By Andy Alexander
The Prom is a familiar event to those who have attended high school. It is recognized as a formal dance in honor of the senior class of the school in which it is held. When writing about a subject such as the prom it is imperative that we understand the meaning of the word as it is used in our common language.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the prom as, “a formal dance given by a high school or college class.” This definition came from a 1972 dictionary, so in order to make sure the word had not changed in meaning over the past few years a 1989 World Book Dictionary was consulted and it gave the definition as, “a dance or ball given by a college or high school class.” In both resource books there was only one definition given. There were no secondary meanings listed.
The world’s concept of the event called the prom is a dance. A dance with fancier clothes, but a dance. A recent article in the Tennessean newspaper bears this out when it states, “West had been to dances and socials before, but tonight was special. Tonight was the prom” (“Prom Night,” The Tennessean, Nashville, TN, May 31, 1993, p. B-1).
The only people that attempt to alter this definition seem to be Christians. We might add “worldly-minded” Christians. These Christians try to make the prom sound like something that is not: some kind of big event with the dance as a minor sideshow. This attempt is made because dancing is sinful and these Christians know this to be true. It is a work of the flesh which will keep one out of the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:19-21).
Apparently some parents want their children to be a part of all the activities that take place in high school whether these activities are sinful or not. They do not want their children to be ostracized by their class mates. While it would be nice if all the activities sponsored by our local schools were upright and wholesome, such is assuredly not the case. Sweetheart dances, cheerleading, and sporting events where immodest clothing is worn are a few examples of similar activities that Christians should shun.
Children of God are not to conform to the world about them and should realize that following Christ means that they will be different from those in the world (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:9). Christians should start well before their children’s teenage years teaching this vital principle.
Some worldly-minded Christians claim they are trying to clean up the event known as the prom so that future generations can have some wholesome activity to en-gage in. What is wrong with this effort? First, dirt is dirt and no amount of soap and water will change its inherent character. The way to deal with error is to strike it down at the root! Destroy it altogether! God gave his formula for dealing with evil in Jeremiah 1:10 when he said, “See I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” The prom needs to be destroyed, not supported and defended by people who are supposed to be setting a godly example for the world about them (Matt. 5:13-16).
Paul commanded the Ephesians to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). The word “reprove” means to “expose”; thus, Christians are not to participate or share in the evil about them, but expose it for what it really is evil. In this way the world can recognize the evil and not be encouraged by Christians to continue in their ungodliness.
There are other passages that come to mind when thinking about our relationship in the world.” Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Not only is the prom one appearance or form of evil, but also Christians are to abhor and abstain from such sinful activities.
Paul told the Romans, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealously. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:13-14, emphasis mine, AA). Can attending a school function where the primary activity is sinful, in that it creates lusts, temptations, and evil thoughts, be justified in any realistic way? “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; and put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)
There are occasions, sadly more than there used to be, when members of a local church attend the prom. They give lame excuses if questioned, but in a majority of the cases, nothing is ever said. No word of rebuke given; just silence. The silence of a congregation, its elders, and its preacher does not change the sinful behavior of some of its members into righteousness.
The influence of those who attend the prom is damaged (Jas. 1:27). Reproach is brought upon Christ and his church, and souls will be lost for eternity, because of the careless behavior of some professed children of God. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matt. 18:7)
The prom is not good, wholesome activity and it cannot be changed into such because of its inherent nature. It is a dance and our children need to be taught the dangers of attending dances at any age. Adults who defend their right to attend need to be taught God’s truth more plainly. When they openly defend a dance, then surely teaching and preaching has not been plain enough to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.
Congregations who condone this lascivious behavior by silence need to wake up and take an honest look at their spiritual condition. Thyatira tolerated Jezebel who taught and led Christians into immorality (Rev. 2:20). She and her followers were admonished to repent and the congregation was rebuked for tolerating her sinful actions (Rev. 2:22). Someone needs to speak out against the worldliness that is invading the church today. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but If found none” (Ezek. 22:30). Can any be found today who will make up the hedge and stand in the gap?
There are plenty of wholesome activities that our children can enjoy. Parents should make it their goal to suggest these activities and provide them if necessary. Fancy clothes can even be worn and pictures taken if desired, but reveling and carousing does not have to be, nor should it be, a part of the festivities.
Worldliness is an ever-present danger is the Lord’s church. We must determine to stand firm and hold fast the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:13). Let us all make this firm resolve.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 9, p. 24-25
May 5, 1994