Dancing is a thorn in the church's side. Even churches who don't have a "No Dance" policy don't allow dancing at wedding receptions held in the church. When my hubby and I got married, we asked about dancing. Even though we were older adults and many people knew me because it was my church of membership, the answer was a flat, "No." When asked why, we were told that the church had problems with wedding parties in the past, so they have a blanket policy with no exceptions. I have to say, even though we talked and had some fun activities, celebrating our wedding without dancing felt, well, dull. So, the question is what is the deal with churches and dancing? In other words, does God allow Christians to dance? What is the value or purpose of dancing for the people of God anyway?
Main Passage: 2 Samuel 6
Secondary Passages: Psalm 149:1-5, Psalm 30:10-11
Many No Dance churches cite our main passage as the reason Christians should not dance, neither in worship nor anywhere else. What many nay-sayers neglect is the purpose of dance in the rest of the Bible. David is made to look like a bad guy for dancing in a linen ephod, probably because of his sin with Bathsheba. David paid the price, mourned, then moved on. Why can't Christians let someone, even King David, off when they have repented of their sin? Also, most people think the linen was thin, able to be seen through. Linen can be very opaque, as seen in our household linen items. All priests were required to wear underwear! (Exodus 39:28, Leviticus 6:10) King David was both King and Priest. The practice of dancing in worship of the Lord was accompanied by live music, no iPods set up with speakers, before the altar. It seen often in the Old Testament.
Dancing in front of the Ark of the Covenant before the temple was built was a regular, expected practice of worship. Dancing over victory when soldiers came home was an act of worship and celebration of what God had done. Dance was involved in many other celebrations. Michel's indignation of David's dance as King-Priest was out of line. She was simply miffed because her father was gone and so was her husband before David took her as his wife.As a result of her critical, scathing words, she remained childless. David would have none of her attitude. He would dance before the Lord out of love and joy. What he did was right. What she did was not. Churches are often afraid of indignant displays of sexuality.
Even though dancing in worship is not described in New Testament worship, it is an integral part of celebration like weddings and other special celebrations. Here are some of them:
1. Dancing is a celebration before the Lord (Psalm 150:4).
2. Dancing is an expression of joy (Ecclesiastes 3:4, Jeremiah 31:13,Luke 15;25)
3. Dancing is a natural stress reliever. (Matthew 11:16-19, Luke 7:31-35)
4. Dancing was part of entertainment and, possibly, as a way for men to look over eligible women they might want to marry (Song of Songs 6:13).
So, the question is: Are Christians allowed to dance? If you want to know what God thinks, look at His Word. There are restrictions, of course, like seductive or sexually explicit dancing would out of the question. Some churches dance in worship. I'm not referring to heavenly pew hopping here, but a bit of holy hustle or holy spirit sway goes on in many African-American churches. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches have dancing as part of worship, too. Some non-charismatic churches have liturgical dancers who perform before the Lord as part of worship arts. As long as pride and sensuality don't creep in, it looks like it is quite appropriate. We certainly should be careful what music is playing when we dance. There are some pretty unholy tunes out and about. Dancing to celebrate at weddings and other special events seems to be biblically supported. The problem would be when people get out of hand with it. We should be fine if we keep it in check .Should we have Zumba in the church as an outreach? That is definitely up to the wisdom of the pastor and elders of the church to decide, after all they are the God-ordained spiritual leadership of the church. There are some alternatives for outreach in health and fitness like Mira! If you turn up your praise music and dance for joy to the Lord, He would probably smile and enjoy your joy! If we offer our dance as worship, joy, and celebration, then let's dance!
Images from Unsplash
Zondervaon NIV Bible Commentary, Old Testament by Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III. Copyright 1994 Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Dance and Judaism