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Is Dancing A Sin?
“A Biblical Perspective”
By Grace Badillo, President
Dancing With Grace Productions, Inc.
Since the time I was a baby, I remember dancing to any music that was on around me. Those pure moments of happiness were something God planted in me as a babe; times I will always cherish. While browsing the internet, I came upon a website that stated that all forms of dance are a sin. I found myself confused and saddened. How could my wonderful world of dance be a sin? The more I researched, the more I found “confusion” which doesn’t come from God. I asked God for guidance each day and at every turn I saw His face, so how could this be? I was determined to uncover the truth and in His presence, this is what I found:
First, we must begin with identifying the definition of dancing/dance:
- generally refers to movement used as a form of expression presented in a spiritual, performance or social setting
- an artistic form of nonverbal communication to music
- move in a graceful and rhythmical way
- taking a series of rhythmical steps (and movements) in time to music
- move in a pattern; usually to musical accompaniment
Second, we must examine whether or not the definition of dance reveals any form of sin. There is movement, movement, and more movement, but there is neither lust nor perversion. Just as God designed love and people distort its meaning, many distort the idea of dance that comes from original uses of praise, worship, & an expression of unadulterated happiness that can be had alone or in groups.
Now that we’ve examined man’s definition of dance from the dictionary, let’s go to the Word of God to get God’s view on this important subject.
- II Samuel 6:5-16, David and the entire house of Israel played music before the Lord with songs, harps, tambourines, castanets & cymbals. Verse 14 states that David danced before the Lord with all of his might. He was also leaping and dancing.
- Exodus 15:20-21, gives an account of women dancing to celebrate God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt after crossing the Red Sea.
- Judges 21:19, there is an example of women dancing together and in Judges 21:23, they were called “dancers”.
- I Samuel 18:6, women danced to celebrate one of King David’s victories with timbrels, songs of joy, and instruments of music. It was also said that they laughed and frolicked.
- Judges 11:34, the daughter of one of the Israelite judges danced alone.
- Psalms 149:3 &150:4, speak of praising God through dance and song.
- I Samuel 30:16, we read of “the raiders were spread abroad over all the land dancing.” Weren’t there women all over the land too; while the men were happy about their victory were the women all asleep? People like to imply that only the men danced, but this is far fetched and they likely celebrated together like most human beings. This victory was a miracle, please read the entire book of I Samuel, you will really appreciate it!
- Ecclesiastes 3:4, Solomon wrote that there is a time for almost everything. He includes a “time for dancing.” There is no mention here that it is a sin for men and women to dance together.
- Jeremiah 31:1, the prophet Jeremiah foretold a time when dancing would be the joyous result of God’s work. (We see our business as a joyous result of God’s work through us sharing our love of dance and appreciation of God with our students and with the poor and poor in spirit).
And so in ancient days they danced, but there are accounts in the bible where dance was seen in a negative light:
- The children of Israel danced around and worshipped the golden calf they asked Aaron to make while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments and God’s covenant. What was the result of this dance? Listen, ye that dance not to the glory of God! 3,000 of them were slain. Ex. 32: 19-28.
- The Moabites enticed the children of Israel to idolatry by the dancing of their maidens, and 24,000 were slain at the ball. Num. 25:1-9. Josephus says the Moabites enticed the Israelites to dance.
- The daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and pleased him, but her mother taking advantage of the occasion, caused Herod to commit one of the darkest crimes recorded in history—the beheading of John the Baptist.
So in reading scripture we see there were many pure instances of dance and celebration tainted by few impure instances, which proves one thing: People can take anything meant for good and use it for evil. Thus, dancing is not a sin unless we make it one.
Now that we’ve explored the dictionary definition of dance, and the biblical examples of dance, let’s see what mass media has to say. I read an article once that stated, “Most dancing, as even the experts in the field will tell you, are designed to produce sinful passions. And sinful passions lead to sin.”
I was surprised by this statement made by someone condemning dance. I am a professional and “expert” in this field and I disagree that “dances have been specifically designed to produce sinful passions.” There are so many reasons God created dance. Many people in the church today completely ignore that dance can be directly participatory, social or performed for an audience. It can also be ceremonial, competitive or erotic. It is in the mind that we are challenged. Dance movements may be without significance in themselves, such as in ballet or European folk dance. Dances can also have a gestured vocabulary or symbolic system. These ancient dances had the participants use their arms and movements to tell a story- just like praise/dance worship you might see in contemporary churches today. Dance can embody or express ideas, emotions and tell a story. Is telling a story through nonverbal communication a sin? Instead, the viewer must understand that this is directly related to the culture in which the dance comes from; cultures that God made completely unique from one another. In my research, the one thing all civilizations have in common is that they all have a form of music and dance that is unique to their culture: a beautiful form of movement, sound and expression.
Why would God have created so many different cultures with completely different music and forms of dance if we weren’t meant to dance them? One would have to conclude that ALL MUSIC IS SINFUL because people feel the need to dance to it. All things can be made sinful. Something as beautiful as dance has been degraded all over the world in many forms. It has also been used by television and movies in horrible ways.
How about some of the costumes worn by performers? Aren’t they inappropriate? Yes. I would agree that some of the costumes are too revealing, but should the entire body be covered with linen in order to be deemed appropriate? Remember, God created our bodies for His glory - “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:13).” The human body is not sinful nor is clothing or dance. It is Satan who is busy trying to use our bodies in a sinful way to dishonor the Creator. At times, Satan succeeds. Should we then conclude that all dances be condemned because Satan is busy at work? No. A sin begins on the inside and is expressed on the outside through words and actions – “…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).” God gave us freewill. We can use our bodies to sin or we can use our bodies to honor and glorify Him.
As Christians, we must see beyond the legalism! God never meant for dance to be a sin; this is why there were so many happy instances in the bible where dancing was taking place. In the world of “couples dance”, the movements, the clothing, and the physical contact can and should be respectful, enjoyable, and beautiful. Why can’t we open our minds to the idea that “Couples Dance” in its traditional form is a great respectable option we can give our youngsters who are creative and interested in dance as a career or hobby? While the legalistic churches are doing their best to provide no options or only praise dance options, Satan is rejoicing. For every door the church closes to social dance, Satan opens one up. The children and young adults walk right through. In these places where there are no Christians to set the proper example, Satan teaches them how to explore dance in a very illicit way. As the church shuts their eyes, youngsters sway to the beat of Satan’s drummer. As a result, dance is used to dishonor God, but not on our watch!
We recognize we can’t always know the motives and intentions of others; we can only be responsible for our own. We must teach our children and young adults how to dance as if God were in the room, because He is. After dancing and teaching for so many years I have found that true dancers have a great appreciation for how much time and effort it actually takes to accomplish choreography. The performance, whether social or professional, is a result of many hours of training and refinement. The sin comes only when the mind engages in lustful thoughts or negative criticism toward the performers. The true challenge for all of us, dancers and non-dancers, is our thought life. Whether it’s what you think of your neighbor’s wife, a person’s church going habits, or what you think while watching a dance performance, we all need to “assess our thoughts” and require apply a higher standard. We can also ask God to help us guard our minds and hearts against evil. The Lords prayer is a great weapon against sin that we can all use on a daily basis. Dance can be a sin if the dancer or observer makes it one, much like praying to God in front of your friends to sound “Godly” can be a sin or eating too much is a sin of gluttony. My advice to my students who need help trying not to fall into lustful temptations is that when you think a lustful thought, hit the “delete button”. Just like on a computer you too can hit the “delete button” in your mind the moment a lustful thought comes your way. God will then know that you love to dance, your intentions are pure, and you are always working on improving your thought life. This is the true “battlefield” of everyone’s everyday life; we don’t have to be a slave to our thoughts.
So what about Christian dance instructors? Are we doing evil, promoting evil, or glorifying God? I agree with the latter. Daily we ask God to bless our work both in the community and abroad. Daily He answers our prayers. Through our business, we help students in so many ways, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We have even been used as a tool by God to help people find the love of their life, meet the needs of the poor, and to redirect the poor in spirit back to Him. Are these acts of evil? We think not. On the contrary, we believe that couples’ dancing, when taught appropriately, does the following:
- Encourages natural self expression, music appreciation, and music history.
- Demonstrates proper movement of the feet/body in response to the music.
- Instills good manners and good hygiene.
- Promotes engaging in a physical activity that is good for your health.
- Teaches respect while discouraging such behavior as mimicking human sexual acts on the dance floor.
- Trains men to be gentlemen and refrain from teaching holds and moves that are offensive to women.
- Trains women to dance like ladies and not in a perverse manner.
- Provides a social outlet for young people to meet each other and have fun in a respectable manner.
- Encourages all engaged and married couples to learn something new together that will help bond them in their relationship forever!
It has been my personal experience that almost everyone I have met maintains a good level of decency and respect for their fellow dancers. As a matter of fact, even in an environment where alcohol is served, most dancers avoid it. Many of you will agree that excessive alcohol consumption is self-destructive and harmful. Dancers fall into a different category:
For many, “couples dancing” is not just a hobby, it is a commitment. Beginner dancers usually take 2-3 dance lessons per week for the first 6 months of learning and continue dancing for an average of 3 years, but most for a lifetime. People who dance do not spend this kind of money to go to clubs and get drunk. A dancer knows that alcohol inhibits their ability to dance by causing them to lose their balance, forget moves, and potentially hurt someone in the process. Couples dancing takes a lot of skill and technique, thus, most dancers drink water or energy drinks to rehydrate their bodies so they can continue to dance all night. Most dancers also take care of their body more than the average person. Hundreds of our students also come to us after an illness or heart attack needing to get exercise so they can restore their health. Contrary to what many in the legalistic churches believe, not all people are trying to unload sexual frustrations through dance. The health benefits are overwhelming. Many make friendships that last a lifetime through dance and I have hundreds of testimonials to prove this fact. Those that use dance as a form of deriving sexual pleasure don’t last long in our world of dance because we women like to stay away from people like this and choose to dance with those in the ballroom or nightclub that have good reputations for loving dance and not themselves.
Dance isn’t a sin in its purest form. It was created by a God who made us in His image. I imagine He dances every time we:
- choose right instead of wrong
- help the beggar on the street regardless what he might do with the money
- hit the delete button every time a bad thought comes into our minds
- consider those around us before we consider ourselves
- treat others with respect;
- and I hope He dances when we share Him with others around us regardless of the politically correct world we live in.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Grace, who dreamed of being a dancer when she was 4 years old. Years later, after meeting her sweet third grade teacher, she dreamed of being a teacher so that she could help others learn. Twenty years later, God made her dream come true. He made her a DANCE TEACHER. God knows the heart and rewards us and delights in us each time we step out on faith and do something for Him and through Him. So be mindful of your thoughts and consider what I have written here today. Let us give our brothers and sisters wholesome options to couples dance and teach them how to live rather than condemning something so beautiful as dance and write it off on the “what will the members think” legalistic can’t do list. I don’t believe it is responsible of us as Christians to write off something God made that was and is used to praise Him.
PS. For those of you out there who have no faith and believe in nothing consider reading scripture and just asking for God to reveal Himself to you. What do you have to lose? He never fails to answer if you keep asking!
Thank you for reading this article. I applaud you! Please tell me what you thought! firstname.lastname@example.org