In looking at stats from this blog, I am amazed that a little article I posted a couple of months back, which I called “A Dancing Baptist”, continues to attract so many readers.  It seems a lot of people type the terms “Baptist” and “dancing” into search engines, and pull up this blog. 

I’m no expert on the subject of dancing.  I’ve never been all that good at it, though I enjoy it.  I went to my first dance as a seventh grader, a record dance at school, and was allowed to stay out until it was over at 10:00 p.m.  I remember being very nervous about it.  An older girl, a 17 year old who used to be my babysitter, offered to help teach me and we spent a Saturday afternoon on the screened-in back porch of her house with a record player and a stack of 45’s.  I learned to keep my rear end straight, to move my feet and arms in rhythm with the music, how to keep a respectful distance when slow dancing, and that the acceptable way to do that in the 70’s was to put both arms around her and rest them just above her hips.  My dance “teacher” was also Baptist and was privileged to go to the high school dances which didn’t end until midnight.  Most of the other teenagers in the Baptist church in Arizona where I belonged while growing up went to school dances, too.  My parents never objected.

It was not until a new preacher came to town my sophomore year in high school that I first encountered the idea that dancing equalled sinfulness.  “Because the Bible says so,” was always the answer I received, though at the time I was not familiar enough with the Bible to know that it really doesn’t directly forbid dancing.  In fact, it did not take me long to find prooftexts for my view that there wasn’t anything wrong with it, such as Psalm 150:4 which says, “Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes.” (NLB)  Of course, I was informed that I was prooftexting and the kind of dancing I did wasn’t an act of worship.  But I was never directed to a passage of scripture that actually mentioned dancing as being a sinful activity in and of itself.

Things really came to a head when I began dating this same pastor’s daughter.  Deep down, I think she probably shared my convictions about dancing, and about other restrictions placed on her life that the rest of the youth group enjoyed.  But she had to echo the party line.  And as a result of my lack of understanding, it was a point of contention.

“Dancing creates lust, and lust is a sin.”

That’s a good argument, except that I cannot recall ever “lusting” as a result of dancing.  I truly didn’t.  For me, it was an expression of affection, but it was never “lustful.”

“Dancing is lacivious behavior, which is sinful.”

That wasn’t a convincing argument for me.  I didn’t know what “lacivious” meant, and I was sure that I wasn’t. 

“Dancing is done in places where Christians shouldn’t go.”

School?  Christians shouldn’t go to school?  That argument wouldn’t have worked on my parents.

“It’s the kind of music you dance to that is sinful and talks about sinful things.”

Music, in and of itself, isn’t inherently sinful.  This is the one argument that I might buy, except that I can’t really say I was ever influenced by the lyrics to songs I used to listen to.  I knew what most of them were about, though knowing that did not influence me to become involved in that.  But then, at the school dances I went to, most of those songs with the drug and sex lyrics were not played.  Vietnam war protest songs were about the most “over the edge” songs I ever danced to. 

The fact that dancing takes place in venues where Christians probably shouldn’t go to be entertained doesn’t make dancing itself sinful.  The kind of music that people dance to also doesn’t make the act of dancing sinful.  Sin is something that separates us from God.  Dancing with another person whose company I enjoy, which, through the last 19 years has been my wife, does not separate me from God. 

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

10 responses

  1. jasonk says:

    Didn’t they make a movie about your story? Like…FOOTLOOSE?

    Interesting story. I dance like Kevin James (of King of Queens). My kids and my wife graciously ask me to please stop. That’s the only thing I can think of that is sinful about dancing.

  2. Tim Dahl says:

    Woot!

    Good post!

    Tim

  3. Jerry A says:

    It is more cultural than ecclesiastical. Baptist in the Southeast (Virginia to Georgia) never did have the anti-dancing fervor of their coharts in Missouri.

  4. Francoise says:

    Well, I accepted your kind invitation to visit, so here I am. My heart initially sank when I saw “dancing” linked with “Baptist”. I understand that some denominations forbid dancing and that Baptists disapprove of alcohol. Here goes, I thought, another harmless thing regarded as wicked, but no, I was pleasantly surpised. I do belly dancing, rock ‘n roll, and Spanish dancing.
    I will never forget the experience of being at an engagement party for a Seventh Day Adventist couple. Music came on the radio, and hubby and I got up to dance. Eeeeeewww- wrong thing to do! The radio was turned off and we were sternly admonished about our immoral behaviour. Immoral?? Touching one’s lawful spouse??? Then they wondered why we showed no enthusiasm whatsoever for their creed. Amazing.

  5. lees1975 says:

    *sigh*
    I’d have very quietly smiled, taken my wife by the hand, picked up the gift we brought, and informed them on my way out the door that there wouldn’t be a wedding gift, either. But I’d have smiled the whole time.
    — — — — — — —

    Thanks for taking me up on my invitation!

  6. Francoise says:

    Oooohh!! I DID post here! I just posted elsewhere about Baptists and dancing….this blogging is confusing!!
    I wouldn’t have taken their gift from them.
    I just couldn’t do that. As I remember, we just sat in stunned silence, watching them as anthropologists would observe extraterrestrials, and ETs from a veeeerrry distant galaxy, at that.. To us, they were another species entirely. Hee, hee. I dare say they thought the same of us 🙂

  7. Hayley says:

    it seems that every baptists has their own thought about if dancing is good or bad. so is there a real definete answer? is it good or bad?
    and i am on the dance team at my school. i LOVE dance. it is what i am passionate about. is that also considered a sin? i dont think that dancing separates us from god. that’s just insane in my belief. so the main question: dancing-good or bad??

  8. Lee says:

    Just from a personal perspective, Hayley, I wouldn’t think the school dance team is bad. I believe that, just like anything else people can do, dancing isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s what we do with it, or what our intentions are, that make it a bad thing. That’s where Baptists, and other Christians for that matter, get hung up on the stuff.

    As a youth pastor, I once encountered a parent who was livid about the fact that we played a couple of music videos at a church youth event. They were Christian videos, but he didn’t care. The whole idea of music video, he said, was a satanic plot to mesmerize kids’ senses and addict them to the screen in order to get them on drugs and alcohol and sell more videos. Following his logic, I said that if that was what videos do, then wouldn’t it make sense for Christians to use them to “mesmerize kids” for Christ? He didn’t take that very well.

    If that’s what videos do, I can see all kinds of possibilities for their use in the church related to tithing, committing to serve…..

  9. John Todd says:

    I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for 30+ years. One of the things that I hated to give up in order to go into the ministry was beer. Say what you will, I love the taste of beer. No, I don’t get drunk. As a matter of fact, I have a strict policy on limits.

    About 17 years ago, the Lord called me to a church that has members from all over the world. Most grew up in a culture and home where alcohol was used responsibly. Imagine my surprise when I attended the first Sunday School class party where beer and wine was served.

    Recently, my wife and I started a Beer and Bible study to lost people that we know. It’s been a great watching some of them get saved and start serving the Lord. Say what you will, but alcohol is part of the culture, and we were able to reach these people by becoming all things.

  10. BENJAMIN says:

    SAY WHAT YOU WANT:
    IF YOU ARE GOING TO SAY THAT DANCING IS FOR EVERYONE, AND THAT DANCING IS ART, ETC., ETC. (I’VE HEARD THEM ALL), THEN THE
    PROBLEM IS GOING TO BE:
    WHAT AND FOR WHO ARE YOU DANCING FOR?
    THE PSALM THAT YOU QUOTE CLEARLY OUTLINES DANCING IS TO WORSHIP GOD.
    THEN IS THE ISSUE OF VENUE: AS MY FATHER AND MOTHER USED TO SAY “WHAT ARE WE DOING IN THE SAME PLACE AS THE CATHOLICS? WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT (TO A CHRISTIAN EXTENT).
    IT SOUNDS TO ME YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES TO SIMPLY NOT “GIVE UP” CERTAIN THINGS THAT YOU LIKE.
    ALREADY, THERE’S THAT PASTOR THAT LIKES BEER.
    I LIKE WOMEN (LORD KNOWS I DO), BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I CAN HAVE THEM ALL.
    STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND LET’S ALL TRY TO LIVE IN A CHRIST-LIKE MANNER.
    TAKE THAT HEAVY, HEAVY, HEAVY CROSS AND TRULY FOLLOW JESUS