Dancing is mentioned many times throughout the Bible, but what does God’s word specifically say about dancing to secular or non-religious music? As a Christian, you want to honor God with everything you do, including how you have fun and enjoy music.
Let’s take a deep dive into several key Bible passages to understand the biblical principles on this topic.
Old Testament Principles on Dance and Music
In the Old Testament, we find many references to dancing as an act of joyful worship and celebration before the Lord. Here are a few examples:
- “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” (Exodus 15:20-21 NKJV)
- “Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.” (Psalm 149:3 NKJV)
- “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!” (Psalm 150:4 NKJV)
In these passages, dance is associated with praise and worship to God, accompanied by musical instruments. The dancing glorifies God and celebrates His mighty works.
However, the Bible also contains warnings against inappropriate dancing and music:
- “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you… So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'” (Deuteronomy 20:1,3-4 NKJV)
- “You shall not intermarry with them, nor shall you give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4 NKJV)
These verses warn against adopting the ungodly practices of pagan nations, including inappropriate music and dance rituals. As God’s people, Israelites were to stay away from corrupting foreign influences that would turn their hearts away from the Lord.
The overall principles we can derive about dance and music from the Old Testament are:
- Dance is sanctioned as an act of joyful worship and praise to God.
- Dance should be done in a modest, respectable way, with a spirit of holiness.
- Music and dance associated with idolatry or immorality should be avoided.
As New Testament believers, we are no longer under the ceremonial laws of ancient Israel. However, these Old Testament principles can still guide our approach to dance and music today. The key questions are: Am I glorifying God or indulging the flesh? Is my dancing holy or unwholesome? Does the music I dance to reflect the new life in Christ?
New Testament Principles on Christian Liberty
What other biblical principles should guide your views on dancing to secular music as a Christian? Let’s survey some key New Testament passages.
The New Testament makes it clear that in Christ, we have freedom from strict legalism. Rules and regulations are not the focus anymore. However, God still calls us to live holy lives that please Him.
For example, 1 Corinthians 10:23 says:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (NKJV)
As Christians, we want to use our liberty in a way that builds up others and glorifies God, not in a way that tears down or causes others to stumble:
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” (Romans 14:19-21 NKJV)
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV)
So based on these verses, here are some questions to consider regarding dancing to secular music:
- Does this music glorify God, or indulge fleshly lusts and passions?
- Does my dancing promote wholesome enjoyment or unruly behavior?
- Does my dancing fit with my new identity and values as a believer?
- Could my dancing promote stumbling or offense for other Christians?
The New Testament gives wisdom, but rarely lays down lists of strict rules. The focus is living by the Spirit, not legalism. But there are still principles for holy conduct that honors God.
Biblical View of the Body and Mind
To address dancing to secular music, it helps to understand the biblical view of the human body and mind. Our bodies and mental faculties are gifts from God that should honor Him:
- “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)
- “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV)
Our bodies belong to God, so we want to glorify Him in how we use them. We are also called to renew our minds and reject worldly influences, proving God’s good will.
So here are some questions to consider about music’s impact on your body and mind:
- Does this music provoke wholesome or sensual reactions in my body?
- Do the lyrics shape my mind in a godly way or pollute my thoughts?
- Does this music positively engage my mental faculties or bypass critical thinking?
- Could my dancing promote lustful interests or addiction in others?
Evaluating music’s physical and mental impact can help determine if it honors God. The Bible promotes a holistic view, caring for body and mind.
Imitating Christ in a Secular Context
Jesus Christ lived in a secular culture himself. As modern believers, we want to follow His example of engaging culture in a holy yet relatable way.
Jesus ate with sinners and engaged people where they were at, while still upholding God’s truth and standards:
- “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:11-12 NIV)
- “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV)
Christians have freedom to engage secular culture with discernment. We can dance to music with neutral lyrics, for example, while avoiding music glorifying sin or rebellion against God. The key is maintaining a spirit of love, holy conduct, and avoiding stumbling blocks.
Guiding Principles for Dancing to Secular Music
In summary, here are some biblical principles to guide decisions about dancing to secular music:
- Glorify God with your body and dancing – don’t provoke lust or misuse your body.
- Renew your mind – avoid music/lyrics that promote ungodly themes.
- Edify others – don’t promote stumbling or offense for fellow Christians.
- Imitate Christ – engage culture thoughtfully, not legalistically.
- Enjoy godly music that encourages holy living.
- Avoid music tied to idolatry, addiction, violence or perversion of God’s truths.
- Let love and discernment guide your choices, not legalism.
- Care for your body and mind as temples of the Holy Spirit.
- Pray for wisdom and a clear conscience before God in grey areas.
The Bible leaves room for wisdom and grace in matters of Christian liberty. Seek to please God and walk in love, not legalism. But do take care to honor God with your body, mind, and behavior.
As we close, here are some practical tips on applying these biblical principles:
- Evaluate the content of lyrics – Do they promote godly or fleshly themes?
- Consider the physical movements – Does this style of dance promote modesty and self-control?
- Assess the overall impact – Will this music and dance edify or stumble others? Does it glorify God?
- Examine your motives and conscience – Are you seeking wholesome fun or indulging the flesh?
- Aim for balance – Allow for cultural engagement but exercise wisdom and discernment.
- Take advantage of Christian alternatives – There is much great music made by believers that promotes godliness!
- Err on the side of caution in gray areas – When unsure, lean toward protecting your witness and conscience.
The Bible does not prohibit all dancing or engagement with secular culture. But it does call every believer to honor God in all of life. So apply these principles wisely as you make choices on dancing to secular music.
Conclusion & Key Takeaways
Dancing before the Lord as an act of joyful praise is biblical. But Christians should evaluate secular music carefully before dancing to it, ensuring their actions glorify God and avoid stumbling blocks. Key takeaways include:
- Old Testament – Dancing as worship is approved but should be holy. Avoid music/dance associated with idolatry or sensuality.
- New Testament – Christians have liberty but should avoid offending others or misusing their bodies and minds.
- Body/Mind – Care for your body and mental faculties as temples of the Holy Spirit. Avoid music that provokes lust or pollutes thoughts.
- Imitating Christ – Interact thoughtfully with culture while upholding godly standards and loving others.
- Guiding Principles – Glorify God, renew your mind, edify others, imitate Christ in your choices.
By applying these biblical principles in today’s context, Christians can exercise wisdom in navigating gray areas like dancing to secular music. The goal is not strict legalism but living as Holy Spirit-led followers of Jesus.