By Jeff Griess
Before we answer this question, we must first under-stand that some forms of dancing do not involve male and female interaction, and are not sinful (Exod. 15:20; 2 Sam. 6:14; Psa. 149:3; 150:4; Jer. 31:13; Ecc. 3:4); while others most certainly do involve sin (Matt. 14:1-12; Exod. 32:19). After reading the latter two references in which Herodias danced before Herod and his guests, and the children of Israel were involved in revelry around the golden calf, we should realize that there are several factors involved in dancing that contribute to making it ungodly. They are as follows:
The Emotional State of the People Involved
Dancing invokes emotions that are either sinful in nature, or sinful due to circumstances. These sinful emotions include lust and jealousy (envy), which can also include anger and even hatred. Passions such as these need to be subdued.
“Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).
Adultery, fornication, divorce, pregnancy out of wedlock, and many acts of hatred and violence, including murder take place as a result of emotions stirred up on the dance floor. Even Christians can get caught up in these sins if they are not attentive to God’s word.
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
Paul has some good advice for someone who “is drawn away by his own desires.”
“. . . but if they cannot excercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9).
Men and women need to stop dancing in harmony with Satan’s rhythm, and start marching down the aisle to avoid sin. For those who cannot enter into a scriptural marriage, let them learn to live like the apostle Paul in dedication to the Lord and in abstinence from licentious acts such as dancing.
The Destructive Influence of Dancing
First, let’s talk about the important role of parents in teaching their children not to dance. Many Christian parents allow their children to attend dances. Most of them will not openly acknowledge that they do so, but I have seen the prom pictures hanging on their walls. Other parents will allow their teen-agers to attend as long as they don’t take part in the actual dancing. These parents are either afraid that their children will be considered social outcasts if they do not attend these events, or they do not comprehend the danger involved. We need to remind our-selves of who we are.
“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
Brethren, dancing is a “lawless deed.” We need to teach our children to “purify” themselves, and to act like God’s “special people,” instead of teaching them to be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2). It is even wrong for parents to allow their children to “just attend” a dance. Even if their child does not dance, he or she will still be exposed to the lust and the other elements that exist in and around the dance.
Even people who are not members of our Lord’s church recognize dancing for what it is.
William Prynne (1600-1669) wrote:
“Dancing is for the most part attended with many amorous smiles, wanton compliments, unchaste kisses, scurrilous songs and sonnets, effeminate music, lust-provoking attire, ridiculous love pranks, all of which savour only of sensuality, of raging fleshly lusts. There-fore it is wholly to be abandoned of all good Christians. Dancing serves no necessary use, no profitable, laud-able or pious end at all. It is used only from the inbred depravity, vanity, wantoness, incontinency, pride, profaneness or madness of men’s depraved natures. Therefore it must needs be unlawful unto Christians. The way to Heaven is too steep, too narrow for men to dance in and keep revel rout. No way is large or smooth enough for capering roisters, for jumping, skipping, dancing dames but that broad, beaten, pleasant road that leads to Hell. The gate of Heaven is too narrow for whole rounds, whole troupes of dancers to march in together. Histriomastix (1632)
Now, if men who were not Christians in the true sense, such as William Prynne, and who lived during a time when the dances were not half as lust provoking as they are today understood the dangers involved in dancing, just think about how people outside the Lord’s church must consider Christians who participate in the modern dances of our time.
What is the Christian’s Responsibility Concerning Sinful Activities?
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:8-11).
Paul said that we are to “expose” the “unfruitful works of darkness.” Let’s “expose” the “darkness” of dancing rather than trying to illuminate it.
Is the Dancing Environment Hazardous to a Christian’s Spiritual Health?
We have already revealed some of the lusts that are associated with the act of dancing itself; now let’s take a look at some other sinful elements that are usually present at a dance.
1. Revelry and Drunkenness (Rom. 13:13). Modern dances almost always include or incite revelry (carousing) and drunkenness. Revelry can include all types of disruptive, destructive, partying behavior. Even the music used in some dances can influence people’s behavior in a negetive way. Drunkenness can be brought about through the means of either alcohol or drugs. When people are under this type of influence they will do things that under normal circumstances they would not even consider. The end result of this behavior at the very least will result in a hangover, at the most it can result in death, both physical and spiritual (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
2. Immodest Clothing. What does a dance and a beach have in common? They are both places where people try to see how little clothing they can get away with wearing in a public place. Immodest dressing is not approved by God’s word (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Even men are expected to dress modestly (Exod. 28:42-43).
3.Filthiness/Foolish Talking/Coarse Jesting (Eph. 5:4). A dance can also be conducive to the same type of verbal activity as a shipyard full of drunken sailors. Foul language and dirty jokes go hand in hand with revelry and drunkenness, and Christians should not willingly subject themselves to this type of atmosphere.
What is Wrong With Dancing?
On the surface dancing may appear innocent to the naive, but even a non-Christian can explain what dancing is all about.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
On dancing: “A perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire” quoted in the New Statesman, March 1962.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 13, p. 10-11
July 4, 1996