Life Without A Prom?

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.

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Comments 34

  • Great article, Steve! I wish every Christian teen (and their parents) would read it.

  • Well written. I hope and pray many will read it and “hear your heart” on the matter.

  • Jack Honeycutt forwarded me a link to your article. Great, as usual! Keep on preaching the truth even if the people flinch. Everyone needs to be told these things. (

  • Excellent post! I think you hit on some excellent points and I hope many others will read this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you for your sensible treatment of this timely issue.

  • We are at war and the END is not yet. Faith is not just believing, but doing the work (Book of James ). Let us not forget brothers and sisters, today’s action will be the outcome of tomorrow.

    I pray that our young ones will be wise and example to the generation after, which mean that as parents we are to be more than just listeners, but rather loving,guiding,caring adults.

    Thank you so much Steve for your work in Christ.

    PS Commitment to Jesus is the key to a healthy Christian.

  • Outstanding article! And so needed.

  • Steve,

    Can I get a link to that article as well? This is something that is timeless and needs to be preached in season and out of season.

  • Robert, thanks for your kind words. As for a link to the article, I’m not sure what you’re asking. If you’re asking for the URL, it’s: Feel free to use it however you desire.

  • Steve,

    I attended my prom in 1980. I went to a very small high school and I didn’t get into any trouble. In my community hardly anybody danced. The guys would only dance the slow dances. My parents had taught against dancing in our home and I didn’t dance. I went with my parents blessing, but with their expectation that I would act in the way they taught me and come home at a reasonable hour. I did both.

    The one thing I remember is feeling very out of place at times. A pretty girl asked me to dance and I refused. I knew some of the plans and expectations of “After-Prom” in my community. There was a pressure to get drunk and / or have sex. I don’t think a lot of bad stuff happened so much at prom but after prom.

    The one issue I have with most articles on this topic is they don’t really discuss in detail the Biblical word licentiousness, or lasciviousness and tell us what they mean. I can’t tell you the last time other than reading them in the Bible I used or heard those words used. Here is a helpful link.

    Even reading the definition here it is difficult to define when one crosses the line. That is why I am glad my parents tried to teach me. How much can a guy dance with a girl, hold a girl, kiss a girl, and hot have unbridled lust. I guess it depends on the man. (Reverse the gender of the previous sentence for females because they have to deal with lust too.)

    My personal conviction now is that nothing wrong with prom. But Prom was basically world in 1980 and it is today. Could it be done without that? Sure, but it usually isn’t. So to what degree we participate is something to think about seriously.

    I appreciate the article, because you told the truth without going over the top. My prayer is that more youth will simply say no to prom. But perhaps even the ones like me who went will realize there wasn’t really anything special going on. In fact a lot of people get hurt, feel rejected, or used, or pressured, or have deep regrets about prom.

  • Great article Steve. Hope many parents as well as young people read it and take heed. The devil is using every means he can to destroy the church. It’s time we stood up and win this battle for our young people. God bless you in your work at Karns.

  • Amen to that Jovan. Keep up the good work. I really do get a kick out of parents who think its the end of the world if their kids miss the prom… I have never went to any dance in my life… And I don’t feel like I missed out on anything except sin…

  • I truly appreciate this article! We didn’t have to fight this battle with our daughters because from the very beginning,, they had no expectation of going to the prom. Working with the teens in our congregation is a whole different ballgame, however. We have done the prom alternative thing though, and have been successful with celebrating an important milestone in a godly manner.

  • Steve, an excellent treatment of a nagging problem. We need more from our younger men who are in touch with present situations and can write graphically, with dignity. Thank you.

  • Well said/written. I’d like Christian parents to give their own parties at home, well supervised, and participants properly educated as to behavior before hand. Without the pressures of an immoral society on them they will have a wonderful time to remember. The television has become a very bad influence and in particular the dance competition shows, which should be labeled for adult viewing only, and the music videos which the young people like so much should also be properly rated for content. I wrote Land’s End about the lack of decent bathing suits particularly for the fuller figures and older generations. Our bodies are not for public display and amusement never mind embarrassment. The new law from FCC goes into effect
    soon about maintaining the audio ads at the maximum loudness/decibels of the programs being viewed. They want people to report offenders so they can be fined. thank you. God Bless you and yours.

  • Steve, thanks for the thoughts which need to be shared with parents and young people alike. To forewarn about such matters will develop wisdom in facing them.

  • Steve,

    This was a great article. I plan to print it off and keep it for our boys. You made some great points and I think many parents don’t really think about all the things you mentioned. Thank you for sharing this.

  • This was a good, balanced and thought provoking article. We must also realize that, while this is a big school event and varies at different school systems, it is only once a year. There are many lessons and attitudes of the Christian life that must be followed at other events, such as sports games, cheerleading, band, etc. and lived each day. The big thing for parents is that they be involved and discuss the various things with their children. Even volunteer to be a chaperone. Some congregations suggest “don’t go near” while others offer prom alternatives, and unfortunately, some have members that become the ‘life of the party’ and are sinning. We must also remember that these young people are 1 to 2 years away from being ‘away to college’ or such and by this time should be able to make decisions and have reasons of their own and be able to take wise advise.

  • I know many churches usually will have prom alternatives.Nice dinner with wholesome entertainment no dancing and ptoperly chaperoned.

  • That is the most reasonable argument I have heard. Keep it up!

  • Good article. I am always a bit dismayed when I find that Christian parents have encouraged their children in attending Prom. Not wishing to be overly judgmental – whatever that means – I usually just don’t say anything…. DIRECTLY. I do, however, write articles such as you have done here and mention it during sermons of Bible classes. Never once have I taken it to a personal level … but if they ASKED me, that would be a different story. I like to think I live my life in such a way that my opinion on this would already be known … since no one has EVER asked me.

    I was fortunate to have attended a “Christian School” (again – “whatever that means”) and we did not have a Prom. We did have a formal event called the Senior Banquet. This allowed for dinner, entertainment, formal wear, and the like, leaving out dancing. I believe there were rules about the gowns and modesty, but not being a girl I don’t really remember for certain. I don’t recall any immodest gowns, and being where we were, I think I would had there been any.

    I love the Prom Alternative idea. Wouldn’t hold it at the church building and I doubt I would favor calling it a church event – but if you had enough young people interested, it would work very well.

  • Great article with reasons to not attend the prom found in scripture. I do believe, however, that a student could attend a prom w/o being involved in the sinful actiivity. Nowadays, proms are held at huge ‘halls’ that serve a sit-down dinner. Some may or may not dance. Some may go home early as opposed to attending whatever ‘goes on’ afterward. Generally, those who would behave and not participate in the sinful activity, are those who are relatively strong Christian youth, raised to not dance, never really wanted to dance, but wanted to attend to be with their school friends as an ‘end of school day era’…..Parents need to know their child enough to know what their intentions are for attending the prom, if they have a desire to attend. Other than the ‘dancing’ that takes place AT THE ACTUAL PROM, like someone has already noted, the sinful behavior, from what I’ve heard, takes place after. I would prefer, however, whatever the circumstance, that Christian young people do not attend any type of school dance.

  • Thank you for sharing a much needed topic that so many will not teach today…..a moral issue. Back in my son’s days their high school prom had students renting hotel rooms, partying, drinking, drugs and yes, the dancing and modesty issue was very bad too. I am so thankful my son took a stand and refused to be a part of all this worldly sin. More parents and young people need to take a stand and not be of the world. Thank you for sharing this article and the most timely time possible.

  • I have seen teenagers go to the prom when there was an alternative event sponsered by the members of the church. Few Christian young people who attend the prom go on to become teachers and leaders in the Lord’s church.

    Too few preachers have the fortitude to get in the pupit and preach this much needed sermon. Of course, most of the teaching should be done by the parents in a Christian home but it doesn’t hurt to hear it from the pupit too.

    I appreciate your stand on this important issue, Steve.

  • Thank you for talking about something that is usually kept quiet about. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful words.

  • My school had a prom when I was in high school. I chose not to go then because of what went on. This whole thing played a part in my decision to home school. My children will not have prom as such. We will plan an event that will satisfy their want to dress up and look beautiful but will also glorify God.

  • I (a college aged girl) totally agree with you. I did not go to our prom and am not completely scarred by it. I went to a large high school of 2000+ students, so I’m not sure whether that added to or subtracted from the whole issue. Of course, most people thought I was crazy and tried to get me to go, but I didn’t even want to go. What fun would sitting around, doing nothing be? I don’t regret my decision one bit, either.

    However, my one critique is that I don’t think proms are always on Saturday nights. I guess most are, but I’m not sure, so the point about not getting up for worship the next morning may not always be valid.

    Again, I agree on your stance and in my family, it was not even an issue. We knew we shouldn’t and couldn’t go, and that was that. If only more Christians saw it this way.

  • GREAT article! If people would be honest with themselves on “what” is BEST, there would no doubt be different decisions!

  • Thank you for this article! I am convinced that self-denial as a Christian is not taught enough anymore. I appreciate those who teach their children that sacrifice in this life will surely be worth it all.

  • A much needed article, truer words were never spoken. Amen.

  • We have to blame some of the parents, they allow their daughters to wear provocative dresses and some dress that way themselves. The schools have dress codes but they dont enforce it at proms. And some parents are just plain in denial saying “my daughter would never do that”
    Well guess again some do.

  • I agree and disagree. Like with all other activities, boundaries should be enforced. I have seen cheerleading uniforms that make me, an adult, blush. I think if parents instill purity & morality, and be involved in picking the attire, proms can be a nice event for all. Not all people who go to prom, miss church the next day. I was in band & when we went to band competitions, we would be tired from a day of competing, traveling, and up all hours of the night. But when it was time for church, I was there. That was instilled in me. I WANTED to be in church. Also, I went to prom, after prom and was in church the next day. This is stereotyping. Not all prom-goers are hedonistic. There are some very moral, well-behaved teens who go to prom.

  • Hello friend,
    Thanks for taking the time to reply. You said you agree and disagree, but the points of disagreement you seem to raise are against things I never said. I did not say that “all people who go to prom miss church the next day.” Please re-read what I said. For your convenience I’ll quote it here. I said, “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.” You don’t agree with that statement? Surely you do. I think your disagreement is not with what I wrote, but with what you read into what I wrote.

    Then you said I was stereotyping, and that not all prom-goers are hedonistic. Again, would you go back to my article and read where I accused all prom-goers as being hedonistic? I specifically gave illustrations there were anecdotal from among the young people who were members of the church where I used to preach. How is that “stereotyping?”

    The defense that is often offered up for attending the prom is that “I attended and was well behaved. It was a nice time to dress up and hang out with friends.” I don’t doubt that this was the case at all. I do however, question your judgment and how it affects your influence. Suppose you were in high school, and someone was hosting one of those make out/drinking/pool parties at their house. Would you attend? Suppose you had no plans to drink/make out/ or dress immodestly. You just wanted to go because it’s tradition, all your friends would be there, and you thought you could go and behave well. Do you think that would be a wise choice? That’s all I’m saying.

  • In the context you mentioned (the activities associated w/ the Proms in your part of KY), I totally agree w/ your statements on avoiding Prom and beyond that, a trap of worldliness. Avoiding worldliness is a challenge for all of us Prom age and beyond and probably will be till we die. Just one of those ‘in the world but not of the world’ tensions we experience. You probably correctly stated the current culture of Prom-going in many communities, and I do think it’s important to know what my local Prom culture is before making decisions on it. I have heard of communities and churches where Christians have opened up their hearts and doors to providing a wholesome after-Prom for those so inclined. I feel quite strongly that Prom provides us (me) as a part of Christ’s body the chance to love on, encourage and support my brothers and sisters to safely and carefully navigate their response to and interaction with their Prom season. We cannot as in years past act like it’s no big deal while forbidding and encouraging non-attendance. Because even if s/he stays away from Prom, s/he will be interacting w/ others and in a daily social milieu where Prom is THE EVENT of their school’s life, and s/he will be affected by their Prom whether they go or not. To pretend s/he is unaffected either by going or not going is thoughtless on the church’s part. We have the ability (and it may be different in every location) to demonstrate God’s love and heart for young people by sacrificing of ourselves to host equally special Prom and after-Prom alternatives and constant encouragement. I wonder how that might affect the 60% teen attrition rate that all churches experience starting at age 15?? (Note the explanation of reason #4 too.)

    Especially remembering a large majority (about 75%) people come to Christ prior to age 21??

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