Recently, I watched a three hour episode about the folks who broke Amish were now returning to their roots in Punxsutawney, PA.

Mary, the mother had her fling in New York, even shed her Amish garb and bonnet for a day, but alas the “English” life is not for her.  She’s going back to try to repair the damage she did by leaving.  If you are Amish and you make the decision to leave, you will be shunned when you try to come back.  During this episode, they are focusing on a particularly harsh reality of the Amish (as well as other cult type religions) – if you give up the rules – you will not associate with them under any circumstance.  Her dad died and she is not allowed to attend the funeral.  Now mind you, she has re-assumed all of the outer garb, looks the part, and is trying to get back into their good graces but no, she is not allowed in.

She is going to visit the leader and give him a piece of her mind about not letting her in to her father’s funeral.  Their confrontation goes like this:  The leader says, “What are you doing here with cameras and all that worldly stuff?  You are shunned; you are not allowed to be around other Amish.”  Mary replies, “My Amish mother wanted me to sit beside her and then you come in acting all big and not letting me sit beside my own mother.”  Then he says, “The HOLY SPIRIT was telling me to make you leave.”  She argues about wanting to pay her last respects to which he replies, “A woman should never come here and talk to a man like you are doing.  A woman is supposed to be with her husband.”  Mary says her piece, “I want you to know that what you did was a lot worse than anything I ever did!”  Determined to get the last word in (brace yourself) he tells her, “You better watch out or a lot of bad stuff will start happening to you if you don’t start behaving, GET OFF MY PROPERTY!”

Sound familiar?  Try to leave the group, or speak out, and the threats start to fly.  But the thing that really stuck out to me is the unbiblical use of the Holy Spirit that these Bible based cults use.  They assign all types of activities to the Holy Spirit that I’m certain He would have no part in and are not in keeping with His nature.  Would the Holy Spirit tell him not to allow her into her father’s funeral?  Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter,” one who comes along side us, our helper.  The chief fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, with the out flow of love being peace, joy, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control.  Love is not rude or arrogant; it keeps no record of wrongs.

Another sad and noteworthy statement of this revisiting is made by Mary’s daughter in law, Rebecca.  She states, “Amish, I’ll always be Amish on the inside.”   No matter how many of the outward trappings of Amish life she leaves behind, she always reverts back to Amish standards when challenged by someone else’s willingness to go beyond her level of freedom.  This is indeed the sad fact of many whose minds are trapped by legalistic standards as a way of proving their worth.  These standards become the essence of their salvation, never mind a crucified Christ.  They never really make it to that place of freedom they are so desperately seeking but live tortured lives of being half in the old life and half out.

Christ has set us free to live a free life.  So take your stand!  Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.   Galatians 5:1  MSG