Should Christians Dance?

I write some posts and I think they are not controversial at all (such as this one and this one).  Other posts I write knowing that there could be some controversy (such as this one). I think this post falls into the second category, but I hope to provide some clarity to the situation.

For some churches the subject of whether or not Christians should dance is a discussion in their past.  It went the way of women not wearing pants and the forbidding of playing cards.  For other churches it seems that every year the preacher dusts off the sermon on dancing at some point around Prom season.

The sermons I have heard on dancing at times come off too simplistic.  I still remember a teenage Bible class on the subject where the teacher point blankly said that all dancing is wrong, because all dancing causes us to lust. I didn’t say anything in the class, but in my mind I was thinking of all sorts of scenarios where people danced and no one was lusting. As I got older I also began to think to myself what if a husband and wife danced in their living room alone, would that be sinful?

Now I’m sure if pressed the teacher would have also had a few exceptions, but instead all was said was the face value claim: Dancing is Wrong!

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who snidely comment about the people who preach such sermons.  They talk to themselves about how backwards and out of touch such people are.  Names are called and laughs are had at their expense.

As I have studied the Bible more I have come to what I believe is a better answer to the question of dancing. The answer actually comes from the study 2 Peter recently posted (read it here).  It is based off the study of the word lasciviousness.  It is not a word we use often, but part of its definition is to use your body in a way to promote sensual desires.

I think we can see how from a proper understanding of lasciviousness one could draw the conclusion that some forms of dancing are wrong.  There are forms of dancing that are geared directly to erousing lust in the hearts of those involved.  What is interesting is that many school districts have understood this as well, which have led some to ban certain forms of dancing or School Dances completely.

This is also prevalent in the atmosphere at most dance and night clubs.  The music played, dress worn, and type of dance engage in are all used to lift up sensual desire.  Peter tells us that Christian should not be involved in such activities.

So let me give you my view on whether Christians should dance.  I think we all would agree that there are certain scenarios where dancing would not be wrong and therefore to make a blanket statement that all dancing is sin is to go too far.  However,  I hope that we recognize that not all dancing is correct and in fact some, and maybe better stated most, modern dancing is promoting lust and therefore violates Peter’s admonition against lasciviousness.  To put it simply:  Christian should not be involved in any dancing that causes one to inappropriately lust.

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20 Comments

  1. How dare you be so biblical and logical :)

  2. Totally agree, brother! Great article. I often point out to young people that John the Baptist died because of this type of provocative dancing.

  3. schuyler felkins

    January 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Fair article, but curiosity compels me to ask this.
    Could you make a list of type of dances that do not promote lust?

  4. Wesley

    January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Schuyler I don’t think it would be beneficial to make a list of the types of dancing that do not promote lust for a couple reasons. First, it would be impossible to know all the types of dance (especially for someone like me who would have no clue even where to start.) Two, my guess is I might put in my list a “type” that others would say did cause lust. I would rather relate the clear principles of Scripture and let good hearted Christians make these decisions.

    However, I think there is a difference between dance that promotes lust and inappropriate lust. As I mentioned in the article, if a husband and wife dance in private it is okay if they are lusting after each other. Thus, that type of dancing would be fine.

    Also I would assume a dance like the hokey-pokey would not cause anyone to lust. As you can tell, by the fact that the first dance that comes into my mind when I think about dancing is the hokey-pokey, I have limited knowledge of dancing.

  5. that was well stated. I’d hate to think David sinned when he danced for the Lord.

    I think that the problem you had to address above stems from the fact that the list would be impossible.

    All you need is one person to say that the hokey-pokey is wrong because one time it caused them to lust.

    I know other people who say they have a “foot-fetish” so they say for a woman to be properly modest she must not have her feet exposed. Others would allow women to wear skirts that barely cover her hips.

    That is the problem with legalism and rules…you can never truly be consistent. That is why the gospel is so freeing and wonderful. Our Spirit led heart, hopefully, makes our decisions. Woman and men choose modest clothing and appropriate dancing in public because their heart hates sin and wouldn’t want to cause lust.

    But “sinners are gonna sin,” right? So there is a point where we are reasonable. We need to love people and help them, but we can’t avoid everything. We can’t cancel banquets because one guy struggles with the sin of gluttony. And I wouldn’t tell my wife to cut her hair if I found out a guy at church lusted after long-haired women.

    Just my 2 cents (or 50 cents). Good topic, good analysis, Wesley.

  6. Well said Wesley. Tough discussion but needed especially in youth ministry contexts. Parents and students need to chew on this a little more openly than before. The tendency to knee-jerk either way is not helpful but neither is ignorance. Thank you for this.

  7. Hey! Nice post!

    In my former Church, enthusiastic dancing was the norm but I was quite rigid at that point in time so I just sang and clapped along. We had sermons IN FAVOUR OF dancing and condemnation of those who DIDN’T dance with fervour. Every Sunday after service, someone would usually ask me why I don’t dance which grew quite tiresome for me and made me quite self-conscious and as though I wasn’t worshipping the Lord as I should.
    So I guess I’ve experienced another side to this and it is quite a complex discussion.

    Whilst I have a personal aversion to dancing due to the above, people should feel free to dance in Church, it is the hearts of those lusting that need to be cleansed.

  8. Being Native American–We dance at Pow Wows and the DANCE is in PRAYER to the Great Spirit God The Father,Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost—Todays world is so full of the LACK OF COMMON SENSE—If the Old One’s Teach the Young One the Proper Rules and enforce them –then you won’t have all of your PROBLEMS–Teach the young one’s the Right Things and it will change things
    Husband and Wives no Problems–Try Clauge Dancing or Native American Dancing Or Square Dancing or the Polka You’ll not find any LUST their–It is WORK and lots of SWEAT–and FUN With Respect
    GRACE To All EB

  9. American Pilgrim Today

    January 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    We have a couple in our church, middle-aged and very conservative in their core beliefs, who every Sunday toward the end of our love greetings (part of the formal service of worship) are very likely to start the basic steps of a swift-moving ballroom dance that lends itself equally to the foxtrot, the country honky-tonk, and rock’s disco dancing. Inappropriate? Not at all! — or if it is, then the Song of Songs had better be ripped out of the Bible, I guess. Take it for what it’s worth.

  10. In regard to the article and the sometimes yes and sometimes no answer, the scripture does say that there is a a time to dance. The time to dance is surely:
    1, not at a funeral
    2. not on a hign precipiece
    3. not in the arms of a married person
    4. not in the arms of single partners
    5. not body to body

    The time to dance is without a partner like in the O.T. Unfortunately, the article did not specify who or what decides whether certain dancing is right or wrong. — Herb Evans, a former dancer until saved by the blood of Christ

  11. Thank you, Wesley, for giving us a clear definition of the word “lasciviousness” and making application to dancing. Your article was and simple and to the point. Non-sensual dancing like wholesome music, moderate drinking, athletic competition and many other legitimate pleasures of the physical creation, are gifts of God. Because the mind set on the flesh is such a slippery, slimy thing, we will never be able to fully define the boundaries. I suspect that wholesome guidance for these things can probably only be discerned in real time through the collective wisdom and grace of healthy communities of Biblical faith. Within such communities the outlines of truth are revealed in the lives of those who consistently exhibit the wisdom and fruit of the Spirit guided by the objective constraints of the Word of God. But true liberty will always scandalize the carnal, religious mind, and baffle those who attempt to humanly calculate formulas for abundant life.

  12. Wordman,
    Getting as close to the borderline and sinning moderately? About the only form of non-sensual dancing that we can think of is folk dances. Seems like lasciviousness is synonymous with the flesh and its desires. Abstaining from all appearance of evil seems to be what will check such lusts of the flesh, — Herb Evans

  13. Good post, Wesley. I think that in our strong reactions to any sort of male/female physical contact, we may sometimes make the problem worse. A kid who doesn’t know what reasonable limits are may go overboard one direction or the other. I think one advantage for young people to have a familiarity with formal ballroom dancing is that it helps you learn appropriate, respectful ways to make physical contact with the opposite sex. It bothers me when I see a teen guy grab and wrestle around with a teen girl, or vice versa. If we are going to be critical of physical contact, we need to provide some positive teaching about types of physical contact that are ok. Things such as the side-hug, as opposed to the full bodied embrace. I appreciate your spirit of seriousness toward Scripture, but not seeking to make rules that aren’t necessary.

  14. Great points. Glad to see a balanced appraoch to the subject. Definitely well handled.

  15. Wesley, well done, especially in such a brief manner.

    One of the major arguments you made that I would like highlight is what “surrounds” most modern dancing (lights, clothing, etc.). It is clear that all this atmosphere is present, not to raise true Biblical beauty, but to accentuate sensual aspects of the dance and of the participants. Anyone who cannot see that is obviously not wanting to truly think about this subject.

  16. To Herb Evans,

    I probably wont convince you, my friend. But perhaps you could explain where we should we put that “borderline” you spoke of? The “safe” approach would put the fence over so far that half or more of what GOD gave us and called “good” would be well out of bounds. Gnosticism. What next? Christian burkas? One writer quipped that sometimes our problem is that we don’t think God is strict ENOUGH. So we seek a better standard of holiness than the Bible provides. Besides being ludicrous on it’s face, the Apostle Paul told us quite plainly that it just doesn’t work:

    “…why as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as; Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using) —in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Col 2:20-23) He said, “of no value.” Then we read that, “The son of man came eating and drinking.” Oh, dear.

    “House rules” are fine, but I am persuaded that binding God’s people with human standards of holiness as if they were God’s standards is, at best, a distraction to the real thing and can actually become a destructive alternative to true holiness, the “holiness without which no man will see the Lord.”

  17. I agree, but that there are two types of dancing. One would be sinful & the other as not. Should you be in a bar, making moves that would cause someone to lust, would be sinful. Dancing at home with your spouse or child, for fun, would not. To dance with joy before the Lord, would not. Psalms 149 & 150 tell us to dance before the Lord with music & joy. To this, I see no wrong.

  18. There seems to be a tendency here by some to try and validate dancing in reference to the old testament scriptures and law. The old law was specifically for the Jews and is still a schoolmaster for us. There is much to be learned in and by it, but, there is nothing in it that is binding, likewise there is nothing in it that can be bound on the New Testament Church as authoritative in the Christian Dispensation. With the “new age” academics seeking to “liberate” us simplistic, narrow minded conservative congregations by introducing mechanical instruments, clapping, embracing denominational doctrines as “just different but still our family” and seeking to make church as much fun and an entertaining experience as possible, are missing the point. It is truly a shame that all the christian scholars and expositors throughout the ages have missed the point, so clearly understood now by the guiding hand of our modern and liberal institutions.
    The point of worship is to honor the King in absolute humility and what we may “like” to do or what is “fun” really has nothing to do with it. Just my thoughts.

  19. Just recently, I had to research paired dancing among Christians. This is because a guy I met a couple of times for dating go to ‘Christian ceroc dancing’ event whilst seeking a church ministry role. When I found this, I immediately questioned about him and about such churches promote such activities. Why he wants to go dancing with multiple girls? He should be busy for serving, teaching the Bible, and mentoring young people Biblical principles. Thank God, He keeps closing the door on this guy and it is right.

    Not all dancing is sinful. If the dance is for glorifying the Lord, it is wonderful thing to do (2 Samuel 6;12-16, Psalm 149:3). But if the dance cause lustful desire to yourself and to others, it is very sinful (Salome’s dance at Herod’s party is known as it pleased Herod and the men at Herod’s Birthday party, which was sexually appealing and sensual Mark 6:18-26)

    Men are more vulnerable to his sexual drive than women. Paul said ‘it is good for a man not touch a woman’ (1 Corinthian7:1-3). 2 Timothy2:22 says ‘Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.’.

    If we follow our flesh, our nature tempted to ‘lust’. 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. (James1:14-15).

    We are also commanded to put no stumbling blocks in the walk of brothers and sisters with Christ. (Romans 14:12, 2 Corinthians 6:3, 1 Corinthians 8:9).

    If we seek fulfilling our own pleasure and it, as a result stumbles brothers and sisters in Christ, it is clearly not the love from Christ but it is flesh and the world. If we love the Lord, we first seek His commandments and the benefit of the body of Christ. Therefore it is clear that any churches/ministries/Christians encourage such activities that tempt our flesh; they are not walking with the Lord. Their accountability to ignore/ neglect / fail to look after His body as it is written in the Bible is quite heavy before God. They must concentrate on the scriptures to discern whether it is beneficial to the body or not. (1 Corinthian chap 6 and 10). I am still hoping this guy wakes up and repent his self-deception.

  20. Some people can make the hockey pokey look lustful.

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