Dancing and The Harlem Shake in Christian Perspective

I am disturbingly astounded by the adamant defense of some Nazarenes for the spiritually-deadly fad sweeping across our church’s turf called the Harlem Shake.  I have always stood with the “old-timers” who preached hard against worldly practices that included even ballroom dancing.  I have heard professing Christians say time and again that they see nothing wrong with dancing or whatever else they happen to want in their lives.  I know of Nazarenes, leaders in their churches, who have openly taken part in dancing.  Some of them have even included drinking alcohol to their new Nazarene repertoire. At least one granddaughter once sought my guidance on the issue. Excuses are lame. God forgives confessed sins. He can’t forgive excuses.

We can slather those events with spineless, wishy-washy “innocence” all day long in an effort to ease our consciences, but it changes nothing.  I can remember being disturbed the first time I sat in a Nazarene service in Macon, Georgia while a group of young people were singing a song and one of the girls in the group was slapping her grinding her hip to the tune.  I saw it as being suggestive and distracting from the song’s message. 

So I am from another generation!  How does that matter?  I have grown weary from that tired excuse that times are different.  What does the passing of time do to basic values?  It is not time that has caused an improvement.  If anything, there has been a steady slide into depravity and there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that.  The old landmarks in Israel were erected to remind future generations of God’s deliverance.  I see us old-timers as sort of old landmarks for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.

I am now hearing Nazarenes talk about innocent “shakes.”  One woman defended her youth pastor son whom she said conducted such an event in his church.  She turned a blind eye to the facts in order to defend the sin in her son’s actions.  My children and grandchildren know that their parents/grandparents would never be so unloving and uncaring about their souls as to not earnestly confront them about such things.  Of all of the You Tube videos among Nazarenes I have seen, I think the most disturbing to me was the one at Hendersonville, Tennessee Church of the Nazarene where they involved small children.  That church is just up the road from me and I remember when sinners poured out their hearts in tearful repentance at that church’s altars—when it was actually a Nazarene church, a church I would have been proud to pastor had I been invited.

Oh yes, I have often heard that old saw about David dancing before the Ark and similar excuses.  Show me one modern dance that includes the intense joy of the Lord (actually so) and I will say you might—just might—have a point.  Otherwise, please do not insult my limited intelligence with such obvious opposites.  Please do not try to tell me that even the most innocent secular dance is without sexual innuendo. 

I have shared this story before and it bears repeating.  A young woman challenged her pastor who had preached about the sins of dancing as being damaging to the Christian testimony.  She informed him that she could be a witnessing Christian on the dance floor as well as anywhere else.  The pastor asked if she intended going dancing anytime soon.  She said she did.  He asked that she witness to her dance partner.  She agreed that she would.

While they danced, she remembered her promise to the pastor and asked her partner:  “Are you a Christian?”  He replied: “No, are you?”  She said that she was and he answered:  “Then what are you doing here?”

It does matter how we behave before the world.  I cannot say that we will be A-plus perfect at all times, but I will say that we should never give in because something is attractive, convenient, or expected by those before whom we are duty-bound to be faithful witnesses.  If it means being a prude, then be a prude.  God notices and that is all the matters in eternity.

It has always cost to be a Christian.  The Bible tells us that.  The world will hate us.  It will scorn us.  It will seek our harm.  That is what the world does because they are just like their father, the Devil.  Go ahead and join them if you think you must, but you will be linking up with the losing end of it all.  It will come to a tragic end for you but you might have a wild time until you hit the wall—and you will hit the wall.

If you remember the stories about the sinking Titanic, you may recall that up until it was certain the mighty ship was actually sinking, passengers were dancing to music.  Then, as death loomed in front of them and they knew they might be doomed to a watery grave, the orchestra began to play “Amazing Grace.”  I do not know the hearts of those poor souls on that fateful night, but I do know that it is unlikely that many of them actually took the opportunity to pray through for that amazing grace and may well have died in their sins.

As the song says, “I have one deep supreme desire—that I may be like Jesus.”  I have no qualms about wanting to be like Jesus and I just cannot picture Him dancing or justifying it in His teachings.  We are actually told to come out from among the world and be separate from it, not assimilate it.  Our witness is to call the lost out from it.  One cannot rescue the perishing if he or she is floundering in the same dangerous waters.

John Henderson

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Pastor Saeed Abedini- please pray for this pastor who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran.  Plray for his wife and children, and pray that the State Department will work as hard as possible ot free this man from prison.  Above all, pray for God;s will in his life, that as long as he remains in prison, he will be used by God to witness to and bring others to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His wife testified today at a Congressional hearing, however, it was disappointing that the State Department turned down an invitation to appear at the hearing to support Pastor Abedini.

Dr. Anthony Harper:
A message from my friend and brother in the Lord, Dr. Anthony Harper, publisher of Intermountain Christian News and a Chaplain in Counseling Ministry:

Dr. Harper here. As a Christian news reporter, I am headed for Israel Sunday March 17 to join the White House Press Corps to President Obama speaking events in Jerusalem and Ramallah. I will be sharing our Christian concerns for Israel and need help to pay White House Press Corps expenses. For more information about my White House experiences, visit our following web site: http://www.imcnews.org/paper/washingtondcjuly2012drharpertrip.php.
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