Why I’m a Bad Mennonite

Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people that it’s not WRONG for a Mennonite girl to go to college, it’s just different. Slightly odd.

People tend to think of the Mennonites as either a quaint idyllic community where everyone makes their own butter, or a legalistic community where everyone must abide by strict rules at the risk of getting shunned.

Some churches do have lists of rules, but more than that, the Mennonites have  unspoken lists of what’s normal to be interested in, and what’s abnormal/somewhat fishy with potential send you down a slippery slope.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve always had a tendency to be interested in the fishy-slippery-slope-ey things.

Here is a list of them:

1. College

People ask me, “so what do you do?” When I say I’m a college student who teaches part time, there is a certain strip of Mennonite that will always say, “oh interesting, tell me about your teaching.”

2. Fairy Tales

3. Acting…

…which often requires copious amounts of makeup, so that’s kind of a double-whammy.

4. Fashion


5. Dancing

These days I’m not into dancing the way I’m into fashion, acting, fairy tales, and college, but when I was in my teens this was a big deal for me.

I didn’t know anyone who danced, but I would copy dance routines from movies and then teach them to my friends.

Once I got in trouble at school for dancing, so I went home and found every Bible verse that referenced dancing, and printed them out. Each reference was either positive or neutral towards dancing. I showed them to people but no one’s attitudes towards dancing seemed to change.

So I was basically like Ren McCormack, only without the happy ending.

In parting I will do an annoying clarification.

I’m not looking for anyone to say, “oh don’t be so hard on yourself! I’m sure you’re actually a good Mennonite!”

Calling myself a “bad Mennonite” is a joke.

The End.

14 responses to “Why I’m a Bad Mennonite

  1. bahaha i love this! I relate in that I generally go against the norms of my community as well. I just do things a little different-different enough to stick out. my favorite is the Bible verses about dancing. hilarious!


  2. Oh my. I can relate to the unspoken dancing taboo in Mennonite communities. Although my parents have stepped away from the Mennonite church, my grandparents are still baffeled as to why I would want to attend prom or dance at weddings…

    Also, most of the Mennonites I’m related to/friends with would much rather shake hands than give a hug. Does this ring true for you too?


  3. Well said!! I actually applaud you for being a “bad Mennonite” (but this would come as no surprise from someone who just got her ears pierced last year and loves to dance in worship to Jesus.) Mostly, I just love to see that you can give expression to who God made you to be even though some in your surrounding culture don’t understand.


  4. Missy Mullins

    I used to be Mennonite and now I am Holiness Pentecostal but I am realizing that some Mennonites live the way they do because of Church rules, but instead we should be living the way we do because of what God says in HIs Word. I am not Mennonite but I do not wear pants and I do not wear makeup and jewelry and it is not because of going against a Church rule but instead it is because I want to live by the Word. “Dancing” is a part of the world and I do not involve myself with that either because the Bible does tell us to be a separated people. The only dancing for Jesus that I would want would be when the genuine Holy Spirit would move on me to “dance in the Spirit”. Just saying. If you are a Christian then live for the Lord and by His Word, not because of what the Church says is okay or not. One day we will stand before the Almighty God and when He opens up the Word and judges us will our lives line up with the Word? Don’t live for the Church. Live for Jesus and line up with the Word of God.


    • I’m sorry, Missy, but your logic concerning dancing is pretty weak. That same argument can be used to condemn electricity and vehicles (as the Amish may do), yet you obviously don’t agree with that, considering that you’re online. Given that, this argument can only be used to support personal biases,

      I fully agree with you concerning the issue of some Mennonites living as they do only because of church/social pressure rather than out of a holy heart. It’s an issue that can be difficult for me to isolate and resolve in my life…


      • Missy Mullins

        I guess I’ll clarify. I wasnt talking about “worldly dancing” just to be dancing. I was talking about dancing “in the Spirit”. When the Holy Spirit moves on a person to speak in tongues or quickens their bodies because of His annointing power……………this is the kind of dancing I was talking about. I have seen someone dance in the Spirit because the genuine Holy Spirit was moving them and this is the only kind of dancing I would want in my life. The Mennonites do not often have the Holy Spirit moving in their Churches in this way for some reason, but this is the kind of dancing I was talking about. Any other kind of dancing to me is of the world or of the “flesh” and I would not want it a part of my life because it does not line up with the Word of God.
        Romans 8:8 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”


      • Missy Mullins

        Electricity and vehicles is not a sin of the “flesh”. A spiritual mind will understand the difference between electricity and dancing. :o)


  5. I found this post because a friend liked it on facebook…and may I saw, from one bad Mennonite girl to another, thank you. I think a lot of us are different and we just haven’t found the courage to say so. =)


  6. Missy Mullins

    I heard a preacher brother say one time, “If you are a Baptist you better be living holy, if you are a Methodist you better be living holy…..” Amen to that! And I would say too if you are a Mennonite you better be living holy! Hebrews 12:14 ” Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”
    If you want to be “worldly” then find a wordly church to be in instead of bringing reproach on the Mennonites. Just a thought.


  7. Missy, as a Conservative Mennonite myself, I would hardly condemn Emily for bringing “reproach on the Mennonites”.

    Emily, there is so much in the Bible about dancing, but we Mennonites avoid it about as strongly as we avoid “greeting the brethren with an Holy Kiss”.

    I don’t condone worldly, sensual dancing, but I can certainly see dance as a facet of praise and worship to God, much like music, prayer, serving others, etc. That is the type of dancing shown in a positive light in the Bible, unlike the drunken revelries of sinful nations.

    As for your makeup, wellllllll you’re on your own there. 🙂


  8. Emily Smucker

    Okeeeeeeey, a couple of clarifications seem to be in order….

    I VERY INTENTIONALLY did not bring up my feelings on Mennonite “rules.” The things I mentioned in this post are not things that are considered wrong among Mennonites, just things that are considered odd. People had some pretty negative attitudes towards dancing, but there were never any rules against it in general.

    Missy, I agree that we should live a holy life based on the Bible, not based on what our church tells us to do. I agree completely. But that is not relevant to what this post was about.

    Shawn, and anyone else who was freaked out by the makeup picture, they really tell you to cake it on in Theater, so you don’t get washed out under the harsh lights. Also, I had to do my own makeup, and I’d never really worn makeup before, which…yeah. Might help explain the results.

    Okay I’m done.


  9. I love you Emily. You make me laugh and I appreciate that. I also appreciate your honesty about being different from the status quo of Mennonite girls. I love that you try new things and are interested in things “beyond” the typical Mennonite world. I feel like God has placed those interests in you and they are part of who He has called you to be. So live loud dear Emily and never settle for the “typical Mennonite lifestyle” unless you feel led to do so. 🙂


  10. I am a Mennonite and I enjoy all these things…I don’t know if that makes me a bad Mennonite or not 😉 Seriously there are good aspects of these things and we tend to throw them out as all bad just because they have been misused or gone awfully bad for some. Me thinks there’s a good balance.


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