Dear Mrs. Colley,
I’m sorry to inquire over a wonderful winter (here we have over a foot of snow 🙂 ), but I wish to get something straightened out. Until this summer, I never thought of dancing as something against God’s, but I began reading an article on dancing written by your daughter, Hannah. It made me realize that going to prom wasn’t the right thing to do because of the lasciviousness. Luckily, I got that message right before my junior year, and I have my mind set on not going. But what about other kinds of dancing? I know there must be some forms of godly dancing because the Bible writes about David and Miriam dancing within the Bible. Sometimes I’ll be listening to orchestral music and start dancing just for being happy or joyful. In my heart I feel like this sort of dancing is innocent. I’m not dancing to be lewd and wanton but just to express the emotion of joy. Also, in the Beauty and the Beast, I feel like the dance between the two is just innocent and just expressing love and happiness. Mrs. Colley, if my conscience is on the wrong path, please help me understand so I can correct myself. I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season.
What a great question. The Bible doesn’t tell us not dance. What is prohibited is lasciviousness. Whatever that word means, we need to decide to stay as far away from that as we can, since those who participate in lasciviousness or “such like” can’t inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). The word is translated debauchery or sensuality in some versions, but what matters is what the word meant when the Holy Spirit, through Paul, first used it. According to Strong’s Greek Lexicon, the word is sort of a contraction which originally and literally meant “not continent”. Strong’s also says the word means filthy, wanton, licentious. The other premier Greek Lexicon is Thayer’s. He says the word means unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence. Specifically commenting on its meaning in Galatians 5, he says it means “wanton manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling between males and females, etc…” Well, when you consider what occurs at the prom or most other middle and high school dances, I believe indecent bodily movements and unchaste handling between boys and girls is a pretty good description. I believe any conscientious Christian girl, like yourself, will want to avoid this activity for this reason. But there are other reasons, too…like the drinking that usually goes on before and after prom, and the excessive display of immodesty that almost always is a part of prom. I just think any Christian who cares at all about his/her influence and is really striving to avoid the works of the flesh will see that there is an obvious danger in attending.
But now, is it possible to dance and not be lascivious? I surely think so. I think a five year old doing a tap dance is not lascivious. I think a married couple doing any kind of dance in the privacy of their closed bedroom is not lascivious, because that would not be sinful. I think there are certain kinds of ballet that are not lascivious if the clothing worn is modest. I think when people hear great news and grab each other’s hands and dance without licentiousness, but for pure joy in celebration, that this,too, is innocent. I’m not sure about the specific dance of Beauty and the Beast, because I can’t recall it (don’t even know if I’ve seen the dance to which you refer). But when our bodies are not against those of the opposite sex, and our movements cannot be described as indecent in any way, and our touching is limited to that which cannot be construed as impure, then the “dance” is not lascivious.
Sometimes parents ask about letting young children learn various forms of dancing. Is it sinful when preschoolers dance? I don’t think so, since I don’t think preschoolers can sin. Could a dancing preschooler be led to a temptation to continue a pursuit of dancing or even a career of dancing when she becomes old enough to indecently move, dress and touch. Well, perhaps. This is where every parent must make judgement calls, always with the primary goal for every child being heaven. As for the Colley family, we danced around the room many times— marching, holding hands, clapping, laughing, skipping and twirling. But as for any lessons or serious pursuits of any kinds of dancing, we decided to avoid them, so as not to even make sinful dancing a possible area of interest when they grew older.