By Sherry Burgess
Besides a red Lamborghini, there were two things I dreamed of having — an old fashioned ball dress and a date with Nando. Then, in my senior year of high school, I got them both!
Let’s start with Nando. Nando is an Italian Catholic whom I had really liked for over two years. He is so good-looking that I had never thought he would ask me for a date. Unfortunately Nando is not a Christian, so I had never really worried about not dating him. One night though, a month before school was to close, Nando asked me to go out to dinner with him. Words cannot express how surprised I was!
Now, let me describe my dream dress. I had visions of layers upon layers of pink taffeta and puffy sleeves, the kind of dress that belongs on the veranda of a southern mansion. One night, my parents returned from their yearly visit to the relatives in Alabama, and guess what they brought back! You guessed it! A real, down-home, southern, ball dress. Could anything be any better? Then it happened! The devil always seems to worm his way in when everything is going so great.
Here is what happened. I felt I was in a dream the night Nando took me out. Then he asked me to go to our senior graduation prom. Until that moment, I had already decided that I would not go to the prom, no matter what. Now here I was, not only with an invitation from the best looking guy in our class, but also with the most gorgeous dress to wear. Now came the hard part. My mind began to ask, “What is really wrong with the prom anyway? There is no command that says you cannot go to the prom.” How easy it would be if there was one! But the Lord wants Christians to do their own searching and follow Him in faith and obedience. That takes study. So, one night I sat down to see what God would have me to do, and to make a list of the pros and cons of the situation. Here were my arguments for going to the prom.
1. I will have the best dress there.
2. I will be with the best looking, most popular boy.
3. I will never again see all of the friends I have known for four years.
4. I will sit at the table and talk. I will not dance.
5. Everyone at school already knows my stand for the Lord, and they have told me they don’t want me to dance, so it will not affect my influence with them.
6. Some of the other Christians are going.
7. If going is not wrong, why should I miss the last night with my friends and probably lose Nando?
8. Everyone is going.
So far, it looked pretty good! Now it was time to make a list of arguments for not going to the prom!
1. “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). “No man can serve two masters. . .”(Matt. 6:24). I can rule out this argument, because I won’t dance. This will still make me separate from the others. Yet, what is hard to admit to myself is that the devil will win a small battle by getting me there. He will work at getting me to dance once I am there.
2. Christians are to set an example that is different from the world. I know that to be a Christian, I am to let my light shine (Matt. 5:13). No matter how much I think I can do something in secret, someone will always find out.
3. If I am wrong and I go, I will not only lose my soul, but the devil will win one from God who “gave His only begotten Son” to die for me (Jn. 3:16).
4. My mother is trying to understand how I feel and has given me the pros and cons of going or not going. I am thankful for her understanding. She guides me and yet does not order me. I must think this one out myself, for the choice and responsibility are mine, even though I know which choice Mom wants me to make. Do I want to disappoint her?
5. I had never been to one single dance in my entire life. Will I relax my standards for the final dance when I have made it this far for so long?
6. For the first time I will have something in my life that I will be ashamed to tell my Grandma. Why will I feel that?
7. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13). If the Lord comes again that night, will I want to be found at the prom?
8. If it really is wrong but I do go, after deciding it is all right, I will hear these words at the Judgment Day, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
There you have it — these were my arguments. In all honesty, I must say that two weeks before the prom I had decided to go. The devil had helped me rationalize all of my concerns. I felt ashamed that I was going, but I was caught up in the excitement at school.
Then one Sunday morning, brother Bill Hall spoke on 1 Corinthians 3:12-17. I could see the teaching that some Christians are wood, hay, or stubble, and do not endure the fires of temptation. Some Christians, however, are gold or silver, and as the fire gets hotter, the impurities in the gold and silver burn away, making them stronger. Well, that hit me. What was I, hay or gold? I began to realize that a faith of gold is still there ages after the wood and hay have disappeared.
With a week and one-half to go, everyone at school was buzzing with excitement. Then, one night, I suddenly thought of an argument I just could not rationalize away – my sister! You see, I have a little sister who is twelve years old. She is a Christian and is really trying hard. Although the whole school might not mind if I went to the prom, and although no one else might find out, there would be one special person who would know for sure that I went – my younger sister. I imagined Melissa thinking as she entered high school, “If Sherry went to the prom, then why can’t I go to this dance too?” Suddenly, it wasn’t concern only about my own soul, but was also the possibility of causing my little sister to stumble by my actions and being finally lost. “But whoso shall offend some of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).
It was then that the full impact of what I had first decided finally hit me. Now I was not going to go to the prom, even if Sylvester Stallone himself should ask me to go! It hurt me to tears to realize that now I had to explain it to Nando. I tried to tell him that my influence would be hurt, and that when one dances, he can cause others to lust. He did not agree with me, but he did agree to come to our gospel meeting with brother Paul Sheehan. That night, brother Sheehan talked about some of the problems facing teenagers, and among them were the dangers of dancing. He pointed out that the only way a guy could not lust after a girl when he was dancing with her was if she was the ugliest girl in the world, or if the guy was not normal. That really got to Nando and it backed up what I had said about lust.
Brother Sheehan also spoke about our influence and how it is affected by where we go. After the lesson, Nando said he was glad I was not going and that he now understood why I had made the decision. However, that did not ease the pain any the next day when he told me that he had asked another girl to go with him. When he asked me if I was hurt, I told him that I was, but that I understood how important the prom was to him. Understanding didn’t make it any easier when I cried myself to sleep that night.
The big day finally came. Everyone at school was so excited! I listened as girls described their dresses and told how they could decorate the hall. The boys discussed with whom they would ride and where to buy the cheapest corsage! They all made their final attempt to beg me to go and I tried to “plain again why I was not going.
My family decided to go on a camping trip that night, and I remember sitting by the campfire, staring into the flames and feeling so sad and alone. I wondered what my friends were doing and what fun they were having. I also thought of my beautiful pink dress, packed away in the closet at home. It was then that I finally felt, for the first time, the true separation of being a Christian, because this was something I had really wanted to do. All the other times, it wasn’t hard to make the right decision because I had never wanted to join in. This time it was hard. I felt joy, however, when I remembered that “all that will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). What was my small persecution compared with all of those which Paul had suffered?
In my prayer that night, I thanked the Lord for giving me the strength to say “no” to the hardest temptation I have faced in all my life. With the Lord to guide me, I came out of this one as gold.
But, there is another happy ending as well! The day after the prom, ten of my friends asked me to go with them to a very fancy restaurant — one where Queen Elizabeth had eaten. They said if she had eaten there, then I could wear my dress there! Needless to say, I wore it and had the greatest night ever. Nando was not there. He has been dating the other girl since the prom. Still, I wasn’t sad. I finally got to wear my dress, and one out of two is not bad. Jesus always has a reward for those who do His will, although I realize it may not even be in this life.
To all of you who are facing the same decision I faced, I know exactly how you feel. Just search the Scriptures for guidance and turn to God for the answers. I will never forget the real happiness and thanksgiving I felt after choosing not to go. Though I can still remember the loneliness of that night, I can say with all assurance that if I had it to do again, I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe taking so long to decide what is right. I’m sure all of my friends had plenty of fun that night, but now that fun is gone. The Lord will be there when everything else has long since passed away.
The prom – to go or not to go? It is a hard decision. It might seem to be all right. If you choose wrong you will have “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25) and the devil for eternity.
I didn’t mention it in the beginning, but there is one thing I want more than a dress, a boy, or a red Lamborghini and that is a home in heaven, because nothing can come close to taking its place. “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
One night was hard
God held my hand,
He gave me courage
To take a stand.
It doesn’t hurt me anymore
I’m stronger than I was before.
One night was hard
I made a stand,
And now there’s left
The Promised Land.
(Editor’s Note: I enjoyed reading this article. It encouraged me while preparing it for publication. The Guardian of Truth Foundation thinks highly enough of this article that we are publishing it in tract form to encourage other teenagers to act as did sister Burgess in resisting the temptation of the prom. You may want to order copies of this tract now in order to help your young people who face the decision of whether or not to attend the prom this year.
I would like to receive similar articles from others of our readers. These can be published under the heading of “Victories Of Faith.” Perhaps you know of someone who has gone through a similar battle [not necessarily the temptation to attend a dance] to that of sister Sherry Burgess. Take the time to tell his story and share it with the rest of us. We are inspired from contemporary examples of faithfulness even as we are inspired from the examples of Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and others. I look forward to receiving and publishing such articles from our readers.)
Guardian of Truth XXX: 4, pp. 97, 120
February 20, 1986