Yes and no. The Bible teaches that dancing may cause you to sin but not that all dancing is sinful. In fact, it may surprise some to find out that most of the references to dancing in the Bible do not condemn it. But there are a few places where dancing is shown to be sinful.
Paul admonishes us to “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 The. 5:21-22). I hope none of us will say, “It doesn’t matter, I don’t care, or I already know.” Instead, let’s put dancing to the test and see what’s good and what’s evil.
The first place that dancing is mentioned in the Bible is Exodus 15:20. This was in celebration of their deliverance from the Egyptians by the power of God at the Red Sea. These women were not dancing with men.
Next, in Judges 11:34 we find the daughter of Jephthah dancing in celebration of his safe and victorious return from battle. She is not dancing with anyone else but by herself.
In Judges 21:19-21 the daughters of Shiloh were dancing by themselves at a feast of the LORD.
In 1 Samuel 18:6-7 (cf. 21:11; 29:5) the women of Israel met King Saul with dancing when David returned from his victory over the Philistine.
When the ark of God was brought to Jerusalem David danced with leaping and whirling before the LORD, according to 2 Samuel 6:12-16 (cf. 1 Chronicles 15:29). Though David’s wife, Michal, in her pride and obstinance despised him for this and thought it degrading, he explained to her that it was done in humility before God (vv. 20-23). David had discarded his royal garments but was still clothed in an ephod. He was not naked as some have accused.
There are three places in Psalms (30:11-12; 149:3; 150:4) where dancing is mentioned as an expression of joy and praise to the LORD.
Ecclesiastes (3:4) tells us that there is “a time to dance”, implying that it is not always appropriate.
The Song of Solomon (6:13) mentions the dance of his bride among her maidens.
Jeremiah (31:4, 13) prophesies the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and pictures her as a virgin who rejoices in the dance.
At the fall of Jerusalem, Lamentations (5:15) reads, “Our dance has turned into mourning”. This was not a time to dance.
In Matthew 11:17 (cf. Luke 7:32) Jesus spoke of children in the marketplace who would not dance at the playing of the flute to illustrate how His generation refused to receive Him.
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, his return was celebrated with “music and dancing” (Luke 15:25).
When the crippled man in Acts 3 was healed by Peter he “entered the temple… leaping, and praising God” (v. 8). Similarly, the crippled man healed by Paul in Acts 14 also “leaped” (v. 10).
We do not know the form of dancing done by the women in these passages except that they were not dancing with men. In the case of David, he was leaping and whirling but not with a woman. There appears to be nothing evil or inappropriate about the dancing in any of these cases. Let’s also note that though dancing was an acceptable form of worship in the Old Testament (like burning incense, sacrificing animals, playing musical instruments) it is nowhere to be found in the New Testament church.
Israel worshipped the golden calf in Exodus 32:6. This was nothing but a wild, glutenous, drunken, sexually immoral orgy like those of the idolatrous pagans of Egypt from which they had been delivered. When Moses came down from the mountain “he saw the calf and the dancing” (v. 19). Not only was Moses so angry that he broke the tablets upon which God had given him the Law, but their actions were described as “so great a sin”, “evil”, “unrestrained” and “shame” (vv. 19-25).
According to 1 Samuel 30:16, the Amalekites were “eating and drinking and dancing” over the spoils of their invasions in the land of the Philistines and Judah when David attacked them recovering all their spoil for himself (vv. 17-20). It appears that they were caught off guard in their pagan and idolatrous revelry.
Matthew 14:6 reads, “But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.” This was all a plot by Herodias to have John the Baptist killed (vv. 1-12; cf. Mark 6:14-29). Herodias’ daughter was not dancing to celebrate her step-father’s birthday; she was seducing him with her dance.
These passages give us examples of how dancing can become sinful and even cause others to sin. If it is associated with false worship, a drunken party or seductive entertainment it is sinful. Two words in the New Testament warn us of these dangers: 1) Revelry (Greek komos) “a carousal (as if letting loose):--revelling, rioting” (Strongs). It is a noisy festival or celebration, especially involving drunkenness. 2) Lewdness (Greek aselgeia) “licentiousness (sometimes including other vices):--filthy, lasciviousness, wantonness” (Strongs); “Wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females” (Thayer). It is indecent, obscene, pornographic, salacious, dirty, filthy, vulgar, vile, indelicate, tasteless, disgusting, and offensive in a sexual way. These two words are found together in three New Testament passages (Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3). In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul tells us that both lewdness and revelry are “works of the flesh” and that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
As Christians, we must think seriously about these things. It ought to keep us out of the bars and nightclubs. It should make us think twice when invited to a celebration party. I have even been to wedding receptions where things got way out of hand and I was embarrassed to have been there because of the way people were behaving and dancing. Parents watch out for your kids. On the field cheerleaders and drill teams have become more and more sensual in their dress and dance. Do you really want your kids to be a part of that? At the prom young men and women with hormones raging will embrace one another, rub and touch one another for hours in the dim lights and soft music. Is that really a good idea? Mothers warn your daughters about what that does to a young man and fathers teach your sons how to respect a young lady.
Is Dancing A Sin?
I have tried to give you some knowledge of what the Bible says about dancing, but God expects us all to be wise and discerning (Hebrews 5:11-14). You must make your own judgment about it and we must not judge one another (Romans 14:1-15:7). God will be our judge. Let us strive to do all things honorable and to glorify Him in everything (1 Peter 2:12). Remember that though we are “in the world” we must not be “of the world” (John 17:11-19). Don’t follow the crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2). Come out from among them and cleanse yourselves (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). Be holy in all your conduct (1 Peter 1:13-2:3). Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God and do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2).
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