Q: #330. Is it a sin for Christians to dance?
By: Steve Shirley
A: On the surface, dancing seems like a pretty harmless thing, right? However, if you run an online search on this topic, you will actually find an overwhelming number of Christian websites that say "dancing is sin!" Why? Let's look at this.
First off, you will not find anything in the Bible saying that dancing is sinful. On the contrary, there are a number of places that speak positively about dancing. God says to praise Him with dance (Ps 149:3)(Ps 150:4). (Eccl 3:4) says there is "a time to mourn and a time to dance." There was "music and dancing" in celebration of the "prodigal son" returning home (Lk 15:22-25). Individuals are shown dancing such as David (2 Sam 6:14-16) and the daughter of Jephthah (Judg 11:34). Groups of women are shown dancing (Ex 15:20)(Judg 21:21-23)(1 Sam 18:6-7). However, I must point out one HUGE point regarding this: the Bible does not clearly show men and women dancing TOGETHER. So, this is some cause for concern.
On the other side, while the Bible doesn't say dancing is sinful, there are several examples of dancing being done in a sinful way. First, the Israelites were dancing while worshipping the golden calf idol that they had created (Ex 32:19-20). Secondly, the Amalekites were "eating and drinking and dancing" in celebration of all that they had stolen from land of the Philistines and Judah (1 Sam 30:16). Finally, it appears that Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced in a very sinful and provocative way before King Herod (Mt 14:6)(Mk 6:22). (He was so pleased he offered her anything she wished for, and she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.)
The example of Salome leads to a second point I think we need to consider. The Bible does give us clear guidelines as to how we should live our lives as Christians. Some examples of this are:
We should give no appearance of evil in the things we do (1 Th 5:22).
We should do ALL things for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)(Col 3:17,23).
We should not be a part of the things of this world (James 1:27)(Rom 12:2)(1 Jn 2:15-16).
We should not do anything that would cause someone to "stumble " in their walk if they see us doing it (Rom 14:13,21)(1 Cor 8:9-13)(2 Cor 6:3).
We should not do things which could incite lust, and cause a person to sin (James 1:14-15)(Mt 5:28).
Keeping these things in mind, I believe that a huge part of dancing today breaks these rules. Many dances, particularly amongst our youth, are performed in a very sexual and erotic way (in the Salome mold). They incite lust, particularly in males. There is dirty dancing, twerking, grinding, lap dancing, and dancing in ways that simulate having sex, to name a few.
There is a quote, attributed to Mick Jaggar of the Rolling Stones, which says, "All dancing is a replacement for sex." Is that an exaggeration? Yeah.... but I think it is much more true today than at any other time in history. For those of us in the older crowd, particularly guys, most can remember getting pretty excited about school dances, especially when it came time for the "slow dance." Well, look at what is happening today! Grinding (where a guy rubs his genitals against the backside of a girl while she moves back and forth) and twerking (where a girl, or sometimes a guy, dances in a way that simulates having sex) are now commonplace. High school dances all over the country are now being cancelled because this lewd dancing is out of control. And, at dances still being held, the chaperones are simply overwhelmed trying to keep things in order. Clearly, this type of dancing is ungodly in numerous ways, and breaks every Biblical guideline for proper Christian behavior.
*** On a side note: take a look at television shows from like the 1960's where husbands and wives had to sleep in twin beds because seeing them sleeping in the same bed might be "provocative." If that was "provocative," what do we call what we are seeing on television today??
However, I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Yeah, but there is a lot of dancing that isn't like this. That must be ok, right?" I am not sure that anyone can know exactly where to draw the line between "right or wrong" kinds of dancing. However, I do know this, if your dancing is inciting passion or lust in the opposite sex, this is wrong. And, I am not just talking about inciting it in the person you are dancing with, but also with anyone watching. (Let me add a little note here and say that there is nothing wrong with this amongst husbands and wives, but it should not be done in public.) Is your dance of choice doing this? Think carefully in answering, because it does not take much to incite passion or lust, particularly in most men.
I should also add one other element to this discussion, and that is dressing in a Godly way. For example, on most of the dancing shows on television, you see women in VERY skimpy clothing. At high school dances, the attire for many girls is a dress that barely covers their bottom. Add to this, the grinding and twerking, and I think you can envision an even bigger problem. I single out girls and women here regarding dress because quite frankly, reactions to immodest and seductive clothing are far more of a problem for men than for women. Women in general do not experience very real physical changes such as rises in blood pressure and pulse rate at the site of a male body like males do when they see a female body. Men can control how they respond to the reaction, but they cannot control the reaction itself any more than one could control being scared.
When women dress in this way, it incites passions and lust in men. It can become a "stumbling block ," causing a man to focus on sexual thoughts instead of pure thoughts. If you are a Christian, it could also damage your testimony. Remember, your body is God's temple, dress to please God and not man, so as to not cause others to lose focus on God. Here are two places in the Bible that address this:
(1 Tim 2:9-10)(NASB) Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, (10) but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
(1 Pet 3:3-4) Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; (4) but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Ultimately, I suppose it is up to each individual Christian to determine where to draw the line between "right or wrong" types of dancing. Dancing seems to fall under the same category of "Christian liberty" as a number of other things we have discussed on this site such as: drinking, getting a tattoo/piercing, gambling, men having long hair, etc.... Yes, we might have the right to do them, but how will our actions affect others? That is between you and God.