Dancing has an interesting history in many Protestant denominations. According to some Christians, dancing is inherently wrong and leads to sin. According to others, dancing is a beautiful expression of holy romantic love as well as an expression of worship seen in the Bible.
The Assemblies of God denomination today doesn’t discourage dancing, especially between married couples or as a form of worship. Unmarried people, including youth, are encouraged to dance with wisdom and discretion to maintain modesty. The Assemblies of God used to prohibit all forms of dancing.
What’s the difference between wise and unwise dancing? What kind of settings and related behaviors should Christians be cautious about, according to the Assemblies of God? Keep reading to learn more.
Here’s how dancing can be sinful to some
Dancing has many purposes and expressions. It’s a social activity — and even a form of worship — that is mentioned and described in the Bible. In the modern world, people dance at weddings, at night clubs, and even in church. Dancing in all of these places has different purposes and sometimes, different forms and styles.
Four reasons why the Assemblies of God may consider certain forms of dancing unwise include:
- It can violate a person’s purity
- It is sometimes associated with drunkenness
- Some associate it with gambling
- Some also express concern about the location dancing occurs such as in night clubs
According to Assemblies of God teaching, there are certain forms of dancing that are unwise for Christians. Some forms of dancing involve moving and touching another person in a sexual manner. Other kinds have the appearance of sexual activity. Still other kinds accentuate parts of the body in ways that some believe are impure.
Song lyrics and certain kinds of clothing are sometimes associated with forms of dancing that may violate a participant’s purity. Forms of dancing that are sexually suggestive are sometimes set to music whose lyrics have sexually impure descriptions and allusions. Some people who engage in such forms of dance wear clothing that the Assemblies of God have traditionally considered too revealing and sexually suggestive.
Moving the body to music isn’t the essence of the problem in the Assemblies of God today. Purity is the heart of the matter. Any behavior, dancing or otherwise, which leads a person to violate — or to even risk violating — their purity should be avoided. Scripture consistently and strongly condemns impurity:
- Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (ESV)
- 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (ESV)
- 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (ESV)
When is dancing not sinful?
The Assemblies of God denomination used to prohibit all forms of dancing. The intention of the teaching was to help people avoid sin and not put themselves in a position to experience temptation. The denomination relaxed its hard-line approach in the 1950’s and 1960’s, though it encourages dancers to use wisdom and discretion.
There are numerous examples of when dancing is an acceptable and holy expression of joy and worship, which is rooted in Scripture.
- Weddings: Weddings often include appropriate forms of dancing such as between the new husband and wife, as well as a father-daughter dance. Many Christians consider this kind of dancing pure, holy, and pleasing to God. The dance between the bride and groom can not only be fun but an expression of romantic love in a God-glorifying context. A father-daughter dance is an important moment in which a woman transitions from the family that raised her to a family of her own.
- Children: Who hasn’t seen a toddler instinctively dance and bounce to the rhythm of music played in the home, in the car, or at church? Many Assemblies of God members today argue that such expressions are delightful displays of innocence, which should be encouraged, not disciplined.
- Worship: People like Miriam and David danced as an expression of worship, so why can’t believers today? Some in the Assemblies of God ask this question.
Is dancing a form of worship in the Bible?
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.” (ESV)
- Psalm 149:3 | dancing in worship: “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!” (ESV)
- 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.” (ESV)
- 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.” (ESV)
- 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.” (ESV)
Dancing is also mentioned in the context of sin and evil. Some Bible readers believe the dancing is directly connected to the sin, in the sense that it’s a physical manifestation of the sin and evil. Other readers believe the sin mentioned in these passages isn’t dancing. Rather, 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.” (ESV)
- 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.” (ESV)
Since the mid 20th century, the Assemblies of God tradition has removed prohibitive restrictions on dancing, yet some churches and members prefer their traditional ways to modern changes.
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