How Christians Should View Disco
IS IT wise for Christians to go to discos? Is it wise for them to see such movies as Saturday Night Fever? In many households questions such as these have been topics of conversation, and have given rise to some concern.
Some Christian overseers have spoken about these matters from the public platform, even before large convention audiences. Generally, they have pointed to the danger for Christians who might go to such places. How do you view their advice? Do you consider such Christian overseers ‘fun spoilers,’ persons who are needlessly concerned about the recreational activities of fellow Christians?
What Others Advise
Well, what is the advice of ones who know disco from the inside—the publishers of Discoworld? A 15-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, wrote to the magazine: “I used to attend discotheques until two weeks ago when one of my teachers from school caught me and told my father. I am planning to start going again after things cool off. Because to me the most enjoyable form of entertainment is dancing to the sounds of DISCO.”
Discoworld published the girl’s letter in its May 1977 issue, along with this reply:
“A girl at your age attending a disco is really not a good idea. There are harsh realities in the world today and if confronted by one of them it may cause a dilemma for you and for your family. I am sure you have a record player at home and enough records to dance to your heart’s desire. If you need a crowd, invite the rest of your friends over.”
“Harsh Realities . . . A Dilemma”?
What “harsh realities in the world today” may one be confronted with by going to discos? How may this result in a “dilemma” for a girl and her family?
A basic harsh reality is that the soul—the very essence—of disco is freedom of sexual expression. The atmosphere at such places is designed to lower inhibitions. A person who is now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but who formerly used drugs and went to discos, said: “There were times when I could get higher in a discotheque than on drugs due to the effect of the strobe lights, the throb of the music and the hypnotic air.”
Another Witness, who regretfully had to be expelled from the Christian congregation because he became swallowed up in the disco experience and committed all forms of fornication, later acknowledged: “It’s a jungle. Even if you go there with your wife and want to enjoy a little dancing, she is undressed and raped in the minds of the men there even before you get her out on the dance floor.”
So the harsh realities are that going to discos exposes one to sexual encounters, as well as an atmosphere that lowers sexual inhibitions. Of course, that is what many, perhaps the majority, are seeking. However, a true Christian heeds the apostolic command: “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) But, frankly, how can Christians really be heeding this command and at the same time be frequenting discos?
The involvement in immorality is not some remote possibility. It is a very real possibility. Reports are received regularly about its happening to those who go to discos. And what often follows? You know—unwanted pregnancies, venereal diseases, broken families, emotional troubles, fear, confusion, not to mention a bad conscience. Confrontation with such harsh realities can indeed cause a dilemma, yes, a really sad situation for a person and his or her family.
For What Are We Living?
There is a vital fact that Christians must face: Not everything pleasurable is good; God may even be displeased with what we enjoy. Consider Moses of old, of whom the Bible says: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin . . . for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.”—Heb. 11:24-26.
There can be enjoyment, yes, fun, in running with a crowd that engages in a pleasure-oriented, loose way of living, which characterizes the disco life-style. But is that way of life truly of lasting benefit? Did God’s servant Moses choose such a life-style? No, but because he loved Jehovah and desired the reward God offered, Moses refused that temporary enjoyment of sin.
Recently a Witness in her mid-twenties, who formerly had been involved in a morally loose, drug-oriented way of life, was asked about her previous way of life. “I can’t say that it wasn’t fun,” she answered. “I didn’t stop doing those things because they weren’t fun—even though underneath I felt a certain insecurity and unhappiness—but I stopped because I came to learn what was pleasing to Jehovah God, and I wanted above all else to please him.”
So what is really important to you? Is it pursuing temporary fun, something of no lasting benefit, but which may even run you up against harsh realities? Or is it pleasing Jehovah, winning his approval and eternal life in his righteous new system? Where is your heart?
Interestingly, the second-century Christian Clement of Alexandria wrote on this matter of worldly entertainment: “No one who has his senses will ever prefer what is pleasant to what is good.” As Christians, may what we choose for entertainment not be simply what we consider pleasurable, fun, but may our choice be determined particularly by what is good.
Music and Dancing—Need of Caution
However, some Christians may feel deprived, as though they are missing out on something. ‘Not all discos are such bad places,’ they may argue. ‘What’s wrong with having some fun?’
As noted earlier, the name disco can be attached to quite differing kinds of places. Some “discos” may be restaurants, the music and dancing perhaps even being rather incidental, or not even featured during normal dining hours. Such places, and perhaps even others, may feature a form of music and dancing that Christians find acceptable. But these “discos” would not reflect the disco life-style, which conflicts with the precepts of true Christianity.
Jehovah God surely does not condemn entertainment. His word speaks approvingly of music and dancing. (2 Sam. 6:14; Ps. 87:7; 149:3; Matt. 11:17; Luke 15:25) But because true Christians recognize the very real dangers of sharing in such things with persons who do not respect Jehovah’s laws, many wisely choose to enjoy them alone or with fellow Christians. But does this necessarily remove all the potential for trouble? No, it doesn’t. Music, for example, can be harmful even when listened to alone. These comments of a woman, who is now a Witness, illustrate this:
“Popular were songs about fun and freedom. Doing ‘what you want to do’ and ‘whatever feels good’ were depicted as the way to live. Constantly allowing these thoughts to be carried into my mind and heart, I was deeply influenced by my musician ‘friends.’ Though I never personally spoke with them, they became some of my closest associates. My schoolmates and I became almost as familiar with our favorite musicians as we were with our next door neighbors!
“Because I was no longer a girl, yet not quite a woman, I overflowed with emotion, imagination and idealism. Therefore my feelings and outlook were easily ‘tuned in’ with those of my musician ‘friends.’ As they ‘cried’ out their songs, inside I cried too. As they ‘laughed,’ I laughed. Before long, this powerful impact upon my feelings led me to great harm.
“I wanted to experience romantic love, to be showered with the affection that the musicians seemed to have. My conscience, weakened by this worldly thinking, was then no protection for me when I started dating. I tried marijuana and LSD in order to feel ‘in with the crowd.’ My actions, without my being aware of it, were influenced by the desires my musician ‘friends’ had instilled in me. When one boyfriend didn’t prove to be my ‘true’ love, I hoped to find another. Where was that blissful relationship the music had described? I went from relationship to relationship. My boyfriends could not fit into the mold I had cast for them. So I spent many hours, days at a time, in tears and frustration.”
Music affects us. And much of today’s disco music can have an adverse effect. So use discernment when you listen to music. Dancing, too, even when done with fellow Christians, may present potential hazards. When in close contact with members of the opposite sex in the “romantic” atmosphere of music and dancing, feelings can easily be aroused. And especially when good motive is lacking, real trouble can result.
Such lack of good motive proved a problem in the first century during the “love feasts” early Christians held. These feasts evidently were social gatherings arranged for the enjoyment of good food and upbuilding association. But persons lacking proper motive exercised a corrupting influence, apparently turning these wholesome gatherings into noisy, boisterous affairs of self-indulgence.—Jude 12; 2 Pet. 2:13, 14.
Similar situations have developed during social gatherings of Christians in modern times. The introducing of improper disco music and dancing has contributed. We need to be careful to prevent this from occurring, being on guard that persons with improper motives do not slip in and take advantage of such occasions to corrupt others. Not only Christian elders, but all, young and old alike, need to feel the responsibility to keep any semblance of the disco life-style from being manifest among God’s clean, holy people.
As Christians, we need to heed the apostle Peter’s admonition: “Therefore since Christ suffered in the flesh, you too arm yourselves with the same mental disposition . . . For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.”—1 Pet. 4:1-5.
Its Last Waltz?
Unlike members of this rapidly sinking system who have no hope, Christians have true purpose and a goal in life. Let us reflect this fact by the wholesome, upright way that we live. Reject the disco scene! It is empty and sick, and serves as just another evidence of the nearness of the system’s end. Anthropologist Jamake Highwater unwittingly pointed to that fact, saying:
“Dance is the most transparent indicator of attitudes which the culture produces, because we can’t lie about the way we move. . . . (the disco scene) reflects a fear on some level that we’re a terminal people and that this is the last waltz. When I go to Studio 54 [a well-known New York disco], it reminds me of what I imagine the last dance would be like on the Titanic.”
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“There can be enjoyment, yes, fun, in running with a crowd that engages in a pleasure-oriented, loose way of living, which characterizes the disco life-style. But is that way of life truly of lasting benefit?”