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). If you feel a temptation to dismiss this warning, make sure that you’re not more willing to justify what you “want” to do more than you are willing to justify God’s high moral calling. Discipleship and obedience are demonstrated, not by compliance to God’s commands, but compliance to his commands when our will differs from his. Who wins then? Self-denial is never easy, but it is required (Matthew 16:24).
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? Does it profess godliness and purity? Or does it say one desires to be “chased,” or does it say one desires to be “chaste?”
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. While living in Kentucky, here are a few things that happened at our local Proms.
- Guys and girls rented cabins at a local state park where some spent the night drinking and engaging in sexual immorality.
- Public intoxication resulted 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 was broadcast over our local cable system.
- Immodest, revealing, clothing was worn which leaves little to the imagination, and must elicit impure thoughts from those of the opposite sex.
- Young people lied to their parents about their whereabouts while staying out all evening and returning home in the morning.
- Parents forced their children to attend the Prom against the child’s own wishes.
- Parents 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! 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 would annually mail 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 them. Do we really think that such is acceptable 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,” so 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 out of 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.