Is Dancing Sin?

This is a question, like so many decisions that we have to make in our personal life, which is not directly answered in the scriptures. In other words, there are no scriptures that say, “Dancing is sinful”, or, “Thou shalt not Dance”.  And when it comes to questions such as this one, they are largely answered based upon our attitude toward the word of God. So the first thing that we need to ask ourselves in answer to this question is this: am I going to have an attitude that seeks to avoid any questionable decisions in my life and the appearance of impropriety? Or am I going to have an attitude that seeks to try to get away with as much as possible? If we have the attitude that we are just going to do the minimum and get away with doing as little as possible for the Lord and focus on trying to gratify ourselves then we will not come to the right conclusion regarding this question and toward many questions that will arise in our life. On the other hand, if we have the attitude that we are going to go the extra mile in our service to Christ (Matthew 5:41), to be a living sacrifice for Him (Romans 12:1), and avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22), then we will ultimately be better off.

Before we answer the question, let us define what we are discussing when we talk about dancing.  There was dancing in the old testament.  King David wrote in Psalms 150 and verse 4 to “Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.”  In the famous and well known chapter of Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon wrote, “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance”  Dancing in and of itself is not inherently evil.  Certainly there have been in the past and could be today times when dancing would be ok. 

There are numerous types of dancing which I have been seen through the years which were fine. Tap dancing is a form of dancing as well as clogging and other similar forms of dance are examples of dancing which are completely suitable as long as they do not violate any of God’s principles for righteous (or rightful), living of the Christian life.  It is not sinful to use a knife.  Knives or other such instruments are not evil in and of themselves.  But to take a knife and transgress the will of God by murdering someone with it would be sinful.  It wasn’t the knife that was sinful, it was the action performed with it that was.  Likewise, dancing in and of itself is not necessarily something evil, but use it to transgress the will of God and everything about it changes.  Now that it has become an object used for sinful purposes, it becomes inappropriate.

We are not focusing about the companionship that a husband and wife may share together in the privacy of their own home. Nor we are not necessarily focusing on moving one’s body in rhythm with music such as children do or such as an adult might do when he or she is happy about something and is enjoying listening to music. There is nothing inherently wrong with moving rhythmically to music.

As we are defining dancing in answer to the question of the hour, We are speaking of the modern dance and the circumstances that surround it. The modern dance as a social function is an effort on the part of those who organize and participate in it to bring members of the opposite sex together in a social way so as to stimulate sexual attractiveness. The modern social dance places a man and woman together in a very close and intimate way in a very public setting. The modern social dance encourages men and women to move in ways that are lewd and suggestive. The attire at a modern day social dance usually has young women exposing a large part of their body in a suggestive and sexually attractive way. Also, generally associated with the modern day social dance is the consumption of alcohol; whether done legally or illegally there is usually someone who will bring it in to the mix. In addition to alcohol, the modern dance often leads a young couple to perform more intimate activities subsequent to the dance such as petting and even in some cases, sexual sin.

Another type of dance which falls into our scope of study tonight is the choreographed dancing we see on music videos and other such forms of entertainment.  The performers in these videos are, more often than not, immodestly clothed and engaging in downright lewd and suggestive behavior.  Occasionally I will hear a song on the radio that I like.  I may go find that song on the internet and it almost always has a music video attached with it.  Half the time I can’t understand the words to the music.  Most of it is just noise anyway, but those videos;  Some of them are disgusting to the point that I cannot watch them from start to finish.  I have literally turned them off and closed them out when I saw part of the video. At that point, I’m scared to find out what the words to the music are.  With what was happening on the video, I have to think it isn’t good.   In many ways, we can apply what we’re going to look at in this lesson to music as well.  Music, like dancing, is not evil in and of itself.  It’s the way it is used that causes it to cross over that line from the proper to the improper.  

Now while the Bible does not come out and directly say “dancing is a sin,” there are some scriptures that indicate that participating in such actions do not become one who would name himself a Christian. Let’s look at a few of these scriptures. The first is in 1 Peter 2:11. There Peter writes, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul…” Peter was writing to Christians who were being tempted to follow after the ways of the world to fit into society. He tells them that they need to abstain from fleshly lusts. Fleshly lusts are evil desires that come from a love of the world and not a love of God. These fleshly lusts are said to war or fight against the soul. By this we understand him to say that by fulfilling these lusts, these desires, we will put ourselves into a situation where our Christianity will be challenged–where Satan will have opportunity to tempt us and where we will be discouraged from trying to do what is right. Now if the modern social dance the way we have defined it in this lesson does not fall into this category, I do not know what does. Those who participate in the modern dance will be challenged in their Christianity, they will give Satan an opportunity to tempt them and they will be discouraged from trying to do what is right. A Christian should never want to place oneself into such a situation where they would be tempted to sin.

Look also at 1 Thessalonians 5:22. In the King James Version we read, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” If it even looks like it might be wrong, then we need to keep away from it. There can be no doubt that some of the movements in the modern dance have the appearance of evil and so we should abstain from it.

Notice also 1 Peter 4:1-4Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” We notice from this passage that Christ suffered from the sins of the flesh so that we might be saved. Would we put ourselves into the presence of the very things for which He suffered in order for us to have a momentary time of pleasure and enjoyment? Peter lists the things that he is specifically talking about. These things include lasciviousness, revellings, and banquetings. These are activities that in the ancient world were associated with sexual promiscuity. The modern dance is also one of those things.

Notice Galatians 5:19-21Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The real interesting item in this list is “such like.” That is, if there is anything in the world that is similar to the types of things that have been mentioned in this passage which Paul says are the works of the flesh, we should not have anything to do with it. Certainly the modern dance places one in a situation where one is tempted to indulge in the works of the flesh and so we should abstain from it.

John writes to the Christian in 1 John 2:15-17Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The modern dance is a thing of the world and when we demonstrate that we love things of the world more than we love God, God’s love no longer abides in us. Why would we want to remove ourselves from the love of God for an hour or two of worldly pleasure? James 4:4 states “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Why become the enemy of God for a few hours of social interaction?

Finally, we should take heed to the admonition that Paul gives to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived, evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Those in the world who go to and participate in the modern dance go there expecting to engage in something enticing and titillating. They go with evil purposes in mind. The Christian who chooses to participate in modern dance surrounds himself with these evil companionships. Why should a Christian purposefully want to ignore the inspired words in this passage?  In the case of the choreographed dancing we see in modern music videos, a faithful Christian wouldn’t want to even watch it because it visually brings about the temptations that physically come from participating in modern dance. 

The modern dance holds many dangers for the Christian both young and old. We are exhorted by inspiration to, “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). 

In our previous lesson, we looked at modesty and how the Christian is to conduct him or herself.  Many of the guidelines we examined can also be used to determine whether a particular form of dancing may be something improper. 

We’re going to look at some basic guidelines which pertain to this topic, then we’ll close the lesson.

1.  Will the dance bring glory to God? “1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
2.  Will our dancing help or hurt our influence for Christ? Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour”, Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”.
3.  Will the dancing emphasize one’s sexuality, thus tantalizing, enticing or tempting others to have impure thoughts? Matthew 18:7, “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!
4.  Will the dance cause someone to lust after us, thus causing them to stumble and sin? Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
5.  Is the dance part of a carousing, party full of drinking and other ungodly activities? 1 Peter 4:3, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
6.  Is the dance immodest in any way?
7.  Is the dance appropriate and respectful, befitting the station of a Priest of God? Revelation 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
8.  Is the dance stating that we are pure and holy?  1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
9.  Because of the dance, would someone mistake us for a worldly individual? Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
10.  Because of the dance, do you touch a member of the opposite sex?  Do you brush up against them, or touch them in any way.  If you cannot walk up to someone and touch them in the exact same way apart from that dance, then touching them during the dance is equally wrong.  It is just as wrong to touch someone else inappropriately during a dance as the same action would be without having the dance involved. 

Anything can be abused.  Anything can be done improperly.  Anything can be done in such a way that there are unrighteous consequences.  There are a lot of things out there in the world that are not evil in and of themselves, but when these things are used in such a way that God’s righteousness is not upheld, then evil is brought about because of that abuse.  And where there is evil, there is always the consequences that go along with it.  Pain and suffering of mankind while on this earth, and eternal separation from God in the age to come. 

It isn’t that God does not want anybody to have a full and happy life.  It’s that God can see the consequences of everything and knows that they will bring pain and suffering to those He loves.  God knows that these things are not what brings a lasting happiness.  We are called to be righteous for a reason.  Think what a better world we would live in if there were no sexual predators, no thieves, no murderers, no sinners.  Think what a better world our world would be if not for the ravages of sin. 

That’s the kind of world God wants for humanity, but in order for that to happen, all of humanity has to follow after God’s righteousness.  Christians cannot follow God’s righteousness where it is convenient or easy.  We have to follow it regardless of how much we may want to or not.  We cannot claim God’s righteousness and dabble in the world where it suits us.  We as Christians have been called and have responded to a higher calling.  In order to fully take hold of God’s righteousness, we must forsake all the things that bring about unrighteousness.  Because it’s the unrighteousness, the darkness of the world that has made it the mess that it is today.  We must resolve ourselves to stand apart from it and not be a partaker of it.  James 4:4, “the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Lesson prepared from a previous lesson by Kevin Cauley

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