No Dancing In Church.

When I was growing up in a fundamentalist church, dancing, at least ballroom dancing, was a serious sin.  We teenagers did it anyway when parents were not home. I wondered why this seemingly harmless fun was sin.

Now I understand.  Dancing was done by pagan women.  Add together paganism and women and you have serious sin.

And then there were the Gnostics, only the 3rd or 4th century after the Christ character, who were open to dance as worship.  Somewhere along the line, their version of Christianity was thrown out.  So was their dancing.

With a lot of the faith now loosening up on dancing in general, would it be a sin to dance right there in the church?  The answer from some is yes, it would be sin.

“Grounded in Gnosticism, dubious historical scholarship and hyper individualism, liturgical dance is by its nature unsuitable for Catholic worship,” the writer below tells us.

Dance apparently has been used in some Catholic worship.  Our own granddaughter performed ballet as part of a United Church of Christ service.

The truth is  “body language” is used by preachers and priests every Sunday to communicate whatever their message is.  Making the sign of the cross, lifting the container of juice/wine high, throwing a fist in the air, pacing back and forth in front of the pews and the swaying and clapping in black churches are extensions of dance.

The only difference is someone in authority made the arbitrary decision, one is dance, the other not.

52 Responses

  1. Stan

    “Dance apparently has been used in some Catholic worship. Our own granddaughter performed ballet as part of a United Church of Christ service.”

    And the United Church of Christ is in which Catholic Dioceses?

    1. entech

      Same paragraph but different sentence. The link is not definitive. A better construct would have been “better 😉 “, not leaving openings for gratuitous attack is a good policy, we fall into our own traps often enough without opening the door.

    1. Like Wren in “Footloose” I came from a background where the gyrating and grinding of dancing was simply a precursor to non-marital sex.

      Which was hell-worthy at the time.

      I think there may have been some hardliners that thought about the pagan women part; but overall it was just about sex: who was doing what with whom and how the church felt about that.

      Generally speaking, unless you were married and trying to procreate or demonstrate submission to your husband, sex = hell.

          1. Just tweaking you a bit Wanna. When I talk about my growing up, you usually tell me I got it all wrong and that’s not what anyone meant at all, and then I say ‘well, that’s what it seemed like to me.’

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Mac, can you be more specific? I don’t remember telling you that in particular. Can you give me the day, date, time you reference? In fact I don’t remember much in a one on one dialogue with you. Did you take a general statement personally, when it wasn’t aimed at you personally? I just don’ know. If I had told you that specifically, I think I would have remembered. You sound like it happenes all the time, which it dosen’t.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Mad; You wouldn’t be thinking of a conversation you have had with another person? You and the topic combined just don’t register.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            sorry–Mac not mad. Accidentally wrong key. D is just above the c, and same finger. Don’t take it personally please.

      1. entech

        I think it GB Shaw who described dancing as the vertical expression of a horizontal desire.
        Go forth and multiple; here are some strict guidelines, we don’t want you to enjoy yourselves too much.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          “Go forth and multiple”; So, God is in Utah after all, and we should not enjoy ourselves too much. Yes, I suppose with all those wives, it would become more like work, and the enjoyment would be gone.

  2. Barbara

    Back in the early ’90’s I read an article in The Lutheran magazine about a Lutheran church that had started having Line Dancing in the church fellowship room as a social occasion for its members–and they were doing this on Sunday afternoons! Not only was there very little flak about it, but their new memberships went up dramatically. I suppose it helps that there is no “pairing” or touching involved, and that it resembles an exercise for health and fitness. . At any rate, it was certainly “making a joyful noise”! 😀

    1. Wanna B Sure

      The dancing part is OK, but cowboy boots in church? (The boots are part of line dancing). That’s going a little bit too far. Where is it going to end? Chili peppers in the red Jello? Must be the domino effect.

  3. Stan

    Less of an attack. Using the Gnostic services to claim that Christians had dance in the early church is disingenuous. We have explained several times the reasoning why the gnostc gospels weren’t included in the Bible. Yes, yes, I know that just because they are 2-400 years late and have a whole bunch of things in them that are not consistent with the accepted books of the Bible we should have by your claim Jon. But since you say you haven’t studied the Bible and I am sure have only read quotes from the gnostic gospels by what authority do you claim they should be?

    The Catholic Church has not banned dance, it just doesn’t accept it for use during a Mass. They also discourage the use of pre-recorded music feeling that it doesn’t add to the sacred nature of the Mass.

    1. entech

      Very little new under the chandelier.
      We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last … it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressor on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.
      Society pages of The Times of London writing of the Prince Regents Grand Ball, summer, 1816

      An explanation of the waltz by Jeff Allen:
      Interestingly, “voluptuous intertwining of the limbs,” simply referred to the close dance position of the day. The gloved hand of the gentleman was placed gently on the waist of his partner at virtually full arm’s length. The lady’s left-gloved hand quite possibly was delicately placed on her gentleman’s shoulder, and she likely held a fan in that same hand. The left hand of the gentleman remained open and acted as the shelf for his partner’s right-gloved hand. The really scandalous point of that reporter’s observation was that the gentleman’s foot disappeared from time to time under the lady’s gown in the midst of the dance. The bodies of the dancers were never in contact!

      Anything can be found vulgar and obscene by those looking for it, and some look very hard.

      1. entech

        Sorry Stan that was supposed to be a separate post, answer to yours would have been along the lines:
        I think we all agree that a lot of the “Jesus Movement’ was quite different and in many ways unrelated to what eventually became Christianity – the gnostics with up to 32 entities in their pleroma hardly relate to the Trinity – many others had different concepts of the messiah. Dancing or theology or whatever the relationship between Gnostic and Christian is so far apart that they cannot be compared, I don’t think Jon was doing a comparison merely quoting from the article.

        1. Stan

          Entech, Jon has asked many times why the gnostic gospels were not included in the Bible. Just because they have a radically different theology doesn’t seem to be an adequate explanation to him.

          1. entech

            The question does come up very often about the various ideas in the early movement and quite obviously opposing ideas from other sects/cults/groups/belief systems would not be accepted in any of the others. The Gnostics themselves had many divisions and thoughts Docetist and Valentinian and more, so far removed that they could not even be called heretics, and were not always compatible with each other and certainly not with what became orthodox belief. Arius and Marcion were closer but still had major points of conflict so you would not expect any of their work to be part of the accepted cannon. It would be a bit like Hayek including Marx or Engels.

            From a historical and anthropological viewpoint the real question is how and why did any particular movement become dominant.

          2. entech

            Stan and others of faith can have only one answer it survived because it is true.
            And, you are correct, Jon and others with no faith do not agree.
            To me that it survived is a miracle (a truly secular miracle) 😆

  4. Wanna B Sure

    I really don’t know what the big deal is. Ever since Chubby Checker, you can dance all night and never even touch a girl. The chicken dance, schottisch, polka, butterfly, etc can hardly be called sensual. Even the old fashioned waltz could hardly be called an “opportunity”. I remember well in the 9th grade, the football coach and the girl’s phy-ed teacher would line us up. Boys on one side, girls on the other. With the record player, they would instruct us how to do the waltz, two-step, etc. The boys danced with the boys and the girls with the girls until the steps were learned, then horror of horrors, we were forced to go to the other side of the room, and instructed the appropriate manner of asking for a dance. (this went for boys, and girls). The coach told us an innapropriate manner to ask a girl was ; “Can I borrow your frame for this wrestle babe?” Everybody had clamy hands, and dry throats. “girl germs” was a term loosly tossed about, and everybody laughed. We were rotated from one end of the side to the other so no one was slighted or left out. cliques disappeared, and we all found commonality. We had sock hops, and proms. There was more opportunity for “familiarity” on a hay ride than on the dance floor. I played for many many wedding and anniversary dances. At virtually every one, (which was a family/community event), grandparents parents aunts, uncles, neighbors, and the minister-priests were usually present, and they danced too. Many 2-3 year old kids learned their first dance steps by standing on the toes of their parents/grandparents as they danced. ANBD–(Aint no big deal.)

    1. Wanna B Sure

      And Oh yes,” ballroom dancing” was joked about as dancing with a pair of bib overalls on. Forgot the barn dances Sat. night. Everyone was in church Sunday morning. It was community.

  5. Henry


    Sometimes when there is leaping and dancing before the LORD, one gets despised in other people’s heart. Then the atheists leap for joy in noting the misery of others.

      1. Henry

        Not at all rubbish.
        2 Samuel 6:16
        As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

        Glee: “No Dancing in Church.”

        However, good order is desired during worship. There is a time and place for dancing, not outright banned as Jon gleefully points out in some denominations.

        1. entech

          Your description of atheists leaping with joy is the rubbish I was referring to. You decline to say what you mean by atheist yet consistently attribute anything you consider bad to them. Atheists generally speaking are either silently carrying on with their lives and ignoring the likes of you, or, trying to get a little thought going that will counteract the misery your prohibitions and demands impose.
          It is you and yours that take a great and (in my view, anyway) perverted delight in the thought of the suffering of people that don’t accept your ideas compared to the eternal delight of those that do.

          In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned … So that they may be urged the more to praise God … The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens … to the damned. It was no atheist that wrote those disgusting words. Expectation of reward and fear of punishment is no basis for a moral system.

        2. Henry

          “Your description of atheists leaping with joy is the rubbish I was referring to.”

          Uhm…I don’t know if you noticed, but Jon is very energized by the errors of people of faith, particularly Christians. His literary skills just flow with energy at these moments.

          1. entech

            So that is leaping, leaping to put pen to paper. While you and bigW are bounding in to the attack.

            Michal probably had more reason to despise the philandering, murderous, polygamous husband than just dancing half naked in front of the slave girls

  6. entech

    When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
    2 Samuel 6:20
    You and bigW always say read the entire chapter, get the context.

    For instance a few verses earlier:
    When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

    Wouldn’t you dance with joy, even if you had to feign it, knowing what was in store if you were not properly reverent.

    1. Stan

      And you know David was punished for this and many other sins too. His own household fell apart and he was hunted down by his own son after that son killed his half brother. Just because it is written in the Bible doesn’t mean it was condoned.

    2. Henry

      entech:“2 Samuel 6:20
      You and bigW always say read the entire chapter, get the context.”

      And you still need to do that, even on this one. You are in hyper-literalism mode keyed on the words “half naked” as expressed by David’s accuser. Meanwhile, you overlook the specific described manner of dress David was in (not half-naked). He humbled himself below the LORD and wore an ephod in lieu of the appointed royal clothes dictated by the traditions of men.

      I am starting to catch on to this “bound will” concept being dispensed lately, and I am starting to agree with it. You make an excellent example.

      1. entech

        The problem seems to be with terms like hyper-literalism that you need to believe something is actually true before it can be taken literally, let alone more than true, above true. So perhaps we should not read such things as Genesis as if it were true, as if it literally happened, there was no Adam and Lilith, no universal deluge that covered and killed the world except for a couple of samples.
        I would prefer to think of Hypo-literalism.
        Be careful about Luther and bound will etc. without free will you lose half (at least) of your arguments.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Free will has nothing to do with being able to come to faith. The bound will has everything to do with not being able to. The use/ understanding of free will to come to the faith is what is behind decision theology, (I choose Christ, rather than He choose me). Free will is over rated, and the bound will is usually not understood, or at least underated. Most of the free will arguments here have nothing to do with coming to the faith, rather, rites, practices, ecclesiology, administration issues, both good and bad, etc. Not all choices are good choices, albiet well intended by most at the time. All of these are reversable. The bound will usually is not reversable, as indicated by both Jon’s and Entech’s vehement rejection of Christ, and the means to believe, ie. The rejection of the Holy Spirit.

          1. entech

            Truth is something which is in accord with, or agrees with, reality or fact.
            On this definition I repeat that you need to believe something is actually true before it can be taken literally.
            I do not believe the story in Samuel is true, most of the bible is not true, it is a mixture of myth and magic and some history of the Israelites. I cannot understand how good God can kill some one because that person prevented some holy relic from falling into the dirt, simply unbelievable a story to frighten the children.

          2. entech

            oops reply to wrong post.
            No long reply to yours you have said it all before, so simply there may or may not be a creator of the universe, I do not believe that there is a holy spirit or a son that is both part of and separate and whatever invention you are happy with.
            Not vehement, Bob, was vehement, you are vehement, I simply don’t believe.

          3. Wanna 11:31 “Bound will.”

            Of all the odd and bizarre things you seem to believe, the existance of something called “bound will” is among the most absurd. It implies that a rational human being should ignore factual evidence and stick with the mythological, no matter what.

            It would be like a scientist who finds a connection between smoking and cancer. Then, a religious person says, “No, my faith knows that cancer is caused by being outside after dark. Anyone who refuses to believe cancer is caused by anything other than being outside after dark suffers from something call ‘Bound Will’. We will pray that you are released from the burder of you misunderstanding.”

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Entech; I don’t do this for your benefit. For all practical purposes, you are most probably a lost cause along with Jon, (yet while you have life, there is hope), but for those out there who may be silently watching, and realize there is a viable reply to all your claims and rejection. Keep it up, I have time.

          5. entech

            At the risk of being rude, I think you do it for yourself. Not many seem to take you seriously and I think is what keeps you going. You have put so much time and effort into your strange beliefs that you must spend even more to prove you didn’t waste the initial time. Sometimes referred to as the Concorde Fallacy.

          6. Wanna B Sure

            Interesting that you use the word Concord.
            I don’t think you are being rude. Rather you exhibit a high degree of faith in your ability to reason……and reject. Silent people will be unknown to you or me, yet you claim to know what they and others think. Not much reason there for someone who depends so much on reason. More like a schoolyard argument; “teacher likes me best”. More ego.

          7. entech

            Badly phrased, again. I meant not many on this site seem to take you seriously, but , of course, I could be wrong, again.
            You are right, without the silent observers speaking (or writing) up we cannot know what they think, speculation is futile.

          8. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; re; your 12;01. And now you confuse the spiritual with the physical. Typical of the bound will. How come you fellers fight it so? And then you come up with an absurd cancer cause, and attribute it to belief. A desperate and unrealistic consideration not well thought out.
            Odd-bizare-absurd; Sounds pretty bound to me.

        2. Wanna B Sure

          Once the bound will is overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit; (not rejecting the Holy Spirit), and one comes to the faith, the bound will is no longer a factor, and melts away. Justification follows, with Sanctification,( immediately following Justification), by necessity, in that order. Sanctification then becomes a gradual growth process throughout the life of the believer, as they mature in the faith. PS–Sanctification meaning being Holy. We are all at different levels of holiness throughout our life, yet all believers are justified,, and sanctified.

  7. entech

    You missed the bit about incestuous rape. A great line of descent to base family values on.
    Just because it is written in the Bible doesn’t mean it was condoned. could I add just because it is written in the bible doesn’t mean it is true.

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