Good Baptist Boys Don’t Dance

dancing

In September of  1971 I began my ninth grade year at Central Junior High School in Findlay, Ohio.  At home, my parents argued constantly, and seven months later, in April of 1972, they divorced. A few months after that, Mom married her first cousin and Dad married a 19-year-old who had a little girl.

Needless to say, life at home was anything but love, peace, and harmony. I hated my parents for getting divorced. I hated my Dad for marrying a girl who was only four years older than I.

I stayed away from home as much as I could. Dad was busy with his “new” family, so my siblings and I were left to our own devices. I spent a lot of time at the local YMCA. I didn’t have the money for a membership, so I learned the fine art of sneaking into the Y. The Y became my home away from home.

Dad started G and B Train Shop with Gary Zissler, a fellow deacon at the church. The store mainly sold Lionel, American Flyer, and HO trains. I worked at the store in the evenings. Dad paid me twenty-five cents an hour minus the cost of the pop I drank. Since we rarely had pop at home, I became a pop-a-holic while at the train shop.

Our family attended Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. Trinity was a large Independent Baptist Church pastored by Gene Milioni.  Ron Johnson was the assistant pastor and Bruce Turner was the youth pastor.

After Pastor Milioni married my Dad and his second wife, my Dad and my siblings stopped going to church.  I, however, immersed myself in the church, attending church every time the doors were opened.

The church became my family. Most of my close friends attended Trinity and the church provided me with everything I found lacking in my home life. Even though I am now an atheist, I will forever be grateful for the support and social connection the church provided for me.

In the fall of 1972, my tenth grade year at Findlay High School,  Al Lacy held a revival at Trinity Baptist Church. One night, I came under great conviction and I went down to the altar, confessed my sins, and asked Jesus to save me. A week later I was baptized, and not to long after that I publicly confessed before the church that I believed God was calling me into the ministry. I was fifteen.

My life changed dramatically after I got saved. I started carrying my Bible to school and I witnessed to my non-Christian friends.  My non-Christian friends, those I played sports with, thought I had lost my mind, and some of my Christian friends did too.

I have always been an all-in kind of person. I don’t do half-way, so when it came to being a Christian I was 100% committed to Jesus. I took seriously what I heard the pastors preach. In my young mind, I saw the pastors as speaking for God. After all, everything they preached about came straight out of the Bible, God’s inspired, inerrant Word.

Trinity was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship. The pastors preached against rock music, premarital sex, mixed swimming, going to movies, short skirts and pants on women, and long hair on men. Remember, it was the early 1970s and mini-skirts and maxi-dresses were popular and men wore their hair long. The pastors at Trinity were anti-counterculture, believing the love and peace generation was destroying America.

Like a good Baptist boy, I tried to follow the rules to the letter. God (or the pastor) said it, I believed it, and that settled it for me. One sin the pastors were against was any kind of dancing. Not just some types of dancing, they were against ALL dancing.

A few years ago,  I wrote about how the no-dancing rule affected me:

I vividly remember ninth grade year at Central Jr High. The Phys Ed teacher decided to teach square dancing.  I was all for learning to square dance.  This would be my only opportunity to touch the cheerleaders. Unfortunately, Pastor Milioni put an end to my carnal desires. He came to  school and made a fuss about the square dancing class. Next thing I know, I am being forced to sit with the fags (talking as we did in the 1970’s, I do not use such language today) who refused to take Phys Ed.  This was a punishment worse than death. (Pastor Milioni also came to my school to complain about the choir singing Jesus Christ Superstar. I had to quit choir)

The school held regular dances, social events that everyone attended, well everyone but this good Baptist boy.  I went through a period of time where I was really upset about all the rules and restrictions, so I would stay overnight with a non-Christian friend and I would go to the dances with him.  I did this numerous times. I don’t know if my parents ever caught on. If they did, they never said a word.

I came through the 1970s with my Baptisthood intact. I never smoked cigarettes, drank, or smoked marijuana. I didn’t listen to rock music, kept my hair cut short,  and I successfully made it through high school as a virgin. Not the I didn’t want to have sex, I did, but I was afraid of what might happen if I did and I didn’t think any of the church girls I dated were “willing.” I found out a few years ago, after talking to some of the girls I went to church with, that they were more “willing” than this naïve Baptist boy thought they were.

The first time I danced was at the wedding of one of my children. This was the first time for my wife too. My daughters-in-law cajoled us into dancing. Oh, what a sight we were. We may have been years away from our fundamentalist youth, but it was quite evident that we didn’t know anything about dancing.

How about you? If you were raised a fundamentalist and attended a public school, how did that affect your ability to be a normal student? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Notes

For some insight into this kind of thinking, here’s an excerpt from an article titled All Dancing is Dirty,written by David Stewart, an IFB zealot:

One of the most disgusting and sinful movies ever produced is “Dirty Dancing.” Dirty Dancing (1987) starred Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Jerry Orbach. The great evangelist, Billy Sunday, preached uncompromisingly against dancing—would to God that more preachers had the guts to do so today. The Apostle Paul cautions us in 1st Corinthians 7:1 concerning touching the opposite sex (i.e., a person to whom we are not married). Adultery begins with a mere “touch.”

No man should ever touch a woman to whom he is not married. This Scripture also applies to women. If it’s NOT good for a man to touch a woman to whom he is not married, then it is certainly not good for a woman to allow a man to touch her either (unless it’s her husband)…

… In night clubs all across America, dancing is a prelude to fornication, homosexuality, and abortion. People place their hands all over each other, violating God’s warnings against lust, lasciviousness, and unholy thoughts. People have become so hardened nowadays that morality is a joke to them (clearly evidenced by the godless late night shows on hellivision).  The Word of God states that “Fools make a mock at sin…” (Proverb 14:9).

Just as the Hawaiians still blame and hates Christianity today for taking away their dirty-dancing centuries ago, so do many people around the world (as witnessed in the preceding quote from an occultist)…

…Dancing is just as sinful at high school proms, ballrooms, town gatherings, etc. Dancing and immodest dress are synonymous. Dancing leads to lasciviousness (i.e., immoral sexual desire). The ONLY place where dancing is acceptable is between a husband and wife in the privacy of their own home, and without observation by others. America has deteriorated into a sexually perverted nation, where sensual and suggestive dancing is commonplace. As a result, millions of unwanted babies continue to be murdered every year through abortion. This is a great evil in America! We have earned the title from Muslims of being THE GREAT SATAN!

Think about it … the average person today can’t help but laugh at the thought that dancing is a sin; yet millions of unplanned pregnancies continue to be terminated through murderous abortions. Is it surprising that a nation that sees no harm in murdering children would also see no harm in premarital sex, petting, dancing, pornography, stealing, divorcing, and filthy conversation? I think not…

…All dancing is of the Devil, whether it be the Tango, the Foxtrot, the Rumba, the Swing, et cetera. It’s because dancing is inherently fleshly. Some dancing schools even advertise “Touch Dancing.” Women who dance, immodestly expose their bodies, luring lustful men to sinfully gaze upon them. According to Jesus’ Words in Matthew 5:28, lust is sinful … But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Dancing has always been dirty and sinful…

…Even bally [ballet] dancing is sinful, VERY SINFUL, because the women dance in their underwear, giving explicit views of their body. Those women who dance while skating are filthy. It is offensive to God. Bally Dancing is sexually arousing and; therefore, extremely sinful. The same people who scoff at my preaching are the same people who have no problem with abortion, divorce, nor fornication…

…The bottom line is that dancing is a worldly entertainment, heathen. Dancing is a very physically activity, which basically gives men a dirty show to watch, and in many cases, touch. The Hawaiian hula is the filthiest dance on earth. I can understand why the Christian missionaries tried to mentor the natives away from it. People today criticize the early missionaries like they were bad people, and perhaps some of them were; but they were justified in trying to change the Hawaiian culture from one of paganism and sexual immorality to one of grace, chastity, belief in Jesus Christ, and decency. Hawaii is a very sinful place today, and the hula is as filthy as ever…

…No normal man can watch a women jumping around in tights without getting aroused. As Christians, we must rise above the filth and immorality of this sinful world. I’ve known people who were actively involved in some sort of dancing.  In every case, they were worldly–going to gambling casinos, homosexual-friendly, drinking beer, attending nightclubs, indulging in sexual sins, running from God. I’ve never met one soulwinner who was a dancer. I’ve never met a dedicated, Christ-honoring, sin-hating Christian who went dancing. The unsaved world loves dancing, because it is sexually suggestive and filthy. Jesus didn’t dance…

The thinking demonstrated in Stewart’s article was what was behind the taboos at the churches I attended as a youth. Needless to say, years of this kind of abuse plays havoc with a persons ability to live normally.

The IFB church wasn’t the only sect that thought dancing was a sin. Here’s an anti-dancing article on the official Assembly of God website.

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19 Comments

  1. Ian

    As I read the excerpt from David Stewart, I agreeded with everything he said, at a point in my past.

    My thought today was, what kind of man is aroused by bally dancing? Maybe David is still so aroused by the bally dancers that he can’t type straight.

    There is no denying the sexual overtones of Dirty Dancing. But, I watched it (by sneaking) as a good baptist teenager and didn’t feel myself becoming aroused.

    I have a feeling the guys who preach the hardest against sexual sins sre the people who have the problems themselves. I was a sexually repressed and frustrated teenager in the 1980’s, but still never had the proboe a with unbridled lust that these guys preach about. Sure, I was horny and bothered, but I was able to control myself and act like a decent human being.

    This dancing crap is ridiculous. I love the scene in Footloose (the good one) where Kevin Bacon reads from the KJV and is able to prove that there is a time for dancing. Of course, he never had to go up against a real baptist group. They would have had him hauled out for challenging their authority.

    Reply
    1. brbr2424

      I thought the same thing. Kudos to any guy who can become sexually aroused at the night at the ballet. I’ll give any guy credit for just staying awake through the performance.

      Reply
      1. That Other Jean

        There are some gorgeous guys who are ballet dancers. Too bad so many of them are gay.

        Reply
  2. Ami

    I always wonder why guys like that just don’t go get neutered. And as always, it’s somehow the woman’s fault when the guy can’t control his urges.

    I don’t dance, though, unless you consider the horizontal mamba a dance…

    Reply
    1. Angiep

      I love the neutering suggestion!! Too funny!! Maybe that would get their testosterone in check….

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    Thanks Bruce, I got a good laugh out of that article. Clearly dancing is why I am a homosexual friendly, alcohol drinking heathen. I don’t have the time anymore but I used to like going to said drinking dens of iniquity and would have a few drinks and dance with random guys. Good fun. Never became promiscuous or had any abortions. Maybe I haven’t danced enough yet? Love the guys obsession with Hawaii. My favorite line: “Jesus didn’t dance.” Since when are they looking at his example? Just another rant about human sexuality, so much fear, sometimes I think that drives their entire ideology.

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    I think it’s impossible to be a Fundy & grow up normal. I always felt very awkward in public school, never attended any dances/proms, or listened to any of the ‘worldly’ music. I was asked one time in 7th grade if I lived in a time warp. It hurt my feelings at the time, but she was right. I did live in one & there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I think being raised that way has made me socially awkward that continues to this day & I try very hard to break out of old patterns

    Reply
    1. Brian

      I agree, Sarah. You have to be batshit wonko to put your children through fundagelical torture.

      Reply
  5. Karen the rock whisperer

    The people who first taught me social dance were Evangelical Christian dorm-mates in college. They admitted that they’d get reamed at home by older family members if they ever knew. Inspired me to take a PE course in social dancing at our university, which is where my dorm-mates learned it. Good fun, and actually good exercise. In the dorm we danced up and down the halls, without music, chanting the steps.

    My dorm-mates were my first exposure to Evangelical Christianity, and they were struggling with setting the rules they’d grown up with in their proper place. This was a state university, and the dorm rules were pretty lax. My friends gathered with other Evangelical Christians at places like Christian coffeehouses, for bible studies and fellowship. They lived in sex-segregated housing, and attended events with same-sex friends so that they “wouldn’t get into trouble”. It worked for them, and they managed their lives quite well and more-or-less within the bounds of biblical behavior.

    But they all walked tightropes at home, where the truth of their lives would be seen as absolutely wanton. Young men and women dancing, in the dorm halls, in the middle of the evening! Without chaperones! And… and gathering in coffeehouses for fellowship! And… and studying together! (in the designated study lounges, with a ton of other people around.)

    I heard all of this and all I could think of was GAH.

    Reply
  6. J.D. Matthews

    Reminds me of a joke. Why don’t Baptists make love standing up?

    Because someone might think they’re dancing.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      The heartless Christianity known as evangelical belief is a curse. It is not about making broken people whole but about breaking them down until they are useless and dependent addicts who carry around their Bible-stash so they can stay high on faith and not have to look at the misery their life has been reduced to by following the preacher’s orders.
      As I think back to adolescence and being able to hold hands with girls and dance with them, I understand why all of this is the ‘devil’s work’. It made me feel alive and it made the day glow like living mattered! By jumpin’ Jesus, to dance slow with my girlfriend to Bridge Over Troubled Water was a fucking indwelling! It was glory and perfection. God wanted to keep me from it to take unto Himself ande make me a missionary or preacher to save sorry souls…. but I got to dance…. I learned a simple jive three step and then settled into slow…. It was holy, wholly human. I even saved up for Beatle-boots using my paper-route money. Life apart from Church was naturally pretty good. Diane Thompson hosted a birthday party for me and gave me the Help album, just out; 1965…. I was 13. Remember Ticket to Ride? And Yesterday?…. all my troubles seemed so far away… There were several songs on that album that became modern classics. And we kids were able to dance outside her house, a bunch of us. My parents did not know of this, of course. Long before even the beginning of adolescence I learned to hide everything from them to keep some semblance of ‘me’. Thank-you Jeeeezus!
      J.D., the way I heard the joke was: Why do Baptists hate sex… cuz it can lead to the sin of dancing. I guess there are many versions.

      Reply
  7. Appalachian Agnostic

    My church wasn’t against dancing any more that it was against EVERYTHING that wasn’t about God, but my my dad seemed to have the idea that it was impossible for young males and females to be together in the same room without having sex. I never bothered to ask to go to a dance because I knew the answer would be no. Once in Middle School, there was a dance scheduled to start immediately after class ended for the day, so I stayed late and went to it. I couldn’t enjoy myself because I was too anxious about getting caught. I left after a few minutes and walked home, hoping no one would notice my lateness. I think I got away with this sinister plan, because my parents never mentioned it. It pisses me off to think about all I missed out on growing up. It is sad how I learned to be sneaky and secretive in an attempt to have some sort of life.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      I agree that is indeed sad that so much was taken from you, from all of us. We had to learn to hide out, to not reveal who we are… to play along with a fucking evangelical bully called Christianity. Fucking sick. So sick and harmful that many who survive cannot even admit the harm that has been done to them. I think that because you can, you are better off than many of us.

      Reply
  8. Charles

    I was really disappointed with the dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet when they came to Knoxville for a performance. I sat up front, and all the dancers made powerful thud sounds when they landed from a jump. That seemed anathema to their otherwise graceful movements. My recommendation: If you go to the ballet, sit far enough back to be unable to hear the “thuds.”

    Do you know if David Stewart is still alive? I would like to get in contact with him and send him the link to my blog:

    https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  9. Appalachian Agnostic

    These days, I have taken up clogging. Even though it is kind of dorky looking, I have a lot of fun with it and in some ways it makes me feel like I am making up for all the dancing I missed in school. A lady in the class and I got to talking about the movie Foot Loose one day. I mentioned that I thought the plot was absurd. How could a whole town outlaw dancing? She then informed me that the very town we were in had outlawed dancing when she was young. It had something to do with the bad reputation of a neighboring town and the city leaders feeling a need to distance themselves from any activities associated with that wild place.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      The Agnostic Clogger. I like it. ?

      Reply
      1. sgl

        clognostic? 😉

        Reply
        1. Brian

          I am so tired of all this clognostication! Clog not, lest thou be clogged up.
          Symptom: Clognostic appears to dance.
          Diagnosis: Constipated Clognostic delirium. Treat with tincture of Psalms.

          Reply
  10. lez

    Acts 4:31

    And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

    Acts 2:4

    And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

    ◄ Psalm 149:3

    Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.

    Reply

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