Gay Amish and Gelassenheit
In a continuing effort to write on this subject, I want to mention the importance of structure and belief in relation to personal identity. Being Gay Amish or Gay Mennonite, or Gay Conservative Christian of many differing denominations is extremely difficult. On the surface, the communities ignorance concerning individualism stifles and subjugates a gay persons identity as such. Inwardly and privately, a gay individual must deal with the concept of submission to the Church and its traditions in relation to their own same gender attraction.
Preaching and teaching, verbally pronouncing having same gender attraction as a personal lustful desire and sin, denying any possible reality of someone actually being created from birth with that identity, is the most common approach taken by Old Order and Conservative Christian ministers.
Common stereotypical opinions of Gays being overtly sexual, indecently exposed, predatory, disease ridden and utterly unnatural are all too often the assumed characteristics of anyone who identifies as Gay among these people.
Due to long held but mis-informed interpretations of certain scriptural texts (i.e. Sodom & Gomorrah) most Old Order Amish and other Conservative Christian groups automatically assume that anyone Gay must share the lustful and base desires of all fornicators, adulterers, abusers, and deviants mentioned throughout the Bible. Many would automatically assume that HIV (AIDS) is a direct and just judgment or plague from God against Gays in general around the World for their lustful and sinful acts. Even some conservative and evangelical Christians among mainstream society openly broadcast their opinion that “homosexuality is ‘unnatural’, that it's detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.-Kirk Cameron”
Apart from these vocalized prejudices against Gay people existing inside or outside of Old Order and Conservative Christian communities, there is another powerful form of repression -The Church Order or ‘Ordnung’.
Most Amish communities have unwritten but generally known and understood guidelines for their daily activities, employment, dress and general living. There are some written statements as well, and both of these serve to guide the church member into the appropriate communal expression of ‘right living’ or ‘Christ-like’ testimony. Most Old Order churches and many Conservative Christian churches have this concept of obedience to ‘Church order and Biblical principles’ deeply embedded in their understanding of what it means to be Christian and faithful to God.
“The Ordnung is used to produce gelassenheit, which is to be shown via a yielding of spirit to the traditions. The Amish glance back into the past and examine their traditions, treasuring them.
Modern culture's aggressive individualism sharply contrasts with the Amish gelassenheit. Through gelassenheit, an Amish person yields to the Ordnung, the will of God, church, elders, parents, community, and traditions. The individual suppresses the will of 'self' in lieu of the Amish community.
By giving up individuality and any thought of selfishness, they embrace God's will by serving others and submitting to Him. To the Amish, Gelassenheit is seen in all of the following aspects of Amish life:
Personality: reserved, modest, calm, quiet
Values: submission, obedience, humility, simplicity
Symbols: dress, horse, carriage, lantern
Structure: small, informal, local, decentralized
Ritual: baptism, confession, ordination, foot-washing.
— The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill , Johns Hopkins UP, 1989, p.26. “
Gelassenheit is probably the most powerful single factor of Amish identity, because it expresses the individuals submission to the communal opinion of right and wrong for all areas of life.
If the community feels being gay is wrong, that having same gender attraction is not a born identity but rather a deadly sinful lust, then Gelassenheit demands an individuals will be united with the Church in agreement.
For an individual to maintain opinions contrary to the generally accepted ones of their community is to add unhealthy characteristics to their own personality and values.
Due to the rampant stereotypes labeling gay people, Old Order Amish and other Conservative Christians automatically assume that being gay militates against the principles and values propagated by Gelassenheit.
Gays who are flamboyant, extremely social, fashion conscious, lively, vocal or independent in the ‘English’ world, are seen as the obvious expression of what it means to have same gender attraction. These characteristics are seen as totally in opposition to what it means to be a humble, conservative, God-fearing Christian. Overcoming these obstacles may seem nigh to impossible, but truly, the only way for people to eventually understand is for them to be confronted with their own misunderstandings.
Conservative Christians and Old Order Amish and other similar groups need to be made aware of the legitimate existence of people with same gender attraction, even amongst their own congregations.
Many statistics point out that at least one-in-ten amongst any group of people on the planet, have same gender attraction. Being Gay is simply having same gender attraction. It is not a foregone conclusion or subscription to the many stereotypes which abound, supposedly defining what being Gay really is.
It is totally possible for someone to be brought up in a Conservative Christian home or Old Order Church community and have same gender attraction without any of the stereotypical characteristics so often used to categorized all Gay people.
Someone who understands their own same gender attraction, is not automatically akin to all the foul and vile abuses and actions recorded in scripture as perpetrated by fornicators, adulterers and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just because someone is Gay does not mean they are overtly sexual, sexually abusive, a pedophile, sexual predator or prone to using illegal substances.
Being Gay does not automatically consign one’s heart and feelings to be non-existent or stifle any spiritual cognition concerning God or the Bible.In fact, many Gay people are desirous to be included and accepted by the Church, in spite of the rejection they all too often receive.
In summary, I would like to reiterate and remark that having same gender attraction is as natural to an individual as liking a particular flavor of ice cream. A young boy does not choose to grow up and be attracted to girls, he just does. A young girl does not choose to grow up and like boys, she just does.
There just happens to exist a small percentage of people in this world, who actually grow up liking someone of the same gender.
They are not unnatural, or alien.
They are not cursed of God.
They are not flawed and marred by sin for their attraction.
They can and do exist in every culture across the planet.
Being submissive to the Order of the Church and the Conservative standard of ‘Righteousness’ is totally possible for someone of same gender attraction, but it sure would be easier and healthier for them to live honestly and openly as God created them, if their same gender attraction was appreciated.
Written with Care and Love for all,