Baptists are funny people. We are known for loving Jesus and the Bible as much as we hate sin. And we are passionate about reaching others with the Good News. But we are also odd ducks; we have the hardest time agreeing on what constitutes a sin. You might not know this, but you can get a fire going by rubbing two Baptists together.
This sin issue was brought to my attention again this week. I grew up in a Baptist church that taught me dancing was a sin. If you started dancing, you would never know where your life might end up. No one ever told us what that meant, but the church implied that dancing would take you where you wouldn’t find either Jesus or your grandmother. So, if you ever see me dancing, you’ll know: 1) I have no rhythm, which has more to do with genetics than my Baptist heritage and 2) I have no clue about what steps to use for which song. But those dancing Baptists cause me to wonder.
I just officiated a wedding for a Baptist family. The ceremony was beautiful; the reception included an elegant dinner and a dance afterwards. They had brought in a DJ, and as he spun out tunes, one by one, these Baptists took to the dance floor. I found myself wondering what they were going to do, because everyone knows Baptists can’t dance.
Since I came of age during the ’60s, in my mind, dancing means rocking back and forth from one foot to the other to the beat of the music. If you really want to get into the groove, you can move your arms about in an erratic pattern. On the slower dances, you hug a sister lightly and rock side to side, shuffling your feet until you have both completed one full revolution. If the music is still playing, you do it again. But these wedding-reception Baptists started moving and spinning like people on Dancing with the Stars. I didn’t know Baptists, let alone the human body, could move like that.
Sister Ruth (real name withheld to protect her from any condemnation from the deacons’ wives), who has hip problems and always complains about the number of stairs we have in the church, took to the dance floor right away. God must have done a healing during the wedding ceremony, because Sister Ruth was out there gyrating with the best of them. Normally, she is out of breath by the time she gets to her Sunday school class, but this night, she was young again. I hope her healing was not temporary. And Brother Bob (again, real name withheld), who never gets excited about anything in church, was waving his jacket overhead and hopping around as if riding an invisible horse. Some sights you just can’t erase from your memory.
I have no idea when Sister Ruth and Brother Bob learned to dance like this. It must have been before they found the Lord, because they surely didn’t learn these moves after joining a Baptist church. Now, before all of you dancing Baptists get upset, please know I am writing tongue-in-cheek.
Yes, dancing is in the Bible. Sometimes it turned out well, and sometimes it didn’t. In Mark 6, dancing led to the beheading of John the Baptist, and that was bad. But Luke 15 tells about celebratory dancing when the prodigal son came home, and that was a good thing. I have often been asked, “Can Baptists dance?” My answer has always been the same: “Some can; some can’t.” At the wedding reception, I saw both.
My point is not to discuss whether dancing is right or wrong but that we must learn to ask the right questions about everything we do. As believers, we should evaluate our every thought and activity by the Word of God. In doing so, we need to ask ourselves two questions: 1) Can it be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)? 2) It may be permissible, but is it profitable (1 Cor. 10:23)?
And if the answer is yes, then dance your heart out!
Author’s Note: When you read this, I will be in Budapest, Hungary. I wrote last week that at the end of the summer, I will be retiring from leading students to serve around the world. I invite you to come along electronically on my final journey. If you and your children, grandchildren or mission group would like to follow us daily and pray for us, you can join me by texting “@hungary18” to 81010. Each day, we will send pictures and testimonies of what great things God is doing in Hungary to your phone.