The Prom and the Bible

I hear that in some places, proms are losing popularity as banquets are taking their place. However, prom night is, according to one prominent Web site, “still the most important dance of high school senior year.” As with every popular, cultural practice, Christians should consider whether it is Christ-like to be involved. Our answer will be found in a consideration of Bible words:

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists the works of the flesh, and makes it clear that those who commit these sins will not be saved. One of these, in the New King James Version, is “revelries,” which also could be translated “carousing.” You know what a “revelry” is: a wild party where dangerous things happen. That’s the typical prom (with the after-prom events) in a nutshell.

Then, also in Galatians 5:19-21, we find the word “lewdness” or “lasciviousness.” Your translation may say “impurity” or “sensuality.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word means “unchaste handling of males and females” and “indecent bodily movements.” Does modern dancing qualify as lasciviousness? If not, it is hard to think of anything that could be considered lascivious. The modern dance certainly could not be considered “chaste” handling of males and females! It does not demonstrate the “chaste” lifestyle to which we have been called (1 Peter 3:2).

Next, we consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28: “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Jesus is serious about our avoiding lustful situations. The modern dance, whether in the school gymnasium or a club, is an invitation to lust. In very few other places do people have a greater opportunity and motivation to commit the sin of lust. If we are in the business of running away from fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18), we will stay away from what typically goes on at the prom and other dances.

Someone might object, “I’m going to the prom just to see my friends and talk to people. I’m not going to dance, and I’m not going to drink alcohol afterward. For me, it’s just a social event—not a dance.” Still, the prom essentially is a dance, and your Christian influence is precious, and may be compromised by your presence there (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12). You have an influence over someone, whether you know it or not. Someone may have no other Christian friend. If you doubt that people are watching what you do, think about those you have admired and respected over the years. Did you always, in every single case, tell them that you looked up to them? Probably not. Your good name is more valuable than riches (Proverbs 22:1). Don’t throw away a good reputation, which takes years to build, for one short night of partying. Don’t forfeit your Christian leadership potential for physical gratification.

In all things, we must let our light shine for Christ (Matthew 5:14).

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