
      You may not ever come to terms with his choice to become part of a sub-culture in our society.

      If you keep on subverting the prohibitions against photographing you may end up with an estrangement that you will never live down.

      Accept it for what it is and try to live with it.

      Even though your son has made a commitment to Amish culture and the Amish practice of the Christian Faith, I
      have to think that some aspects can’t be easy for him either.

      George V

      1. Robin Stone

        Ban on Photographs

        I have to agree with the comment that there is something very wrong with subverting the Amish attitude towards taking photographs. It seems extremely disrespectful of their son’s faith and also very selfish. It would be a terrible thing if they were to lose a relationship with their son and be excluded from his new community.

        1. Before we criticize

          Robin that is fair enough, but it’s just that I’ve seen enough examples of Amish (both conservative and mainstream) that “subvert” this stipulation on their own, allowing photos to be taken of themselves (even posed) or keeping photos of their own children, etc.

          I’m not saying Amish are openly flaunting this custom, or that they’d encourage it openly. And yes, photos might lead to pride, but I also think that gets a little exaggerated.

          This is a rather unique situation, and I’m not really going to begrudge Anne here–and for all that are going to criticize, remember she is in a transition too–and as someone who was placed in this situation and not someone who chose it herself.

          If you were in the same situation, would you really be able to accept never having any photo of your grandchild? And how would you feel if your son showed up one day and turned in all the photos and implicit memories of a lifetime that they contain?

          Maybe you’d take it all in stride, and I admire that, but I don’t know that it would be so easy.

        2. sam klans

          understanding is tuff

          They made a big choice to join the Amish Church and must have know all the rules before they joined…
          I enjoy looks at pictures of my family members and pic’s of my wedding day, very much…
          I was raised as the Amish say a Englisher or outsider…
          I wish the young couple all of God’s Blessings

    4. Melinda D

      I have to agree. Anne, I would not try to “sneak” photos, as that is disrespectful too, and a way of saying that your beliefs and way of life are more important than his. Parents should support their children, and trying to make him do (or bear) things that are against his beliefs, is not exactly supportive. If he notices that you keep on doing that, it might alienate him and his new family even further from you. I know this from personal experience- my mother kept on disrespecting my life’s decisions and expressing her “sadness” over them up to a point that I had to cut all contact with her when my best efforts to discuss with her and ask her to respect the fact that I have my own life to life now, repeatedly failed. That is an extremely painful choice for everyone involved. Yes, I still love my mother. I just doubt whether she will ever realize it because she believes that my choices always reflected how I felt about her, whether I obeyed or rebelled against her etc. It was impossible for her to understand that I have my own life to live, and that in some respect we are very different people. Do not let this happen in your family.

      It is also disrespectful (though human and understandable) to except Ed or his community to cut him some slack here and there. After all, *not* seeking which rules to bend and tweak but accepting them for what they are and respecting them as such is, to my understanding, core thing about being Amish. His actions do not tell that he no longer loves and respects his parents, just that he is now a member of a different culture where those very same feelings are expressed in a different way. Instead of asking him to cling into his old ways or even forcing him to bear things he now strongly disapproves (such as having his photographs taken), perhaps it would be better to ask, what are Amish ways to show care and respect for one’s parents. Maybe you could ask from his wife’s mother or some other Amish lady you know, how their grown up children make them feel loved and respected.

      Especially when one is “new” in a social group that is very set in its ways, he often feels the need (and is even excepted) to follow the rules even more strictly than the older members in order to show that he is serious and able to abide with the rules. If this is the case, then he might “relax” over the years- however, “you got to be able to follow the rules in order to know which ones to bend and how”, as they say. Asking for special treatment could make him feel like admitting that he is not quite up to living the life he has chosen for himself.

      This is just what I would do, naturally my grasp on this situation is very sketchy. In any case, I wish you strength, blessings and best of luck.

      1. Osiah Horst

        Melinda, I really appreciate your post, in partiular the second paragraph. I was going to write the smae things but you done a very good job of explaining Ed’s position as a new member of an Amish church. He, especially, needs to observe all of his group’s ordnung or official position at this time regardless of how many others in the group are bending or stretching the rules. Voluntarily joining the group means he accepted all of those positions, whether he agreed with them or not. The important part is not to be in total agreement with everything; it is to accept everything even though he would personally feel there would be a better way. He cannot pick and choose which rules should apply to him. That doesn’t change anything for Mom and Dad of course but he has made a choice and the best they can do is to honor his choice.

    5. Richard from Amish Stories

      I hope this family makes It........

      I always find situations like what’s in this post fascinating when someone from the outside decides to join the old order, and I’ve never read where Its been a 100% smooth transition. And a thing like this can either break a family a part or maybe make them stronger, so there must be so much emotion’s from both party’s. In this case I hope that it makes this family stronger in the long run, right now Id say its still a feeling out period for the parents and son. And Id say most folks would be rooting for a family like this to survive and adapt, and I would be one of them. Richard

    6. Rich

      Helpful thoughts

      . . . in an evolving situation. I especially appreciated Melinda’s thoughtful comments. Rich

    7. Lattice

      It is my understanding and belief that converts are in the “spotlight.” Not only are they naturally more inclined to know the rules well and desire to fully abide by them, on the flip side, they are usually more scrutinized by other members.

      I sympathize with you, Anne. Why should you have to change your beliefs and practices because of a decision your son made? I recommend that you carefully guard what you say, being cautious to not allow any hint of criticism to leak from your words, and when you have the opportunity to visit your precious, future grandchildren… sneak some pictures to cherish at home. The little ones won’t pose, and the father won’t have to give consent. I would imagine that he might expect as much and would probably be relieved to “be in the dark” about it. Some may disagree with me, saying that it’s dishonest.

      Also, I hope at some point you will elaborate on some of the things that were “disillusioning” to ED regarding Amish life. Thanks.

      1. I agree with this. Very carefully sneak pictures and mark and tag them well.The future generation will highly appreciate these pictures, Amish or not Amish.

      2. Anne

        Responding to Lattice and others!

        Hello All,

        Such good and discerning comments: thanks to all for weighing in…
        I especially appreciate your comments Lattice, as you are able to see it from all sides.

        One point to clarify – we as a family have no intention of EVER making this an issue with our son and his family. I think it was Melinda who said that would be disrespectful, and I agree. It’s not worth it, as it is a relatively small issue. The reason it was shared, is to hopefully give the thoughtful readers of this blog one little detail of what families in transition have to cope with. It is a small thing, though, and we appreciate our son, his darling wife, and the lives they now live too deeply to want to cause any difficulty for them: and especially, any estrangement from us!

    8. Adair

      I really feel Anne’s pain, and her husband’s. It’s not just the photos-as-family-memories that her son has to reject (and family memories can be kept in other ways as well, by stories and letters), but also his father’s passion and life’s work as an artist and photographer. And the grandchildren will have to reject that too. And if her grandchildren should inherit those artistic genes, they will not be able to pursue those inclinations (unless they can find another way – maybe those greenhouse flowers!). It seems to me that Anne is trying extremely hard and bending over backwards to accommodate all of this, and I hope that her new Amish in-laws will also try to give a little.

      1. Lance

        Quilts can be very artistic!

      2. Anne

        I REALLY appreciate your comment here! Thanks for seeing it in a full way and even looking into the future a bit with us. Your comment brings up another item we have to adjust to: that our grandchildren will certainly have gifts they will not be able to develop. Ed himself was a highly trained cellist (he won countless scholarships for his playing, and even soloed with the Richmond Symphony when in high school). He certainly did not want to give up his ability to both perform and enjoy great music, but upon deciding to join the Amish, he said, “sometimes you have to give up things you cherish to get things you believe to be of even greater value.” His family has been in total agreement with that, but all of us, (including Ed) are sad that he had to make this sacrifice.

        1. Lattice

          Wow, what a sacrifice!

          Anne, as I read though our comments, I noticed that the general understanding (that you are asking our advice) is really a misconception.

          I thought that, at the risk of sounding like a “know it all,” I might suggest to fellow readers to just read about, learn from, and enjoy your experiences, and perhaps, gain some understanding about something we’re all inteested in: what it’s like to become Amish!

          Clearly, you and your family are intelligent and thoughtful, and have surely discussed all of these issues thoroughly with Ed. We are so thankful for your willingness to share these things with us. Please don’t feel like you must defend your thoughts and decisions when we offer what we might do in your stead.

          And thanks for answering our questions.

          1. Anne

            reply to Lattice

            Thanks again for your great wisdom. You are perceptive here, as my goal here is to simply share something of our experience in hopes that others will gain insight. But please don’t worry, as I don’t take any of these comments as being harsh…I know people on this blog mean well and are genuinely interested. Also, it’s clear to me that most of us (not everyone, thankfully) comes to these issues with only one perspective of the lovely diamond that we call “Amish life”. I’m no different. We all learn from each other.

            Lance’s earlier comment on Amish quilts made me smile. My daughter (Ed’s sister and only sibling) is making a quilt for baby. She was at first disappointed that she could ONLY use solid colors. But last night she showed me how it’s coming together (all greens and muslin), and she said, “who would have ever thought that simply using solid colors could make such a gorgeous quilt!!!

        2. Adair

          Anne, I know all of us on this blog and elsewhere are pulling for your family and for Ed and Ruth in their new life. I am so impressed with the way you are meeting the challenges with graciousness and a sense of humor.Your story is so thought-provoking, and here are a couple of my (feeble) ones:
          ~ No doubt, any of us who have encountered or observed the Amish at all have given plenty of thought to the sacrifices they have to make to maintain their strong sense of community and identity. But you, and a few others, have to do much more than just think about that!! And giving up modern technology and conveniences, serious though that is, seems almost minor compared to giving up the great heritage of art and learning that has been passed down to us for generations.
          ~ I wonder if Ed’s new Amish family and friends are really aware of the depth of that sacrifice on his part, and yours, they having had so little if any exposure to that heritage (have they heard a cello? or a symphony performance?). I hope they can learn to appreciate that sacrifice to some extent, and to recognize that even though all of that great art and learning is not part of their world, it is still GOOD, not evil.
          ~ They of course have held on to another important part of our heritage that so many in this modern world have lost touch with, and your son and grandchildren will have that all of that in abundance. They will learn how to play and how to work, and not how to stare at screens and push buttons(I say as I am staring at one and pushing them!), and how to be helpful and resourceful. And of course, their minds and vocabularies won’t be cluttered with so much of the foolishness that’s out there.Every Amish child I have ever encountered has been so winning! And they just might be the pioneers of our future, given the birth rates – I was chatting with a delightful Amish lady at her roadside stand in Ethridge Tennessee, and after meeting a few of her grandchildren, I asked her how many she had – her casual reply was “115”!! So get ready!!!
          ~ I have zillions of nosy questions that I won’t ask because they are, well, nosy! but blessings to all of you on this lifelong adventure.

    9. Anita B

      As a person with Amish family, we’ve taken some very discreet pix on the sly of our grandparents… just so we’d have a pic to keep for ourselves. But we are very discreet in the taking and in showing others the pix- we seldom do. They are for us and that’s how we keep it.

      There isn’t much here that’s a surprise. When part of a family is Amish and part is not… there are nearly always a lot of uneasy aspects of the relationships. Anne’s family needs to mentally and emotionally steel themselves for a lot of things that seem unfair and that they won’t understand. But for the sake of maintaining family ties, I encourage them to give as much as they can and not to keep a very close record of such things. After 10, 20, 30 years… who knows what the situation will be like.
      I’ve thought of this family a lot since reading the original post. This situation is going present many opportunities for offense, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. All of this territory should be very carefully and prayerfully walked. One of my favorite sayings is: Have a soft heart and thick skin.
      Take what they give and treasure it and hope for better days.

    10. Lee Ann

      I agree with both Erik and Richard from Amish Stories. We should not judge others for their actions, etc. Its got to be very rough to adjust to this change in the family. The whole lifestyle change for their son, the fact they can’t see each other as often due to the change and having to adapt to the new rules. Allow them some slack to learn and grow as they go.

      It had to have been very hard for Anne to share her story and she needs to be shown respect for sharing this and allowing others to share in her emotions. I support her for keeping her son in her life, and still keeping her own ways there. With her husband being an artist it is understandable to want the photos. As we all have heard, you can take photos of the Amish, so long as you do not request it of them!

      Those of you judging Anne, be careful of yourselves. In the Bible and other scriptures it tells us not to judge others. You will be judged likewise. God is the only judge of us and others. Accept the changes and support those that are going through adjustments like Anne and her family.

      Please feel free to share more of your life experiences with your son Ed. Anne! I for one, applaud you for your efforts and the adjustment had got to be hard for all of you. I wish you well and hope you will continue to visit your grandchildren and your son Ed and his family. The Boppli’s have to be so cute! Loved seeing that Ed still tried to hide his smile behind his hat in the one photo you shared of him! hahaha He still has a bit of his old self there.

      1. Richard from Amish Stories

        To Lee Ann.................

        I was looking beyond the taking of pictures and I think you accurately picked-up on that in my comment on this post Lee Ann. I think Eds mom was just being a mother and wanted pictures to help remember a day that would become one of the most important days in her sons life, and its not about a lack of respect in this case, but a mothers love for her son who happens to now be Amish. Enjoy your weekend folks………Richard

    11. Lance


      Picture rules for church members and children are usually different. While a member cannot pose for photos, there is nothing that can be done about non-Amish just taking a un-posed picture. With children, since they are not church members, they are not under the control of the church so there are no rules about having their picture taken. They under the control of the parents, so if your son is against it, you should probably do as he wills in the matter.

      There is at least one good reason for taking pictures when you can. Should Ed ever leave the Amish, he will probably place a high value on those pictures. Also, the child may choose to not join the Amish church, these would likely be the only pictures of that child that can be located. Take pictures if Ed and Ruth allow it, please do not sneak against their will because your opinion of pictures is different.

    12. We tried to join the Old Amish, too.

      My husband and I were sent out by the Assemblies of God (full gospel Christian) church as missionary pastors in 1999. In 2003, the Holy Spirit led me to know that the way of the Amish in regard to organic farming and humane treatment of animals and being able to prosper with or without electricity would become very important in the future. Later we were amazed to find that some of my husband’s relatives are Pennsylvania Amish. Being around them is like being around walking saints! We were thrilled by this discovery and told them we would like to become Amish, too! We were told we would have to split up and I would have to go back to my first husband until he died. Only then would I be acceptable to the Amish. We searched all of the Amish sub-groups, looking for any group that would understand that I left an abusive husband to save and preserve my own physical life; I would no doubt be dead now if I had stayed with Jon. The most progressive or “modern” of the Amish groups we were able to study were the Beachy Amish, forgive me if there are more we could not find. They evangelize in Belize to people of all races, and in America to the Sioux Indians. Therefore in Belize you have black Amish, creole Amish, American Indian Amish, and every other mix of humans you can imagine who live like the Amish and are accepted as such. Also Mennonites. WE figured we had found our group! Not! Paul and I had been married twelve years at this point and had given birth to a little girl. Going back to an agnostic former Baptist alcoholic who beat me was not a viable option. This is when we decided that if we cannot be any existing kind of Amish there is- Hello, IF THERE IS A GROUP OF AMISH WHO WOULD ACCEPT US IN TEXAS, USA, WE ARE READY TO GO!- we would just become New Amish and farm with horses, live a pure life, read our Bibles and raise organic crops, fruits and vegetables. We are still involved in trying to start a New Amish community that accepts people who want to live like the Amish but are not accepted by the Amish, or Amish or Mennonites who were asked or told to leave because they wanted more education like finishing high school or getting a college degree, or because they wanted to play a musical instrument to glorify God. People have written to us from all over the planet who admire the Amish and want to live that kind of pure, simple, peaceful life. People from Japan, India, Africa, and Pacific nations, from all over the U.S. I believe there is an innate longing in human beings to live close to God and to the land. We were all meant to be God’s friends and gardeners.

      About the photos, just be careful not to offend anyone. I like photos, but they are not so crucial that I would want to lose family over it.

      Our community is HealingEarthNewAmish.

      Blessings and love in Yavashua Jesus,
      Katy Behr
      P.O. Box 2585
      Granite Shoals, Texas 78654

      1. Daryl

        Dearest Katy it is hard news for one to hear that their second marriage is prohibited, but you will find this attitude towards divorce and remarriage in all biblical churhes. Biblically you are living in adultery with your second husband, while you do not have to return to your first husband, you certainly cannot stay with the second and must live separate celibate lives. Only upon the death of the first husband will you be free to return to the second.

        I know it seems unfair and is hard to accept, but it is only through faith that one will be able to separate.
        Starting a new church that disregards and disrespects the instruction of the Bible seems kind of pointless and a mockery to attach Christian or Amish to the name.

        Not my will but Thy will be done, even in the hard things. God help us.

        1. Lance

          Hi Daryl,

          This is one time I differ with Anabaptist doctrine. I believe Katy should remain in her current marriage and does not need to be celibate. Jacob had Leah and Rachel, Solomon had, what, 700 wives? (How did he keep them all happy?) David had several wives at the same time too. So the precedent of multiple wives being Biblical is there. However, in the New Testament, we do read that it is God’s will for there to be just one husband and one wife. When we remarry, it is called a adulterous marriage, but it still is a marriage. And marriages are not to be put asunder (or ended).

          That is not Anabaptist doctrine, and while I share the doctrine of no divorce nor remarriage after divorce for those following God, if you were not following God at the time of the remarriage, I just do not find support in the Bible for that second marriage to be forced apart because became a believer later. If you were a confessed believer at the time of the remarriage, that is openly disregarding God’s Word, a very dangerous behavior to to under take. It would be a much worse position to be the minister that married you and did not teach you the truth from the Bible. God clearly condemns ministers much more harshly then lay people. This is one place I not in complete agreement with Anabaptist doctrine. Close, but not completely.

          Creating a new church just to get your way while intentionally disregarding scripture is not a good idea at all. I completely agree with you on that. Kinda like a New Testament era high place. God finally stopped blessing Israel for those high places, I believe he does that to Christians too. Read Rev 2 & 3. As for the high places, that is in the Kings and Chronicles book pairs from the Old Testament.

          1. Daryl

            Hi Lance
            I understand and agree with what you are saying. I feel the divorce and remarriage ruling in unfair and unjust and for many years did argue against it, however on further study I could not truly fault the teaching, it is what it is. Neither male nor female can remarry, once divorced, so long as the former spouse of either is living. As the Apostles said, it is a hard teaching and who can accept it?

            So although I still feel the same way about it, I now submit to the teaching and do support it, for who can accept it if not the faithful. Afterall it is a serious matter. If indeed the remarried couple are living in a adulterous relationship, then they are destined for hell, the promised abode for all adulterers.

            Which is understandable. If ones love for God was stronger than ones love for ones spouse, one would willing forsake ones spouse as a pleasing sacrifice to God. However when one chooses ones spouse over God, then that indeed is spiritual adultery. One has placed another before God in ones affections. A serious no no.

            As Jesus said, ones love for God should make ones love for family, spouse and self appear as hate by comparison.

    13. Carolyn B

      This situation is very enlightening asto the struggles between the Amish & English world, more so because this struggle of unity is within family ties.

      Anne, I appreciate your sharing your journey with us regarding this new Amish branch of your family tree. Please extend my thanks to Ed & Ruth if an occasion comes up. 🙂 God bless you all.

      Though some commenters may have come across as harsh, I do believe that in their hearts they as well as the rest of the Amish America community have a sincere hope that Anne, Ed, and family are able to navigate between the Amish & English worlds in order to maintain & strengthen family ties.

    14. Becky Martin

      I sometimes wonder about how some of the Amish treat their animals. There are Amish puppy mills and there have been stories of them working their horses to death. That makes them no different than any other group of people. Every sect, community or population of people has “good” and “bad” people. The Amish are somewhat like the Church of Christ from which I was “disfellowshipped” or “ex-communicated” because the man I was marrying was not “scripturally” divorced, even though she left him, but my husband filed for the divorce. The Church of Christ bases this on who filed for divorce. The Church of Christ also teaches you are not to keep company or dine with a person who has been disfellowshipped and that you are to ignore them, similar to shunning. They don’t allow musical instruments in church either or even for a wedding if it was held in the church building. They also teach the same thing about a person having to return to their first husband/wife to become a member.

      The Amish have a lot of good qualities. A person can live a life similar to the Amish and not be referred to as Amish. Katy Behr, why not start a church without reference to any religion name or sect. Healing Earth Christian Center sounds great to me!

      Regarding Anne, I can understand her need for a picture of her grandchild. I imagine (hopefully) this will not surprise her son, he probably expects she will do that.

      1. Lance

        Amish may excommunicate you for even signing the divorce papers, even though the other party did the filing. As I have written elsewhere on Amish America, the Amish do not acknowledge divorce. It is, to them, virtually a unforgivable sin as long as the couple are apart. You ARE married until death do you part.

        1. Katy Behr

          divorce and the Amish and Church of Christ

          This is for Lance’s comment. I was married to a man with education similar to my own for nine years. He lied about problems in his family that could be inherited by any children; he failed to disclose other serious problem in his family. I basically was a “trophy wife” having just finished my master’s degree work in biology and having applied to medical schools to become a physician.
          I legally was entitled to an annulment but chose the simplest route.

          You said marriage is until death do you part. I would have been dead twenty-five years ago either through wasting away from constant mental abuse or outright murder by my husband. My friends who had known me for many years were horrified by my physical condition basically decaying while still alive. Jon told me if I divorced him he would kill both my parents. That threat entrapped me for six more scary years.
          I finally came to believe that I had something inside me of some value to share with the world, that I deserved to be alive because I am a human being. Finally he allowed me to go but said his family would ruin me if I told the truth about how I was treated in his family. His family is very important in Texas, all either attorneys or accountants, all professional people.

          Lance, no human being deserves to be constantly berated or be beaten and crippled for no reason other than that their spouse did not get a promotion at work. A true human does not abuse people, animals, plants or the earth. I remarried two years after freeing myself from a life of constant degradation. I married someone I’d known since junior high, someone decent and kind and have been married now over twenty-two years to that person. The Amish I know can understand and have sympathy with that, but still let me know that we cannot be Amish because of that. Maybe your life has been better than mine; I hope so.

          Love and blessings in Yavashua Jesus, Katy Behr

          1. Lance


            I am sorry if that sounded like a condemnation of you in particular, Katy. It was only meant to witness Anabaptist practice.

            Amish do separate without automatically being banned, if they marriage cannot be resolved and one of the persons involved would not obey God and the church. What you described would be a case where that would have been allowed. I believe it was right to separate, but not to divorce. Under no circumstance would you have been allowed to remarry, none what so ever as long as your husband was alive. How you were treated would not have mattered in any way. I fully agree with that doctrine.

            15 years ago, there was a outsider that divorced his Swartzentruber wife and then took custody of first 2 of the children and finally the other 2 children after the mother was accused of abuse. It was made into a ABC news 20/20 expose. It can be watched on youtube, but the video pictures are severely degraded. That woman is still single and living a very Godly life, happy and for the Lord as a New Order Amish woman. Remarriage is not required for happiness. Indeed, it is sin and not justified because you have been sinned against. I am sorry for you in that way, too, but I believe God has a better reason for obeying Him.

            I wish this could have been done in private, but that is not possible on this blog. I did not intend to condemn nor flame you, please accept my humble apology.

      2. Katy Behr

        Amish and animals, new church Amish-style

        Dear Becky Martin,

        Wow, I did not know of any Amish so disobedient to the Bible as to have puppy mills. The Bible says twice “A righteous man hath regard for the life of his beast, but the tenderest mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Our Amish relatives live with, by and for their horses and other animals. Their chickens run free and their one herding dog only has a litter of puppies once in a while, which readily get homes because she is so good at herding the cows. I don’t think they would even dream of confining any of their animals in small pens or cages. The love they have for their horses is off the charts.

        As for me, I have thought of teaching a course called “Spiritual Horsemanship”- Going to the Next Level of Communication Between You and Your Horse. We train our horses by bonding with them and by love only. I can’t believe (I mean I am not doubting what you say) that any true Amish person would work a horse or mule to death. Their church should interfere with that. We never let a horse get too hot or tired, but then our horses are so happy to spend time with us that they come when they are called like favorite pet dogs. Each horse has its own song and all the horses as a group have a song that means they should all come at the same time.

        As to starting a group without a name for it, maybe we will try that someday. For now I have left our ic.org listing as saying we will accept people of other faiths into the group as long as they want to live in love, peace, joy and harmony and live a personally pure life. I am not sure we would have gotten as many inquiries as we have if we had not used the word “Amish” in the listing. However, your thoughts are good.

        Love and blessings, Katy Behr

    15. As human beings we are quick to criticize; however, we cannot; since we need to walk in their shoes in order to understand the everyday struggles within the Amish and the English.

    16. Lance

      Being Amish changes you

      I was with the Amish for about 2-1/2 years, living their way, attending their church, leaving the world behind. Nothing much was said about photos while I was there, but I already knew the rule from my reading before I went there. After I left, I did buy a camera and have taken pictures of cats, dogs, horse, landscapes, etc. I cannot take pictures of people or Amish homesteads. If I see a camera pointed at me, I cringe. Since I left 8 years ago, I have only had one picture taken of me voluntarily. Some things took root, like it or not. There are many things I cannot yet accept in the world, and that has lead to me spending more time with Amish people than english, even today.

      Ed sending his pictures back means to me that he is becoming more settled with and accepting of the Amish way and his place in it. Converts to any religion tend to be overconformists when compared to those born into the movement. I hope Anne can be more at peace with her sons choice and accepting of the way he has chosen to live his life and raise his family. Prayer will greatly help. I wish God’s blessings upon all of Anne’s family.

    17. Valerie

      Walk a Mile in My Shoes

      I appreciate you allowing us to glance through the window of your lives in this area. I always feel it’s best to try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Being a mom too I sympathize with your having to let go of Ed to this world. I’m sure on the other hand, you are very thankful that what you instilled in him growing up has caused him to want to live out his Christianity in the way he feels best follows Christ’s Kingdom the way he understands it.

      Since you are a woman of God you know He will give you peace & patience to withold voiceing your disapproval of some things, and in time, it seems by doing so will bring you all closer together instead of further apart. So many Christians I know have lost their children to the world and that is so much more grievous-
      My heart goes out to you but I trust the Lord will bring peace & the more I learn Amish, although I don’t completely agree with everything, I have also reevaluated my own Christianity & it’s been beneficial.

      1. Anne

        reply to Valerie

        So many good points here…thanks, and you are so right. There are many, many things we are thankful for with Ed’s choice. I especially agree with your comment, that there are things in the Amish lifestyle that have made you re-evaluate your own faith and practice. So true, and that’s probably why so many great people read this post!

    18. Katy Behr

      Thank you, Lance

      Dear Lance,

      Thank you for your perspective. Since my husband misrepresented himself and lied about a number of things in order to win me, legally he committed fraud. I could have had the marriage annulled. Although I was faithful to him while we were together, I never regarded myself as being actually married to him. I felt the entire marriage was a lie. I would have walked out on the wedding night after he revealed the truth about his family to me, but I knew my mother would have raised heck with me for the next twenty-five years of my life because she had paid for a full dinner reception at the Hilton, which must have cost my parents an arm and a leg. My mother was the sort of person who would remind one ten or twelve years later about their mistakes. I should have walked out on the wedding night. I could have. I should have not stayed in a nightmare just to avoid my mother’s anger. HIndsight is always more clear than foresight. My first husband never remarried. It seems that the only woman on the planet blind enough to marry him was me. As far as I know, he is still an agnostic, although he did stop drinking after I left, so that was one positive thing that happened for him.

      Blessings to all,

      Sister Katy Behr
      ( I will not be ever writing anything about this again. It is much too painful to recall.)

    19. Lance

      I am sorry for digging up painful bones.

      I am very, very sorry, Katy. I don’t wish a soul on this plant ill will for any reason. There are some I wish to keep my distance from such as your ex.

      Amish have bad marriages too. Elizabeth Edwards lost all. Her only husband, all 4 of her children and finally her church. She found Grace from God and lives for Him, not for herself, nor does she pine away for that she cannot have. She is a great example of Christianity.

      They are not all saints, just ask Mary Byler. She was raped so many times by her brothers that she was forced out of the Amish because she sought outside help after her mother and the church completely failed her. The story is gruesome. Some of it is still on the internet and I will let you people research it for yourselves.

      There are other stories, many of them untold. Child sexual abuse, wife beating, animal abuse, etc. The most surprising thing is that the rate of instance of these terrible crimes is about the same as the non-Amish world. I see that as a proof that for many Amish, they are living a lifestyle, not for God, but because they have been told they must and its all they know.

      Would that God open the hearts of these people to the saving Faith by Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    20. Lee

      So, they had the wedding in Dutch, so what? He and she are Amish. The community is Amish. A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife the Bible says. So, it is fitting that it was in the language of their church.

      A number of people have made negative comments about this or other situations when a church service was in another language and they couldn’t understand.

      Let me ask you this. If a German speaking person would visit in your church, would you provide German translation for him or her?

      1. Anne

        the issues

        Hi Lee,
        Thanks for your comments, and overall I agree. But you’ve actually put your finger on the crux of the issue. The great American value is “freedom” or individualism. The Amish communities are structured around a far different model: that of community, respect for past generations, etc. Scholars would call them a “traditional culture”.

        The thing that draws so many of us to the Amish (including my son) is this stark contrast between cultures. They hold to traditional values, one of the greatest of which is priority of family life within community. A fine book on this topic, is “Why the Rest Hates the West,” by Mic Pearse (sp?). He contrasts Western culture (mainly American culture) with traditional cultures of the rest of the world AND of past generations. In our culture, this is exemplified by the idea that someone can change their culture at their own whim, without any reference to their extended family or community. In this context, I would say the Amish, at least in this instance, violated the greater value that they exemplify wonderfully otherwise. I could tell you alot more about Ed’s turmoil over this very issue: perhaps at another time.

        I want to answer your direct question about someone coming to a church service who did not speak the language, and the need to attempt to provide a translation. There is no question that the answer should be a resounding “yes!”. Yes! We should make every attempt to translate so that the visitor will have understanding. There is no need to look further than Pentecost for proof of God’s mind on this. The gospel should be accessible to ALL, and the first manifestation of that was speaking in all the tongues of the nations. How can they believe when they have no understanding? Paul speaks directly to this as you will remember, saying that when someone comes into the church and cannot understand, that is unacceptable. The question then becomes, “Do you have the ability to help the visitor?” If you do, then you have no reason to with hold understanding. You should make every effort to translate; especially when you have the ability to do so! If I were visiting a church in Europe, where I did not speak the language, I’d never expect them to offer translation. But if there are people there who are fluent in English, and translation is withheld, then I’d wonder about their view of what a church should be. Add to that my concern in the above and you will see why this seemed so antithetical to us, for the Amish NOT to attempt to help us here. If there was a wedding in a church and a parent of one of the wedded couple was there (who did not speak the language), I’d make every effort to get someone to translate; how much more when this is an easy job, for almost everyone in the group speaks English!

        1. Lance

          Hi Anne,

          It is interesting to compare notes and experiences. The senior bishop told me there would be bumps in the road of going Amish, and there sure were. It became known that I had read many books about the Amish (virtually all social studies books, although they did not know that.) So, someone rumored that I was only there to write a book. (What? Hands turned palms up, questioning expression on face???). I went to visit my elderly grandmother and it was rumored that I was looking to buy land and was moving away. Huh? There were numerous unfounded rumors about me like that.

          They just let me buy anything, even if they did not allow it. There were lots of rules that I did not know about: sock and glove colors, no teflon coated pots or pans, window and door materials, etc. They just let me buy these in violation and I would have had to give them up upon joining church. It was hard to tell the difference between personal preference and hard line church rules against something. It just was not spoken of, unless I specifically asked, something learned to do. After slowly finding out over time that I was doing these unallowed things and they were just letting me, I expressed frustration over their attitude of silence. I was told to read Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Now, at first, that hurt so much it was unspeakable. I can understand applying that verse to people with no interest in the Amish way, or even the casually curious, but to someone who had given 2 years of his life to the way, living it, only it fully, frankly, to be treated that was extremely tough. I almost walked away right then. I have since learned that some Amish place such a high value on ‘the way’ and its rules, one could call it the real religion, with Christianity a sideline, like a suggestion. I love these people greatly, and it hurts a lot to think such things about them.

          In Stephen Nolt’s ‘A History of the Amish’, he writes that the Swiss Brethren, the founding fathers of the people that would become the Amish, were evangelical. These active recruiters were caught and martyred for their faith, still a big topic in Amish sermons. The people that survived where passive, the people in the background. The Amish practice this behavior to this day. There is an excellent portrayal of it in the 1996 Hallmark movie ‘Harvest of Fire’. The Amish have almost an attitude of the gulf is too big to be bridged, the difference too great, so why witness to outsiders, they never join anyways. Why should we witness? Because God has commanded it. Mr 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.Mr 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. With a few exceptions, the Amish do not discuss that verse, nor do they obey it directly. Their life is a witness, with the clothing, buildings, transportation all attracting the eye of others, but when those others ask questions, the Amish rarely witness the gospel. They miss a perfect opportunity to win people to Christ. Those Amish that see this usually have to leave in time, because they have ‘fremde glauva’, strange beliefs. Breaks my heart. I love them but cannot live in their culture comfortably nor can I rejoin the world. No mans land is a terrible and lonely place. I am still on that bumpy road the bishop talked about…

          1. Daryl

            Dear Lance
            I feel your pain and while the Amish may not be for you, perhaps a similar yet more Christ centred group like the Holdeman Mennonites or Beachy Amish or Charity group may be. And if it must be Old Order, there are Mennonite and Brethren groups that are still horse and buggy. Mercifully, Anabaptism like icecream comes in many flavors, there must be one that you would feel at home in. Search and ye shall find.

            As to not telling you right from wrong regarding your purchases, this is done for two reasons. First it indicates whether you instictively understand what to do and secondly, what you purchase reveals your mindset. For example, irrespective of whether what you bought is permitted or not, was it cheap, plain and simple or was it expensive, fancy and a designer name brand.

            In Amish type groups it is your actions that speak, what you do and how you do it. Orthopraxy (right practice) over Orthodoxy (right doctrine), whereas in the ‘English’ world it is orthodoxy over orthopraxy, so believing in the Trinity would be considered more important for salvation than whether one wore a head covering or not.

            By not telling you what to do the Amish were allowing you time and space to discover for yourself if you instictively got them or not. Constantly telling you what to do would have achieved nothing.

          2. Amish like groups one could join

            There is a community of Anabaptists near Elm Mott near Waco, Texas. They dress in subdued colors in long dresses, but I did not see any prayer caps. The ladies hair was done up in braids or buns. The men also dressed conservatively. Beards appeared optional. They farm exclusively with horses, all organic and do arts and crafts for a living. They use cars and trucks for daily business. There are about 200 people lving in this community and they have an active outreach to others. They raise all their own food, all organic and have cow and goat dairies. They havve classes so anyone can learn. We took a sustainable farming class with horses there so we could teach our horses how to plow and h arvest. It was some of the best fun we have ever had. As far as I can tell, the only thing these folks don’t make themselves are shoes and boots. Everything else is hand made.

            There are other Amish groups in Texas. I don’t know all of them. Mennonites, too. Of course, we are still open to anyone who wishes to join with us. The Amish have a way of life that blends in very well with the earth. Personal holiness is something we must all seek on our own, as is truth.


            Sister Katy (New Amish)
            not “New Order Amish” which is a different group.

        2. Lattice

          Excellent point; well said.

          By the way, we are with high hopes that you will indeed share other issues your family has dealt with along this path, and also some of the areas of disillusion/disenchantment that Ed has experienced and yet overcome in order to embrace this new life.

          1. Anne

            Thanks Lattice! I will share more as time permits. And I thank you (and ALL of you!) for your comments. Whether in support or somewhat critical/warning, they have all given me more insight. It all helps.

    21. Don Curtis

      My son Mark and photographs

      I read this posting to my son, Mark, and asked him what he thought about being photographed. In his community, it is against the Ordnung to pose for pictures. As Mark put it, “I’m not going to smile and say cheese and pose for a photo. If I’m going about my normal business and somebody snaps my picture I’m not going to wrestle them to the ground and take their camera from them. But I’m’ not going to pose for them and make an occasion for picure taking.” I know that Mark kept all of our family photos. There aren’t many as we never were a photo snapping family to start with. And, I know he has kept a lot of the yearbooks from the many years he spent teaching to remember his students by. I have never snapped a photo of him after he became Amish. That’s against the rules for him, now, and I respect that. It was easier, perhaps, for me because I never snapped a lot of photos of him before he was Amish. Mark told me that there are some Amish groups, for example, New Order Amish in Holmes County, Ohio that ae allowed to pose for photos and even have disposable cameras. Most Amish do not do this, however. Mark said that some won’t even have their photos taken for legal purposes like for ID’s and passports.
      I asked Mark about the divorce issue. He responded that the Amish position on divorce and remarriage is not an Amish decision. It is a direct teaching from the mouth of Jesus Christ. Mark said that most Amish don’t have so much a problem with separation and even divorce in an abusive situation, etc. The problem comes in with the individuals involved wish to remarry. That is the point that is just not scriptural. Culturally acceptable, perhaps, but not Scriptural. Anyway, these are Mark’s opinions and views.

      1. Lee

        The scriptures say God hates divorce, but God loves sinners and divorce is a sin. Jesus said God’s original view was one man & one woman forever.
        So, when divorce occurs, there can be no remarriage as long as the other partner is alive according to what the Bible teaches. Amish are not alone in following this teaching though it seems this scriptural position is only held by anabaptists today and many of them, have grown liberal and unscriptural with this view and have allowed divorce & remarriage in “certain instances.”

        One can hardly fault the Amish for holding the hard scriptural line. I know in our Brethren church if someone divorces and they are the innocent party, they are allowed to remain in the church but if they should remarry while their spouse is still alive, they would have to leave the church or face excommunication.

    22. Stephanie Rollins

      How rude to criticize Anne for wanting to have photos of her son. First he moves away, then he becomes Amish, finally he marries. The poor woman, though proud of her son, has been through a lot. Giver her a break!

      1. Annette Kastner

        I don’t really see it as criticism, rather folks trying to offer helpful perspective. I didn’t read anyone faulting Anne for wanting photos, rather pointing out that deception may not be worthwhile.