The Moral Danger of the Modern Dance

by Frank Walton
Biblical Insights, Vol. 6, No. 6, June 2006.

"Dancing" can be defined simply as "the rhythmic movement of the body to music" (II Samuel 6:16; Luke 15:25; Ecclesiastes 3:4). The Ryrie Study Bible notes on religious dancing in Psalms 149:3: "In the Old Testament, whirling motion done by a single individual or by a large group, not by couples."  The Richard's Bible Dictionary observes, "In ancient Jewish culture, men and women danced in separate groups" (pg. 275).  The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary states, "The dance as we know it today, performed by pairs of persons of opposite sex, seems to be entirely unknown in the Bible" (pg. 419).

So, mere dancing (whirling around) alone does not pose a moral problem.  In the modern dance of male and female couples, the moral danger depends on how provocative and sexually stimulating the movements become.

The main problem with modern, couple dancing is "lasciviousness" (Greek, aselgia) in Galatians 5:19.  It is a sinful work of the flesh.  If impenitently practiced, it will bar one from heaven (Galatians 5:21).  It is defined by Thayer's Greek Lexion as "unbridled lusts, licentiousness, shameless.  Wanton acts or manners such as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females."  The occasion for sexual lust and sin is the lure and the sin of the typical modern dance.

Biblically, this is borne out by the "dancing" that accompanied the sinful worship of the golden calf, where the Israelites engaged in lewd sexual "play" (Exodus 32:19,6).  In Mark 6:22, the sensual dancing of Herodias' daughter would be typically lewd in the manner of Greek entertainment, as in "belly dancing," and it sexually pleased Herod.  "Dancing...(was) more or less stimulating to the sexual instincts" (Otto Kiefer, Sexual Life in Ancient Rome, pg. 167).

In a bulletin article entitled, "Are You Going To The Prom?"  J. R. Bronger wrote, "I was not raised to respect the Lord, so I participated in dances of all kinds, including the Prom...The High School I attended had regular dances...Therefore, I am well aware of what dancing and dances are all about.  I was never compelled to consider whether dancing was right or wrong until after I became a Christian.  What's wrong with dancing?  The modern expression of dance involves "lewdness" (lasciviousness), which according to Galatians 5:19 is a work of the flesh...Lasciviousness is sinful anytime, anywhere.  Dances are held for one main reason: sex appeal. Whether slow cheek-to-cheek, hip-to-hip swaying to sensuous music, or bumping and grinding to pulsating beats, sex appeal (lasciviousness) is what dancing is all about. Dancing is a way to legitimize the sensual fondling of another.  It is nothing but foreplay."

The world advertises dancing as involving sexual flirtation. Modern Bride magazine had an article on the Prom entitled, "Sex -- It's Your Call."  In the Prom Style Guide 2000, it says, "Snag him with your glamorous style, keep him with your sexy moves."  In Your Prom Magazine (1991)an article entitled, "What's Sex Got To Do With It?" says, "Expectations usually run high on prom night -- especially sexual expectations. A recent graduate explains,... 'I've heard guys say, "If you can't get it at the prom, when are you going to get it?"'  Then, in Parade Magazine (June 18, 2000), we read a teen column dealing with the challenges Keith and Jaclyn had in dating, jealousy, sensual dress (or lack thereof), and dancing at clubs.  Keith says, "I didn't like her wearing anything revealing...She dances with other people.  The closeness of the dancing is sexual."  The world's view, which relishes illicit sexual stimulation, freely admits that modern dance is sexually enticing foreplay.  The Bible calls such impure and sinful.

Besides the sin of lasciviousness, dancing can also involve the sinful work of the flesh that is called "revellings" in Galatians 5:21.  Thayer defines it (Gr. komos) as "feasts and drinking-parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry."  Liddell and Scott define it as a "carousal...with music and dancing."  Some schools have recently canceled dances, which featured freak dancing or wilding, which have become increasingly erotic and disruptive.

"A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is careless" (Proverbs 14:16).  Young people are commanded to "flee youthful lusts which war against the soul" (II Timothy 2:24).  Will you?

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