[Editor's Note: In contrast to some current efforts to justify modern dancing from the past two bulletins, the articles in today's bulletin show why such is condemned. The article written by Earl Kimbrough is characteristic of the clear sound heard on the subject of dancing throughout this editor's early years. The article by brother Hafley documents the clear purpose of ballroom dancing. As you read both articles, please ask yourself a question: Has the dancing of our time gotten less sensual or has it gotten worse with our society's moral decay?]
Members of the church who dance, or who permit their children to do so, have a number of excuses which they offer in a futile effort to justify themselves. One that we frequently hear is: "I just don't see any harm in dancing." Perhaps those who offer this excuse, don't see any harm in dancing, but does that prove that no harm is there? It does not. It only proves that those who see no harm in dancing, are spiritually blind or self-deceived for harm is there and any unprejudiced person who will "look" will "see" it.
The word "harm" means, according to the Dictionary, "injury; hurt; damage," that which is "evil or wrong." Before one can truthfully say there is no harm in dancing, he must show that there is nothing in dancing that is evil, or that injures, hurts or damages the soul. On the other hand, if there is evil in dancing, if there is in the practice that which is injurious, hurtful or damaging, then there is "harm" in dancing. That there is indeed harm in dancing may be clearly seen from the following consideration.
1. Dancing injures the Christian's moral purity. The Lord instructs every Christian "to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27), to "be not fashioned according to this world" (Rom. 12:2), and to "keep thyself pure" (1 Tim. 5:22). Lust (evil desire) is the primary basis for the popularity of the dance. Let none be so naive as to deny this. Men do not dance with men, nor women with women. Those who dance are not content to dance only with their own companion. Segregate, the sexes, or restrict each dancer to dancing only with his lawful companion and dancing would become so unpopular that dance halls across the nation would go broke over night. If dancing to rhythmic and sensual music, while closely entwined with another's husband or wife, does not injure the Christian's moral purity, one wonders if it is capable of being injured.
Some apparently have the idea that dancing injures one's purity only when it leads to the act of adultery. While this evil is not to be minimized in the least, yet dancing need not go that far to be sinful. Did not Jesus condemn lust itself as adultery? He said: "Every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:28.). If looking "to lust" is adultery, then surely looking and embracing and moving the bodies together "to lust" is adultery. "There can scarcely be, any doubt that dancing came about as an adjunct of sexual stimulation" (Medical Review of Reviews). Even if it should be granted that some individuals may dance without the involvement of lust on their part, can they be sure that they do not cause or satisfy lust in the heart of their dancing partner? If one allows his body to be used to arouse or gratify lust in another, he is equally guilty in the sin. If not, then why?
2. Dancing hurts the Christian's spiritual growth and development. Christians are to "grow in the grace and knowledge" of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18) ; they are to, "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1) ; and they are to "press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). In order to make this progress, Christians must love God and love not the world. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
Billy Sunday is reported to have said: "A dancing foot and a praying knee do not grow on the same leg." What he meant was that a person who dances has no real interest in things spiritual. This is true because worldliness begets worldliness. Dancing has never been known to cultivate an appreciation for divine things. It is known, rather, for having the opposite effect. Deeply devout and dutifully devoted Christians simply do not dance. They know that such things would hinder their spiritual progress and encourage them to live after the flesh. Paul said: "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:13).
3. Dancing damages the Christian's influence. The influence of a Christian is not a trivial matter. Some treat it as though it were. Jesus said: "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). Paul said of the Philippian Christians: "Ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of truth" (Phil. 2:15,16). Timothy was instructed to "be thou an example to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). How does the Christian exert his influence if not by what he says and does? One who is zealous about his influence, as he should be, will not conduct himself in such a manner as to damage that influence. He will be careful that his words and actions do not cast a stumbling block in the way of a weaker soul. He will remember that Christ died for the weak as well as the strong and that if the strong causes the weak to stumble he will not go unpunished (Matt. 18:6).
Dancing has always been associated with the world, and rightly so. No Christian, regardless of how "strong" he may be, can dance without damaging his influence. If a Christian allows his conduct, even in doing a thing which otherwise may be all right, to influence another to sin, then he too has sinned. "And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ" (1 Cor. 8:12). Paul says that this is a double-barrel sin -- it is a sin against the weak brother for whom Christ died and it is a sin against Christ. Such conduct on the part of a Christian indicates that he loves neither his weak brother nor Christ (1 John 4:20). Dancing damages the Christian's influence and no right thinking Christian will let himself or his children become entangled in such an ungodly practice.
There is harm in dancing because there is in it that which injures a Christian's moral purity, hinders his spiritual growth, and damages his influence. Church members who "just cannot see any harm in it" need to be instructed in the way of the Lord more perfectly that they might not only "see" the harm but also use their influence to prevent that harm from destroying others.
--- via Truth Magazine (May 1957) ---
Many naive and/or ignorant people are heard to say that dancing does not necessarily provoke and promote sexual desire. Yes, and people just like them have said that looking at dirty pictures and movies (call it pornography if you like) does not stir and stimulate a man. I suspect that all such people are either under nine years of age or are of the neuter gender or both. Anyway, one who should know, Arthur Murray, has just given another quote for preachers and parents to put in their outlines on dancing and sexual sins.
Arthur Murray, the well-known dance instructor, doesn't think the current nostalgia wave will bring back ballroom dancing, and with apparent good reason. Said he: "I don't think ballroom dancing will ever return to popularity. People always thought it was a prelude to sex, but people don't need preludes anymore" (Chicago Tribune, "No Prelims, All Main Event," Feb. 4, 1974).
Did the ballroom romancers of the past admit to themselves or to others that their dancing was but a prelude to sex? I doubt it. They deceived themselves and soothed their conscience just like society does today. They convinced themselves that it was just pleasurable exercise like baseball or badminton. But Uncle Arthur has now let the cat out of the bag. All the time people "thought it was a prelude to sex." Uh-huh, I thought so.
--- via Truth Magazine (March 7, 1974) ---