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Ask A Pastor: What About Dancing?

Question:

I just switched to the FRC recently and came from a church that was ok with this topic. Why in the FRC are so many people so against dancing? I’ve grown up going to weddings where you always have the father-daughter dance and the first dance of the new couple. People will argue that when you have little kids, they always dance to music. We danced all the time when we were very young. I understand that there are times and places where it is not good, but the same can be said about many things we do. If we do it to the glory of God then is it right to say we can’t? I read 2 Samuel 6:14-23. To criticize people dancing before the Lord, will we not be like Michal, Saul’s daughter?

Short Answer:

Christians are free to dance, and they are free not to dance. But they are not free to dance immorally. Most dancing in our culture—at the very least—pushes the boundary on immoral dancing and does not glorify God. And so it’s wise to be cautious about it. In our freedoms in the Christian life, we should stop asking, “how far can we go without sinning,” and instead (in those freedoms) ask, “How far away can I stay from sin? And, how can I most glorify God!”

Longer answer:

I just happened to preach a sermon last week that talked about exactly this, titled, “Adiaphora.” Let me answer your question by referring to that sermon:

First know this word: “Adiaphora” (aw-dee-AW-for-aw)

What’s “adiaphora”? Wikipedia gives a helpful description: “In Christianity, “adiaphora” are matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless as permissible for Christians or allowed in church.“ R.C. Sproul described it like this: Adiaphora, (or, something that is adiaphorus), biblically, “has to do with matters, that in and of themselves—inherently, intrinsically—have no particular moral bearing.”


So something that is adiaphorus is neither here, nor there. There’s nothing particularly sinful about it, and there’s nothing particularly virtuous about it. It’s up to the liberty of the individual’s conscience. You’d be surprised—if you’ve never thought about it, or focused on it before—how much of the New Testament is concerned with explaining the idea of “adiaphora.” It’s all over.

Then Understand This…

In Acts 15 (from which I was preaching), the Apostles told the new Gentile Christians to keep from eating meat offered to idols (Acts 15:29). Later in the New Testament, that restriction is lifted. Paul will later write that all meat, if received in thanksgiving to the Lord, is good. So meat offered to idols (in other words) is adiaphora. Neither good nor bad, here nor there. (An idol is nothing but a piece of wood, after all). It wasn’t essential to salvation for these new Gentiles to restrain from this meat. So why tell them to then?


Because it was wise and prudent. That’s why. They had freedom to eat that meat, because in-and-of-itself that meat was good, but it was wise and prudent for them to stay away from it… for a period. Here’s why:


Even though idols ultimately were nothing, for newly converted gentiles, who just a short time ago bowed down to idols and allowed idols to have power over them… for them it was something. It brought up feelings and emotions and thoughts for them that it would never bring up for me (I’ve never been a part of idol worship in the Temple of Zeus). It would have been very foolish to send a new convert to eat that meat, and have him tempted to turn from his faith in the Lord Jesus and return to worshipping Zeus.


After a while though, with time and distance from these idols, and a new generation of Christians who grew up not attending these pagan temples, this restriction—that was wise and prudent for a time—was lifted.

Now Apply it to Dancing…

I cannot speak for every church in the FRC, but at Living Hope church where I am pastor, for a wedding to be officiated by the pastor and endorsed by the church the couple must not have a dance. Here’s what I said about that in my sermon:


“Now in-and-of-itself, dancing is adiaphora: It’s neither right nor wrong. The Bible contains examples of godly people dancing. And so we cannot say, that dancing is a sin, or put a blanket restriction over it. But yet we have it as a rule that it not be allowed at weddings. Why?”


“Because dancing—at this time, in our culture, at events like weddings, and school proms—is often done in a sinful and unbiblical way. Or at the very least: It pushes the boundaries and asks, “How far can we go, without sinning.” Dancing today has become so sexualized that even public schools—that actively push a sexualized culture among young people—are working, in some instances, to cancel proms and dances. Because of how immoral they’ve become—even for them. And wedding dances are no different, in general. People who would say adultery is wrong, find no problem with taking another man’s wife, or another woman’s husband, and pressing close to him or her, and swaying with them across the room, and more. Or—just because it’s on the dance floor—unmarried people, or dating couples are given the okay to do what only married couples should do. If a father walked in on them on the couch, doing what they do in the open in the dance floor, he would be quite upset! The dancing today, is (largely) not the dancing we see in the few biblical examples we have.”

“And so we, knowing the atmosphere of weddings, and “dances,” have—out of prudence—put this rule in place.”


“Now to some, this rule seems overly restrictive. To others, it’s biblical, and must be! But yet the reality is: It’s in the middle. It’s adiaphora. There is dancing, that people, or married couples, can take part in, that does not cross the line or try and push the boundaries: And we need to recognize that.”

“You could also argue: If we restrict dancing at weddings, we could also restrict alcohol. That’s legitimate. But alcohol too, is adiaphora. Unless you drink it to excess: Then it becomes a sin of self-indulgence, and lack of self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. A sin for you.”

So to summarize: Dancing is adiaphora, but because the dancing that is so prominent in our culture would grieve God, many think it’s wise to restrict it.


Much more could be said about adiaphora—about how God gives us these freedoms in the Christian life so that we are free to worship Him according to our gifts and talents, and as our heart leads, so that we willingly seek to glorify God in our lives … and also how often, in adiaphorus things, our sinful heart does the opposite, and tries to see how far we can “push the boundaries” and get close to sin—but I hope this helps answer your question.


Warmly,

Pastor Tim


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