When is dancing acceptable to God?


By BibleAsk Team

Dancing has been a part of human culture for millennia, serving as an expression of joy, celebration, and worship. For Christians, understanding when and how dancing is acceptable to God requires careful consideration of biblical principles and examples. This essay explores the concept of holy dancing, using references from the Bible to provide clarity on when this activity aligns with God’s will.

Biblical Examples of Holy Dancing

  1. Miriam and the Women of Israel

One of the earliest instances of dancing in the Bible occurs after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Miriam, the sister of Moses, leads the women in a dance of celebration.

Exodus 15:20-21 (NKJV): “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!’”

Miriam’s dance is a response to God’s miraculous deliverance. It is characterized by joy, thanksgiving, and worship.

  1. David Dancing Before the Lord

Another notable example is King David’s dance when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6:14-16 (NKJV): “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.”

David’s dance is a spontaneous and exuberant act of worship, demonstrating his deep reverence and joy in the presence of God.

It should be noted that these activities were done outside the sanctuary or temple of God. The Biblical Holy dancing was an outward expression of holy joy, entered into in the same spirit as songs of praise or prayers of thanksgiving.

In contrast, modern social dancing has no resemblance whatsoever to the religious dancing of Bible times. In the Old Testament times, there was no association of men and women in the dances. Each group danced separately. The participants were simply leaping in joy using the body in a dignified, noble, and holy manner. There was absolutely no place for immoral practices of the flesh. And the lyrics consisted of hymns of praise and psalms.

Principles of Acceptable Dancing

  1. Expression of Praise and Joy

Dancing, when used as an expression of worship and joy, is acceptable to God. The Bible highlights this activity as a means of celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Psalm 149:3 (NKJV): “Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.”

Psalm 150:4 (NKJV): “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!”

These psalms encourage believers to use dance as a form of praising God.

  1. Decency and Order

Paul emphasizes the importance of decency and order in all aspects of life.

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV): “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Dancing that is chaotic, disruptive, or draws attention away from God is not in line with biblical principles.

  1. Holiness and Separation from Worldliness

Dancing that aligns with God’s will must be holy, setting itself apart from worldly and sinful expressions.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV): “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Dancing that conforms to worldly standards or promotes sinful behavior is unacceptable. Holy dancing should reflect the transformation and holiness that come from a life dedicated to God.

Contextual Considerations

The context in which dancing occurs is crucial. Dancing during religious festivals, or celebrations of God’s acts (like Miriam and David) is typically seen as acceptable. However, dancing in contexts that promote immoral behavior or idolatry is condemned.

Exodus 32:19 (NKJV): “So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.”

Here, the dancing was associated with idol worship and immorality, thus incurring God’s wrath.

The Heart of the Believer

  1. Purity of Heart

God looks at the heart. Dancing that is acceptable to God comes from a heart that is pure and devoted to Him.

Psalm 24:3-4 (NKJV): “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.”

The purity of heart and intention is paramount in determining whether any activity is acceptable to God.

  1. Spirit-led Worship

Praising God, including dancing, should be led by the Holy Spirit. Spirit-led actions will naturally align with God’s will and purpose.

John 4:24 (NKJV): “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Praise in spirit and truth encompasses all forms of joy, including dance, ensuring they are genuine and led by the Holy Spirit.

Examples of Unacceptable Dancing

  1. The Golden Calf Incident

As previously mentioned, the dancing associated with the worship of the golden calf was unacceptable to God.

Exodus 32:6 (NKJV): “Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”

Their actions were linked to idolatry and revelry, which are contrary to God’s commands.

  1. Herodias’s Daughter

The dance of Herodias’s daughter, which led to the beheading of John the Baptist, is another example of dancing in a sinful context.

Matthew 14:6-8 (NKJV): “But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.’”

This dance was part of a sinful scheme and was used manipulatively, thus not acceptable to God.

Practical Application for Believers Today

Believers must use discernment and ensure their intentions are pure when dancing. Dance in a way that glorifies God and reflects a heart of worship. Therefore, reflect on personal motives and the impact of dancing on oneself and others. Ensure that it draws oneself and others closer to God rather than distracting or causing stumbling.

    1 Corinthians 8:9 (NKJV): “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”

    Dancing should not become a stumbling block but rather a means to enhance communal worship and personal devotion.


    Dancing can be a beautiful and acceptable form of joy when it is done in a manner that glorifies God. Biblical examples, such as Miriam and David’s dance, illustrate that dancing is a legitimate expression of praise and reverence when directed towards God.

    Acceptable dancing is characterized by love to God and joy, decency and order, holiness and separation from worldliness. It should stem from a pure heart and be led by the Holy Spirit. Conversely, dancing that promotes immorality, idolatry, or draws attention away from God is unacceptable.

    By examining biblical principles and examples, believers can discern when dancing is acceptable to God. Ensuring that it aligns with scriptural guidelines and contributes to a worshipful atmosphere helps maintain its integrity as a holy practice.

    Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

    In His service,
    BibleAsk Team

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