There are a number of policies at my church community that I agree with, and there are others I disagree with (complete uniformity among policy or even doctrine is virtually impossible with a church staff our size).

Whatever I believe, I am called to uphold all of the policies, recognizing that there are probably good reasons for the policies I disagree with due to a lack of wisdom or perspective on my part.

One of the policies that I grapple with would be my church community’s dancing policy. As this policy has been tweaked or loosened over the years, it still exists in light of the sensitive subject dancing can be with “established church people” or those of older generations (we are a 75+ year old church).

The policy reads:

Aware of misuses of dancing and the abiding negative perceptions of it, we practice these policies:

  1. We do not teach against it, nor do we encourage it in any way.
  2. We do not sponsor church events that are primarily for the purpose of dancing, or publicize that part of an event.
  3. Dancing is not allowed at wedding receptions held at The Chapel.
  4. Any ministry event that includes dancing needs prior approval from Leadership Team

At one level you can understand a policy like this in regards to dancing being such a sensitive subject to some segments of the church population.  This policy prevents dancing from being a “known” or “main” activity so that leadership doesn’t have to consume its time battling side issues with those that would be offended that gyrated-hip-movements are taking place on church grounds.  At the same time even the slightest denouncing of dancing can insinuate dancing at its core is sin, and thereby add to one’s legalistic framework.

So what do you think? A policy understandable in light of the large generational and cultural variances of my church, one to alter, or should it waltz right out of the policy book?


~ by Dave Smith on January 3, 2009.

7 Responses to “Dan-Sin?”

  1. I understand the policy, as I was raised in almost exactly the same type of belief system. The main difference, however, was that dancing was a regular part of worship and therefore was not considered inherently sinful. Yet, any type of dancing in a secular environment was discouraged completely, particularly school dances and wedding receptions. To our chagrin, my parents told me they wouldn’t attend my wedding if there were any dancing at our wedding reception — not even a simple father’s dance with the bride.

    Your point about the age gap is a good one. Anecdotally, I have found more and more from the younger generation to have no problem with dancing in sacred or secular environments.

    IMO, the best way to talk to people about this kind of thing is to walk them through the OT, Psalms in particular, and demonstrate how celebration – which included dancing an drinking (GASP!) – was an important part of Israelite culture. It might also be relevant to discuss how the distinction we make between sacred and secular was not nearly as distinct in the OT as well. This might help remove the stigma associated with dancing, but it may not.

    However, if the duty of church leadership is to teach Scripture, then we really don’t have another choice. Celebration is a neglected and often discouraged aspect of Christian life in American Evangelical Christianity, which desperately needs to be addressed.

  2. Great insight and critical reflection Ben. Appreciate your insight as always.

  3. I could accept the policy if it were a little more logically consistent.

    At it’s root, it’s a fear based policy – i.e. we don’t want to offend that “someone”.

    And that someone might be an older mature Christian…allegedly.

    “We do not teach against it…

    Verbally, no one will say dancing is sin.

    …nor do we encourage it in any way.”

    An attempt at neutrality…but not entirely genuine.

    There is more here than the absense of encouraging an activity…there is surpression.

    If supression, are you then not implicitly teaching against it?

    Are you not saying that it is wrong at some level.

    “We do not sponsor church events that are primarily for the purpose of dancing…”

    So would you sponsor a church event where dancing is secondary or tertiary? Isn’t that what happens at a wedding?

    “…or publicize that part of an event.”

    Censorship is not neutraility.

    “Dancing is not allowed at wedding receptions held at The Chapel.”

    We’re not against it, but it’s never going to happen here.

    What other activity do we try to straddle the line so much on.

    I would rather the policy read, “we don’t like dancing, it’s of the devil, it’s not going to happen here on our watch, ever – so don’t even try”

  4. How did I get anonymous!?

  5. Wow Anthony!

    Knowing your past experience with church and dancing I wasn’t expecting anything less.

    Some really good logical paths here.

    I wonder if it would be easier just to say, “we don’t allow dancing” just like we say “we don’t allow beverages in the sanctuary.”

    The rationale not being that of an insinuation of sin, but that we simply feel the time, energy, and resources to clean up the messes outweighs the benefits. (the messes of spilled beverages and the generational-perspective messes that come when you have dancing)

    Maybe that would allow such a policy to stil exist without seeking to rationalize it scripturally.

  6. Good thoughts, Anthony.

    I wonder if this church community actually feels the same way about dancing as they do about beverages in the sanctuary. Perhaps you do, but does that actually reflect the attitude of the church – especially those from the older generation?

  7. Yea, I am just finding a way that such a policy could exist without it having to be biblically offensive.

    As for if this church views dancing as a parrallel issue with beverages in the sanctuary…no.

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