As a born-again Christian who’s been attending church since childhood, I must admit that I haven’t witnessed much Dancing within the church, and interestingly, many of my friends haven’t, too, given that we all grew up in different congregations. Therefore, during our recent Bible study session, we decided to explore this subject and discover what the Scriptures specifically say about dance. Our discussion kicked off with a straightforward question, “How many times is dance mentioned in the Bible?”
Dance is mentioned around 27 times in the Bible, although this number varies depending on the Bible translation one is referring to. In most instances where dance is mentioned, it’s highlighted as a form of celebration and worship. It’s worth knowing that the context of each reference varies, but overall, dancing in the Bible often symbolizes joy, thanksgiving, and reverence in the presence of God.
In this article, I invite you to join me as we delve into this topic and uncover what the Bible says about Dancing. To also discover some of the people in the Bible who danced and whether it’s a sin or not, keep reading.
What Does the Bible Say about Dancing
The Bible implies that Dancing is an expression of joy and celebration, as seen in instances like the Dancing of the Israelites after the parting of the Red Sea, expressing their joy and gratitude for God’s deliverance. Additionally, in Psalm 149:3, the psalmist encourages the use of dance as a form of praise and celebration, particularly in the context of victory over enemies. Also, the Bible indicates that Dancing was present in the cultural and social settings of biblical times, and it was often associated with festive occasions, communal celebrations, and expressions of joy and gratitude. The Bible also says that Dancing can be part of worshipping, as implied in Psalm 150:4. However, it’s important to note that the Bible also emphasizes worshiping God in spirit and truth in John 4:24. Dancing should be in line with biblical principles and not lead to immorality or idolatry.
Where does Dancing appear first in the Bible?
The first mention of dancing in the Bible is found in Exodus 15:20, after the Israelites safely crossed the Red Sea, and Moses’s sister Miriam, a prophetess, took a timbrel and led the women of Israel in dancing and singing praises to God. The Israelites had just experienced a miraculous deliverance from the pursuing Egyptian army through the parting of the Red Sea, and the act of Dancing, led by Miriam, was a spontaneous expression of joy and gratitude for their salvation. It signified a celebration of God’s faithfulness and deliverance, and the people used dance as a form of exuberant praise and thanksgiving.
Examples of dancing in the Bible
Besides Miriam’s Dance discussed earlier, other notable examples of dancing in the Bible include David’s Dance, narrated in 2 Samuel 6:14, when King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and danced with all his might before the Lord. David’s dance expressed his deep reverence and joy for the presence of God among His people and demonstrated the king’s humility and devotion in worship.
Another example is during the Prodigal Son’s return, narrated in Luke 15:25, where Dancing is mentioned as part of the celebration upon the prodigal son’s return. The father organized a festive gathering, which included music and Dancing, to rejoice over his son’s homecoming.
Also, as seen in verses like Judges 21:19-21 and 1 Samuel 18:6-7, in certain cultural and social contexts, Dancing was part of festive celebrations, for example, the daughters of Shiloh would dance during the yearly festival, and women would dance to celebrate military victories. These instances show Dancing as an expression of communal joy and celebration.
Is dancing mentioned in the New Testament?
Yes, but not as explicitly and as frequently as in the Old Testament. One occurrence of dancing in the New Testament is in the parable of the Prodigal Son mentioned before, where the father throws a feast involving Dancing to celebrate the return of his prodigal son. Also, as implied in Matthew 11:17, Jesus refers to the people of His time as being like children who call to their playmates, saying, “We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance.” While the context is metaphorical, it implies that Dancing was a recognized cultural activity during that era.
It’s important to note that the New Testament places a greater emphasis on the spiritual nature of worship. While dance isn’t explicitly recommended or condemned, the focus shifts more toward the inner attitudes and spiritual devotion of believers.
Is dancing a sin?
The Bible doesn’t give a direct answer to whether Dancing is a sin or not. However, according to Christian scholars, from the instances discussed in the Bible, dancing, in and of itself, isn’t inherently a sin. In almost all cases, Dancing is expressed as a form of worship, celebration, and showing gratitude to God. However, in some biblical narratives, Dancing is associated with immoral or idolatrous practices, as seen in Exodus 32:19-25 and Matthew 14:6-11. While dancing itself may not be inherently sinful, Christians are called to exercise wisdom, discernment, and self-control in their choices and actions and to check their intentions. Theologians advise caution, emphasizing the potential for dance to lead to lustful or immoral behavior. Ultimately, the question of whether Dancing is a sin or not depends on the context, intentions, and motivations behind it.
Can Christians dance while worshipping?
Scripture repeatedly emphasizes the importance of worshiping God with a sincere and humble heart. Therefore, when considering dance as a form of worship, the focus should be on one’s inner intentions rather than the external action itself. If dance is an expression of genuine worship, done with reverence and devotion to God, it can be viewed as an acceptable form of worship. Again, caution and discernment are advised, reminding believers to ensure that dance in worship maintains a focus on God rather than becoming a performance or a distraction.
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.