|Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.|
Why do men and women sit on opposite sides of the meeting (church)?
When I was a little girl I thought all men and women sat that way in all different meetings or churches. Once I got to know the outside world I was surprised to find that Old Order Mennonite and the Amish are about the only religions that do this. The separation of men and women seating's in church was originally founded in the early Catholic Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem spoke of this during his lectures : "If the church is shut and you all are inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men and women with women, lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction. Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away." So the men and women separate seating's was intended to keep worship pure. It was felt that the intermixing the sexes would be a distraction to worship and cause us to sin by looking on the opposite sex. The Catholics no longer observe the separation but Old Order Mennonite and Amish still do.
Why don't the ladies cut their hair and why do we wear prayer caps (as the English call them)?
We go buy the 1 Corinthians, 11:5-6 "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. " and Verse 15 "But if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." Because of these verses in the Bible which we believe, I do not cut my hair and I do wear a prayer cap. We in Old Order Mennonite and the Amish follow this word of the Bible, but there are many other more worldly Mennonite Orders who do not wear prayer caps, longer dresses and who do cut their hair.
Why do we dress the way we do? Why don't we wear jewelry?
We go by several Bible verses including 1 Timothy 2:9 "In like matter also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with braided hair or gold, or pearls or costly array." And also 1 Peter 3:3,4 "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel: " (We feel the next quote is for us all) "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of grace price." Because of these readings of the Bible and more we feel we should not wear jewelry and to dress modestly.
Why do Amish men grow beards and most Old Order Mennonite do not anymore?
The reason the Amish and some Old Order Mennonites wear beards is also in the Bible under Leviticus 19:27 "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of they beard." and Leviticus 21:5 "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh."In the 1950's or 1960's the American Mennonite changed to smooth-shaving as part of a general cultured process. It was said that resistance of certain conservative group to the smooth-shaven were resistance to general accommodation. Some of the older men like my Grandfather still have a beard, but he keeps it trimmed. When he was brought up Old Order Mennonite men wore beards-he has shaved his off twice for a few weeks-I saw his face completely shaved once when he shaved it off, but being brought up the way he was he has regrown it both times. He said, the last time he shaved it off several years ago, he won't shave it off again. He just can't get use to it. David, my Dad and David's Dad are all clean shaved. All of the Old Order Mennonite men are clean shaven except some of those by Grandfather's age.
Is our Bible in German or English?
We have both. We mostly used the German Bible, but now that Michael is here we use mostly the King James. Michael is learning our language but, of course, understands English better. Sometimes David and I will get talking our language and Michael will have to ask us to speak English. Then of course there is the high German which we also have and use at meetings and sometimes at home. All of us each have our own Bible and we have one in the living room that David uses when we gather for readings and prayer. Michael wants a German Bible like we use, so we are getting him one for Christmas. Even if this gets back to him as some of his friends have computers and so does his school-I don't think this present is any surprise for him.
All the quotations that I have used in this post are the King James Version. We do not use any of the revised editions nor do they use revised at our meetings (church). If you have any other questions you would like to ask, please do.
Be With God,
If there are any mistakes in the Bible quotations I will take the blame. It would be do to my computer mistakes. The best way for exact Bible quotations would be to read them from your King James Bible.