“Can I go to the dance?”
It is a question most Christian parents look on with dread. For one, it means our children are growing up. But mostly, it is a dreaded question because, for so many of us, it is a question we once asked, and we know the arguments we are about to face. What does a parent say to answer this question, besides the negative?</p>
First, we must not be drawn into the argument (old as the hills) that the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about dancing. There are plenty of sins which are not so named in the Bible. For instance, the Bible does not, by name, condemn abortion, but we know from other passages (Matt. 5:21), that abortion is clearly wrong. Just because the Bible fails to say, “Thou Shalt Not Dance,” is no reason to assume dancing is acceptable to God.
What principles then, tell us that dancing is wrong? Most certainly in the concept of sensuality (KJV: lasciviousness). Condemned as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:19, this term is used to characterize anything designed to appeal to sexual lusting.
At this point, the defenders of dancing will protest that dancing is not about lust at all, but about (take your pick), exercise, relaxation or simply, good, clean fun. Amazingly enough, it is only Christians who want to dance who make this argument. Dancers who are not concerned with the Bible will tell you exactly why people dance. Consider the following lyrics from a song in the Disco Era: “My body keeps changing my heart, keeps changing my mind when we’re dancing/ My body says, ‘Lover, tonight you drive me out of my mind,’ when we’re dancing./ And I know it wouldn’t be right to say, ‘Take me home, tonight,’/ But when we get to dancing, my body keeps changing my mind.”
The facts are when people “get to dancing,” their lusts are allowed to go unchecked, sometimes causing them to surrender to things they know “wouldn’t be right.” That is as clear a definition of sensuality as is likely to be found. Even in country music, where dancing is generally not looked upon as the kind of wild abandonment promoted by more modern “dance music,” a song says, “He’s holding her to him, that’s what dancing’s for.” Dancing is designed to get two people of opposite sexes moving close together. Please allow me to be blunt: There is only one other activity which has the same goal, and God thought it so tender, so special, as to give it a place only in the realm of marriage (Heb. 13:4).
The reason sensuality is condemned is because it brings one so close to the edge of fornication (see the article in this issue). Sensuality appeals to sexual lust which finds its fruition in fornication and adultery. For young people, fornication is one of the most deadly of all sins, and we are speaking of deadly in the spiritual sense. Why then, are we so intent on coming as close as we can’to this most dangerous sin? Dancing and drinking are the only activities I know of where otherwise intelligent Christian people will make the argument, “I can come this close and not sin.” With drinking, it is, “The Bible condemns drunkenness, and I won’t get drunk.” With dancing, it is, “I will hold this person close, moving to music and not be tempted to lust.” Both arguments are equally lame, and if used in connection with anything else (i.e. “I’m just going to be naked with this other man’s wife, but we are not going to commit adultery.”) would be laughable.
One thing teenagers constantly ask for is to be treated like adults. If they truly wish to receive that kind of treatment, tell your children they must stop making arguments which belittle the mind of God. When God tells us to avoid sensuality, who are we to question His judgment. Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). What our children must realize is that sometimes, God’s way of escape is to avoid the situation entirely. One of the ways young people can “flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22), is to flee from situations which offer the temptation of youthful lusts.
There is no need for Christian parents to debate about the “dancing of David,” or any of the other myriad arguments made in favor of dancing. The arguments against sensuality are enough. Be honest with your children and tell them you are concerned for their ability to deny lust when placed in the position in which dancing will put them. Then, ask them to be honest with you about why they want to dance, and what they expect to gain, as a Christian, from this activity.