The Pleasures of Babylon (Dancing)

What are the reasons for this lecture? 

There are two reasons. In the first place, it ought to be acknowledged that this subject arises because of an interest and concern about it within our mother denomination, the Christian Reformed Church. You are aware of the fact that within that denomination and at its Synod last summer (and again this year) there is a discussion about whether dancing should be condoned and approved within Calvin College. There has been much proper opposition to that proposition. And we are very grateful to our God for the many sensitive Christians in that denomination who recognize and oppose this evil. 

Dancing has been going on for some length of time at Calvin. It hasn’t been called dancing, but in a deliberately deceptive way it has been called a “party with music.”¹ Now there are some, probably a minority, who want it approved or condoned under its real name: dancing. 

However, it ought to be understood that our first concern is not to point a finger at another church or denomination. It has been rightly said that when one points a finger at another, he has four fingers pointed toward himself. I am concerned with this particular subject for ourselves, because of real dangers in our own midst. 

In the first place, the dance is commonly seen within many of our homes: on the advertising and programming of television. I believe it to be simply a fact that many of us in our homes have routinely observed dancing. In the second place, within our own churches one discerns oftentimes, and especially among our youth, an interest in worldly music—the kind of music that the world adapts to its dance. I say that is a matter of deep concern to us. And, in the third place, there is heard disturbing rumors that some of our own young people show an interest in the dance, and try to engage in this in an underhanded or deceptive sort of way. The problem is not only then a problem in other Reformed churches, but it is a problem which we also confront. By examining the arguments that have been raised, admittedly in another denomination, in behalf of social dancing in a Christian manner, we can perhaps learn something ourselves about false reasoning in this regard. And we ourselves must be warned and admonished with respect to this particular evil. 

The subject I introduce this evening is also in conjunction with the lecture we heard about a month ago from Professor Hanko. He spoke of the pleasures of Babylon in Jerusalem. My title is taken, in part, from his. He spoke about the principles involved: especially the principle of the antithesis—the need of separation between the church and the world, between light and darkness. It is appropriate to apply this specific principle to a very real problem: the problem of dancing. 

I am not going to mention the many traditional arguments against the dance. You perhaps read articles that deal with these. In fact, the Outlook, in its issue of January, 1978, has two articles dealing with the dance, and mentions many of the traditional arguments that have been raised against it. These articles are worth reading. But I would consider especially many of the arguments that have arisen recently in conjunction with the attempt to introduce the dance within the church. What is this “new light” which now would permit what was earlier condemned? 

We’re not concerned this evening, first of all, with trying to find fault with other denominations. I would like that clearly understood. Why, then, mention the Christian Reformed Church? First of all because of ordination vows. The minister promises before God and the church “to preach repentance toward God and reconciliation with Him through faith in Christ; and,refuting with Holy Scriptures all schisms and heresies which are repugnant to pure doctrine.” Secondly, I am concerned not simply with what a church does, but with what our mother-church is doing. We cannot help but recall that we of the Protestant Reformed Churches have our “roots” in the Christian Reformed Church. Most of us in our generations have come out of that denomination, and some rather recently. It should not be considered strange, then, that we are interested in and concerned with decisions of that denomination. But thirdly, I am specially concerned with our own youth. We, in the Protestant Reformed Churches, have young people who oftentimes find friends with those of other denominations and especially with those in the Christian Reformed Church. In some cases there is intermarriage. There have been obvious differences between these denominations, and the differences seem to grow greater year after year. And we have young people who ask, why can’t we dance? They do it in the Christian Reformed Church, why can’t we do that? We have to find answers for them, answers given by examining the reasoning of some within that denomination.

What is the dance? For myself, I could plead ignorance about the dance. Frankly, I don’t know a great deal about it. I have several books at home that describe the history of the dance, that explain the various forms of the dance, but other than that, I know but little of the dance. But one can find definitions of the dance. One such definition has been presented by way of overture to the Christian Reformed Synod from Classis Hamilton. They say, “Dancing can be defined as the expression of joy by rhythmical movements of the body to musical accompaniment. There are unmistakable elements of beauty in the dance: gracious movements, rhythm, music, harmony.” They further state: “Dancing as a form of entertainment provides a release of tensions and energy, a proper means of fun and enjoyment and the opportunity to express the innate drive in man to respond to rhythm with bodily movements. As a general social function, dancing provides a pleasant, natural, informal way for man to communicate and associate with others.”² Now, the dance, as thus defined, certainly seems very appealing, to say the least. 

But there are other definitions of the dance. One I found in a book entitled, The World History of the Dance, written by Sachs. He describes the history and forms of the dance. This is the way he concludes his survey of the whole question of the dance: “In the midst of a period of conflict over new forms, where the other arts have floundered uncertainly, it has been the dance’s good fortune to express the joys and sorrows, the fears and hopes of mankind today, in a rapturous form. And yet not only of mankind today, but of men of all races and in all ages.” And now note what he has to say: “For that to which they give living expression has been the secret longing of man from the very beginning—the victory over gravity, over all that weighs down and oppresses, the change of body into spirit, the elevation of creature into creator, the merging with the infinite, the divine. Whosoever knoweth the power of the dance dwelleth in God” (p. 448). Now that, I believe, is a more accurate portrayal of what the dance is. The attempt of man to “merge with the infinite, the divine”; to “know the power of the dance is to dwell in God.” That is blasphemy; but that’s the attitude of man. And it is for that reason that the church historically has condemned the dance. 

But for this evening I would like to consider especially some of the arguments that have been used particularly in the past five years within the Christian Reformed Church, in support of the dance. And again I present these arguments, not to point a finger at them, but to examine for ourselves what kind of reasoning is now used to support the dance within the church. After all, there must be some powerful arguments to alter so radically the church’s earlier stand. 

The first question, and I believe the basic question, is: is there Scriptural support for the dance? There are those, of course, who quickly point out that the dance is mentioned oftentimes in Scripture: some twenty-seven times. One committee reported the following: “Not only does Scripture speak with approval of dancing in religious, worshipful settings, but also in the general social meetings of joy, celebration, and gladness (Ecclesiastes 3:4Luke 15:25). In all cultures throughout all history, dancing has been the idiom whereby sociality, celebration, community have been expressed. in village, town square, community hall, and church.”³ Twenty-seven times Scripture says, “man dances.” We read of it in II Samuel 6:14, where David preceded the ark of God into Jerusalem: “And David danced before the Lord with all his might.” Or Ecclesiastes 3:4, where we read of a “time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Or Job 21:11, “They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.” But there are also evil forms of the dance mentioned in Scripture such as that found in Exodus 32:19: “And Moses saw the calf and the dancing.” You recall that the children of Israel sought to worship the golden calf, and did so by means of dancing and nakedness and feasting. 

That’s rather interesting, I believe, that in 197 1 when Classis Hamilton approached the synod of the Christian Reformed Church and asked them to approve certain forms of the dance, they admitted that these Scriptural passages cannot be used in support of the social dance. I think that was very honest on their part. They said, “Present-day social dances cannot be identified with the dances mentioned in the Bible. There is no trace in the Bible of the social dance of couples in the modem fashion. It is, therefore, unwarranted to conclude that since God’s people in Biblical times did dance, that the dance as we know it today is acceptable to the Christian.”4. With that statement I would wholeheartedly agree. The passages in Scripture that mention the dance have nothing in common with the modem dance. There were the evil dances mentioned in Scripture before idols. The false prophets of Baal danced; the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod, and sought afterwards as reward the head of John the Baptist; the children of Israel danced before the golden calf. The other dances mentioned in Scripture represented expressions of joy through bodily movement, not any formal kind of a dance, but simply that joyous expression oftentimes seen still in children of God—especially with younger children. So Scripture cannot be used as a proof for social dancing. 

What other arguments are used? I’ve gone through much of the material that was presented to various synods of the Christian Reformed Church. I tried to take out of them various other proofs that have been used in the support of the dance. These are some of the arguments I found. 

One is that we ought to approve the dance with proper supervision, in order to discourage the young people from dancing without supervision and perhaps under the influence of alcoholic beverages. This is what one committee wrote: “This action (to allow dancing) was also taken to counter off-campus, student organized dances, over which the college had no control. Some serious drinking problems had arisen in conjunction with off-campus dances. In the last five years we have had a few off-campus dances, although the practice may be resurfacing in view of two off-campus dances sponsored during the last semester of this academic year.”5 That argument, it seems to me, amounts to this: “We ought to choose for the lesser of two evils.” That, I believe, may never be the position of children of God. If the dance is evil, it may not be condoned even under a certain degree of supervision. If the dance is not evil, there should be no reason for forbidding it when there is no supervision. The Word of God emphasizes specifically, however, in II Thessalonians 5:22 that we are to abstain from all appearance of evil (not condone it under a certain degree of supervision). 

Another argument that surfaces repeatedly in reports and overtures is the findings of surveys. In 1966 there was a report to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church supporting attendance of good movies. In conjunction with that there was a lengthy survey, the results of which were presented to synod, which showed that a certain percentage of the people already attended the theatre, that a certain percentage attended movies, or watched movies within their homes on television, that a certain percentage of parents were aware of all of these things and didn’t really care; and that a lesser percentage were still opposed to the movie for moral reasons. 

The same was done in support of the dance in 1971. When Classis Hamilton came to the Christian Reformed Synod in 1971, they presented in their overture, a survey: so many of our young people dance, such a percentage do not dance; so many of these that do not dance have no moral objections to the dance, and only such a percentage that do not dance, refuse to dance for moral reasons.6 Thus these surveys are conducted to discover the general attitude within the denomination itself. Last summer the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church referred the whole matter of dancing back to the churches: individuals, consistories, and classes to determine response. Even the committees that studied the issue on behalf of Calvin College, faced always this question: if we allow the dance, how much support are we going to lose from our constituency? Arrangements were made between Dordt, and Trinity, and Calvin whereby the three colleges agreed that none would use their position on the dance to gain students for their college. And all of this is extremely troubling. Now I refer to what has been done in the Christian Reformed Church, not because I want to point to them, but because we, too, have this same tendency. This line of reasoning is all too common. The nature of man is not to ask, “What does the Bible say? What does God teach?” Our inclination always is to ask, “What does the majority say? How many are in favor of the dance? Can we do this without losing too much of our support?” 

But this is an evil way of reasoning. I referred earlier to the dancing about the golden calf. You know why the golden calf was made, don’t you? Not because a few wicked people in Israel decided that it would be a good thing; but it was the majority of Israel that was convinced that they could better worship God through the golden calf. And why did the apostasy one sees repeatedly in the history of Israel and Judah arise? Because the majority of the people were inclined to worship the various idols of the nations about them. Where denominations or consistories rely on such majority vote, disregarding any moral implications, you can be sure that there will be increasingly the inroads of evil and apostasy. We must remember that the word of God requires of us, as Moses said to Israel in Exodus 23:2, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” 

There’s another argument that has been used that the dance has proved of great social benefit to the young people. This is what one committee wrote: “Social dancing provides an activity in which many young men and women can be participants, rather than just spectators, as is the case with most other social events, such as concerts, films, plays, and athletic contests. We judged that the social interaction of our students, males with females, commuters with residents, would be enhanced by virtue of the ‘mixing quality’ of social student dances. The committee was enthusiastic about these positive aspects of dancing and thought that it would be a good addition to campus social life spectrum.”7 What do we say about that? I guess that there could be no doubt that social dancing may promote some sort of social interaction. But, you see, that reasoning can be used to support “beer busts,” too. I’m sure this can promote social interaction very well; but, in a wrong, sinful, antiscriptural way. Some have. used drugs to promote social interaction. Drugs will do that, too. It will promote a certain feeling of unity, of fellowship and communion—but it’s sin. One may not use that which is sinful in order to obtain a certain social interaction. The child of God must examine rather the question: “Is this a legitimate, is it a Scriptural, means of maintaining social interaction?” We would maintain that it is not. Scripture presents rather emphatically how that the child of God is not interested in that kind of social activity. In Isaiah 5:12 we read of the wicked; “The harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine are in their feasts (They had a lot of social interaction), but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hand.” Or inHebrews 11:25, 26 we read of Moses, who “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” 

Another argument used to approve social dancing is that it is not as sexually stimulating as had been formerly thought. This is what you read in one report: “In the course of evaluating the questionnaire, the study committee became increasingly aware that there are real hazards which are recognized by many of our young people. Although only twenty-one percent admitted that dancing does stimulate sexual desire, and sixty-one percent denied this outrightly, a considerable number of respondents voiced problems in the areas of petting, necking, parking, etc., rather than in dancing. If we are going to address ourselves to wrong sexual stimulation among our young people, we ought to direct our remarks to that with which our young people are experiencing difficulty, and where we can be of greatest benefit to them. Bather than condemnation by church and parents a genuine understanding of the individual and his struggles is required.”8 Now that has been one of the main arguments against dancing: dancing results in sexual stimulation and oftentimes in adultery and fornication. There are many who say so. 

Some evidently argue that this is not true—at least not as much so as other activities in which young people engage. About this we could say several things. In the first place, if young people place themselves in other situations where sexual stimulation is greater than were they to dance, then we should indeed examine that problem with them; no doubt about that. But let us never say that the dance should be approved because young people are already doing other things that are far worse. That argument is false. In fact, it is rather interesting that those who made a study of the dance, and who have even urged approval of social dancing, at the same time recognize many of its evils and dangers. From the overture of the Classis of Hamilton to the 1971 Synod: “Proper dancing must be engaged in. Hugging and cheek to cheek dancing will only prevent the dance from being wholesome and cannot be condoned. . . . If the above guidelines are observed and implemented, would it be feasible to provide a wholesome dance for our young people? According to your committee this question should be answered in the affirmative. It does not mean, however, that with the above answer we have now solved the entire problem. To the contrary, we still find ourselves faced with the following important questions. First, may we expect a certain form of dancing to be satisfying emotionally? Will it not rather become a stepping stone to objectionable types of dances? (and that’s a real question. GVB). Secondly, even if we endeavor to search for acceptable forms of dancing for our young people, can we find the music and lyrics to which they as Christian young people can dance?” And again, this is stated, “Injustice would be done to the whole matter of dancing, however, if only the positive elements were mentioned. Several reasons exist which can prevent the dance from being wholesome, the most prominent of these being the participant’s intention to use the dance for erotic sensual pleasures in the same manner as many forms of interaction of the sexes may be used for that purpose. Secondly, while engaged in dancing, a participant may discover that due to closeness of partner, beat, or rhythm, he does become sexually stimulated in an erotic manner and would therefore be wise to refrain from dancing.”9 But you see, when it is admitted that there are real dangers connected with the social dance of our day, dangers that those in favor of dancing admit, can the child of God ever say, “Let’s dance anyway, in spite of the fact that some may succumb to temptations as a result?” I suggest that if there is any temptation towards sin in dancing, it may never be done. 

There are other arguments that are given. I am not going to mention each of those that I have listed. But I do have another one that I think is rather significant. Last summer and again this summer, the board of trustees of Calvin College and Seminary argue that the synod must allow dancing on Calvin Campus because in principle it had already condoned the dance when it spake concerning the movie in 1966, and when it responded to the overture of Classis Hamilton in 1971. This is what it says: “Synod declare that the conclusions of the Church and Film Art study of 1966 particularly ‘With Respect to the Relationship of the Christian to the World’; and ‘With Respect to the Exercise of Christian Liberty’, to be a guide for the churches in dealing with the matter of dancing.” So what they said about the movie, they say applies equally well to the dance. And, that “Synod urge Christian writers to serve the church with articles regarding the matter of dancing in the light of these conclusions.”10 This is one potent argument! It is certainly true that the Christian Reformed Church has already taken the stand that there is nothing principally wrong with some forms of dancing. 

There is one last argument that has been raised in support of the dance which I believe touches us very really as Protestant Reformed Churches. That argument is that the dance is the product of the common grace of God in man. And closely connected with this, that the dance is the fruit of man’s fulfilling of the “cultural mandate.” It is at this point that we, of course, radically differ from the Christian Reformed Church. When it adopted the position of common grace in 1924, the Christian Reformed Church opened the way for all of its subsequent decisions concerning worldly amusements. That is strikingly evident in several decisions they took. In 1928 the Christian Reformed Church published a study committee report and decisions concerning worldly amusement in the light of Scripture. That’s a report worth your while to read. It is published in the 1928 Acts of Synod, and has been printed in a pamphlet. In this decision,Worldly Amusements in the Light of Scripture, there are contained many fine, true, Scriptural statements. There is also to be found in that report and decision, many conflicts and contradictions. One of the conflicts in the report is a reference to the decision on common grace, a reference which I believe represents a loophole in the decision on worldly amusements so big that you can drive the proverbial truck through it. This is what was written, “The question arises, what basis of fellowship can there be between the child of God and the man of this world? What have they in common which makes a degree of communion possible and legitimate? . . .” And this is the answer: “The solution is found in the doctrine of common grace. Spiritually the believers and unbelievers have nothing in common, but morally they have. The basis of our fellowship with unbelievers should never be the sin which we have in common with them, but the grace (common) which they have with us! . . . This principle can be applied to the sphere of amusements. In His general grace God has given certain joys, diversions, pleasures to men. There are no amusements in hell! By the same general grace He restrains sin in the hearts of the ungodly, so that the diversions and amusements which they devise are not always and necessarily tainted with sin.”11 There is the loophole in this whole question of worldly amusements. And this was seized upon by the committee that dealt with the question in 1966 in their study of movie attendance. They said, “Because sin entered into the world, even the best works of men are defiled with sin (Cf. Heidelberg Catechism, Question 62); but sin is being restrained by God’s common grace.” This is one of their grounds in support of their contention that the world can produce the kind of good movies, dramatic presentations that we can use. And in 1971 the Synod again referred to this same issue by quoting these statements of 1966, and said the Synod declare that the conclusions of the church in their study of 1966 to be the guide for the churches in dealing with the question of dancing. The whole subject is definitely related to the decision on common grace. 

And with it all, comes in also repeatedly the question of the “cultural mandate.”12 The “cultural mandate” is based on Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed Adam and Eve and said unto them, be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over it.” Presumably man, even in his fallen state, is capable by virtue again of a common grace to carry out in part the requirements of this mandate. The dance is presumed to be one fruit of this mandate. I want to emphasize here, that not we, but the Christian Reformed Church in support of its position for worldly amusements has used common grace and the “cultural mandate” as basis for their position on the dance. 

But now I come to ourselves. What about us? I have been referring, admittedly, to many decisions and study committee reports of the Christian Reformed Church. I’ve done this, not first to point at them, but to discover for ourselves the kind of argumentation that is used to support the introduction of worldly amusements and especially the dance. Now I would like to apply some of this concretely to ourselves. 

As Protestant Reformed Churches we have officially and properly, I believe, condemned the doctrinal position expressed in the three points of common grace. Everyone who is a member of the Protestant Reformed Churches expresses by virtue of that membership, his disagreement with the Three Points of 1924. But what troubles me, and ought to trouble each of us, is that we do not always live according to the principles which we confess. If we did, how is it that there are reports of movie attendance by some of our young people that keep circulating within the church? We profess that the world, in producing these things for entertainment, sins. Yet there are evidently instances in our own midst where these sinful productions are enjoyed. That’s a contradiction between our confession and our walk. 

There is the matter of television where one can see the same movies of the theatre within one’s home. In some instances there is indication of no supervision, or incomplete supervision, over television in the home. When this is the case, I would maintain that we are not consistently maintaining our confession. 

Again there is an attraction sometimes toward that corrupt, worldly, godless music that is produced. Why is that? We, who insist that there is no common grace of God whereby the wicked produce this sort of thing as a good work, nevertheless seek that sort of thing for our enjoyment? I maintain: we cannot! When we do, our confession is not consistent with our walk. 

And, there is the question of the dance. I said when I began, that on occasion I hear rumors that there are those of us who experiment with the dance. We cannot condone or approve it on the basis of common grace for we deny that doctrine. Nevertheless, some want to find a reason to condone the dance. I say this is a gross inconsistency between our confession and our walk. What ought we to be maintaining as children of God in the midst of this earth? 

With respect to the dance (or any worldly amusement) we have first of all to confess the fact that man is born totally depraved, unable to do any good whatsoever. On the basis of that principle, we must acknowledge that natural man, in producing these sorts of entertainments in his evil lusts, sins. He does it in his depravity and not by grace—and we cannot join them in that. 

In the second place, we maintain the fact that only through the powerful work of the Spirit, regenerating and bringing us to conversion, can there be a proper walk of godliness. Then the child of God seeks such activities as please God and are in harmony with His. Word. And he will reject that which is worldly and corrupt. 

In the third place, I refer you to what Professor Hanko emphasized a month ago: the matter of antithesis. There is an absolute separation between light and darkness, Christ and Belial, the church and the world. That must be evident in our walk. 

And how do we apply these principles to the question of the dance? In the first place, we condemn the dance, all forms of the dance, as this arises from the world. We condemn that. We believe that the dance, indeed, arises out of the corruption of man’s heart, and therefore it must be condemned. You know what Scripture says, don’t you? Proverbs 23:7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”; Genesis 8:21: “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” And, Christ applies that to the natural man in Luke 6:45 : “And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” It is out of the evil heart of unregenerated sinners that the social dance of our day has arisen. I believe no one can dispute that. Therefore we condemn the dance: it proceeds from an evil, not a regenerated heart. 

In the second place, we condemn the dance because of the purpose behind it. I read to you earlier this definition of the dance that says that it is a “merging with the infinite, with the divine; whosoever knoweth the power of the dance, dwelleth in God”! That is blasphemy, but that’s what man says. The purpose is not only sexual lust—though that’s part of it. But the purpose is the attempt of man to express in this bodily activity the desire to liberate himself from the curse that God has placed upon him because of sin. He would merge with the infinite; he doesn’t want to be bound to this earth. He wants to free himself from gravity and thus from all of the restrictions of God’s law. Can the child of God participate in an activity that isthis sort of an expression? I say he cannot. 

In the third place, we oppose the dance because of its obvious effect upon the spiritual life of those who participate. I don’t put much stock in various surveys of the people of the church. But I did find at least this interesting information in one survey, that of those dancing a smaller percentage attend societies than of those who do not dance. Now there may be all kinds of explanations for that. But I would at least suggest also that those who want to enjoy these pleasures devised by wicked man, grow less and less interested in things spiritual. They have their social activities, their social interaction, but not to the glory of God, and not for their spiritual profit. 

And, finally, I would like to suggest that we oppose the dance because of the fact (admitted by those who support it) that in some instances it leads to further sins. It is simply a fact. There was the fact that unsupervised dances would include drinking and drunkenness. That happened in the past. Nor is it coincidental that drinking and drunkenness and dancing go together. This all promotes social interaction, you see—but it’s sin. And dancing and fornication often go together. The children of Israel were dancing naked about the golden calf. That wasn’t a coincidence, either. Sin breeds sin. Sin develops and grows. Just because all of those who dance do not fall into the sin of adultery, does not mean that therefore dancing can be approved. On the contrary, because dancing in some leads to sexual stimulation (even according to the reports I quoted) and to fornication, it ought to be condemned. Therefore the child of God condemns it. 

But all of this is negative. Sometimes the complaint is heard, “Why are we always negative? We are told what we may not do: we can’t dance, we can’t go to the movies, we can’t listen to all of these worldly songs, well what can we do?” I would like to suggest, first of all, that we can walk in proper Christian liberty. Did you know the Protestant Reformed Churches do not have a synodical decision against dancing? They don’t. Our synod has never said that it is wrong to dance, or that it is right to dance. It has never made a decision on the question of the dance. The same is true with respect to movie-attendance. Why not? ‘Why have they never said anything about it? Because it’s not wrong? No, but because we believe emphatically in this principle of Christian liberty. What must the child of God do in this earth? Must he be bound by all kinds of rules and regulations? Must our synod tell us today, “You may not dance,” and maybe ten years from now tell us, “You may dance, but don’t do it cheek to cheek? And don’t do it with any beer present, and don’t do it unless it’s under supervision”? Rather, without Synodical declarations, on the basis of Scripture, walk in such a way that God is always highly honored, and we are spiritually benefited. That’s Christian liberty. 

What can we do, positively? The church isn’t called, of course, to provide social entertainment for its members. It is called, rather, to preach the gospel. But parents and young people have a sanctified imagination, don’t they? We have, within our churches, various outings for young people. We have annual conventions. We have opportunities to fellowship by way of banqueting. We have opportunities to meet each other within our homes. Let no one say that one needs the dance in order to socialize properly. There are all kinds of ways to socialize to the glory of God and for our spiritual profit. The church, too, is involved in this matter of proper social interaction. Young people, and older people, too, want fellowship? They want to know each other better? They want to talk to each other? Well, what better opportunity do we have in this whole earth than to come together in our society meetings? There we discuss one with another the Word of God. In this way we grow in the knowledge of Scripture, but we grow also in an awareness of each other’s spiritual needs. I suggest that we don’t need a dance, that we don’t need alcohol, we don’t need drugs, to promote this sort of social interaction. We have something far, far better: something spiritual. Are we concerned with this matter of social activity? Let us know that as a body of Christ we do lack in that respect oftentimes. We have old people, we have sick people, people who are limited to their homes or to other institutions that long for fellowship and communion, and don’t get enough of it. Young people don’t have to sponsor dances in order to promote a kind of interaction. Why, they can visit all kinds of children of God in the church to encourage them and speak to them, and to find also blessed assurance and comfort through all of that. There is certainly a poverty within churches if its social life is dependent upon dances, athletic activities, movies, and what have you. We have the Word of God. We have the principle of new life. We have the hope of salvation. And we believe and confess that we are each a part of the members of the body of Christ. We have each other. And I believe that if we positively seek to do what God’s Word requires toward each other, we will neither have the time, nor the desire to hanker after the kind of activity in which the world has found its pleasures. May we be faithful and diligent then, by God’s grace, to do all of this.

¹ The Board of Trustees report to the Synod of 1977, p. 215, makes this clear: “The rationale for this action was that residence hall recreation rooms were viewed as the equivalent of a person’s home recreation room, and, therefore, students were allowed to plan dances as they might do in their own homes. The euphemism ‘party with music’ was coined to avoid possible offense to people outside the college halls; music was to be provided by records and tapes. These dances served as a purely social activity, allowing for mixing among residents who live on campus. President Spoelhof kept the board of trustees informed of these developments through his semiannual reports to the board.”

² Overture of Classis Hamilton, Acts of Synod of the CRC, pp. 611, 620. 

³ Report of Calvin’s ad hoc committee on dancing, Acts, 1977, p. 220. 

4 Overture of Classis Hamilton, Acts, 197 1, p. 611. 

5 Calvin’s Ad hoc committee on dancing, Acts, 1977, p. 215. 

6 Overture of Classis Hamilton, Acts, 197 1, p. 6 15. 

7 Calvin’s Ad hoc committee on dancing, Acts, 1977, p. 218. 

8 overture of Classis Hamilton, Acts, 1971, p. 615ff. 

9 ibid, Acts, 1971, p. 615ff. 

10 Acts, 1971, p. 138. 

11 Worldly Amusements in the Light of Scripture,” 1928, p. 15. 

12 Acts of Synod, 1966, p. 33; 1977, p. 222.