The Review and Herald


February 28, 1882

Should Christians Dance?


[The following expression of my views on the subject of dancing, was written in answer to a letter asking counsel upon this point. As the principles stated are of general application, I here give my reply, for the benefit of other inquirers.] RH February 28, 1882, par. 1

Dear Sister in Christ,

You inform me in your letter that you have been recently converted from error to truth. You now see and acknowledge the claims of God's law. You see the true Sabbath plainly brought to view in the fourth commandment, and have begun to keep it. You feel a joy that you never experienced before. In all this I rejoice with you. Then you ask if it is sinful to attend dancing parties. You say that this amusement possesses great attractions for you, but if sinful you will relinquish it. RH February 28, 1882, par. 2

Before answering this question directly, I ask you to consider briefly the position and work of God's people at the present day. John the Revelator, looking down the stream of time, beheld the third angel flying in the midst of heaven, crying, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” From the prophecies we learn that this heavenly messenger represents a class of religious teachers who are instructing the people to obey the law of God and to look for his Son from Heaven. The solemn message of the third angel must be given by those who see and feel its truthfulness. The world are going on careless and Godless in the way of error. Ministers are saying from their pulpits, “Be not troubled. Christ will not come for thousands of years. All things continue as they were from the beginning.” Others pour contempt upon the law of God, declaring that it is a yoke of bondage. But while professed Christians are asleep, Satan is manifesting intense earnestness and persevering zeal. His hellish work will soon be ended, his power be chained; therefore he has come down in great wrath, to “deceive, if possible, even the very elect.” Is this a time for us to unite with the ungodly in levity and worldly pleasure? Will they be more inclined to accept the solemn truths we hold, when they see us in the theater or the ball-room? RH February 28, 1882, par. 3

Infidelity runs riot. Professed Christians not only disclaim all faith in the warnings of future judgments upon the world, but they deny the record of past judgments. There are not wanting those who declare that the flood is a myth and the book of Genesis a fable. But not so did our Saviour. He refers to Noah as a real person, to the flood as a fact, to the characteristics of that generation as prefiguring the characteristics of ours. In the days before the flood, it is written that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Here is a picture drawn by one inspired of God; and such, it is declared, will be the state of the world prior to Christ's second coming. In the days of Noah, men found their highest enjoyment in the gratification of sensual desires. This world was their all. “Eat, drink, and be merry,” was the cry echoed from lip to lip. The same insane love of pleasure, the same all-absorbing spirit of worldliness, characterize the people of this age. How little do they consider that their deeds and words are passing into judgment, and that every sin must have its retribution in the future! RH February 28, 1882, par. 4

There was a God to call to account the inhabitants of the antediluvian world. There is a God to try the deeds of the men of this generation, and to give every man according to his works. The faithful sentinels for God have a work to do, to keep these things vividly before the people. Every lay member of the church has also a duty, to show that there is a reality in the truth, that we are indeed living in the last days, and the Lord is at the door. The words of the great apostle are addressed directly to us: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” The great question for us to settle is, What part are we to act in this fearfully important period? Shall we yield to the indulgence of worldliness and pride, or engage in mirth and revelry? RH February 28, 1882, par. 5

The true Christian will not desire to enter any place of amusement or engage in any diversion upon which he cannot ask the blessing of God. He will not be found at the theater, the billiard hall, or the bowling saloon. He will not unite with the gay waltzers, or indulge in any other bewitching pleasure that will banish Christ from the mind. To those who plead for these diversions, we answer, We cannot indulge in them in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come. When we come to the final hour, and stand face to face with the record of our lives, shall we regret that we have attended so few parties of pleasure? that we have participated in so few scenes of thoughtless mirth? Shall we not, rather, bitterly regret that so many precious hours have been wasted in self-gratification,—so many opportunities neglected, which, rightly improved, would have secured for us immortal treasures? RH February 28, 1882, par. 6

It has become customary for professors of religion to excuse almost any pernicious indulgence to which the heart is wedded. By familiarity with sin, they become blinded to its enormity. Many who claim to be children of God, gloss over sins which his word condemns, by linking some purpose of church charity with their Godless carousals. Thus they borrow the livery of Heaven to serve the devil in. Souls are deceived, led astray, and lost to virtue and integrity by these fashionable dissipations. RH February 28, 1882, par. 7

In many religious families, dancing and card-playing are made a parlor pastime. It is urged that these are quiet home amusements, which may be safely enjoyed under the parental eye. But a love for these exciting pleasures is thus cultivated, and that which was considered harmless at home will not long be regarded dangerous abroad. It is yet to be ascertained that there is any good to be obtained from these amusements. They do not give vigor to the body nor rest to the mind. They do not implant in the soul one virtuous or holy sentiment. On the contrary, they destroy all relish for serious thought and for religious services. It is true that there is a wide contrast between the better class of select parties and the promiscuous and degraded assemblies of the low dance-house. Yet all are steps in the path of dissipation. RH February 28, 1882, par. 8

The amusement of dancing, as conducted at the present day, is a school of depravity, a fearful curse to society. If all in our great cities who are yearly ruined by this means could be brought together, what histories of wrecked lives would be revealed. How many who now stand ready to apologize for this practice, would be filled with anguish and amazement at the result. How can professedly Christian parents consent to place their children in the way of temptation, by attending with them such scenes of festivity? How can young men and young women barter their souls for this infatuating pleasure? RH February 28, 1882, par. 9

The great mass of mankind are engrossed in the things of this life, and divine truth can find no abiding-place in their hearts. And yet all the blessings which the world can give fail to satisfy the wants of the soul. There is a nameless longing for something which they have not, a peace and rest that is not born of earth. It was thus with the worshipers in the temple of old; amid the imposing ceremonies, the dazzling display, the music and rejoicing, they were still unsatisfied. Then how welcome the call that fell upon their ears, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” It was the same message that had gladdened the heart of the Samaritan woman, at Jacob's well,—“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Christ alone can satisfy that sense of want in the human soul. His gracious invitation reaches down even to our time. From the Fountain of life the cry still goes forth to a lost world, “Come unto me and drink.” RH February 28, 1882, par. 10

Thousands of our race would compass sea and land to gain possessions which at best must soon perish, and yet they turn away with indifference from the proffer of eternal riches. The Saviour's loving invitations, his earnest pleadings and faithful instruction, fall upon dull ears and hard hearts. To many who have time and opportunity to gain a knowledge of the truth and of its Author, Christ will say, “Ye would not come to me, that ye might have life.” RH February 28, 1882, par. 11

My sister, when you carefully study the life of Christ as recorded in Bible history, and when he is revealed to you as he is, by the Holy Spirit, then you will be convinced for yourself that dancing has no place in the Christian's life. When you feel a desire to engage in this amusement, go in imagination to Gethsemane, and behold the anguish which Christ endured for us. See the world's Redeemer wrestling in superhuman agony, the sins of the whole world upon his soul. Hear his prayer, borne upon the sympathizing breeze, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” The hour of darkness has come. Christ has entered the shadow of his cross. Alone he must drink the bitter cup. Of all earth's children whom he has blessed and comforted, there is not one to console him in this dreadful hour. He is betrayed into the hands of a murderous mob. Faint and weary, he is dragged from one tribunal to another. His own nation are his accusers, the Romans his executioners. And thus He who knew not the taint of sin, pours out his life as a malefactor upon Calvary. RH February 28, 1882, par. 12

This history should stir every soul to its depths. It was to save us that the Son of God became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was wounded for our transgressions, and with his stripes we are healed. God holds us each responsible for the soul estimated of such value. Let a sense of the infinite sacrifice made for our redemption be ever with you, and the ball-room will lose its attractions. RH February 28, 1882, par. 13

Not only did Christ die as our sacrifice, but he lived as our example. In his human nature he stands, complete, perfect, spotless. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. Our entire being, soul, body, and spirit, must be purified, ennobled, sanctified, until we shall reflect his image and imitate his example. My sister, such is the work before us as Christians. We need not fear to engage in any pursuit or pleasure that will aid us in this work. But it is our duty to shun everything that would divert our attention or lessen our zeal. In this light, is it hard to decide on which side dancing should be placed? RH February 28, 1882, par. 14