Rhythm is a creature of God. And man can praise Him in the dance. David danced before the Lord when he succeeded in bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem after that first frightening experience, when God smote Uzzah for touching the ark. And in Psalm 30:11 David declares, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” The Psalmist in Psalm 149:3 exhorts his listeners with the words, “Let them praise His name in the dance: let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.” So also does the Psalmist in Psalm 150:4, “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with the stringed instru­ments and organs.”

Three-quarter time is no more sinful than four-four time. And to feel the smooth flowing rhythm of the dance is no more sinful than to be inclined to tap one’s toe at the definite and steady beat of the march and the marching band. In three-quarter time we sing,” Wholehearted thanksgiving to Thee will I bring, In praise of Thy marvelous deeds I will sing. In Thee will I joy and exultingly cry. Thy name I will praise, O Jehovah Most High.” It is in three-quarter time that the Church sings of Christ’s agony on His cross with the words, “My God, My God, I cry to Thee; O why hast Thou forsaken Me? Afar from Me, Thou dost not heed, Though day and night for help I plead.” In three-quarter rhythm the Church makes mention of its own prayer to God with the words, “I love the Lord Who heard my cry and granted my request; In Him Who hears and answers prayer My trust through life shall rest.” In the very first chorus of that majestic “Messiah” that flowed forth from Handel’s pen, the saints sing in three-quarter time, “And the glory, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” Shall we re­write all these songs? Shall we ignore the fact that God Himself is the Great Three in One? What is wrong with three beats in a measure? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

This does not mean that we approve of all dancing. It must not even be misconstrued as looking the other way in the present day clamor of our young people for square dancing. We are reminded of Israel and wish to make a few remarks, before we go on with this subject, in regard to this spirit which also touches our children and our adults as well. Other churches allow this and that. They have lost their doctrine; and therefore there is nothing to practice. For a practical sermon should be nothing more than a guide for putting doctrine into practice. And therefore a practical sermon, a truly practical sermon, is doctrinal. And a practical sermon is not and may not be one in which the doctrine of our Great God and His Almighty Sovereign Son is put on the shelf, in order to tell man what he has to do, and how God cannot save him until he gives God the permission. But it is so easy and according to human nature to point to others who are lax and have lost their spiritual sensitivity and then to say, “They can do it, why cannot we?” Other churches allow their young people to attend supervised dances; and some have introduced square dancing. Why cannot we? Will we not keep our young men and young women off the worldly dance floor this way? As we said, we are reminded of the words of Israel to Samuel when he was old, and his sons showed themselves to be far inferior to their father in spirituality and leadership. They wanted a king, and their reason, among other reasons was, “That we may be like all the nations…” Let us not desire to be like the other churches except in as far as they reveal the Spirit of Christ, love pure doctrine, have zeal for righteousness and look eagerly for the day of Christ! But that spirit is there in our flesh. We, too, would be like others in their walk of life. We do not like to “stick out like a sore thumb!” We do not relish distinctiveness, that is, our flesh does not. Beware of an ecumenical movement that aims at removing all distinctiveness, to be one organization not only, but to have one watered-down, general doctrine that allows every practice that is not outwardly barbarian, uncouth, uncultured and uncivilized.

But, as we wrote last time, it is the bodily contact of the dance between those of opposite sexes in con­nection with that rhythm that contains the danger and the sin. The danger and the sin are inseparable. For that bodily contact, with dress that the dance calls for (but not three-quarter time as such) incites and excites to that which either one may not have or may not yet have. The danger is in playing with fire, tempting one’s self and inviting more intimacy and satisfaction of the flesh. Even the square dance, when the contact is not a close embrace and with clothing that reflects spirit­uality, rather than willingness to go part way, is a step towards the sensual dance and therefore a step in the WRONG direction. True, one is not as easily and fully excited by the touch of the hand in the square dance as the other. But there must be a reason why it is enjoyed only when conducted between the opposite sexes, and it loses its attraction and we have yet to hear our young people clamor for segregated square dances; and when we do, we want to be sure that this is not requested as a step towards such dances between the opposite sexes when performed by the same sex. Our view of these matters is not a prudish pessimistic approach but a cautious, sanctified approach to the whole problem of our young people.

They have a problem and a very, very real problem. Not only has the world advanced in this sin and the allurements thereof; not only do we live in an adul­terous age; not only do we live in the days predicted in God’s Word, that it would be like in the days of Noah when “every imagination of the heart was only evil, continually,” also with this sin forbidden in the seventh commandment; but the whole social structure is so dif­ferent and dangerous. So often a young couple sincerely in love and eager to be married in the Lord have to wait to finish a college education, get established in a profession, are called away from home, are drafted into the army and confronted with many, many tempta­tions of which their grandparents could never have dreamed. Their ability physically to get away from the eye of their parents and from the public also is so much greater today. And a long engagement under control is for the flesh difficult. Body chemistry is there by the ordinance of God. The flesh responds as it does by a biological urge; and it becomes the duty of the young man and woman to control it by a spiritual dedication to Christ, and, by all means, by avoiding that bodily contact which incites it, feeds it and drives it. Their calling is not to play with fire nor to tempt themselves. Their calling is to remain virgins for Christ’s sake. Their calling is to consider their bodies temples of the Holy Spirit and to live as God’s royal priesthood.

For that reason what is true of the bodily contact of the dance is even more true of the closer contact in the dark and shady places and privacy of the automobile. For many, if not most, double dating is not only wise but mandatory. And then again the problem arises. After some companionship and even double dating and the bond of love becomes increasingly strong the inner drive to show affection and the longing to be with and as close as possible must exactly remain a show of affection and not a yielding to lustful contact and prolonged emotional excitement.

Parking in the dark is both literally and figuratively, “For the birds.” It is quite natural and proper for them to park in the park after dark. And they use the time for restful sleep and hiding from the enemy. But young people who resort to the park after dark to park must remember that The Enemy not only leads to such places but works very hard at his trade in these environs. We are reminded of the hymn. “Yield not to temptation, For yielding is sin.” Sin is so often pictured in Scripture as the works of darkness. And the sinner usually waits till darkness has fallen to perform his evil in the foolish idea that he will not be seen and be apprehended. He wants to sin and does not want to be stopped in his sin. How awful! And dark­ness serves to hide his sins from the eyes of men, although he often leaves clues which the daylight will reveal; but in his folly the worker of iniquity fails to take into account the all-seeing eye of God. And you young people who seek darkness for your moments of companionship with a friend of the opposite sex had better look at the whole matter in broad daylight. The amazing thing—and yet not so amazing when you con­sider the power of sin—is that today there are so many more places to go on an evening than in grandfather’s and grandmother’s day. You could not get very far in the old sulky; and a program in the next town was off limits for the horse. Besides it just took too long to get there. But with the modern automobile that makes it possible to go more than a hundred miles for an evening’s fellowship and friendship and a sanctified and edifying program, the nearest park is sought instead, and young people are conspicuous by their absence at wholesome entertainment provided for them! This holds true of convention activities as well as other banquets, singspirations and programs. If we seek the literal darkness for our activities, it may be that it is because we want to perform the works of spiritual darkness. And we feel that we can have all the lustful bodily contact in this privacy of the cover of darkness and keep control of ourselves as virgins for Christ’s sake?

But seeking darkness for such activity means that inside already we have ceased to be a virgin for Christ’s sake. We must be virgins from the heart. Our thoughts must be pure. Our will must be to serve Christ. We must live for Him and for Him alone. With all our inner man as well as the external organs we must be dedicated to Christ. The seventh command­ment exactly declares that we must live and move all of our being to the glory of Him in Whom we live and move and have all our being. We may only live to please Him. When Psalm 45:10 speaks to Christ’s bride and counsels her to be His virgin in the words, “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house”, it means that any young man and/or young woman, whose companion stands in the way of service to Christ and demands making out instead of waiting out, must forsake this detriment to his or her spiritual life. We must love God more than father and mother, brother and sister, and surely more than those who would carry us along with them in doing deeds that deny love to the living God. Love to God and to the neighbor in such circumstances is not to yield to the sin suggested or being pressed but in correcting with the Word of God and reminding of the solemn obliga­tion to walk in His fear and therefore to remain virgins for Christ’s sake.

Fellowship with this Christ in prayer will strengthen one to resist fellowship and intimacy with man that is sinful and tempts to further sin. And let us also remember Jesus’ words to the devil, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God.” That means surely that we do not tempt ourselves either, nor do we tempt others. Those who are virgins for Christ’s sake will enjoy the blessedness of the wedding feast of The Lamb. The love of God and its enjoyment are so incomparably great that the pleasures of the flesh that we may experience for a moment in sin are foolish to seek as well as evil to perform.