Pentecostal Christianity has a rich history of valuing conservative ideals. Denominations and churches belonging to the tradition have championed sacred doctrine and holy behavior since the modern Pentecostal movement started in the early 20th century. This leads many people to wonder if Pentecostals are allowed to dance.
Dancing isn’t inherently sinful according to Pentecostal convictions. However, believers should be cautious about how, where, and with whom they dance. Pentecostals know of passages in the Bible that describe people dancing, and some even dance in worship, but there are certain forms of it they avoid.
What kind of dancing is sinful in the Pentecostal tradition? What are appropriate examples of dancing in Pentecostalism? What does the Bible say about dancing? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What kind of dancing is sinful in the Pentecostal tradition?
Orthodox Pentecostalism doesn’t teach that dancing is always wrong. However, many Pentecostal leaders, like pastors, teach that it could be wrong in some contexts and when it involves certain actions. Below are three examples.
Dancing is sinful when it mimes unholy sexual activity. Certain forms of dancing have sexual connotations. The movements mimic sexual activity. Some movements involve touching while others don’t. Either way, Pentecostals generally agree that these forms of dancing don’t honor God and glorify sexual immorality, even if no literal sexual activity occurs.
Dancing could be sinful depending on the context and environment. In previous generations, some Pentecostals have argued that Christians should avoid dancing because it’s an activity associated with the world. In this view, any activity, whether it’s inherently sinful or not, out of simply being associated with the world, should be avoided.
Similarly, if the “world” goes to movie theatres, Christians shouldn’t do that. If the “world” wears a certain style of clothing, Christians shouldn’t do that. While some Pentecostals still live according to guidelines like these, disassociation with social norms and trends no longer characterizes Pentecostalism as a whole.
It may be wise to avoid dancing depending on what kind of touching is involved. For some people, touching another person in certain ways and on certain parts of their body – though not overtly sexual – may jeopardize the purity of their heart or mind. Even though the particular kind of dance in this case isn’t necessarily sinful in itself, it can still lead a person to sin in other ways.
What are appropriate examples of dancing in Pentecostalism?
While most Pentecostals suggest caution, especially to young people, when it comes to dancing, many agree that there are forms and expressions of it that are healthy and holy.
Certain forms of dancing are good physical activity and can help people steward their bodies. Dancing can also be healthy in the sense of being good for a marriage as a husband and wife are doing an enjoyable activity together that promotes wellness and can involve affectionate touching.
- Weddings may provide an environment for appropriate dancing: While some weddings may involve inappropriate dancing, some include loving traditions like a father-daughter dance, which is pure, holy, and pleasing to God. In Pentecostalism, like in other Christian traditions, a wedding is an important event in which a woman transitions from the family that raised her to a family of her own. The father-daughter dance beautifully symbolizes this change.
- Children may appropriately express themselves with dancing: Some children love to move to the rhythm of a song. They instinctively move to a beat or try to join in a chorus of a song that they like. There is nothing inappropriate about children expressing themselves in such ways, according to orthodox Pentecostal teaching.
- The Bible includes examples of being dancing in worship to God: Miriam, David, and others danced for God, so why can’t believers today? Pentecostals, perhaps moreso than people in other traditions, may dance in a sanctuary during a worship service. Some churches encourage such dancing without regulation. Other churches, recognizing that not everyone is comfortable with dancing during a service, regulate dancing so it won’t distract others from their worship of God.
What does the Bible say about dancing?
The Bible mentions and describes dancing in several verses. In some scenes, dancing is associated with sin and evil. Yet in others, it’s associated with joy in the Lord and worship.
- Exodus 15:20 | dancing after the exodus from Egypt: “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.”
- Psalm 149:3 | dancing in worship: “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!”
- Psalm 30:11 | dancing in worship: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:4 | dancing is contrasted with mourning: “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
- Luke 15:25 | dancing after the prodigal son returns: “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.”
Dancing is also mentioned in the context of sin and evil. Some Bible readers believe the dancing is directly connected to sin in the sense that it’s a physical manifestation of sin and evil.
Other readers believe the sin mentioned in these passages isn’t dancing. The sin in Exodus 32 is idolatry and the sin in Mark 6 is the murder of John the Baptist.
- Exodus 32:19 | dancing at the worship of the golden calf: “”And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.”
- Mark 6:22 | dancing at the death of John the Baptist: “For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”
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