Dancing without leaving room for Jesus (where did the phrase come from)

While some Christian communities are said to forbid couple dancing, especially between unmarried people, some are said to believe that dancing is a borderline issue, neither right nor wrong. To most, although it is not categorically forbidden in the Bible, it raises several sexual purity concerns. A set of practices and interesting expressions have therefore evolved to govern dance. So, what do you know about dancing without leaving room for Jesus?

Dancing without room for Jesus means not having enough distance between your partner and yourself while dancing. It means you are so close that Jesus, who is supposed to be between you for sexual purity, cannot fit.

So, what is dancing without leaving space for Jesus? Where did the phrase come from? What is the appropriate space between people when dancing? Does the purity test of leaving room for Jesus devalue girls? Is telling people to leave space for Jesus offensive? Read on to find answers to these questions and more.

What is dancing without leaving space for Jesus?

Dancing without room for Jesus suggests that your bodies are very close or even touching, which is considered impure for an unmarried Christian couple.

The phrase “leave room for Jesus” suggests that the couple should not get too close while dancing. The words would normally be said to a couple to get them to create some distance from each other. It is meant for a couple who intend to maintain sexual purity. Moreover, it was meant to imply that they should not use inappropriate gesticulations, especially while dancing. This is said to include not being completely up against each other, holding each other close, or leaning on each other while dancing.

As a rough measure of the distance, it means that there needs to be enough space between the couple so that a person can stand in the middle. To dance “without leaving space for Jesus” implies the pair is allowing the music to draw them too close together or having full body contact, which some consider being akin to having a sexual act.

Where did the phrase come from?

The phrase “dancing without leaving space for Jesus” seems to have its origins in the “Rice purity test.” It is said that Rice University, a private university in Houston, Texas, first presented its purity test in 1924. The test is said to have been designed to help measure students’ levels of innocence and maturity for their age group on various issues, including sex, crime, and alcohol use. The test had one hundred questions, one of which was “Have You Ever Danced without Leaving Room for Jesus?” Although online purity tests are said to be some of the earliest Internet memes, similar types of tests with a variation of this question have been circulating long before the internet.

The phrase seems to have widespread use in many Christian groups, particularly in schools and colleges where the youth are expected to maintain purity.

For instance, it is reported to have been used in Catholic schools way back in the 1980s and 1990s, where moderators would tell the youth at school dances to make sure to “leave space for Jesus.” This is said to have meant that there should have been no contact between their pelvises.

The test seems to have seen a resurgence on social media over the last few years. It’s important to note that the test is meant to be light-hearted and that nobody should be forced to feel bad about themselves because of their level of “purity”—a term that has generated debate on its own.

Dancing without leaving room for Jesus - where did the phrase come from
What is the appropriate space between people when dancing? See below

What is the appropriate space between people when dancing?

In Christendom, the youth and unmarried have long heard lectures about the impropriety and sinfulness of intimate partner dancing, particularly when dancers grind or bump their bodies against one another, typically with a female rubbing or bumping her bum against a male’s genital region or vice versa. Because of the need for proper distance to always be required between the sets of genitals, it seems some groups have taken to defining what the minimum spaces need to be. Although some prescribe up to four feet apart, most seem to find at least six inches as the acceptable minimum distance.

According to reports, rulers were used in some cases to measure the body space and length of the skirt to keep these borderline-secular events pure. With this in place, some are reported to have then been able to get classic dance lessons and have learned to waltz and swing dance.

The dancers are said to have been constantly reminded to “leave room for Jesus,” lest their tricky dance moves or the rhythm make them forget their Christian values.

Does the purity test of leaving room for Jesus devalue girls?

The purity test question of “leaving room for Jesus” by itself does not seem to devalue girls. “Without leaving room for Jesus” is just one of 100 questions on the purity test on which people check a “yes” or a “no” depending on what they have experienced or not experienced in terms of sex, crime, alcohol, or drugs. It is claimed that the creators intended it to be a measure of the student’s maturity at the end of year zero of college rather than a morality test.

Taken as it was designed, the test should not devalue anyone, girl or boy. With a score value from 0 to 100 on a wide range of topics, the total score should not be seen as a reflection of a person’s moral standing. Simple idea, sometimes complicated outcome.

The issue, it seems, arises when people start digging into individual answers. One can have a high or low score but respond in the affirmative to questions that the group may view worse than others. When people become competitive about the score, it is said to deteriorate and potentially devalue.

Dancing without leaving room for Jesus
Is telling people to leave space for Jesus offensive? See below

Is telling people to leave space for Jesus offensive?

“Leave space for Jesus” has been said to be taken as lecturing in many instances but can be downright patronizing and offensive depending on the context. It appears to be expected as part of scolding from parents and teachers to the youth in their care. However, telling it to people over whom one has no such authority is said to be, at the very least nosy and outright offensive.


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