Within Shipshewana, and many Northern Indiana communities, reside a great deal of Amish and Mennonite citizens. In fact, this area is the third largest Amish and Mennonite community in the United States. On a personal note, it is a wonderful little community that’s packed full of interesting shops and events.
In case you don’t know, the Amish and Mennonite are Christian religious denominations characterized by simple dress and lifestyle. Humility, family, community, and separation from the world are the mainstays of these people.
The Amish are best known for their plain clothing, most of it self-made, and nonconformist lifestyle. Men and boys wear broad-brimmed black hats, dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats without lapels, broadfall pants, suspenders, solid-colored shirts, and black socks and shoes. Their shirts may fasten with conventional buttons, but their coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. Men grow beards after they marry but are forbidden to have mustaches.
Old Order Amish women and girls wear bonnets, long full dresses with capes over the shoulders, shawls, and black shoes and stockings; their capes and aprons are fastened with straight pins or snaps. Amish women never cut their hair, which is worn in a bun, and they are not allowed to wear jewelry of any kind. The Amish attire, which is essentially that of 17th-century European peasants, reflects their reluctance to change, their respect for tradition, and their interpretation of biblical strictures against conforming to the ways of the world (e.g., Romans 12:2).
They are very much traditionalists who put the Bible and its teachings above all else, especially the world. They are very protective of their beliefs and do all they can to not allow world influences into their homes and family’s. So, when I saw a Queen cover band called “One Night of Queen,” headlining a show in the Shipshewana Blue Gate Center of Performing Arts, my eventual thoughts went to – “this seems a bit odd, for this community to indirectly embrace a group like Queen?”
I say this is odd because most of the world sees Christians, or devout Bible believers like the Amish and Mennonites, to be people who are anti-sin and anti-sinners. A world view that is not entirely accurate when it comes to a true Christian’s view. The oddness comes in, as most musical historians know, that Queen’s lead singer; Freddie Mercury, was known to be gay, which per the Bible is a sin.
So, seeing a Queen cover band, in a devout Amish/Mennonite community, in the world’s view, is indeed odd.
Thus, I ask you …Are you judging? Are you part of this world view? Are you supportive of people, groups, organizations, that you feel are more aligned to your views, or the worlds views? Do you shun people, groups, organizations that align opposite to your views? I certainly have been guilty of this. But I think we need to better understand the true words and actions of Jesus. If we do so, we may find we are in fact doing too much judging, and not enough understanding or forgiving.
The more thought I give this, the less odd it becomes. Jesus knew we are all sinners and thus we should not be judging others. What did Jesus tell the woman at the well, who would sneak out to get water because she was so ashamed of her sin and how the town’s people would shun her if seen in public? Jesus said; I forgive you – now go and sin no more!
Jesus recruited Matthew to follow Him and become one of His disciples. Matthew was possibly the most despised man in the area because Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors worked for the Romans and the Romans allowed them to steal a portion of the taxes for themselves.
Jesus recruited Saul who would become Paul, who tortured, oppressed, and even killed. Jesus said to him; “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Jesus would then direct Paul to bare witness of Jesus resurrection to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and also to the Roman leaders in Rome.
So, what’s this got to do with Queen in Shipshewana. Could it be the world judges the Amish and Mennonites to harshly? Jesus forgave everyone one He encountered – He simply asked them to go forth and sin no more. I think we should be more like Jesus. We don’t have to support or condone sin, but we should always forgive sin.
Afterall, Jesus died to forgive you and I of our sins, should we do anything less?
In this case, the music itself is not sin, even though it is performed by sinners, and yes one who portrays a man who was gay. But of course, the performers are people - sinners, a gay man, a straight man, likely a Christian, and likely a person of some other belief, and possibly even an Amish or Mennonite. All sinners, and all forgiven by Jesus.
So, why not Queen in Shipshewana, or even AC/DC in Boston, a town founded by the Puritans. We are too quick to judge and too unforgiving of sin. Yes, we should never promote sinful activities but we need to forgive them. If not, we ourselves would never be forgiven.
As Jesus tells us in the Book of Luke: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
On a personal note, I was thrilled when I saw a chance to see this band, anywhere within driving distance, so I jumped at the opportunity. After seeing the show, I have to say that I’m not sure there will ever be a better Rock-n-Roll voice than Freddie Mercury’s, but this band was so good, I honestly felt like we just experienced a real Queen concert – What a Show. More importantly, why not Shipshewana, or anywhere on God’s green Earth!!!