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Friday, January 27, 2012

How Do Jehovah's Witnesses View Dancing?

Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible. The Bible does not outright condemn dancing in itself. In fact, Jesus Christ even told a parable in Luke 15:25 in which dancing was mentioned as part of the occasion at the homecoming of the prodigal son. So Jesus didn't disapprove of dancing in itself; or else he wouldn't have mentioned it as part of a worthy celebration. Most importantly, God does not condemn the act of dancing itself. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:4 mentions that "There is a time to skip about ["the time for dancing," TEV]."

Dancing in the Bible That Was Acceptable to God

The Bible has often mentioned dancing:

After Israel witnessed the demonstration of God's power in destroying the Egyptians, they expressed their thanks and praise to God through singing and dancing. When the men joined Moses in singing a victory song, Miriam led the women in dances to the accompaniment of tambourines:

"And Mir´i·am the prophetess, Aaron's sister, proceeded to take a tambourine in her hand; and all the women began going out with her with tambourines and in dances." (Ex 15:20)

There was also the account of Jephthah's daughter's victory dance. She came out to join her father in praising God for having given the Ammonites into his hands:

"Finally Jeph´thah came to Miz´pah to his home, and, look! his daughter coming out to meet him with tambourine playing and dancing!" (Judges 11:34)

Other dances motivated by deep religious feelings were included...

...by the women of Israel, who danced to the music of lutes and tambourines and welcomed Saul and David back after God's victory over the Philistines. (1 Sam. 18:6, 7; 21:11; 29:5)

... in parts of certain annual festivals in connection with the worship of God. (Judges 21:19-21, 23)

...as a general means of honoring and praising God: "Praise Jah, you people! . . . Let them praise his name with dancing. With the tambourine and the harp let them make melody to him." "Praise him with the tambourine and the circle dance."—Ps 149:1, 3; 150:4.

...by King David on the occasion when the ark of the covenant finally arrived in Jerusalem: "And David was dancing around before Jehovah with all his power, . . . leaping and dancing around before Jehovah." (2 Sam. 6:14-17)

Dancing in the Bible That Was NOT Acceptable to God

However, even though dancing in itself is not wrong, some in the Bible participated in things that God does disapprove of through dancing (i.e. pagan worship, being sexually suggestive). There is quite a contrast between the acceptable dancing mentioned in the above paragraphs (dancing "to God's glory") and the pagan dancing that is also mentioned in the Bible. For instance, when the Israelites made the golden calf, they then participated in a form of pagan dancing before their idol, of which God condemned. (Ex. 32:6, 17-19)

Also, the worship of Baal was associated with wild, unrestrained dances. In Elijah's time, the priests of Baal participated in a demonic dance and lacerated themselves with knives as they kept "limping around" the altar. (1 Kings 18:26-29) Other translations describe this "limping around" as a "dance".

The Basic Principle for Christians Concerning Dancing

The basic principle for Christians is to do "all things to God's glory." (1 Cor. 10:31) So Christians need to ask themselves, "Is the type of dancing I am considering to participate acceptable to God? Is the type of dancing I am considering to participate in viewed as sexually suggestive or sensual? Is the type of dancing I am considering to participate in considered as a detraction from my worship to the only true God?"

If the answer to any of the questions above is "yes", then true Christians should avoid those types of dances.

Through the Bible, God has set down principles that should guide a Christian in all his ways which includes the types of dances to participate in. The Bible says at 1 Pet. 1:15 for us to: "Become holy yourselves in ALL your conduct."

Additional Reading:

Dancing (Jehovah's Witnesses United Glossary; Scroll down to "Dancing")

Dancing (Insight-1 pp. 574-575; Watchtower Online Library)
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