A Symptom of Worldliness (V): The Modern Dance

Harry Ozment
Nashville, Tennessee

A manifestation of worldliness which is becoming more and more popular in many churches across the country is the modern dance. Every Christian should be concerned about worldliness. Parents should be concerned about the problem, for it involves training their children. Young people should be concerned about the same problem, for it involves the salvation of their souls. However, one cannot be properly concerned with worldliness without being concerned about its symptoms. Therefore, all should be willing to investigate the modern dance in the light of the word of God. Let God determine whether dancing is a symptom of worldliness.

In a discussion such as this, it is always important to clarify the issue--in other words, what is and is not under consideration. In the first place, we are not against recreation. Christians are entitled to pleasures just as much as anyone else. The question is: Can Christians engage in that form of recreation called the modern dance? In the second place, we are not interested in comparing the dance with other things. Some parents are heard to say, "I would rather have my child on the dance floor than on the streets," etc. The issue is: Is the modern dance sinful? If it is, one sin is just as bad as another. In the third place, we are not considering the dances of the Bible. It is true that the Bible mentions dancing, and many times this is offered as a defense of the modern dance. However, the dancing of Bible times and the dancing of modern times are not parallel. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: "Dancingis scarcely ever mentioned in the Bible as a social amusement and of the social dancing of couples in the modern fashion there is no trace." (pp. 1169-1170)

What Is Wrong With Dancing?

What, then, makes the modern dance sinful? What scriptural principles does it violate?

(1)Dancing violates Gal. 5:19. In this passage of scripture, Paul is enumerating the works of the flesh: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ... " The word "lasciviousness" refers to that which produces lustful emotions. The Greek word is "aselgeia" which means "wanton acts or manners, as filthy acts, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females." (Thayer, pp. 79-80) Dancing certainly falls into the category of lasciviousness on two counts:

(a) Unchaste handling of the opposite sex. Harry Stribes, champion dancer, has said: "I will say that I do not believe that a woman can waltz virtuously and waltz well, for she must yield her person completely to her partner." Arthur Murray has said, "The difference between dancing and wrestling is that in wrestling some holds are barred."

(b) Indecent bodily movements. While many dances today do not involve body contact, they still show lewd and suggestive body movements. Dr. A. C. Dixon states: "The modern dance is the fine art of covering with music, indelicate, immodest, and oft times indecent attitudes and postures between men and women."

(2) Dancing violates Gal. 5:21. In further enumerating the works of the flesh, Paul said, "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven." The American College Dictionary defines "reveling" as "an occasion of merrymaking or noisy festival with dancing." This authority says that dancing is revelry. Now look at the last part of Gal. 5: 21 and discover the end of those who engage in the works of the flesh!

(3) Dancing violates Matt. 7:16.20. Jesus said, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:17, 20) Evidence shows that the modern dance is the root of many problems and sins. J. Edgar Hoover has said: "Most juvenile crime has its inception in the dance hall, either public or private." Dr. Phelps, of the New York City Police Department, said, "It is estimated that in New York City, 4000 women are living the life of infamy, and that three-fourths of these are started on their life of infamy through the dance." Dr. Frank Richardson states: "Dance halls are the modern nurseries of the divorce courts, training shops of prostitution and graduating schools of infamy and vice." Any practice that has this many evil results must be evil to begin with!

(4) Dancing violates Matt. 5:27-28. Jesus said, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (v. 28) The modern dance provides the perfect opportunity to commit adultery in one's heart. Some say, "I do not think evil thoughts when dance. That might be true--but what is thinking? If he is thinking evil thoughts, you are responsible and you then become a partaker in his sin!

From the above reasons, I believe any open-minded individual will agree the modern dance should be forbidden for the Christian--old or young.


July 23, 1970