Olsen Park Church of Christ

Shall We Dance?

Introduction. The new school year has begun, and young people now face a question that has long plagued us—should Christians dance? This morning I would like to consider what the Bible teaches on this important question.   

I. Dancing in the Bible.

A.    There is dancing that is not sinful.

1.      It was a sign of joy.

·         Job bemoaned that the children of the wicked feel joy—“their children dance. They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute” (Job 21:11-12), and yet

the righteous often suffer.

·         David praised God, declaring—“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness”  (Ps. 30:11).

·         Solomon tells us plainly that there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4);

·         Jesus quotes a proverb of the children (Matt. 11:16-19)

2.      It was connected with celebration.

·         Jephthah’s daughter danced with the tambourine  after her father’s victory (Judg. 11:34).

·         Israelite women danced with the tambourine after Saul and David’s victory (1 Sam. 18:6-7).

·         All Israel danced after a defeat of Philistines (1 Sam. 30:16);

·         In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, when the prodigal returned home there was “music and dancing” (Luke 15:25).

3.      It was an element of Old Testament worship (Exod. 15:20-21; 2 Sam. 6:13-15; Ps. 149:2-4; 150:3-6).

B.     There is dancing that is sinful.

1.      Connected with idolatry. Israel and the gold calf (Exod. 32:17-19).  The New Testament never teaches dancing as any type of worship (any more than it teaches instrumental music, incense, or animal sacrifice).

2.      Connected with sinful behavior. Herodias’ daughter (Matt. 14:6-8). This was probably provocative, and sexually seductive dancing that motivated Herod’s rash oath.

3.      Connected with “revelries.”

·         Gr. komos— “properly a village festival: a revel, carousal, merry-making… it ended in the party parading the streets crowned, bearing torches, singing, dancing, and playing frolics” (Liddell & Scott, Intermediate Greek-English  Lexicon).

·         “A nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry” (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). They usually involved dancing and drinking.

·         Christians…

»   Should not participate in them (Rom. 13:13-14).

»   Spend no more time in them (1 Pet. 4:3-5).

»   Cannot participate in them and inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:21).

II. Dancing in Our World.

A.    Adult opportunities to dance.

1.      Bars—Ballrooms—Weddings.

2.      Usually associated with drinking, immodest clothing, and sexually provocative movements.

B.     Opportunities for young people to dance.

1.      Schools dances—Parties—Banquets.

2.      Also, usually associated with drinking, immodest clothing, and sexually provocative movements.

C.     How do these not qualify as komos-type revelries?

1.      If so, we are commanded not to participate in them (Rom. 13:13). 

2.      If so, we are not to spend time in them (1 Pet. 4:3).

3.      If so, we cannot do them and inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:21).

III. “But What’s the Harm?” Let’s say you are not convinced that modern types of dances are the type of activities that are condemned by Scripture—are there still reasons you should avoid them? Yes!

A. You might be led into sin (Prov. 6:27-29).

1. The attraction between a man and a woman is one of the most powerful forces God has ever created.

2. It is a powerful bond intended to draw a husband and wife to one another—but as this passage shows, it can be misdirected toward one to whom a person is not married.

3. Here is the fact: two bodies cannot be pressed against one another and moved in rhythm to music without arousal!

4. Two bodies cannot stand in front of one another and then move to music in gestures that approximate sexual behavior without arousal! To give oneself over to this sin.  

B. You might lead others to sin (Matt. 5:27-28).

1. I am convinced that most young girls (and even some women) do not understand the struggle that young boys and most men have.

·         I have asked both my wife and daughter if they really understood the nature of this until they were married and they said no. Let me try to explain it as delicately but as frankly as possible.

2. It is not simply that males find females attractive. Males that do not deliberately fight to control their thoughts (in obedience to Christ’s commands), with no effort at all—have constant sexual thoughts about women around them.

·         That includes not only mentally undressing women around them in their minds, but also imagining themselves in sexual acts with those women.

·         Ladies and girls, if you could spend five minutes in a football locker-room listening to the type of talk in which non-Christian boys and men engage, this would become crystal clear to you!

3. Clearly, that is their responsibility—that is their sin—but, do Christians want to contribute to that? 

·         How can a Christian woman or girl wear a dress that climbs half-way up her thigh and it not contribute to the sin of others? How can a Christian woman or girl wear a top that exposes her chest, shoulders, or back and it not contribute to the sin of others?

·         How can a Christian woman or girl wear clothing that exposes straps or bands of her undergarments, and imagine that she is not contributing to the sin of others?

»   Illustration. There are some here that have a license to carry a concealed handgun. Part of the regulation regarding this requires that it be carried in a way does not make it readily apparent that you are carrying a concealed hand gun. If I wore a shoulder holster that revealed the straps I would be inviting those around me to recognize that I am carrying a concealed weapon. When a woman or girl (or even men or boys) expose part of their undergarments they are inviting those around them to consider what is concealed.This is not the way Christians should dress anywhere in public! Church, the store, school, work, or anywhere.

4.      At dances girls and women will dress this way and even worse. Christians should not put themselves in this environment.

5.      Many might agree, but let me ask this…how is it different to go to a dance, and to watch one on television? How is it any different? Now, not all types of dance are sinful but when there is skimpy clothing, provocative movements and gestures…Christians don’t need to engage in such things via the airways or in person. 

Conclusion. What measures should we take to avoid sin?

·         Personally (Matt. 5:29-30)..

·         Causing others to sin (Matt. 18:6-9).

These principles make it clear that Christians have no business participating in or going to dances.


Kyle Pope 2012

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