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Dance.

1. In the widest sense, a springing or leaping in evidence of great emotion (e.g., joy or elation, Jn 11:34; 21:21, 23; Jb 21:11; Eccl 3:4; Mt 11:17), stern determination (e.g., in certain war dances), or religious fervor and ecstasy (e.g., 2 Sm 6:14).

2. The dance plays a prominent part in primitive cultures, where it is often assoc. with religion or romantic love. The ancient Gks. developed the artistic qualities of the dance, and festive choruses tried to express the beauty of harmony, often in correlation with poetry and music.

3. The U. of Wittenberg permitted dances for the sake of discipline, so that students might learn propriety and modesty in conversation and behavior. Dances were also to teach students how to show proper attention to females. Luther reportedly said: “When young ladies and their boyfriends engage in round dances and it is done with decent music and conduct, it is an urbane exercise that pleases me very much” (WA-T 2, 100, No. 1434). He would not condemn the dance, except when it is excessive, indecent, or immoderate, and held that dancing itself could not be properly blamed if sin is connected with it at times (WA 17 II, 64). Older people should attend dances to watch over the young. (WA 32, 209; see also WA 24, 418–419; 34 II, 214; 43, 315; 47, 361)

4. That the dance may become a vehicle of sin, as Luther pointed out (WA 1, 498; 24, 418–419), is evident from the development of the dance in decadent periods of hist.

5. Christian chs. in the 19th and 20th cents. often opposed certain types of dancing. C. F. W. Walther* and other Luths. in Am. opposed dancing that included close embrace, suggestive gestures and acts, and accompanying music that tended to inflame passions. The dance of the daughter of Herodias was often cited as sensuous (Mk 6:22). Such warnings of Scripture as 2 Sm 11:2–4; Pr 5:20–21; Jer 17:9; Mt 5:28; 15:19; 1 Co 10:12; 2 Ti 2:22; Ja 1:14–15 were applied.

6. After 1918 renewed emphasis was placed on purification of the dance and on its recreational and artistic values. But as some other arts, so also some dances of more recent yrs. express a confused outlook on life. Though the dance continues to be watched with suspicion by many religious groups and meres of chs., some ch. groups have used forms of dancing.

C. Andresen, “Altchristliche Kritik am Tanz,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, LXXII (1961), 217–262; F. Bowers, The Dance in India (New York, 1953); Religion and the Dance: A Report of the Consultation on the Dance (sponsored by the Dept. of Worship and the Arts, Nat. Council of the Chs. of Christ in the USA, New York 1960; mimeographed 1961); M. Berndt, Adaptation of the Religious Dance and Similar Physical Movements in the Indigenous Church (STM thesis, Conc. Sem., St. Louis, 1961 [1962]); C. F. W. Walther, Tanz und Theaterbesuch (St. Louis, 1885); J. T. Crane, An Essay on Dancing (New York, 1853); C. F. Hafermann, “The Evils of Dancing,” Lutheran Standard, XCVIII, 39 (September 28, 1940), 3; T. Graebner, The Borderland of Right and Wrong, 9th rev. ed. (St. Louis, 1956); T. G. Tappert, “Luther in His Academic Role,” The Mature Luther, Martin Luther Lectures, III (Decorah, Iowa, 1959), 6–8. EL


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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