On Dancing

Previous thread was shit so here's a new one I am not that thread's OP.
There are numerous references to dancing throughout scripture (including a case where Michal is cursed with childlessness for disapproving of David's enthusiastic dancing after the Ark of the Covenant's return), yet many in church history have discouraged or outright forbidden it. For example, shortly before the previous thread was deleted user posted a short sermon by John Vianney in which he declares "there is not a Commandment of God which dancing does not cause to be transgressed, nor a Sacrament which it does not cause to be profaned," which doesn't fit well with Ecclesiastes declaring there is "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance," along to several references to dancing in the Psalms.
Is there an explanation for this discrepancy between church figures and scripture? So far I am alright with some forms of dancing but probably wouldn't pair dance with anyone but my wife.
I almost included William Bouguereau's Orestes Pursued by the Furies but wasn't sure if the mods would approve. Here is a photograph of a bug eating a carrot instead.

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several references to dancing throughout scripture*

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Because heathens ruin everything.

No, just confused puritans.

I'm pretty sure erotic dancing, the kind we see in clubs today, is a sin.
Not because it is a dance, but because it is sexually heavy.

Many dance styles are rooted on the erotic, however many are not.
It is a matter of sexuality.

Obviously, what I mean is the kind of thinking that just because some forms of dance are bad that all dance is bad.

I guess then you'd you agree with erotic/couple dancing being sins.

But are exhibitionist dances? Twerking and ballet are both designed to be watched and both have an erotic element to it. So where would a line be drawn?
In my view, a good line is if the MAIN intent is to arouse. That is true for twerking and belly dancing but not for ballet, as ballet is a display of training and performance first and foremost.

Ortho priests can dance if they feel like it

Not all forms of dancing are the same. Dancing is a very broad term, basically meaning movement. Is all bodily movement other than necessary movements intrinsically evil? No of course not. The reason that St. Jean Vianney and other fathers of the Church criticize dancing is mainly because the immodesty of particular types of dances and the fact that dance halls are breeding grounds for sin. Another problem is that dances were held on Saturday night and even on Sunday, so people were dancing instead of sanctifying the Lord's Day.

The examples you cite from the Old Testament do not fall under SJV's criticism. David was not doing a tango. He was dancing by himself, and there is nothing to suggest it was sexually provocative. David was faulted because he was seen to be making a fool of himself, not because he was doing anything sinful. The passage from Ecclesiastes just mentions dancing, not any particular kind of dances and not under any particular circumstances. To give an analogy, suppose someone pointed to biblical passages showing that eating and sex are not sinful, and then arguing from that that gluttony and fornication are not sinful.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article mentions this distinction as well.


I would be inclined to put ballet under the ban as well. That ballet requires great skill and is associated with high-brow music is not a convincing argument. Pole dancing also requires skill, even if not to the same degree. But pole dancing to classical music is still pole dancing.

Yes but is the MAIN intent of ballet to arouse?
That is the central point.

God, I would hope not its a sin. I dance for exercise and it's been doing my shape wonders more than in door cycling or even just cardio would. Yes, the higher intensity better fat burning dances are the ones that are more sexualized in nature but it's also extremely good for your body and it's FUN (it helps with my bipolar disorder).
i'd like to see more input on this.

I don't think it is.
We can say any female doing a dance is arousing because that's just how males react to it. It's not necessarily fair.
There's nothing arousing or sensual to me about ballet but someone will find it sensual or arousing so… it's confusing.

dancing combats obesity which is a sin

Dancing is fine, based on your intent as far as I'm concerned (as different cultures have different standards). It's fun, wholesome (can be), and good exercise. Yes some dances are sexual and ought not to be done (not ballet, which is my favorite thing in the world so maybe I'm biased), so don't do them. But to everything else, dance your heart out man.

It's all in the head. Nothing is sexual about anything like that unless you make it so. So people who are aroused by ballet have the problem, not the dancers.

Anything an attractive woman or man for women and fags does could be seen as sensual to the right person, including basic stuff like walking, lifting, or stretching. This doesn't imply we should throw out modesty, but abandoning everything which could possibly attract or arouse someone is impossible.
Also, doing something as exercise or for health reasons should not be lumped in with doing it for performance or exhibitionism. Showering in your home and in front of an audience are very different matters so I assume the same goes for certain dances or stretches.

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Stuff like twerking or pole dancing are inherently sexual.

With my worldview, it's not. The only reason it's thought of that way is because of human decision over the ages that has made that subjectively sexual thing to become inherently sexual. So it is sexual, but not because it inherently is. It's a false reality, but is real to us and should be avoided because it's sin (and if not sexual to you from fixing how you thing then to others and you shouldn't cause people to stumble).

I don't think it's a principal of moral theology that an act's sinfulness is determined exclusively by the main intent behind it. For example, suppose a man is out late at a party hosted by a woman. It is very late (and perhaps he is a little drunk) and he agrees to spend the night sleeping on the hostess's bed. His main intent is just to get sleep, and no funny business goes on. Even though his main intention is just to get sleep, there are many problems with his actions. He put himself (and the woman) in a near occasion of sin. He gives scandal to anyone who knows happened (if to no one else, then to the woman). And finally, anyone with their head screwed on straight, realizes that sleeping in the bed of a woman you are not even related to is plainly outside the bounds of common decency.

Ballet is a grayer area, because the corepgraphy is not set in stone. I admittedly know very little about ballet. However, the ballet I have seen doesn't accord with feminine modest, nor do typical ballet costumes. But, I suppose you could probably do something very close to ballet with minor changes that would be okay.

No, everything is not relative. To say that we cannot set any such moral guidelines is a denial of human nature, which is incompatible with the Christian worldview. It is like those who say that breasts as not inherently sexual, so therefore we should let women walk around in public wearing bikinis or even topless.

What determines acceptable clothing and behaviour varies across cultures depending on their lifestyles and cultural quirks, but this does not give us a license to act or dress inappropriately (socially, sexually, or otherwise) by own culture's standards because it is fine somewhere else. Breasts are almost universally considered lewd outside some primitive tribes and traditionally certain situations involving the high arts, but that's another discussion entirely so keeping them covered is for the best. Ankles, on the other hand, are not considered lewd outside Victorian England and possibly groups like the Amish, so leaving them uncovered is fine unless you visit either of the two.

Sure, I agree that societal expectations should inform our behavior. St. Paul talks about idol meats for instance. What I was objecting to was the idea that we can't say that certain styles of dress or dancing are okay as long as the prevailing culture sees them as normal. Back to bikinis, if you ask the average westerner they will likely say there is nothing wrong or overly sexual about bikinis. But I believe anyone with their head on straight would tell you that such an attitude is insane.

>If you ask the average man they will likely say there is nothing wrong or overly sexual about ankles. But I believe anyone with their head on straight would tell you that such an attitude is insane.
t. 19th century Englishman
I honestly think it's alright for evangelized primitive tribes in loincloths to continue dressing as usual as long as they're among their own, but you have a point on dancing. I still wouldn't classify what little I know about ballet as objectively morally wrong.


nah, mang, come awn.
Footloose the movie, mang. Footloose. Dass muh boy. Dancin'. a'ight?

Translation: there is, nor has there ever been, a Biblical prohibition against dancing. It's just a distinctively cultural implementation of "no fornicating" rules which dancing might lead to – be it dancing close, with genitalia in close proximity, OR dancing jitterbugs which was so "wild n crazy guy" that it was just assumed it was sexual in origin because Satan tl;dr it's just preachers and communities being overprotective in prohibiting pre-marital sex which dancing might lead to.

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>Translation: there is (((NOT))), nor …

I think the answer depends on the times, now a days most people would consider ballroom dancing high class and perfectly acceptable, but in its inception most ballroom dances where considered debauched and perverse, because of the hip to hip contact required by most of the dances, and in the case of most Latin dances, the overt sexual undertones.

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance," That's exactly the thing. There's a time and a place for everything. Just keep it out of church along with rock music and the other stuff. tfw ADHD americans can't go through service without (((innovation))).

Many couples I know met at mixers where there was dancing. The problem today is hookup culture, not dancing. It degrades everything it touches.

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I am myself a male ballroom dancer, and my dance partner is Polish catholic. What I have noticed with other ballroom dancers is that they are more often religious than not. I know another Polish girl that used to dance ballroom as well, and she must be the most religious girl I know; she wouldn't even do pilates after workout because it reminded her too much of yoga, which she avoids like the plague because of its roots in hinduism.

I don't think it's by pure chance that dancers are more religious than other athletes. Dancing is a sport that requires self-control and responsible intimacy, which is something that modern society lacks. We even taught other teens at a catholic youth camp how to dance the slow-waltz.

tl;dr, dancing is a wonderful sport which is totally in line with christian teaching.


People stopped discussing this because it's all been discussed. Thread over, goodbye.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians have a deeply-rooted culture of dancing. For a European, it might look kinda feral when a bishop dances through the altar carrying the goblet with communion but on the other hand, in the 5th song of The Canon of Pascha by St. John of Damascus we read: …Those who were held by Hades’ bonds, seeing your measureless compassion, press forward to the light, O Christ, with joyful steps, praising an eternal Passover… So, the Ethiopian brothers literally dance in the Easter. I think that is a cultural issue not a theologian one.

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It wasn't clear.

I think the solution is to simply pay attention to what the average man's reaction is and then draw the line there. After all, there are coprophiliacs in this world. Does the Church need to decree that anyone leaving their dog's droppings in public sight will be excommunicated?

If the average man gets a lustful reaction to it, it's provocative and should be treated as such.

I didn't even see your blunder. My mind got to "nor" and autocorrected it.

Intersting. I love ethiopian christians.

There are many things that make the average man lust. I know a guy who has a fetish for fur coats, should all women just drop that for him? I would say that most people have a fetish for stockings for instance. Should that also be outlawed.

The guy you know is not the average man. He is just an average man, a man amongst a group of men that are defined by the fact that they otherwise have no particular defining aspects.
The average man exists purely as an abstract concept that I believe only our Lord Yahweh could possibly know. He is the average. When one takes all of the tendencies for the men of a population and averages them, the result of that calculation would be the tendencies of the average man. The reactions of this theoretical man is the basis one should use for determining whether or not something is sexual.

Even if that's true, that's not what the thread is about. The thread is about dancing with partners, not every kind of dancing. There's a difference between someone bobbing or twirling versus embracing members of the opposite sex.