(This is a rather long article, but I would ask that you read it, all of it, before you assume you know what I am going to say. I have no desire to “spy out another person’s liberty,” but at the same time, I do desire to warn brethren of pitfalls that can harm them. I hope you will find it balanced and truthful, and worthy to share with your Christian friends. — 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. Several years ago, the local Proms in the town in which I preached, 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 systems would annually mail out a letter to area churches asking for their help in keeping what they described 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.