By Dick Blackford
A Fresh Look At A Troublesome Topic
Every man deserves the right to be heard at least once. And one should not draw a conclusion about his message before considering all that he has to say on the subject. So hear me out. I’m not going to give you all those quotes from dancing instructors and ballroom operators about the effects of dancing. For one reason, I cannot document them. And I’m not going to make the old argument that “if dancing is good exercise, then why don’t boys dance with boys?” They are now doing that. I suspect, though, that you might find it profitable to ask some homosexuals why they like that kind of dancing. They won’t give you that old “it’s good exercise” routine. We need to examine this defense as well as some others that are frequently offered for dancing.
1. “It’s good exercise.
This is one of few arguments that has ever been advanced in favor of dancing. But the fact that the “slow dance” has always remained popular pretty well defeats that. And I have the audacity to say that those who attend dances are not looking for exercise. Other methods of exercise are far superior. Why not get together and do pushups? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yes, but that’s the fault of the argument, not the parallel. The truth is, it is easy to develop an unhealthy interest in the “physical fitness” of others either consciously or subconsciously (and I think you know what I mean). Bodily exercise at its best is profitable for only “a little.” Try exercising yourself unto godliness. It “is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:7,8).
2. “It’s fun.”
I would be ashamed to admit that the only criteria considered for a particular practice is whether or not it entertains me, for the Bible says sin is “fun” (temporarily, Heb. 11:25). While the homosexuals don’t use the “good exercise” argument, they do use this one. Many of them are honest to a fault. Ask them why it’s fun. I dare you. “It’s fun” is a poor argument when one’s soul is in jeopardy. And it is.
3. “It’s the social thing to do.”
The person who uses this argument will always be a follower and never a leader. He (or she) will be a pawn in the hands of the majority. There happens to be a higher authority and criteria for deciding such matters. The majority was wrong in Noah’s day. The majority crucified Christ. The majority thought the earth was flat. The majority will be lost (Mt. 7:13,14). And here’s a paradox: The majority of the time, the majority is wrong. People whose primary interest is in “the social thing” usually make poor Christians. They possess a short-sighted “this world” view. But life on earth is not an end in itself.
4. “Dancing helps me develop poise.”
We must learn the difference between poise and poison. The end does not justify the means of obtaining it (Rom. 3:8). Physical poise is not a requirement to enter heaven. Spiritual poise (balance) is. Man looks on the outward appearance but Jehovah looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Inspiration condemns those who “glory in appearance, and not in heart” (2 Cor. 5:12). A person who is that concerned about poise has his eyes on the wrong goal. He (or she) may be viewing himself through the wrong end of the telescope (Rom. 12:3). We are trying to go to heaven. Remember?
I personally find this argument a difficult one to believe, especially when considering the kinds of dances that are popular. For example, the “bump” was the current rage. In this dance the partners seem to receive a thrill from a collision of their posteriors in time to the music (that’s as polite as I know how to express it). My, what skill! What co-ordination! What poise! What exercise!
5. “I can dance without having evil thoughts.”
Maybe you can, but I suggest you see a doctor. Medically speaking, normal males are several times more easily “turned on” than females. Syndicated columnist Lindsay R. Curtis, M.D., says, “For the most part, men are in a constant state of sexual readiness, even when it is the farthest thing from their minds . . . this desire in a woman is slow in awakening. . . ” (“Sensible Sex.` A Guide For Newlyweds, p. 41,42). “Male arousal occurs in a matter of seconds, and very few seconds, at that. It begins almost instantly . . . in wives, arousal normally requires much more time” (God Speaks Out On “The New Morality, ” A Production of The Graduate School Of Theology Ambassador College, pp. 235,236). See also The Stork Is Dead by Dr. Charlie W. Shedd (chapter titled “Boys Turn On Easier But They Turn Off Harder,” p. 111).
Consider this, however. Can you control the thoughts of your partner(s)? Can you control the thoughts of the spectators? Jesus said, “Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh (Mt. 18:7).
6. “The Bible doesn’t say ‘thou shalt not. . .'”
This argument has been spread to cover a multitude of sins. But it is wearing thin. How do you know the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not dance”? Have you read the Bible through? Before taking someone’s word for it, I challenge you to read the Bible through. It will give you something to do with all of the spare time you have on your hands and will be time well spent. I have never known a dancer who was an avid student of the Word. They rarely have their Bible class lessons or seem interested in “the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 1:22-25).
If it was necessary to have a “thou shalt not” for every prohibition, the Bible would be so big that one person could not carry it. Why are we unable to see that the Bible deals with some things generally? We need to stop requiring itemization. The Bible contains principles and instructions that may include a whole category of things. Such is the case with dancing, gambling, social drinking, etc.
7. “The Bible condones dancing in Luke 15:25 and other passages.”
No it doesn’t. First, even if this did have reference to modern dancing it must be observed that to mention a thing does not necessarily imply endorsement. Jesus did not uphold every minor event mentioned in His illustrations. He certainly did not endorse the dishonesty and deceit in the parables of the unrighteous steward and the hidden treasure (Lk. 16:1-3; Mt. 13:44). Second, “Social dancing, as we now understand it, was almost, if not altogether, unknown in ancient times. . . . Of dancing for its own sake, of its practice as an art, there is no trace” (Hastings Bible Dictionary, p. 550). Hastings goes ahead to mention that the only known exception to this was the case of Salome which caused Herod to become so ecstatic that he made a rash promise which he later regretted. It cost John his lead, a case clearly not endorsed in Scripture. “Women seemed generally to have danced by themselves. . . . Of the social dancing of couples in the modern fashion there is no trace” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 1170).
Three categories of dances are mentioned in Scripture. (1) Religious dances of the Old Testament (Ex. 15:20; 32:19; 1 Chron. 15:29). (2) Expressions of rejoicing (Judg. 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6; Psa. 30:11; Lk. 15:25, etc.). (3) The passionate dance of Salome before Herod (Mk. 6:22). However, the dancing upon the prodigal son’s return is obviously parallel to and representative of the holy joy among the angels over the repentance of a sinner, as mentioned in two previous parables (Lk. 15:7, 10). The burden of proof that this incident is parallel to modern dancing is upon those who are pro-dancing today.
8. “Look at all the people who have danced and nothing happened to them.”
So far as you know, nothing happened. But one person cannot read the mind of another (1 Cor. 2:11). Really though, is this the way we determine the goodness or badness of a thing – by the number who escape unharmed? Would you judge war that way? Several came home from the recent war without a scratch on them. Does that make war a good and wholesome practice? I know a mother who does not think so. Her son returned home in a box which contained his remains. He was my childhood playmate. War has many effects. So does fire. People have escaped from burning homes, but do we conclude that such things are good because of the number who seemingly escape unharmed? Think about it.
Take a good look at that word. If you don’t know what it means, you need to learn. It can keep you out of heaven (that’s how serious it is). It is placed in a category of some of the most vile sins imaginable. The word appears in the following passages (read them): Mark 7:22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; Jude 4. Lasciviousness (Gk. aselgia, also translated “wantonness,” Rom. 13:13) means “wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females. . . ” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 79,80). Though some words have changed in meaning since the first century, this one has not. It is still defined as “tending to excite lustful desires” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, p. 824). Lasciviousness can be reflected in the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you sit, and the way you dress. I have never known a dancer who had taken the time to study the word, lasciviousness.
The Bible says a man can become guilty of “adultery in his heart” by looking on a woman to lust after her (Mt. 5:28). He is certainly responsible for his thoughts (Prov. 4:23; Mt. 15:19). But it may also have been that the female was guilty of lasciviousness. Reread Thayer’s definition. If dancing does not qualify, then what would? Don’t evade that question. Dancing is like playing with a candle in a room full of dynamite. One cannot put out a fire by pouring on gasoline.
What About Your Parents?
Some of you who are reading this are dancing, in open rebellion against your parents. God looks at that far more seriously than you do. “Rebellion is as witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. . . ” (1 Sam. 15:23). All disobedience makes self-will, the human I, into a god. The sins of pride and haughtiness lead to disregard for parents. In the Old Testament a rebellious son was to be stoned to death (Deut. 21:18-21). Paul said even the heathen nations of the past knew that disobedience to parents was a thing worthy of death (Rom. 1:28-32). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6: 1). That’s the best reason in the world for doing a thing – because it’s right (God said so!). Your attitude in this matter will be determined by the degree of love you have for your parents – even if you don’t agree with them.
Others of you may be thinking of taking up dancing and have plans to try to hide your involvement. As sincerely as I know how to say it, I truly feel sorry for you. “It is an awful hour when the first necessity of hiding anything comes. The whole life is different thenceforth. When there are questions to be feared and eyes to be avoided and subjects which must not be touched, then the bloom of life is gone. Put off that day as long as possible. Put it off forever if you can” (Philip Brooks).
Elders, preachers, parents, are you shirking your responsibility to declare “the whole counsel of God” concerning lasciviousness? Are you pure from the blood of all men (Acts 20:26,27; Ezek. 3:18-21)? Parents, are you helping your children with this problem by providing a wholesome alternative in entertainment?
Generally speaking, I am encouraged by the quality of young people I see growing up in the kingdom of God. I appreciate the manner in which you are facing life’s problems and I feel fortunate to be associated with many of you. Young friends, you may not like my direct approach in dealing with this matter. I was a little sarcastic at times, but that was to help you see the point (Jesus used sarcasm for the same reason). However, I desire that we be friends and not enemies. “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16) I am trying to do for you the biggest favor that one person can do for another. I hope you appreciate it and receive it in the manner intended.
If you have a further defense for dancing which you feel outweighs all other considerations mentioned herein, I would be glad to hear it. If not, let’s plan on seeing each other in heaven. Until then, may God receive the glory for any good done by this treatise.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 8, pp. 240-241, 246
April 17, 1986