What Does the Bible Say About Dancing?

The truth about modern dancing is that it can create lust and lead to temptation, is often the very definition of the sinful behavior called “Lasciviousness.” Modern dancing between two people who are not married encourages sexual desires and intimate caressing that belongs only in marriage.

In the Book of Galatians, it says, “the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness…and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Avoid the temptation of partaking in sensual dancing, and instead involve yourself in activities that promote righteous thought and pure actions that lead to glorying God. Paul writes, “finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

What the Bible Say About Dancing

It is amazing how many songs have the word dance in them. Michael Buble sings, “Save the Last Dance for Me.” Danny Kaye sang, “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing.” Whitney Houston sang, “I  Wanna Dance with Somebody.” These days on television dancing is the latest prime time rage. Fox has “So You Think You Can Dance.” ABC has “Dancing with the Stars” which is boasting 22.5 million viewers on  Monday nights. Dancing is extremely popular, and young people have to deal with it. For example, there  are the school dances, most notably the prom. Kids have to ask, “Should I go?” It’s a tough issue. For a teen to say, “No, I’m not going to the prom” or “I’m not going to the dance” makes him or her seem out  of touch and maybe old-fashioned and will likely bring ridicule from peers. Dancing is obviously a timely, relevant topic, so we need to talk about it and see what the Bible has to say on the subject. What does God think about dancing? Our answer will reveal our attitude toward the Bible. Take a moment and ask  yourself, “Do I wish to avoid participating in questionable activities” or “Do I try to walk as close to sin as possible and sacrifice as little as I can for the Lord?” Let’s begin by defining our terms. Dictionary.com defines dancing this way: “To move rhythmically usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.”  The word dance (including danced, dances, and dancing) is used 27 times in the Bible.  There are six Old Testament (Hebrew) words translated as “dance.” There are two New Testament (Greek)  words translated as “dance.” When you read those 27 occurrences, you will find that these words  are used in two different ways. The first is “to jump up and down with joy,” as an enthusiastic fans does when his team scores. That is a celebratory action. In 1 Samuel 6:14-16 when the Ark of the Covenant was finally returned to Jerusalem, David danced. In Exodus 15 Miriam led the women in dance and song,  praising God for bringing them safely through the Red Sea. When dance is used in this sense it is a synonym for happiness or celebration. The second sense in which dance is used is in the sense of men
and women interacting as at a party, dance club, or prom. In Exodus 32 while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel made a golden calf. They danced around it and
engaged in immoral conduct. Moses strongly condemned them for it. Every time men danced with women in the Old and New Testament, the act was condemned. That is the dancing we are talking about, the kind that would take place at a night club or a high school dance. What does the Bible say about that kind of dancing? Somebody might respond, “Nothing! There is no passage in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not dance.” That is true; there is not a verse like that. However, there most certainly are passages that
address dancing, and there are principles that address dancing as well.

Why Dancing Is Wrong

#1: Galatians 5:19

In Galatians 5:19 Paul begins listing the works of the flesh. Here is how it reads, “Now the works of the  flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness … ” Notice lasciviousness. We don’t use that word much anymore. Most mothers probably don’t warn their children before they go on a date, “Drive carefully, and don’t be lascivious!” The New King James Version uses lewdness instead. Other versions use terms such as sensuality and lustful pleasure. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word here means, “Wanton manners as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females.” Think about that definition and envision  something that violates common decency. What involves indecent bodily movements? What involves unchaste handling of males and females? Dancing. If dancing does not fit this description, what does? Dances are typically in darkened rooms. Dresses are usually low-cut and males and females are holding each other closely and rubbing their bodies together to the rhythm of suggestive music. “Dancing with the Stars” is not a show that a Christian should recommend, but if you have ever seen even a commercial for it, it perfectly describes lasciviousness! The theme centers around indecent body movements and unchaste
handling of males and females. The Greek word translated lasciviousness is found nine times in the New Testament. Six times it is translated as “lasciviousness,” two times as “wantonness,” and one time as “filthy.” In modern language we would define it this way: “conduct which excites lust.” In Galatians 5:21 Paul writes, “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” To put it plainly, those
who engage in dancing are not going to heaven. Another activity that fits that definition and is really a type of dancing in itself, is cheerleading.  It is not a sin to cheer for a team, and cheerleading is not  inherently sinful. But most of the time cheerleading involves young women in short skirts that fly up during their routines. They are engaging in very provocative movements, sometimes sexual in nature. And these days they have boys handling them and holding their bodies. Again, there is nothing wrong with showing team spirit, but when provocative dances coupled with immodest handling of dancing partners is occurring, that activity fits the definition of the action that the Lord said will keep a person out
of heaven. Now somebody says, “Aw, you’re crazy! It’s not like that!” But there is a reason cheerleaders wear skimpy outfits even in the dead of winter, and it’s more than just team spirit.

#2: Matthew 5:28

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a women to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus said that to lust for a woman who is not your wife is sinful, and dancing rouses lust because dancing is sexual in nature. Sandra Humphrey, author of Don’t
Kiss Toads, said, “No healthy man will deny that it is sexually arousing to watch a girl swing her hips and breasts suggestively to music.” Here is a Bible illustration of this. You are probably familiar with the story of Herod and Herodias. Mark 6:21-22 says, “Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.’” Notice that the text says she danced before them, that is, she engaged in suggestive movements while they watched. What was Herod’s reaction? The passage says that it “pleased” him. The Greek word is aresko, and it carries the idea of exciting emotion. We are being told that Herod was sexually pleased (stimulated) by her dancing. The result was that he made a foolish vow he soon regretted. His rashness is an example of how this type of dancing (this type of arousal) causes a man to do things he might not normally do. But think about this, too. What if Herod had danced with
her? Would that have made it any better? If he had handled her as men handle women in a modern dance, would that have made it less evil? No, absolutely not! It would have been worse. Paul Southern wrote that dancing “is like building a fire under a tea kettle and daring the water to boil.” Dancing arouses sexual
passions and lust. Somebody might say, “Well, I just don’t buy into the idea of dancing being sexual. It’s just fun. There’s nothing sexual to it.” If that is true then why don’t we have a father/son dance? There are father/son ballgames and father/son camp-outs. But you don’t see father/son dances. If there is nothing sexual about it, why don’t school officials let the boys dance in the cafeteria while the girls dance in the gym? We all know that would be the end of the party. The world understands the sexual nature of dancing. Mick Jagger, lead singer for the Rolling Stones, said, “All dancing is replacement for sex.” Dr. Rita Hollingsworth said, “Dancing is an exciting and pleasurable recreation, as it affords a partial satisfaction of the sex impulse. Dancing, in fact, is such an erotic stimuli that it even works for boys and girls as young as age 11.” In one study, 44 boys were asked what their feelings were toward young ladies with whom they danced. Forty-one of them (93 percent) said they thought about sex. An audience of 1,500 men was asked, “How many can dance and not have evil thoughts?” No hands were raised. In another study, 80 percent of men admitted to having lustful thoughts while dancing. The point is, dancing stimulates sexual thoughts and feelings and violates what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28.

#3: Dancing is a prelude to other sins.

When a male and a female come together and start to handle each other, shake their bodies in front of each other while moving to music, hold each other tightly (pressed against one another), sexual tension builds. The participants are begging for trouble and flirting with temptation. The writer of Proverbs tells his son  bout the immoral woman in Proverbs 5, “Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of  her house.” The idea is, “Get away. Stay away. Don’t see how close you can get to temptation.” First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee fornication.” We are not to be enticed by it. First Peter 2:11 says to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” Orphanages say that nine months after school proms they have extra babies to care for. Why? Because dancing is a prelude to other sins. The Roman Catholic Confessional reveals that of their girls who do wrong, 19 of every 20 attribute their sin to dancing. Sometimes people will say, particularly with reference to school dances, “How can something be wrong when it is so tightly supervised? Nothing’s going to happen.” First of all, that simply isn’t true. Things do go on at dances. Second, chaperones can control only what happens outwardly. They cannot control thoughts. They cannot control lusts that build up inside those young boys. They certainly cannot control
what takes place on the way home or at any time after the dance. Somebody phrased it this way, “When you turn a guy on, he can be awfully hard to turn off.” A Reader’s Digest survey from 1999 said that over 75 percent of young women and 65 percent of young men who had not yet had intimate sexual  relations planned to change that on prom night. Without trying to be crude, some of the more popular prom dresses do resemble an article from a prostitute’s wardrobe. Listen to the prom dress ads: Cybergown.com on their page for “Prom Fashion 2009” says, “The sexy necklines… look good, but try not to wear a necklace for a more astonishing sexy look … This time the prom dresses have become more and more alluring and seductive.” Is that what good parents want for their daughter? Promgirl.net recommends workouts to get girls in shape for the prom. The accompanying article says, “Performing these prom workouts and exercises can assure a phenomenal body just in time for the event of the season. With time and effort, you will undoubtedly turn some heads with your terrific toned look!” Here is one additional note with regard to the chaperone issue. The fact that the prom and other school dances have to be so tightly chaperoned should tell us something.

#4: 1 Corinthians 15:33

First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Be not deceived: evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Use your imagination for just a moment and think about the kind of people who participate in modern dance. Who would frequent a dance club? Men and women go there to engage in things that are enticing and titillating.
Think about the companions of dance itself. What does one usually find at dances? Alcohol, very revealing,
sexually provocative clothing, and often, very suggestive, crude, and crass music. As an example, we have listed a few of the top 10 prom dance songs for 2009. Number 1 was “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga. Some of the lyrics of this song say: Show me I can see that you got so much in the jean. The way you twirling up them hips round and round. There’s no reason, I know why you can’t leave here with me. In the meantime stand, let me watch you break it down. This song sums up pretty well what we have been saying about dancing. Number three on the list was “I Kissed a Girl,” a song about two females kissing each other. Number seven on the top 10 prom dance songs was “Sexyback” by Justin Timberlake. Here is an excerpt of its lyrics: Dirty babe (uh-huh). You see the shackles. Baby, I’m your slave (uh-huh).  I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave (uh-huh) It’s just that no one makes me feel this way (uh-huh).” These songs are listed as the top dance songs for the prom! And these are for kids. Not that they are right for adults, but they are for kids. They accompany the dance.

Questions About Dancing

#1: What about dancing for exercise?

Sometimes people say, “Well, I just like to dance because it’s good exercise, not for any of those things  you’re discussing.” If a person wants to dance alone in the privacy of his own home for exercise, that’s fine. But as soon as other people become involved, trouble is likely to develop. You may be dancing for exercise, but that doesn’t mean that all the others are. As Christians, we should always be aware of how our actions can affect those around us.

#2: What about dancing when it’s just between a husband and wife in the privacy of their own home?

This is a popular question with regard to dancing, and maybe it’s because we have talked so much about  dancing being wrong that people wonder. For the sake of clarification, dancing is not inherently wrong. It is the sexual things, the immodesty, often the environment that create problems. But if a married couple  want to dance in the privacy of their home, more power to them. Certainly there is nothing wrong with that. It might even be good for their relationship. WHAT ABOUT THINGS LIKE THE “HOKEY POKEY?”
Believe it or not, people have made objections to things like this, but most assuredly very few of us have ever seen the hokey pokey performed in a way that fits the description of dance. We have to use good sense about things like this. There is nothing wrong with doing the hokey pokey.


A young girl, dressed in a beautiful white dress, decided to join a tour group in a coal mine. Her friends told her how ridiculous it was to go into a coal mine dressed in white, but she said, “Oh, it will be all right. I’ll be careful not to touch anything dirty.” But just to make sure, she asked the tour guide, a miner himself, “Is there anything to prevent me from wearing a white dress into the coal mine?” He responded, “No, there’s nothing to keep you from wearing a white dress in, but there are many things that will keep you from wearing a white dress out.” James 1:27 says that pure and undefiled religion involves keeping oneself unspotted from the world, but that is awfully hard to do when we surround ourselves with filth. Dancing is
lascivious. It is sexual in nature and promotes lust. It is a prelude to other sinful activities, and it involves wicked companions. It is impossible for a Christian to keep himself unspotted from the world while participating in the modern-day dance.In Sherry Burgess’s tract “Shall I Go To The Prom,” she writes, “One night was hard, God held my hand, He gave me courage to take a stand. It doesn’t hurt me anymore,  I’m stronger than I was before. One night was hard, I made a stand, and now there’s left the Promised Land.”