What does the Bible say about dance in worship?

Dancing is often mentioned in the Bible. The first instance is found in Exodus 15:20 when Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, led the Israelite women in dancing following the miracle at the Red Sea. It served as an expression of worship and celebration.

David also offers a positive example of dancing used as an expression of worship. Second Samuel 6:16 states, "As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD." The Psalms also mentioned dancing as an expression of worship in Psalm 30:11; 149:3; and 150:4. Matthew 11:17 notes dancing as a symbol of joy that accompanied music (also Luke 7:32).

However, two important considerations should also be noted about dancing. First, dancing is mentioned both positively and negatively in Scripture, depending upon how it is used. In addition to the positive examples above, dancing was also associated with pagan worship (Exodus 32:19). The dancing of the daughter of Herodias was used in an effort to have John the Baptist killed (Mark 6:17-28).

Second, dance was not mentioned in Scripture related to the church gatherings of the New Testament. Whether dancing actually occurred during early church services is unknown, but it is not specifically mentioned and is certainly not required to worship God.

A look at the Bible's overall discussion of dance reveals that it can be used for good or for evil. Those who enjoy dancing can use it for God's glory, as a form of celebration and worship, and even as a way to serve the body of Christ. However, dancing can also be used in the worship of other gods and used for other evil purposes.

In terms of dance in the church, the Bible offers the advice that, "All things should be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). Each local church can determine how, when, and if dancing is permitted within its activities, so long as it fulfills a godly purpose. Outside of church activities, Christians need not fear dancing, so long as dancing is used in positive rather than negative ways.

Though some groups have viewed all forms of dance as evil for Christians, the Bible does not support this view. Instead, it offers a more balanced approach that dance can be used for God's glory, yet also can be used for wrongful purposes. The Christian must seek to fulfill 1 Corinthians 10:31 that teaches, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

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