Is All Dancing Sinful?

By Randy Blackaby

More and more young Christians are going to dances. Fewer parents stop them from doing so. And despite sex education that begins in kindergarten, nearly everyone feigns ignorance about what’s wrong with dancing.

Are parents and children really this lacking in under-standing? Do we really fail to see the impact of males and females moving together in close embrace or gyrating be-fore one another to the beat of seductive music? Are we blind to how some dance movements imitate the motions of the sex act itself?

Impudent or offended voices demand, “Show me in the Bible where it says not to dance!” Does the Bible say all dancing is sinful? Well, actually, no it doesn’t. Jephthah’s daughter danced alone (Judg. 11:34). You fmd Jewish women dancing alone in celebration (Exod. 15:20-21). More women are mentioned dancing alone in Judges 21:19. There are women recorded as dancing in celebration of King David’s victory (1 Sam. 18:6). David himself danced before the ark of God (2 Sam. 30:16). The Bible mentions a group of soldiers dancing (1 Sam. 30:16). Solomon recognized a time for dancing, in contrast with a time for mourning (Eccl. 3:4). The prophet foretells a time when joyous dancing will be the result of God’s work (Jer. 31:13). Dancing even appears to have been a form of praise to God in Old Testament times (Pss. 149:3; 150:4). Dancing was part of the celebration upon the return of the prodigal son (Luke 15:25).

So, if women want to dance with one another in celebration, we probably ought to be silent about it. If male soldiers gleefully dance and shout over a victory, no condemnation likely is needed.

But notice in all the Bible’s condoned accounts of dancing that males and females didn’t dance together. The purpose of the dancing was celebration or praise or even worship of God. In these dances, as contrasted with the dance of Herodias’ daughter (Matt. 14:6), there was no sexual element.

It is true that the Bible doesn’t say “thou shalt not dance.” But in Galatians 5:19-21 licentiousness or lasciviousness is condemned. These words describe behavior of any sort that exhibits a lack of restraint, indecency, unchastity, lewdness, or shameless behavior.

The same verses also condemn “revelry,” or partying accompanied by drinking, a common addendum at places of dancing.

Is it really that difficult to see that most of today’s dancing is designed to arouse emotions and physical reactions which God tells us to control and utilize only within the circle of marriage?

Ask yourself, what really is the purpose of men and women, boys and girls dancing together?

Curt Sachs, writing in World History of Dance, describes dancing as an art form to ex-press love-malting. For this reason the steps and positions are designed to bring into physical contact those parts of a man and woman which are most sexually sensitive. Movements are de-signed to be visually stimulating sexually.

The Bible doesn’t condemn a man dancing with his wife in the privacy of their home. But it does condemn “lusting” after a woman. It forbids committing fornication or adultery. So, it would seem ludicrous to participate in an act with someone not your spouse that would arouse the very feelings that lead to all three of these sins.

Can a person go to a dance if he or she doesn’t dance? Answer this question by deciding whether Jesus would show up there for any purpose other than giving a stern condemnation. Whether it is righteous to dance or not is an issue, like smoking, drug use, or playing the lottery, that must be decided on general principles of righteous conduct enumerated in Scripture.

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 17, p. 15
September 5, 1996