Hypocrisy in Your Magazine
July 1, 2021
To Whom it may concern:
First I would like to write about the hypocrisy on the front page heading and picture. Throughout your paper, you downplay the old order churches and the non-conformity in dress standards and the why’s of doing. Do you realize if they would not have had those standards the 300 plus years, there would be no such thing as the Amish church? You then would have to change your front page heading, because there wouldn’t be anything like a horse and buggy going down the road, or a family walking towards the ‘New-Jerusalem’ gates in old traditional garb. If it doesn’t matter how we dress or what we drive, then why not have a picture of a high-horsepower Corvette racing down the highway? Why not use a more typical American couple on the cover; like a man in shorts and a woman in scanty-clad summer garb with only one child with them; since an American woman has a career to fulfill, not just wiping faces and cleaning diapers? It’s all about being ‘born-again’ and being right with God and cultural assimilation doesn’t matter?
All honor to our risen Lord, An Old-order Mennonite who, while working in the Lord’s vineyard, appreciates the ‘hedge’ around it.
Thank you for your letter. You bring up a couple of good points. We, at the Amish Voice, love the old paths, as the prophet Jeremiah mentioned:
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 (Jeremiah 6:16).
What, though, are the old paths that this is referring to? It is not the Amish ways, nor the Mennonite ways, nor the Baptist ways, but the ways of God as told to us in the Bible. Certainly tradition can be a very good thing—or it can be a stumbling block.
As you mentioned, there are many American clothing styles, even among Christians, that are not modest. How we dress certainly does matter to God. The problem comes when we become proud of how we dress and when we think that God approves of us based upon our clothing, tradition, and rules. The Bible does not tell us what specific clothing to wear, but to dress modestly and in a way that glorifies God.
We can ride in a buggy and dress very modestly, and yet God still might not be pleased with us, just as He was not pleased with the sacrifices and offerings of the Israelites while their hearts were far from Him.
Certainly people in different groups can have eternal life and go to heaven, but this is not because of one’s church, or their rules, or their clothing. We are all born again the same way: by grace through faith in Jesus. How many people follow the traditions of their fathers and the rules of their church yet do not know the peace, love, joy, forgiveness, and freedom that comes only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
To pray in a specific language does not make us more holy, for God understands the language of the heart. To read the Bible in a specific language does not make us better or worse, for God tells us to write His Word on our hearts. I do not think the apostles would have condemned the people of Amman’s day for not reading the Bible in Greek or for not praying in Hebrew. Our traditions can be good, but as with the religious people of Jesus’ day, they can also be the things that keep us from trusting in Jesus.
In Jakob Amman’s day, most people dressed very modestly, yet most people in the world then were not born again, just as most are not now. Their modest clothing did not save them. Riding horses did not give them eternal life. People are born again the same way now just as they were in Jesus’ day. All are lost who do not really know Him, who follow self and the world and tradition instead of Jesus Christ alone.
One way to tell what we are trusting in is to think if we will get to heaven without those things. For example, if I think I am going to heaven because I dress a certain way and am a member of a certain church, but would not go to heaven if I did not dress exactly the same way (although still modestly) or was not a member of that church, then I am trusting in those things and not in Jesus.
The apostle Paul warned us about boasting in anything except Jesus (Galatians 6:14). He even told us not to say I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas, etc. (1 Corinthians 1:12). Let us not, then, think that God approves of us because of which group we are part of, but let us all be sure that we are following Jesus. Let us dress and work and live to please God, but let us always remember that God is not pleased with how we dress or what church we attend if our hearts are not His—if we are trusting in these things instead of in Jesus. It is good to know that if we trust in Christ Jesus alone, we are born again, and it does not depend upon the size of the brim of our hats or the style of our suspenders, but on God’s grace through faith in Jesus. To follow the rules is fine. To trust in them for eternal life is not.
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