|NO||DANCING AND THE BIBLE
September 19, 2007
Andres C. Guevara Jr.
The Bible doesn't give specific instructions on dancing. The Bible does not say “Thou shalt not dance.” In fact, dancing is mentioned several times in the Bible.
I Thess. 5:21-22 we are commanded to PROVE all things - to hold fast to that
which is good, and to abstain from all appearance of evil. Increasingly dance
is being brought into the churches. As Bible believers, it is our
responsibility to "prove" from the Scriptures whether this is
pleasing to the Lord or not. It must be put to the test. Hence, the purpose of
this study is to put dancing to the test of God's inspired Word.
Like so many other things, dancing was viewed as either good or bad, depending on how and why it was done.
A. Good Dancing
A study of these accounts will reveal that each involved an expression of rejoicing or religious enthusiasm because of some victory or accomplishment.
>Jepthah's daughter greeting him with "timbrels
and with dances" after a great victory (Judges 11:34).
>Maidens of Shiloh - Judges 21:19-23.
2. Some dancing was incorporated into the worship of God (Ps. 149:3; 150:4). In these two psalms, the psalmist commands his Jewish readers to praise and worship God in dance. This speaks of praising God through dance.
Whatever type of dancing is mentioned here, it is certainly mentioned in a good light as a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving, joy, worship, and praise. This type of dance was an occasion of public rejoicing (for victories or other blessings granted by God), &/or an act of worship (due to God's blessings being gratefully acknowledged).
B. Evil Dancing
However, other types of dancing were clearly evil in nature. Since the term "dancing" is capable of expressing a broad range of man's thoughts, it may also portray that which is lewd and sinful.
C. Non-religious Dancing
1. Some dancing was of a civil and non religious nature. For example, there was the custom of women greeting the return of victorious soldiers with music and dance (1 Sam. 18:6). It is likely that this was closer in nature to cheer-leading than what we would call dancing today.
2. Some dancing was evidently part of a celebration festivity (Luke 15:25). The household danced in celebration of the son’s return. It is likened to the joy of heaven over a sinner who repents (vs. 7, 10). It was probably roughly equivalent to a folk dance. The Bible simply mentions that it occurred. It is neither condoned nor forbidden in the passage.
Of course these dances could be categorized as either good or evil, depending upon what actually took place at the celebrations. We simply do not have enough information to judge properly.
3. Some dancing was the expression of the innocence of youth (Matt. 11:16-17). Jesus used the illustration of children dancing as they played with each other. This is innocent playing among children. No mention of people of the opposite sex dancing with each other. Nothing sensual or sexual about these dances.
Categorically, there are two types of dancing in the Bible:
The Greek words used in the New Testament have to do with lifting up the feet or leaping with regularity of motion.
Dancing is found frequently through The Bible.
In the Old Testament some of the original Hebrew words were pronounced:
The following definitions of various terms relating to dancing were taken from Strong's Concordance. Examples of their usage are included as well. What we want to see through these definitions is that our modern concept of dance may be quite different from the concept of dance found in the Bible.
A. Hebrew Terms for Dance:
Eight occurrences; translates as "dance" five times, "dancing" twice, and "company" once. (Dancing, dance).
To twist, whirl, dance, writhe, fear, tremble, travail, be in anguish, be pained. (Qal)—to dance,to twist, writhe, to whirl, whirl about; (Polel)—to dance, to writhe (in travail with).
16 occurrences; translates as "keep" eight times, "… feast" three times, "celebrate" once, "keep a solemn feast" once, "dancing" once, "holyday" once, and "reel to and fro" once. To hold a feast, hold a festival, make pilgrimage, keep a pilgrim-feast, celebrate, dance, stagger. (Qal)--to keep a pilgrim-feast, to reel.
Two occurrences; translates as "dance" twice. To whirl, dance; whirling, dancing (participle).
Translates as "dance" four times, "skip" three times, "leap" once, and "jump" once. To skip about. (Qal)—to skip about; (Piel)—to dance, leap. (Hiphil)—to make to skip.
From 2342; a (round) dance: Six occurrences; translates as "dance" five times, and "dancing" once.; (Dance, dancing.)
B. Greek Terms for Dance:
Middle voice from orchos (a row or ring); Four occurrences;translates as "dance" four times. (to dance.)
Of uncertain derivation; translates as "dancing" once; A band (of dancers and singers), circular dance, a dance, dancing.
III- DESCRIPTION OF GOOD DANCING IN THE BIBLE:
1. No man and woman together dancing.
Note that there is not one example of a man dancing with a woman. That practice is not found in the Bible.
All Women. Women danced alone or with a group of women.—Exodus 15:20 (Miriam and the women), Judges 21:19-23 (daughters of Shiloh), 1 Sam. 18:6-7 (Women from all the cities). Women seem generally to have danced by themselves, one often leading the rest, both in dancing and antiphonal song.
Jepthah's daughter alone—Judges 11:34
All Men. Soldiers "danced" (leaped for joy) celebrating together.— 1 Samuel 30:16,
David alone. David leaped for joy in a parade procession. But we don't have any examples of a "boy/girl" kind of a dance.—II Samuel 6:14
Thus, there was no sensual chemistry taking place in these kinds of dances… at least not in the good dances. When we think of a dance, we think of a man and a woman dancing together. That is not a concept found in the Scriptures. There was nothing sensual about the good dances in Bible times. In our culture, it is virtually impossible to separate the two concepts - dance and sensuality.
That leaves us with celebration dances where the sexes do not mingle. It was typically segregated by gender.
During Bible History, males and females usually danced separately, and dancing was a form of joy or
worship, not courtship.
2. Not a performance, show, entertainment or amusement dancing.
Others claim that dancing is a harmless form of entertainment None of the good dancing in the Bible was a performance or a show. Rather, they were rather spontaneous expressions of thanksgiving and joy that arose naturally out of the events and circumstances. David wasn't dancing to entertain the crowd - he was no crowd pleaser. In fact, he made some angry!
There was no such thing as a dance hall or a dance performance. The
kind of dancing we see in the Bible wasn't contrived. It wasn't planned. It was
just a natural and spontaneous expression of joy, usually in direct response to
some exciting event. (Harvest; parade; Red Sea opening up; victory in war;
pilgrims returning to Jerusalem, etc…)
The performance type dances (done for entertainment; sensual pleasure) in the Bible were evil dances.
Is there dancing in a synagogue meeting? Did they dance in the Holy Place?
Some wrongly claim that believers today should dance as a form of artistic expression to be used in our worship service. Nowhere does the New Testament authorize dancing as an act of church worship. There are no New Testament examples of dancing in worship. Nowhere, from the Old Testament thru the New Testament we can find dancing inside the temple, synagogue, or in the church for worship. Never!
It is worth mentioning that there are no examples of Jesus, the apostles, or even elders dancing in the temple or in the church.
When God does something wonderful in your life - go ahead - rawkad! Jump, skip, and leap
for joy! That's what David & Miriam did. That's what good dancing was in
the Bible. We encourage you to do the same!
There is a time and a place to jump and whirl around. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
4. No Christian dancing.
Oftentimes believers refer to David's dance when trying to justify Christian dancing.
In II Sam. 6:12-14, David was bringing back the Ark of the Covenant from Kirjath-jearim.
This was an exceptionally exciting event for him and the people! The term
translated dance is used twice to describe what David did on this occasion (vs.14, 16).
Anyone assumes that David dance is a modern dance is a faulty method of interpretation. In the Bible the term meant leap, twirl, or whirl, not dance as we think of it today (waltz, tango, twist, square dancing, etc).
WHY do folks or some religious groups want to bring dance into their churches?
If that is the case, then shame on us! If so, then we have the wrong music, the wrong set of values, and a wrong concept of what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.
5. No sensual music dancing.
HOW MUSIC AFFECTS DANCING?
Sensual music leads to sensual dancing. Ex.32:15-19
describes the music and dancing of the Israelites on the occasion of Moses
returning from the Mount with the Law. Moses had just been in God's presence.
In verse17, Joshua could hear the noise of the camp in the distance. It sounded
to him like the noise of war. Perhaps loud drums were beating. Since he mistook
it for war, the music must have been rather rowdy and raucous. The noise was
perplexing to him and was not exactly what he was used to. After ruling out
several options, he then determined that it was some sort of singing (vs.18).
As he drew nearer, he discovered what was really happening. It was lewd
music, which led to lewd dancing around an idol (vs.19)! We discover in
verse 25 that the people were naked. The playing mentioned in verse 6
was obviously not an innocent game, but a licentious type of playing.
WHERE WILL SENSUAL DANCING LEAD US?
Perhaps the issue began with the music. Once rock and pop music was accepted in the
churches, it was only a matter of time before they would be dancing to it. Sensual music leads to sensual dancing, which in turn leads to lewd behavior. Read Exodus 15!
HOW IT AFFECTS BEHAVIOR?
In Exodus 32:19, sensual music led to sensual dancing, which in
turn led to lewd behavior. (Naked playing). Illustration: Put a
group of teenagers in a hall. Then put on some classical music and observe.
Then put on some rock music and turn the volume up, and you will SEE the
difference in their behavior. Sensual music will get them moving their bodies.
Moving their bodies will excite them and set the chemistry in motion for some
potential lewd behavior.
HOW ABOUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE INTENTION TO INCITES OR NOT AWARE?
Women dancing and moving their bodies
in sensual, suggestive motions excites lust in men. That is a fact of life. Sensual
dancing between men and women easily provokes impure thoughts.
6. No Millennium dancing.
In the Millennium, God's people WILL dance (Jeremiah 31:4,13 ) But we are not living in the Millennium. This is associated with God’s Kingdom.
In the Millennium: Christ is present and all rebels and those who introduce evil will face a rod of iron! Evil is not tolerated at all in that day; it is a time of holy law once again. A righteous and omniscient judge (who knows the hearts of all men and women) will rule in that day and only true righteousness will be permitted. Satan is bound. The world system has been crushed - and the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev.11:15). The entire world will be submitted to Christ (at least externally) and there will be MANY (if not most) on earth who know the Lord in a saving way. The knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth in the same way that water covers the sea (Isa. 11:9). There will be no peer pressure to do evil, but peer pressure to do right! Those who willingly submit to God will be jumping, leaping, whirling, and dancing in the streets in pure, exuberant joy! Our enemies (the world and the devil) are GONE! The only enemy left at that point is the sin nature, which will be kept under check by the iron fist of the Lord Jesus, and it with have no devil or world system to stir it up.
will be VERY different in that day. There will be leaping for joy, but no evil
Our age is NOT characterized by righteousness, but by evil. We live in perilous times spiritually. The devil still walks about seeking whom he may devour. The world system is designed to lure us into sin, and away from God and purity. Immorality and promiscuity abound, and evil men are getting worse and worse. The mystery of iniquity is coming to a head. Even some in the churches are described as those who have a "form of godliness but deny the power thereof." The line between the world and the church is being blurred. Our culture is gradually "slouching toward Gomorrah" and it seems that the churches are not far behind. In THIS age we need to use extreme caution lest we fall (I Cor.10:12).
The reason no dancing is mentioned in the New testament is probably because this is the period of Christ’s rejection and exile.—The Bridegroom is away in a far country.—Matthew 9:14-15. Contrast this with Revelation 19:7, the Marriage of the Lamb. Then will come the time to be “be glad and rejoice” and the joyful dancing referred to in Psalm 149:3 and Psalm 150:4 and Jeremiah 31 will begin.
IV- DEVIATION OF DANCING ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE:
The Israelites danced as expressions of joy and thanksgiving, but it was very different from the dancing that is commonly seen today.
is certainly acceptable in God's sight IF we understand the terms in their
historical setting. We observed that the concept of dance has changed
drastically over time. Lots of folk dances in the early centuries from the
Philippines and from some countries by the same gender that wear old native
garments were not at all a sensual dance. However, there are groups of modern
dancers who modernized the performance as they uses sensual music, put men and
women in skin tight sensual clothing, dancing together and become a sensual
The word "dance" in the sense used today does not appear in the New Testament; however, the idea it represents is mentioned and clearly condemned. The Apostle Paul lists -the works of the flesh and notes that "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Appearing in this list of traits eternally destructive are two terms closely related to modern dancing, namely, "lasciviousness" and "revellings".
a. "Lasciviousness",--v.19 this according to reliable Greek-English lexicons or even an English dictionary is akin to sexual excesses, having reference to "filthy words, indecent bodily movement, unchaste handling of males and females".
b. "Revellings" –v.21 this basically refers to excessive feasting and carousing, but
has a close relationship with "music and dancing". Who can deny that
the body contact between the sexes and the bodily movements associated with
dances to modern rock music lead to sexual arousal? In fact, some advocates of
dancing stress such to be an outlet for sexual urges. The whole range of the
modern dance is designed to express or convey a message, namely,
"love-making" and is calculated to be sexually stimulating.