Is There Life Without A Prom?

(This is a rather long article, but I think it is necessary.  Last year I shared a post with you entitled, “But It’s The Prom.”  This article is revised and expanded, addressing the same subject.  I hope you will find it balanced and truthful, and worthy to share with your church families — Steve Higginbotham).

I believe the headlines say it all: “How To Have The Most Romantic Night Ever,” “Tonight Will Last Forever,” “Dresses So Hot They Sizzle,” “Your Hottest Prom Body,” and “Sex – It’s Your Call.” These are the messages being marketed to teens regarding the High School rite of passage called, “The Prom.”  These were the headlines of such magazines as “Seventeen,”  “Young & Modern,” “Prom Magazine,” “Your Prom,” and “Modern Bride,” which all published special issues promoting the Prom.  I believe that these popular teen magazines are sending our young people some rather disturbing messages about priorities in life as well as sexual purity.

Before picking out a dress or a tux, or helping your children to do so, I would like for you to weigh the following thoughts before deciding to attend the Prom.

First of all, there is the issue of dancing to consider. Is dancing wrong? No, not necessarily.   There is no sin in moving one’s feet to the rhythm of music.  Not all dancing involves indecent dress, unchaste contact, or illicit movement.  In fact, the Bible records instances when righteous men danced as an expression of their joy (1 Chronicles 15:25-29).

However, dancing that calls for close bodily contact between unmarried males and females; that involves indecent and suggestive bodily movements; and involves impure handling of a dance partner is wrong.  The kind of dancing that God’s word condemns is the kind of dancing that stirs one to have impure thoughts, and act in impure ways.  Frankly, that is precisely the problem with most of the dancing that takes place today.  Its appeal is sex.  Now, there is nothing wrong with sexual attraction either.  In fact, sexual attraction is a perfectly healthy matter that God created.  However, that attraction must be kept within proper bounds.  It should never be tantalized or it will very likely get out of control.  Unmarried people who have no legitimate means to fulfill their sexual desires need to be extremely careful to avoid any situation that could feed or flame such desires.

While it is true that the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not dance,” it does say that those who practice “reveling,” “licentiousness,” and “such like sins” shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).  There was a time when there was hardly any Christian who would openly defend dancing.  The preachers of times past taught against it, and the congregation concurred.  So, what has happened?  Were the preachers of yesterday wrong about dancing?  Has dancing cleaned up its act?  Have God’s moral standards changed?

Without any question, none would argue that dancing has not become moral over the years.  If anything, the modern dance is more sensuous today than it ever has been.  Furthermore, preachers of the past were correct in preaching and warning against fleshly lusts which war against the soul (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 2:11).  And of course, God’s moral law has not changed (Matthew 24:35).  What has changed is the level of discipleship to which some are willing to commit themselves.  Some apparently seem to be more willing to justify what they desire to do than they are willing to justify God’s high moral calling.

Second, there is an issue of modesty.  Many of the dresses that are worn at the Prom are “short at both ends.”  I have been in the presence of young girls (Christian girls) who were bragging about how low-cut their  dresses were, and how much cleavage they showed.  In stark contrast to the mindset of these girls, the apostle Paul instructed women to dress in a manner that professed godliness (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  Clothing that exposes or emphasizes those parts of the body that create lust is certainly inappropriate.  What is the message of the clothing worn to the Prom?  Does it profess one’s sexuality?  Does it tease, and entice?  Or does it profess godliness and purity?

Third, there is an issue of priority.  Is being at the “in” place, and having the approval of one’s peers more important than one’s commitment to Jesus?  Is one’s desire for peer acceptance stronger than one’s desire for God’s acceptance?

I have heard some parents speak and act as though their children will be scarred for life if they do not attend the Prom.  Quite the contrary, my concerns are that a young person might be scarred for life if they do attend the Prom.  In the past several years, our local Proms have resulted in…

  • Guys and girls renting cabins at a local state park where some spent the night drinking and engaging in sexual immorality.
  • Public intoxication resulting in arrests by the local police force.
  • “Dirty dancing” (and that’s the way I will describe it.  To be more specific would be offensive) performed on the “chaperoned” dance floor which is then broadcast over our local cable system.
  • Immodest, revealing, clothing worn which leaves little to the imagination, and must elicit impure thoughts from those of the opposite sex.
  • Young people lying to their parents about their whereabouts while staying out all evening and returning home in the morning.
  • Parents who forced their children to attend the Prom against the child’s own wishes.
  • Parents who attempted to convince other people’s children to attend the Prom because they would be missing out on one of the most important nights of their life.

And here’s the clincher…every one of the actions mentioned above were done, not by the non-Christians living in our community, but by young people who are members of the Lord’s church; Christians!  If this is the way that disciples of Jesus conduct themselves at this event, then how do you suppose the world acts?  It is no wonder that our school system annually mails out a letter to area churches asking for their help in keeping what they describe as “one of the most dangerous nights of the year for our young people” as safe as possible.

I fear for those who go to a dance, spend all night with their date, come home the next morning (which happens to be the Lord’s day), and find themselves too exhausted, because of their carousing, to go to worship or to truly worship in spirit the one who shed his blood for their redemption.  Do we really think that such actions will be pardoned or excused because, after all, “it’s the Prom?”

Young people, keep your commitment that you made to the Lord.  Guard your heart and mind from the fleshly lusts which war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11), and guard your influence as well (1 Timothy 4:12).

Parents, help your son or daughter make decisions when those decisions have the potential to harm their relationship to Jesus.  If your child isn’t strong enough, or mature enough to make a responsible decision, then exercise your parental obligation and make that decision for him.  Periodically, because of the tremendous peer pressure they are under, young people need your help to say  “no” and be strong for them.  Help them make Christ-focused decisions that will bring honor to God.

Friends, whether Christian teens can attend the Prom and abstain from immorality and guard their heart as well as their influence is a decision that ultimately they will have to make, but allow me to remind you that the Prom is only one night of out an entire lifetime of events.  That single night won’t “make” your life, but it certainly has the potential to adversely affect it.  I, and thousands more just like me, can assure you that there is life without a Prom.

print
Share Button

Comments 10

  • Steve

    Is there a prom alternative in this area?

    Wes

  • Westley, None that I’m aware of. We have talked about it many times here at South Green, but no one has done the work to make it happen as of yet. One problem with an “Alternative” is that the school systems in our area all have their proms on different nights.

  • One thing that I have seen done is for the sponsors to ask all those in attendance to make a commitment to not attend the prom if it is on another night in exchange for some of the costs being deferred.

    It should be a big deal that our young people can be excited about.

    I would be more than interested / willing to help with plans, promotion, fund raising, etc.

    I strongly believe that high school dances fall into the category of a social institution. They are so accepted by society that members of the Church don’t even think twice about participation. If they thought honestly for a second about what it truly is they would see it is obviously not something they should be involved in. That is where we come in.

  • Steve,

    Another fantastic reminder.

    For almost 9 years as a youth minister, I fought the prom. Sadly, it was looked at as “part of the fabric of the town” and parents (and grandparents) remembered the good old days when “nothing” happened.

    We need to open their eyes to the fact that these nights are filled with immorality and our young people are risking their souls’ destiny for one night of “memory-making.”

    Thanks for another outstanding article.

    Adam

  • Steve,

    I do not know if you remember me or not. I was a young boy at Lennon Rd when you were here for a summer???

    Anyway at Swartz Creek, MI. we offer a Jr/Sr banquet as a substitiution for the prom. Seems to work very well for us.

    Best regards
    Doug Maguffee

  • Hey Doug,
    Great to hear from you! Yes, I remember you, and your sister Jessica, and brother Dan. In fact, I went through a “memory box” a while back and it contained several items from my time at Lennon Road. In that box was a really nice letter and picture from you. I’m sure you don’t remember that, but I still have it. I enjoyed that Summer working with you all. You’ll have to send me a personal email and tell me about your life (shigg@glasgow-ky.com).

  • Thanks for a well written, balanced article on an important subject. I’m linking to it at Preacher’s Study and, with your permission, may use it in the bulletin here.

  • […] this week, read this article on the prom from Steve Higginbotham. Is There Life Without a Prom will cause you to think and reconsider your thinking about this annual […]

  • I just left a prom for middle school students and it was nothing nice. Too much immorality for me.

  • […] Is There Life Without A Prom? Steve Higginbotham has written an excellent article that addresses the spiritual concerns and he shares some of the consequences of young Christians in his area as well as the world’s view of the prom as described in teen magazines. […]

%d bloggers like this: