Let’s face it. Our young people are in a social pressure cooker. They are IN the world but not OF the world (1 John 2:15-17). They desire to fit in with the crowd but stand out as a light does in a dark room (Matthew 5:16). In a sin-sick society, they are indeed peculiar (Titus 2:14).
They give us great reason to rejoice. In most congregations, the young people stand out for their zeal, attendance, singing, and inviting friends. Many are standing for the truth, reading their Bibles, and trying to bring their friends to Christ. They really want to go to heaven. It is not easy, but they are ready to please the One who died for them. They fulfill Paul’s words to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Still, to make it through the teen years faithful, they need the strong backing of their parents, fellow Christians, elders, and preachers. They need Bible answers to today’s questions (1 Peter 3:15). They need lines drawn and sin spelled out. They need to know what is right and what is wrong and why.
How many times have Christian teens faced a bewildered friend who says, “You’re not going to the prom? This is the biggest event of your senior year! Why are you not going?” Patiently, yet confidently, they explain why they don’t dance.
“I DON’T WANT TO PUT DIRTY THOUGHTS IN MY MIND.”
God’s teens have set a goal of saving themselves sexually for their future marriage partner. Most of their friends have set no such goal. Frankly some are trying to have as many sexual partners as possible before marriage. They constantly have dirty thoughts; they want to lust after their girlfriends/boyfriends. Many of them openly talk about their plans to have sex after the prom. To them, dancing is just the “appetizer” before the meal.
Christians are just different. Sure, the same hormones course through their bodies. They would enjoy dancing and sex just as much, but they have enough self-discipline to wait. They know that sexual sin begins between the ears rather than below the belt. Their Teacher said, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). So they keep their minds pure. Jesus promised them, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
A few adults deny it, but teens know that dancing is basically sexual in appeal. Many texts on psychology explain that dancing is an expression of the sex instinct; medical science identifies dancing as a sex stimulant. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica states, “To a certain extent all dancing is sexually stimulating.”
The embracing and swaying to music or suggestive gyrations cannot but produce sexual desire in dancers’ minds. No healthy boy will deny that it is sexually arousing to watch a girl swing her hips and breasts suggestively to music. They are not made of stone. What would we think if we saw a brother and sister or mother and son dancing “prom style?” We’d likely say, “That’s sick!” This style of dance actually originated in South America brothels and simulates the sex act.
Jesus used a graphic illustration of the seriousness of avoiding sin: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut (hem off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:8-9). We might paraphrase this to say, “It is better to enter into heaven not having gone to the senior prom, than having gone, to be cast into hell fire.” Our teens are honest enough to admit that dancing would put sexual (lascivious) thoughts into their minds. They want no part of what Paul said would keep them from heaven (Galatians 5:19-20).
“I DON’T WANT TO CAUSE MY BOY/GIRLFRIEND TO LUST AFTER ME.”
Christian teens also recognize their duty to help their boyfriends or girlfriends to avoid sin. True friends strengthen each other’s hands in God (1 Samuel 23:16). If a boyfriend and girlfriend cannot glorify God together, then they should not stay together (Psalm 34:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31). What does this have to do with dancing? In two separate studies, 80% and 93% of boys said they were thinking sexual thoughts while dancing with their girlfriends. Causing another to sin is serious. Jesus said, “But whoso shall offend one of these which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
The word dance is found twenty-seven times in the Bible. Most of the time it means simply to “jump up and down with joy”, as when David “danced” before the ark when it came back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:14-16; cf. Exodus 15:20; Psalm 149:3-4). At other times, it is used of men and women dancing together in what we call dancing today. Every time men danced with women in both Old and New Testaments, it was condemned. For example, Moses was extremely angry to find that the people had made a golden calf and danced around it while he was on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32:7, Exodus 32:19, Exodus 32:25). Another example is Salome dancing before Herod and causing him to make a lustful promise (Matthew 14).
“I DON’T WANT TO HURT MY INFLUENCE WITH OTHERS.”
Young Christians who have worked hard to gain and maintain good reputations do not want to waste them for one event. To them, a good name is worth more than a few hours of social fun (Proverbs 22:1). It is worth more than the popularity that comes with compromise and the temporary pleasure that comes with sin (cf. Proverbs 11:21; Ecclesiastes 2:9-11; Hebrews 11:28).
The young people who take a stand for Christ are the ones who lead others to Christ (1 Peter 3:1-2). They are lights set upon a hill which cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). Their positive peer pressure is more powerful than the world’s negative peer pressure (2 Corinthians 3:2). On the other hand sinning Christians damage the church(3 John 9:11) and make Jesus nauseous (Revelation 3:15-17) When friends see one who claims to be a Christian involved in the lustful atmosphere of a dance, they think less of the church and its Head. Can we picture Christ going to a prom (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-22)?
We are glad that in some areas, proms are losing popularity as banquets are in vogue. In some schools, it is possible to go to a banquet separate from dancing. Some churches have “prom alternatives” so young people can get dressed up, enjoy some time with a boy/girlfriend, and not have to be in a sinful environment. Our teens can have fun, so long as sin is not involved.
Young people, we are proud of you! Your stand for Christ in front of your friends gives us the courage to stand for Christ in front of our friends. Let’s all live as though Christ died yesterday and is coming tomorrow!