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Learning Technological Discernment from the Amish

Have you ever seen an Amish horse and buggy going down the road, driven by a bearded man with a black hat? You might have heard that these traditional Christian groups think all technology is bad, but that's not true. They're really just doing something we all should be doing, which is practicing discernment.

When an Amish community member is interested in using a new technology, the community asks whether it will be helpful or harmful to relationships in the community. In one case, a community member wanted to buy a hay baler to make his work more efficient. But the community wondered how this would affect relationships if workers no longer had to work with each other. Another wanted to run propane gas into his family's bedrooms so each could have a light on at night, but the community wondered whether this would separate the family in the evening, where they'd previously shared the evening together in the living room. They rejected both ideas.

You and I might come to different conclusions than the Amish about technology, but we would be wise to ask the same sorts of questions: How will this smartphone, or this social media app, affect relationships within my home? Will this subscription to Disney+ bring our family together or give us more reasons to live separate lives?


Jeff Smith, “The Amish Use Technology Differently Than You Think. We Should Emulate Them,” The Washington Post (2-17-20)

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