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vol 4 no 17 August 1, 1999

Is Dancing An Acceptable Activity

Many arguments are made in defense of dancing. Most Christians have been taught either that dancing is wrong or at least, that many activities associated with dancing are wrong, thus making dancing taboo. Please consider the following arguments for and against dancing before you make up your mind.

It's Good Exercise

Some types of dancing no doubt provide exercise. But the fact that slow dancing has always been popular pretty well defeats the argument that people dance for exercise. Most people who attend dances are not looking for exercise. Other methods of exercise are far superior. The truth is, it is easy to develop an unhealthy interest in the "physical fitness" of others either consciously or subconsciously ( and I think you know what I mean). Bodily exercise at its best is profitable for only a "little" (1 Tim 4:7,8). Be honest with yourself as you ask, "Why do I want to engage in dancing?" The answer you come up with may reveal the true appeal of dancing.

It's Fun

I would be ashamed to admit that the only criteria considered for a particular activity is whether or not it entertains me, for the Bible says that sin is fun, at least temporarily (Heb 11:25). While homosexuals don't use the "good exercise" argument to justify their actions, they do use this one. Many of them are honest to a fault. Ask them why homosexual activity is fun. The fact that one is entertained or has fun in a particular activity is a poor argument when one's moral principles are involved.

It's a Popular Activity

The person who uses this argument will always be a follower instead of a leader. He or she will be a pawn in the hands of the majority. There happens to be a higher authority for deciding such matters. The majority was wrong in Noah's day. The majority crucified Christ. The majority thought the world was flat. The majority will be lost (Mt 7:13,14). The here is the paradox: The majority of the time, the majority is wrong. People whose primary interest is in doing what is popular usually make poor Christians. They are also looking to the world to provide a feeling of security and acceptance. This will always lead to danger, and often to spiritual destruction.

Dancing Helps Me Develop Poise

We must learn the difference between poise and poison. The end does not always justify the means (Rom 3:8). Physical poise is not a requirement to enter heaven. Spiritual poise (Balance, sober mindedness) is, however. Man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart (1 Sam 16:7). The Bible condemns those who "glory in appearance, and not in the heart (2 Cor 5:10). A person who is that concerned about poise has his eyes on the wrong goal. Besides, modern dances have nothing to do with poise. The 'bump and grind" does not require a lot of skill or co-ordination.

I Can Dance Without Having Evil Thoughts

Maybe you can, but I would suggest seeing a doctor ( if you are a male, especially). Medically speaking normal males are several times more easily "turned on" than females. Syndicated columnist Lindsay R Curtis M.D. says, "For the most part, men are in a constant state of sexual readiness even when it is the farthest thing from their minds. Male arousal occurs in a matter of seconds, and very few seconds.

Consider this as well. Can you control the thoughts of your partner? Can you control the thoughts of spectators? Jesus said, "Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must needs be that the occasions of stumbling come; but woe to that man through whom they come (Mt 18:7).

The Bible Doesn't Say "Thou Shalt Not Dance"

This argument has been spread to cover a multitude of sins, but it is wearing thin. How do you know the Bible does not say "Thou shalt not dance?" Have you read the Bible clear through? Before you take someone's word for it, I challenge you to read the Bible through. It will give you something to do with your spare time and will be time well spent. I have never known a dancer who was an avid student of the Word. Those who are into such activities as dancing, etc rarely have their Bible lessons and do not seem interested in the Word of God that lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:22-25).

If it were necessary to have a "thou shalt not" for every prohibition, the Bible would be so big that one person could not carry it. Why are we unable to see that the Bible deals with some things generally ? We need to stop requiring itemization. The Bible contains principles and instructions that may include a whole category of things. Such is the case with dancing, gambling, social drinking, etc.

The Bible Condones Dancing in Luke 15:25 and Other Passages

No it doesn't! First, even it this did have reference to modern dancing it must be observed that to mention a thing does not necessarily imply endorsement. Jesus did not uphold every minor event mentioned in his illustrations. He certainly did not endorse the dishonesty and deceit in the parables of the unrighteous steward and the hidden treasure (Lk 16:1-3; Mt 13:44). Second, social dancing, as we now understand it, was almost, if not altogether, unknown in ancient times . . .Of dancing for its own sake, of its practice as an art, there is no trace," (HASTINGS BIBLE DICTIONARY, p. 550). Hastings goes ahead to mention that the only known exception to this was the case of Salome which caused Herod to become so ecstatic that he made a rash promise which he later regretted. It cost John the baptist his head, a case clearly not endorsed in Scripture. "Women seemed generally to have danced by themselves . . .Of the social dancing of couples in the modern fashion there is no trace," (ISBE. p.1170).

Three categories of dances are mentioned in scripture. 1) Religious dances of the Old Testament (Ex 15:20; 32:19; 1 Chron 15:29).

2) Expressions of rejoicing (Judg 1134; 1 Sam 18:6; Psa 30:11; Lk 15:25, etc). 3) The passionate dance of Salome before Herod. (Mk 6:22). However, the dancing upon the prodigal sons' return is obviously parallel to and representative of the holy joy among the angels over the repentance of a sinner, as mentioned in the two previous parables (Lk 15:7,10).


The strongest and most decisive argument in the bible against the practice of modern dancing is to be found in the definition of the sin of lasciviousness. Take a good look at that word. It can keep you out of heaven! It is placed in a category of some of the most vile sins imaginable. The word appears in the following passages: Mk 7:22; 2 cor 12:21; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; Jude 4. Lasciviousness means wanton manners or acts, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon.) Even a modern dictionary renders the same basic meaning. Webster's : "tending to excite lustful desires". Lasciviousness can be reflected in the way you walk, the way you talk, sit, and the way you dress.

The Bible says a man can become guilty of "adultery in his heart" by looking on a woman to lust after her (Mt 5:28). He is certainly responsible for his thoughts. But it may also have been that the female was guilty of lasciviousness. If modern dancing does not qualify as that which is lasciviousness, then what does?

(Adapted from an article by Dick Blackford. Vanguard Vol 2 No 12. Dec 1976)

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