The Amish have very traditional beliefs when it comes to family planning and birth control. Amish couples tend to have large families with an average of 6-8 children. While the Amish value children as blessings from God, there are some situations where birth control may be permitted.
Here are quick answers to some common questions about Amish beliefs regarding birth control:
- Most Amish are opposed to modern forms of birth control like the pill, IUDs, condoms etc.
- They believe God should decide family size, not man.
- Some forms of natural family planning like rhythm method may be allowed.
- Birth control may be permitted for health reasons.
- Sterilization like vasectomy is generally not accepted.
- Abortion isforbidden except to save the mother’s life.
Amish Views on Family Planning
The Amish place a strong emphasis on family and community. Children are seen as blessings from God and large families are common and desired. The Amish believe married couples should be open to as many children as God chooses to bless them with.
They reject artificial means of contraception like hormonal birth control, IUDs, condoms etc. They believe family planning should be left in God’s hands, not controlled by man. Limiting family size is seen as displaying a lack of faith in God.
However, the Amish do recognize some exceptions. Some forms of natural family planning like the rhythm method may be acceptable to an Amish couple. This involves timing intercourse during infertile periods. Other casual forms of birth control like prolonged breastfeeding may also naturally limit family size.
Reasons Birth Control May Be Allowed
While most Amish are strictly opposed to modern birth control methods, there are some situations where exceptions may occur:
- Health reasons – if another pregnancy would threaten the mother’s health, some forms of birth control may be permitted after consulting the church.
- Genetic diseases – some communities allow birth control if a couple carries genes for fatal inherited disorders to avoid passing conditions to children.
- Fertility issues – birth control may be acceptable after having multiple children if a couple struggles with infertility.
- Financial/practical reasons – while not openly acknowledged, some couples may use simple folk methods to space children for practical reasons.
However, these exceptions would be considered very personal matters and not openly discussed in Amish communities.
Acceptable vs Unacceptable Methods
The Amish make a clear distinction between what they view as acceptable natural forms of birth control and unacceptable artificial methods.
Here are some guidelines to what they may permit or forbid:
|Hormonal birth control like the pill
|Natural family planning
|Withdrawal method (uncommon)
Modern medical forms of contraception are strictly off limits. Simple folk methods may be quietly used by more progressive Amish but not openly talked about.
Views on Sterilization
Surgical sterilization procedures like vasectomy for men and tubal ligation for women are forbidden by the Amish. Some key reasons Amish prohibit sterilization include:
- Seen as taking God’s role by permanently preventing conception.
- Violates the marital duty to be open to bearing children.
- Requires exposure to modern hospitals and surgery contradictory to Amish values.
The Amish believe sterilization demonstrates arrogance and lack of submission to God’s will. It is equated with murder or abortion. Other permanent options like hysterectomy would also be avoided unless absolutely medically essential.
Views on Abortion
Abortion is strictly prohibited in Amish society except in rare life-threatening medical situations. Reasons Amish condemn abortion include:
- Equated with murder since they view life beginning at conception.
- Believe only God has the right to give or take life.
- Having large families negates circumstances where abortion would be considered by mainstream society.
- Undermines values of accepting God’s blessings.
The life of the mother may take priority over the unborn child in specific high-risk complications. But abortion is never casually permitted and requires moral considerations from the church.
Differences Between Amish Communities
There can be some minor differences between Amish settlements regarding the strictness of birth control rules. Some patterns include:
- Very conservative groups like Swartzentruber Amish are completely opposed to any form of birth control.
- More progressive communities like New Order Amish may quietly allow limited family planning for health reasons.
- Younger generations are typically more open to natural family planning methods.
- Bishops ultimately decide what is permitted or banned in each church district.
So attitudes can range from extremely conservative with large families to slightly more open with natural spacing between children.
Swartzentruber Amish view all forms of birth control as sinful and follow the strictest traditional beliefs. They tend to have very large families of 8 or more children.
New Order Amish are typically more open to family planning for health reasons. They may limit family size more than ultraconservative groups.
Decision Making Process
Birth control decisions ultimately come down to the rules set by the local bishop and ministers. Each church district follows the Ordnung or set of guidelines agreed upon by the bishop. If birth control is permitted, it is only after consultation with the bishop to discuss medical need to space or limit pregnancies. The bishop has authority to make exceptions to traditional rules but this is not taken lightly. Major life decisions like birth control are always prayerfully considered by Amish leaders before allowing exceptions.
In summary, the Amish take a very traditional Biblical approach to procreation. Most forms of modern birth control are prohibited as interfering with God’s will. However, some natural family planning methods may be permitted in private for health reasons or genetic concerns. Bishops decide what is allowable on a church district level. But a couple’s intimate life is kept strictly private and not openly talked about. The Amish emphasize acceptance of God’s blessings which leads them to have large families. Children are highly valued and birth control is an exception rather than the norm in Amish society.