by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
We will divide the discussion of dancing in the Bible into two sections. The first section will include those Scriptures where dancing is spoken of in a favorable setting. The second section is where dancing is associated with wickedness. We will note the things that are similar within each section and the things that make each section different. Once we understand the Bible's view of dancing, we will compare modern dancing to these two sections to see where it fits. As you read the verses in the next two sections, take a piece of paper and answer the following questions for each verse:
1. Who danced?
2. With whom did they dance?
3. Why did they dance?
4. Was the dance similar to today's dances?
Dancing was used as an act of celebration. For example, when the Israelites safely crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was destroyed, Miriam and the other Israelite women danced for joy on the banks of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21). Other Scriptures that illustrate celebrations by dancing are Judges 11:34, I Samuel 18:6-7, and Luke 15:25.
Similarly, dancing is a way to express happiness. Jeremiah said that when joy left the people, dancing would cease (Lamentations 5:15). There was dancing at the father's house when the prodigal son returned (Luke 15:25). Other Scriptures that talk about dancing for joy are Psalms 30:11 and Jeremiah 31:4,13.
Since praising God is a form of celebrating and expressing happiness, dancing was used by the Israelites to praise God. David danced before the ark of God as he attempted to bring the ark to Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:14-23 and I Chronicles 15:29). The psalmist in Psalms 149:3 recommended praising God with dance.
Look over the paper you wrote. Do you notice some similarities between these dances? In each case, the people dancing either danced alone or with members of their own sex. Not one of these dances involved men dancing with women. Each dance was an expression of the dancer's feelings. The dances were not done for exercise or to entertain other people.
Teaching one's children to dance was an attribute of idle wealth in Job 21:11-15. By implication, people busy with the Lord's work have better things to do with their time and money.
When a raiding party captured some Israelite women, they celebrated with a drunken feast, which included dancing (I Samuel 30:16). The idol worship that the Israelites engaged in while Moses was on Mt. Sinai also included dancing and drinking (Exodus 32:6, 19).
In the list of the works of the flesh, in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul mentions revelries. Revelries are wild parties that usually include drinking and dancing.
Herodius' daughter danced to entertain her stepfather and his guests. The dancing so pleased her stepfather that he rashly promised her anything she wanted, up to half his kingdom (Matthew 14:6-8and Mark 6:22-23). Because of this dance, John the baptizer lost his life.
In these dances, we again notice some similarities. The dances were often done as a form of entertainment. They were also done as part of celebrations, but they celebrated the works of man instead of God. These celebrations were often associated with drunkenness and wild parties.
Under which category would you place today's dances? Today's dances are usually done as a form of entertainment. Dances are rarely done to celebrate (except short ones done by football players after scoring a touchdown). Modern dances also feature a sexual theme. Don't look so dumbfounded! Of course, sexual arousal is a major reason people dance today. Think about it. Do you think it is normal for a man to dance with a man? Why not? It is because dancing is sexually stimulating, and we realize that it is improper for a man to arouse another man. To do so is an indication that the men involved are homosexuals. If you are having difficulty understanding the sexual overtones of modern dance, ask yourself "Would you like to see your mother doing a slow dance with a stranger?" Most of us would immediately answer NO! Such actions would suggest an affection between the two people - an affection that should only be shown between a husband and his wife.
Consider the movements involved in today's dances. The slow dances involve a man closely holding a woman against his body, which we know is very stimulating. The wilder, fast dances contain movements like thrusting your hips backward and forward. These movements are imitations of the act of sex between a man and a woman. Few people would engage in sex in full public view. Yet society seems to feel it is all right for a man and woman to pantomime sex in public.
If dancing is just an innocent pastime, why are there chaperons at all of your school dances? The chaperones are there to make sure that things do not get out of hand. When boys' and girls' passions are aroused, they will do many things that they ought not to do. For boys and girls to sneak in drinks or to sneak out for a quiet rendezvous to relieve their sexual lust is not unheard of.
Have you ever wondered why most adult dances take place in bars and in other places where alcohol is served? Most people want to have some drinks to make them feel more comfortable dancing with a stranger. You see, one effect of alcohol is to lower inhibitions. People will do things under the influence of alcohol that they would never do when they are sober. That is why there are so many exhortations in the Scriptures for Christians to remain sober. It is hard enough to fight off Satan's temptations, but to lower our resistance with chemicals just makes Satan's job easier.
Look at the advertisements for the theater dances in your local paper. Have you ever noticed how scantily clad the dancers are? Even the little clothing that they do wear is so tight that you can see every feature of the person's body, including the genitals. I submit to your consideration that the dancers dress like this because they know that their audience is aroused by such displays. If you want to make money, sex sells.
Now, what are your thoughts? Why do people that you know dance today? Do you think that sex plays a major role, even if it is not acknowledged by the people involved? Some people claim that they only dance for exercise. It is true that vigorous dancing is good exercise, but are there not other ways that accomplish the same goal? Why are these other methods of exercise not as popular as dancing?