Young People Ask . . .
Isn’t Dancing Just Innocent Pleasure?
DANCING can be viewed as a gift from our Creator that affords us another way to express joy. His worshipers in ancient times would sing and “rejoice in the dance.” (Jeremiah 31:12, 13) Dancing can also be a means of recreation and pleasant relaxation. In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the rejoicing that occurred over the son’s return included “a music concert and dancing.”—Luke 15:25.
‘But what about fast dancing?’ ask some youths. It has its place. For example, the Bible shows that King David felt such deep joy after returning the sacred ark of the covenant to Jerusalem that he was “dancing around . . . with all his power.” (2 Samuel 6:14) David was likely dancing very vigorously and fast—but not unrestrained. Can it be said that all fast dancing is appropriate or innocent? No, there is a need for caution. The power of music can carry you away.
Avoid Getting Carried Away
Although getting together for a good time is fine, there is a need for proper restraint at such gatherings. The apostle Paul told Christians in the first century: “As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries [”wild parties,” The Bible in Living English] and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy.” (Romans 13:13) This was no doubt because pagan festivals in ancient times were typically marked by drunkenness, sensual dancing and wild abandon.
Centuries earlier Socrates described one such revelry where women “abandoned themselves to demonstrations of frantic excitement, with dancing and clamorous invocation of the god. . . . The men yielded to a similar impulse by noisy revels in the streets, sounding the cymbals and tambourine.” Early Christians therefore had to be careful that any of their social gatherings did not reflect a similar spirit.
Paul’s caution to avoid “wild parties” is still relevant. At such gatherings today, people are often so moved by the power of music (plus drugs and alcohol) that they get carried away. They dance wildly—provocatively. Youths today should therefore be careful that they do not throw off restraint at gatherings and ‘get lost in the music.’ The Bible’s counsel is: “Keep your senses, be watchful.”—1 Peter 5:8.
Yes, at times dance movements that can be done gracefully—or at least modestly—can also be done provocatively. There is always a need for caution when a dance involves movements of the body in a way that could arouse erotic desires in yourself and others, thus crossing the line of Christian modesty.
John, for example, loves to dance. However, he now admits that some of the dances he used to do were sexually suggestive. Recalls John: “I can remember becoming sexually stimulated by either participating in certain dances or observing others doing them.” Wisely, as a person now abiding by Christian principles, he steers clear of those dances.
The type of music you dance to is also important. True, you may be fond of music with a strong beat. But must it be played at deafening sound levels to be enjoyed? And is it wise to play such music nonstop? It appears that the constant, strong beat of music has contributed to turning some gatherings into “revelries.”
When the Music Is Slow
Dancing that is done to slow and soft music can also pose danger. Bill and Ann found this out at a friend’s wedding reception. Explains Ann: “Frequently the lights were turned low and soft, and slow, romantic music was played. The dance floor was filled with couples, teenagers included, dancing very, very close.” Bill adds: “Some were pressing up against each other with hardly any foot movement.”
As you well know, just touching a member of the opposite sex can ignite strong desires. Obviously, then, tightly hugging someone to the beat of romantic music is not wise. Really, would doing so seem innocent or wholesome if there was no music playing? Would it seem proper even for a married couple to conduct themselves in such a way in public? So if you do decide to dance to slow music, be aware of the potential dangers. Some have been led to commit fornication after becoming passionately aroused due to immodest dancing.
Beneath the Beat
Remember too: There is more to music than just a beat. Often, beneath the beat are suggestive—if not pornographic—lyrics. And many times the melody accompanying the filthy words is catchy and the beat compelling. But can you dance to such songs and still maintain innocent and wholesome thoughts?
Have you ever heard a song you did not particularly like, but later you found yourself humming the tune or mouthing the words? Our minds soak in information that at times we’d rather forget. Add to immoral words a nice melody and a strong beat, and endless repetition (typical of some modern music), and you can see why dancing to such a song is dangerous. The words can become almost a chant indelibly impressed on the mind—and heart.
Will You Dance?
Our loving Creator wants us to be happy, and recreational activities have long contributed to people’s happiness. The Bible says: “The public squares of the city themselves will be filled with boys and girls playing.” Also, it says that there is “a time for dancing.” (Zechariah 8:5; Ecclesiastes 3:4, The New English Bible) Yet, as we have seen, not all dancing is just innocent pleasure. Dancing in the past, and at the present, has often been done in a way so as to arouse sexual passions and to lead people into sexual immorality. So the question, Will I dance? is appropriate.
Some may choose not to dance, recognizing the potential danger it involves due to the world’s unhealthy influence and, perhaps, their own inclination to become carried away in not so innocent dancing. So just as some may refrain from alcoholic beverages, not because these drinks in themselves are sinful, but because of the potential harm drinking might do to them, for similar reasons some may wisely refrain from dancing. Yet it may be that you will find that dancing can be done within a healthy atmosphere and with appropriately selected music that will contribute to your pleasure and enjoyment without the bad consequences. If you are a minor, you will want to listen closely to your Christian parents and obey their wishes.—Ephesians 6:1-3.
Years ago youths commonly learned to dance from their parents and other older ones. Such dances were often passed on for generations! Our Creator once said to the Israelites: “The virgin will rejoice in the dance, also the young men and the old men, all together.” (Jeremiah 31:13) Likely they engaged in group dances, such as “circle dances.” (Judges 21:21; Psalm 150:4) Youths and older people can still enjoy dancing together!
Group dances are still popular in many countries. In the United States there are square dances. These can be an enjoyable form of entertainment, with people of all ages sharing. Mexicans enjoy “La Raspa.” And Greeks still enjoy their circle dances. If you have a gathering where there is dancing, why not invite your parents and some older ones? Perhaps they can show you a step or two, and you can have pleasure dancing along with them.
Older ones might teach you some of the old-time dances. With parents and other respected ones present, the mood will not become one of revelry. Therefore, favor home gatherings with whole families present. Reject all music that debases and songs with unsavory lyrics! Keep recreation in its place so that it does not take too much of your time and attention. By heeding these suggestions, you can rejoice at dancing in a way that truly is innocent pleasure.
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Dancing too close when slow, romantic music is playing can arouse immoral desires
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At Christian gatherings both young folks and older ones can enjoy group dancing