The subject of co-ed dancing has come up many times for me, being a wedding photographer for several years both before and after conversion.
Your thoughts and scriptural gleanings are appreciated.
The following is a letter I wrote today to an interested client. She is a Christian; we met last year at another wedding.
I am not at all suggesting this is the route for everyone....
Why, hello, _________!
I apologize for the belatedness of this response. Thank you for remembering and recommending my photography skills! I'm glad your mom enjoyed my images. And, yes, I had a good time as well in New Mexico. I most enjoyed our talks in the car and the food Tiffany's mom made for us. I least enjoyed the cramped conditions of the car on the way back from the grocery store.
Now, allow me to answer your four questions...
"How is life man?" - Things are going generally well. I work and read books, and wish I read more. Besides that I am considering where I might relocate to, either near to Paul Washer's church in Alabama or to John Piper's church in Minnesota. I'm thinking of going to Piper's pastoral college. Throughout all of this I'm desiring to know and serve God in Christ more.
"Where are you these days?" - Oceanside, Califor-ni-yay. More specifically, in my office eating oatmeal with maple syrup and brown sugar.
"So how does this all work?" / "What do you charge?" - That sort of information is available at the good ol' www.michaelspotts.com. Hit "wedding information." Make sure to check out the 'guidelines'.
"Are you even available then?" - here's the kicker... I have once again embarked on an extended hiatus from wedding-work, with very few exceptions. Although I greatly enjoy the creative and social aspects of wedding photography (not to mention the rather useful paycheck) there are several other elements that are enough of an issue for me to excuse myself from such work.
Of the dozens of weddings I have photographed, only two or three have restrained themselves from dancing to music that was lyrically in opposition to Christ. Dancing is a sign of joy and approval and what we dance to says something about what we approve of. In these situations I am tempted to quietly pretend it is not a sin for believers to intentionally cue up and take pleasure in lyrics that are blatantly glorifying, "lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life." I have not lived up to this high standard but I cannot deny it either.
"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that fall away; it shall not cling to me."
"Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
2 Corinthians 7:1
Another very impacting verse is found in Romans 1:32,
"Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
So again, the issue is not with "Christian" vs "Non-Christian" music, but with music that has worldly themes.
Secondly, I am persuaded by scripture to stand against single Christian men and women dancing together, who share no commitment towards marriage; not because it is necessarily sinful to dance but because almost inevitably it breeds within single people desires and tendencies which are. Dancing with persons of the opposite sex with whom we are not committed, promotes fondness for otherwise unacceptable physical touching, and this increases mental and emotional dependence upon either fantasies or actual acts. I found this to be the historical position of the Church. For instance, Thomas Watson, one of the most revered Puritans, wrote,
"From dancing, people come to lingering touches, and from lingering touches to immorality. "There is," says Calvin, "for the most part, some unchaste behavior in dancing." Dances draw the heart to immoralityby wanton gestures, by unchaste touches, and by lustful looks. Chrysostom (the Spurgeon of his day) stood against mixed dancing in his time. "We read," he says, "of a marriage feastbut of dancing therewe read not." Matthew 25:7. Many have been ensnared by dancing. "Dancing is not the conduct of a chaste womanbut of the adulteress," says Ambrose (the Church father who lead Augustine to faith). Chrysostom says, "Where dancing is, there the devil is!"
A modern writer says,
"Dancing to bring attention to yourself or your body therefore would be sinful. In 1 Corinthians 7:1-3, the writer says, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (NASB, KJV). Paul was acknowledging that men have a very strong sex drive that is easy to set off. Because of this, many styles of pair dancing outside of marriage can be very tempting, especially to the man. "Flee (as in "run away from") the evil desires of youth" (2 Timothy 2:22). Any dancing that stirs up sinful desires in ourselves or in others is sinful. Matthew 18:6Doing something that might cause someone else to stumble into sin is considered absolutely inexcusable. Dancing in a way that would cause someone else to lust would fall under this guideline. 1 Thessalonians 5:22This is a great rule of thumb if we're not sure if a dancing situation is acceptable. "Avoid every kind of evil." If it even looks like it could be sinful, don't do it. In the end, there is a lot of dancing that is inappropriate for believers who should be seeking to glorify God with their lives and especially with their bodies. Yet the Bible acknowledges that we can dance in a way that does not tempt others, does not tempt ourselves, and brings glory to God."
Here a passage from my own journal, dated 16 September 2006, on the subject,
"I went to a wedding with one of my friends. She hates all of the drunken men at weddings who pick up on her and ask her to dance, so I went along to lend some masculine support. Throughout the day it seemed like every one of her family members hinted or outright prodded us to dance or made suggestive remarks about us being together. Pretty nerve-wracking, you know, since that would be great and all if it were God's will. I really don't want to entertain powerful ideas that oppose walking in the Spirit.
But she really did look beautiful. She curled her hair. I love that. I made a point not to dance with her. The last thing I need is an emotive memory like that staining my conscious. Lord, help me to be a brother. The inward personal desire to experience even that much contact with her was so powerful that I thought I might vomit... If she and I were together (maybe) it wouldn't effect me like this; it's the tease that I would inflict on myself by doing "together-things" while not being anything like that."
And lastly, although most Christian women try to dress appropriately and modestly for weddings, there are inevitably many other women who come in provocative clothing. I really hate being in a position when editing wedding photos to have to be seeing such things. Remember that unlike regular life, when I edit photos I cannot "look away". It's even worse if I have to give those same photos to other people to look at.
So, it was not my intention to sermonize you. I'm sure you understand my situation.
Your thoughts are most welcome.
Now my question to you, how are you doing?