My friend and fellow Southern graduate Daniel Escalante wrote this article sometime last year. I found it to be so thought provoking that I am sharing it here. To see his other blog posts visit him at sharethepassion77.wordpress.com
Music and Dance as Worship
by Daniel Escalante
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6).Music is something that very few people can live without. Ask anyone and they will tell you a favorite song or tune and no one will tell you that they hate music. Sure, there are types of music that we may not care for, but music in general is something that we all need. When it comes to religion we all use music as part of worship whether we sing really old hymns or really new contemporary songs. The truth is that music has the power to make a positive or negative impact not just in our lives but as well as our Christian walk with God.
Dance is also something that has become part of our culture and there are few people that would say they can live without dance. Music and dance go together and no one can deny that. What I am about to say however, may come as a shock to many and may turn some people away while others may feel encouraged. However, I want to make it clear that what I am about to share has been a thought brewing in my mind. It is by no means set in stone or law, but I feel it is something we should explore.
When we think of music, everyone agrees that we need it. There is nothing wrong with music in itself, it just depends on how you use it, which is true of many things including instruments. A knife in the hand of a doctor can save a life while in the hand of someone that murders can use the same knife to take a life instead. It all depends on how you use the tool. When we think of music it’s hard not to also think about the famous artists out there who are extremely famous for the songs they have written. They put on grand performances and make millions of dollars off of a single album. They have followers of fans that follow every note they sing. People will also dance to these songs and music these artists perform.
Lovers of music and dance have wondered why the church is so strict about the music that is played in church and why dance is forbidden in many churches. The question or argument that I want to focus on is the argument that some have made saying that if the music they hear in church makes them dance as worship to God, then would God really be angry at that? It is a good question and I believe that the answer is no. God wants you to worship Him and if dancing is an expression of your worship to Him, then by all means dance away. However, lets take the argument all the way to its logical conclusion. Many times we don’t think about what we say and follow it all the way with the implications it has.
People have just said that dance and music is a way to worship God and that dance is an expression of the love they feel for God. Great. I agree. However, from that argument, we can also conclude that whoever inspires you to dance is who you worship. So, if Christian music inspires you to dance, and you dance for Jesus as a way to worship, then in that manner you are worshipping God. Doesn’t that mean then that you shouldn’t use that manner to worship anyone else? God alone says that He wants you to worship Him alone and that worshipping anyone else is the same as worshipping another god in His eyes. What I am trying to say is that when we are inspired to dance by worldly artists who are praising only themselves or worldly things, then we are participating in worshipping that artist, therefore we are participating in worshipping another god. We have the example of the followers of Baal who when trying to invoke a response from that wooden god, his followers danced around his image in worship.
Music and dance is connected to worship and because of that, it should only be used for the worship of the true God. All I am saying is that if you are going to worship God through dance, then use it to worship Him alone. Dance only for God, not for anyone else. Of course, this thought we have to apply it to other areas of our lives as well and see its implications. If this is true, then what about dancing with my spouse or family? What about dancing at weddings to the music played on an ipod? Is that considered worshipping another god? I believe that the principle is that we should worship God through music and dance as well as any other methods He would be pleased but only in places we know His presence is felt. Afterall, worship is praising God in His presence is it not? When it comes to families and spouses as well as special occasions like weddings and birthdays. If the occasion is pure, God will be there.
Friends, lets think about this the next time we worship. I don’t mean for us to start legalistically thinking about how we worship. My only concern is that whatever we say is our manner of worship whether it be dance or the raising of hands, then be sure you are doing it only for God and no one else as a form of worship.