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Is Dancing Wrong?

Before answering whether dancing is right or wrong, I must be more specific regarding what types of dancing I want to address.  The activity of dancing is too broad of a category to give one blanket answer for all of its forms.  Christians cannot categorically condemn all forms of dancing, for the Bible makes it evident that some dances are acceptable.  There are many Scriptural examples of joyful, celebratory, and praiseful dances (Ex. 15:20; Judg. 11:34; 2Sam. 6:14-16; Ps. 30:11; 149:3; 150:4; Eccl. 3:4; Luke 15:25) as well as the playful dances of children (Job 21:11; Luke 7:32).  However, I cannot approve all dances based on these examples because some dances are expressly evil and are used for evil purposes (Ex. 32:19; Matt. 14:6-7; Mark 6:22).  Therefore, I must narrow the category to answer the question.

The specific form of dancing I seek to address is the common, modern dancing of unmarried partners.  In this type of dancing, a man and a woman (or a boy and a girl) embrace one another or otherwise place their hands on one another’s bodies and move to a rhythm.  Such dances have been done for centuries, but they have become much more unrestrained and explicit in recent generations.  The level of contact between dance partners and their suggestive movements have become greater and greater over the years as our culture has become more permissive and tolerant of such overt behavior.

This kind of dancing is wrong because of its effect on the dance partners.  The apostle Paul wrote that "it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1Cor. 7:1), and the only alternative he allowed "because of immoralities” was marriage (1Cor. 7:2).  However, dancing between unmarried partners requires a man to touch a woman and promotes immoralities.  It tends to excite the passions and fleshly lusts contrary to the best advice of God’s word.  The Bible repeatedly warns us against sensuality, licentiousness, and lasciviousness (Mark 7:22; Rom. 13:13; 2Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 1Pet. 4:3; 2Pet. 2:2, 18; Jude 4), but unmarried persons who embrace one another in dance can hardly avoid sensuality.  Such dancing is often a prelude to fornication, and it is abundantly clear that most of the modern dances between unmarried persons are designed expressly to advance that purpose.  Some dances are so lewd that they are tantamount to fornication themselves.  Moreover, this kind of dancing is often accompanied by other sensual and corrupt influences, such as vile music, immodest clothing, filthy talk, the use of alcohol, etc.  All of this combines to form an orgy of sensuality that often leads directly to immorality.  It is for this reason that persons who wish to commit immorality often begin their search for a partner in dance halls.

Those who seek to excuse or justify this type of dancing may be troubled by their motives.  If a man wants to dance with a woman who is not his wife, then he needs to ask himself why he has this desire.  Is he seeking to have a pure and holy relationship with this woman, and can dancing with her promote such a relationship?  If he loves her, then he should care for her enough not to place a stumbling block of sensuality before her.  If his physical lust for her is too great, then the Bible has only one alternative: "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1Cor. 7:9).  If he is not willing to marry her, then he has no business seeking to put his hands on her in a dance.

For parents who want to permit their sons and daughters to dance with members of the opposite sex, they need to consider their responsibility to guide their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  Is sending our adolescent young people to a homecoming dance or a senior prom a wise exercise of parental stewardship?  Is it good for a teenage boy and a teenage girl to embrace and handle one another’s bodies?  Parents may be so naïve that they consider their young people to be incapable of lust and sensuality, but let us not be fools.  Such paired dancing is an expression of sexuality, and parents know this intrinsically whether they admit it or not.  This is the reason boys want to dance with girls and girls want to dance with boys.  Christian parents must act as adults by restraining their children from such sensuality and temptations until they can restrain themselves.  Parents should at least have as much sensitivity about their children’s purity as they do about the purity of their own marriages.  Husband, do you want your wife to be embraced by another man in a dance?  Wife, do you want your husband to be embraced by another woman in a dance?  Of course, you want to protect your marriage, but you must be willing to protect your children also.

Therefore, let us be objective and honest in our evaluation of dancing between unmarried partners.  We cannot allow the world to set our standards regarding dancing or any other activity.  Even if your extended family members, your neighbors, your coworkers, and all of the students in your children’s schools engage in this kind of dancing, you must not be influenced by them to compromise the standards of God’s word.  Any activity that excites the fleshly lusts without a godly outlet for satisfaction should be avoided, and dancing between unmarried partners is such an activity.  The sensuality that is provoked in such dancing is a condition of the heart that itself is sinful and gives rise to other sins as well.  The wise and Biblical approach to these things is to avoid them lest we be carried away and enticed by our own lust (Jas. 1:14).

Stacey E. Durham



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