Question:

Hi, I am a young man who is going to be getting married. I would have loved to use the preacher at my congregation (a church of Christ) but he gave me a pamphlet of his "Do's and Don'ts."  Two things that he made clear of were no alcohol at the reception and no dancing.  One other thing was that there could not be any music played while my bride to be is walking down the aisle unless instrumental or a cappella. I quickly agreed to the no alcohol, but, come on now, no dancing at a wedding reception?  I just have never heard anything against this. So I told him, "I don't plan on having gangster sex thriving music, just innocent country two-step and some slow love songs." And he said we could still get married, but he would not partake in the ceremony in anyway. The father-daughter dance -- a bride's father sharing the last dance with his daughter before another man takes care of her, A mother-son dance -- a mother giving away her baby boy so he can now share his love with another woman. And the bride-groom dance -- a newlywed couple sharing their first dance in holy matrimony, and then dancing for the whole family and friends. All showing their happiness and joyfulness for this occasion to take place.

One portion of your lesson I read on this subject asked, would you ever see a man dancing with a man unless he was seen as a homosexual. It depends on the type of dancing. If it is immoral dancing involving bump and grind, then yes; but if not, then no. I have danced with my mother, as have my sister danced with my father, at their wedding receptions. My family in no way partake in incestual behavior. My family is very religious as is the family I will soon be a part of. All have had dancing in their wedding receptions and champagne to toast with. I do admit I have fallen short of God's wishes, but I ask for forgiveness and strength to do better in His light. My first memory with my fiance was when I was listening to her play the piano and falling deeply in love with her. I grabbed her by the hand and we danced. From that moment we have been together. and we did not approach sexual activity. I love my fiance and I love God. I am a struggling Christian and know when I sin and know I am wrong, but I do not believe that dancing "if done tastefully" is a sin.


Answer:

I won't repeat the material found in "Dancing" and "Shall We Dance?" since you indicate that you have read through them and the Scriptures cited made no difference to you. I'm sad, though, that you claim a love for God but every argument you made is based on your personal desire. You see, the Bible contains, "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3). Therefore, if the type of dances you want at your wedding are godly, we should be able to justify such from the Scriptures.

I have mentioned that there is a sexual foundation in our modern dances. By this, I am not saying that every couple who dances together have had sex or entertained thoughts of sex with their partner. But we do know that some aspect of sexual expression is present in dances because men will not dance most modern dances with other men for fear of being accused of being homosexual. I noticed in your counter examples you avoided this very combinations. You have no plans of having a slow dance with your father at your reception and the reason is obvious. A slow dance expresses something that you don't want expressed with another man.

Let me illustrate the same point in another fashion. If you came home one day and found your wife dancing with another man one of those dances you are planning for your reception would you think nothing of it? If she insisted that there is no sexual desire, of any sort, between her and her partner would you believe it?

In the various lessons on dancing that I have written, I have tried hard to be clear that the Bible does not condemn all dancing. But the dances you find mentioned in the Bible in a favorable way are vastly different from the dances found at high school dances, proms, and, yes, even wedding receptions. The problem is that the style of dancing most people favor are designed to express a love interest in the other person. Movement, hand placement, and body positions all speak of intimacy in a public setting. There are dances that don't, but they are not currently favored.

But you state that you don't see it this way and I doubt I can convince a person who refuses to be convinced. However, I would like you to respect one thing. Your preacher has firm convictions that many modern dances are not proper for Christians to participate. Even if he was wrong, the Bible teaches people not to act against their conscience. In the early church there were problems dealing with the source of meat sold in the markets. Paul said, "If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness." "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (I Corinthians 10:27-33).

Your preacher stated that he cannot attend functions where drinking and dancing will take place. He is not saying, don't get married. He is simply stating, I won't be there because it bothers my conscience. The proper, Christian attitude is not to pressure the poor man into doing what he does not feel is right. "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23).

I believe the Bible teaches that he is right in this matter, as the writings on this site testify. I would give, and have given in the past, the same answer. I and my brethren have gone to wedding receptions where we were told there would be no alcohol or dancing, only to find the tables being moved aside and bottles being pulled out during the reception. We all quietly left. We do not celebrate the joining by God of two people in marriage by doing unapproved or even questionable things. Nor are the things you long for required to have a wonderful reception. I still joyfully remember my own twenty-five years ago, and it had neither dancing or alcohol. I just saw my eldest son married last December. It was a beautiful occasion, filled with meaningful traditions, but not one involved alcohol or dancing.

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. ..." (I Peter 4:1-4).

I hope that in the things you wish to do that you will not condemn yourself before the Living God. But as you go through life, seek first to find God's approval and then decide what you will do within those bounds; instead of deciding what you like and then grumble when support is not found in the Bible.