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#1 of 31 Old 12-10-2009, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wondering about Christian churches which forbid dancing. Saw it on the Duggars and had a few questions:

All dancing? Or just the modern-day shaking your bootie alone in a crowd? What about folk dancing such as Greek circle dancing or Irish step dancing? Ballroom? Square dancing?

Do your churches teach that this is a scriptural mandate or is it more of a decision that has been made along the way in response to culture?

Which denominations forbid dancing?

I was also wondering how your churches' prohibition against dancing squares with the fact that dancing has always been an important part of Jewish culture and that it is one of the ways of celebrating mentioned in the Bible.

Thanks!
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#2 of 31 Old 12-10-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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Er, my mother used to attend a conservative Brethren church as a kidling (hats and gloves, you know), and they were anti-dancing for the same reason they were anti- drinking, smoking, chewing and the movies. It was considered "fast" and immoral. I don't think it was based on a specific Biblical text so much as a general principle that if you danced, you were entering a den of vice in which other immoral things (some "legitimately" immoral from my POV, some not... like playing cards) were happening, thus exposing yourself to temptation and being worldly. As with any rules, I suspect it helped some people live holy lives and caused others to rebel, look down on others or feel deprived. My grandparents eventually left that church... Grandma is still a churchgoer, but dyes her hair and pierced her ears after the age of 60, attends cabarets, drinks wine, goes to the movies and does all manner of un-Brethren things these days.

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#3 of 31 Old 12-10-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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There is an old old Baptist denomination here in the mountains - Old Regular Baptist. They forbid dancing. All dancing. I don't think it is to the point where if you dance you'll get kicked out of the church, but having grown up amidst those believers I believe they see it as immoral and drawing attention to yourself. They also forbid playing instruments.

Another argument for it that you will hear often is that there is no mention of it in the New Testament, therefore it isn't allowed (especially pertaining to instrument playing).

I'm not Old Regular, but my husband's grandfather was and his grandmother still is. My step-dad's people were. I'm also thinking that the Church of Christ in these parts might forbid it to. I know they don't allow instruments on the grounds stated above.

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#4 of 31 Old 12-10-2009, 06:09 PM
 
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I honestly don't know what denomination, but my great-uncle converted to and later became the head of a church that forbids dancing. His sister -- my grandmother -- was deeply incensed ... apparently he'd always been a hill of fun and a great dancer, and shortly after converting he refused to dance in a home setting with either my mother or one of my aunts when they were children too young to really have it explained to them. So whatever his church may be, for them it is definitely an "all dancing" prohibition, not just potential sexualized dancing.
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#5 of 31 Old 12-10-2009, 10:09 PM
 
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We were part of a church/cult, and for a long time "no dancing" was a rule, but there were two exceptions--Israeli dancing (they had friends in Kibbutz) and German dances (like polka's, etc), with occasional forays into other cultural types of dancing. But the limit of male/female touching in those was holding hands, very light tough. During one period of time, holding hands wasn't allowed and everybody had to dance with just pinky fingers hooked together. "Rocking out" of any kind wasn't tolerated. At various times all dancing was 100% forbidden, if the leader decided that the young people were straying to close to sensuality.

My conservative Mennonite and River Brethren friend's churches have an Absolutely No Dancing rule. They believe it can lead to immodesty, self-promotion (they are opposed to anything that involves a "look at me" kind of attitude), and other evils, and would rather just not take one step down that path, than try to figure out what's OK and what's not when it gets more complex. They believe very strongly that Christians are called to live a life of sobriety and quietness in all things, which would kind of exclude most dancing. Music is pretty much limited to hymn-singing, anyway, which is pretty hard to dance to. They also believe that what occured in the OT is not necessarily for today, and in some cases is recorded as a historical note rather than a commendation.
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#6 of 31 Old 12-11-2009, 09:28 AM
 
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During one period of time, holding hands wasn't allowed and everybody had to dance with just pinky fingers hooked together.
LOL.

Fascinating!
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#7 of 31 Old 12-11-2009, 10:33 AM
 
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Are you speaking of liturgical dancing or dancing in your own personal time????

Our church does not do any type of liturgical dancing at all and we do not see any point in liturgical dancing as a form of corporate worship in the current new testament church.. With that said, I've never really heard pastor speak about dancing in and of itself as being wrong in your own personal time. I think the issue with dancing is where it is done (IE like a bar?) and who your doing it with (IE ar you a married woman closely dancing with someone that is not your hubby?), what type of music your dancing to?...things like that as being wrong. So it limits where,when, and how dancing should be done.

I personally enjoy dancing with my hubby around the house or at a wedding or something. We do not go to bars, clubs or anything like that. We also enjoy seeing plays and theater performances that usually include dancing in a non-sexual type of way. By the way We attend a non-denominational, fundamental christian church.

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#8 of 31 Old 12-11-2009, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to all who responded! I found cappuciomom's comments about the Brethren and Mennonite churches interesting, as I'm also Mennonite (not conservative, though) and as far as I know we're not discouraged from dancing (Yes, I am aware that there are huge differences between what is accepted in conservative churches and what is accepted in MCUSA churches). We have people in our congregation who enjoy ballroom, square, and folk dancing. Although, one night a girl from church was babysitting for me and she remarked that it was Homecoming at her school. I was surprised and apologized for asking her to babysit on homecoming but she replied that she didn't want to go because the other kids danced so inappropriately. I was also struck by the phrase "self-promoting." I enjoy American folk dancing but have definitely danced in groups where there is some self promotion going on--show-off dancing, etc. In other dance communities people are humble and generous and just there to have fun together. Thanks everyone!
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#9 of 31 Old 12-11-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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(Yes, I am aware that there are huge differences between what is accepted in conservative churches and what is accepted in MCUSA churches).
I was going to say something, but then you said this.

The differences are so huge it's sometimes hard to believe they're the same denomination.
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#10 of 31 Old 12-12-2009, 06:24 AM
 
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The differences are so huge it's sometimes hard to believe they're the same denomination.
yep, exactly. MUSA isn't a thing like river brethern or pilgrim.

I'm not mennonite but we attend a mennonite church (BMA for the record) and I have a few pilgrim/eastern/river brethern friends - none dance. not at weddings (which my husband shoots) or anything. it's a non-issue b/c they've grown up not dancing. it's like awkward like it would be for osmeone who used ot dance and now is stopping.

it's seen a something that would attract attention to your body. plus they have major issues with any music with a beat. like any beat. whatsoever. hymns aren't that easy to dance to

me? well I think it's a personal thing. I don't have issue with dancing in the right context - husband and wife.... kids... or perhaps cultural dancing (with no male/female touching) etc.

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#11 of 31 Old 12-13-2009, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...cultural dancing (with no male/female touching) etc...

So is male/female touching avoided or discouraged in all situations? Or just in dancing? We are very physically affectionate in our congregation ---lots of hugs, patting, touching a person's arm when speaking to him or her, etc. I've never been approached for a hug by a man at church--that would probably make me feel uncomfortable-- but when someone is going through a hard time or comes back to church after an illness or a long absence, that person usually gets lots of physical touch, including hugs, from others regardless of sex.
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#12 of 31 Old 12-14-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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Among my conservative Menno and Brethren friends, male-female touching between non-related people is pretty much nil, except for a handshake as a social consideration given to outsiders. Although they practice the greeting kiss (kiss on each cheek) with fellow members, it is gender-segregated.

They are still highly loving and affectionate people. Just physically restrained.
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#13 of 31 Old 12-14-2009, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So interesting! Thanks!
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#14 of 31 Old 12-14-2009, 05:59 AM
 
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in mennonite world, hand shaking is as much as you would do touch wide for a member of the opposite sex. but it's not at all cold or anything! if you were wanting to say ly hands and pray the wife might lands hands of a woman and the husband on the wife... if that makes sense. or for hugs, the women would hug one another.

hugging/touching members of the opposite sex in congregations has almost always been a big no-no until more recently with the "charasmatic protestant" uprising.

and again, I assure you there is nothing cold or unfeeling about it. when I first started going to a menno church it took me by surprise, but it didn't take me long to see the sincere care and respect between all peoples regardless of gender.

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#15 of 31 Old 12-14-2009, 08:59 AM
 
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I just want to say something about dancing....I went to a congregation where the "dance" worship leader would only let us dance in "women's" circle and "men" circle. And the women most wear "dresses" men suits.

I just want to show that even us dancers do have "rules".
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#16 of 31 Old 12-28-2009, 11:10 PM
 
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The Church of the Nazarene forbade dancing, inresponse to wartime USO dances. Young women whose hubbies were away for months/years, being encouraged to dance with young men about to ship out. It led to "unseemly and immoral" behavior and should be avoided to prevent temptation. The church has revised their rule to allow dancing between married couples, and specifically discourages any behavior (including dancing) that would create temptation or encourage sinful behavior.

I personally will only dance with my DH, kids, or in a group ( i.e. women, line dancing) with no physical contact. I am very conservative though, and would also not be alone with a man other than my husband (I do not have brothers, so that is a moot point).

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#17 of 31 Old 12-31-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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*A Dancing Story *
I went to a southern Bible college for a year and there rule was that you could only dance if it was in a "worship context." That phrase always made me laugh. I believe that everything a Christian does can be in a worshipful context (laundry, cooking, weeding), as long as the Christian isn't doing anything sinful. So, I went up to VA with my friends and did contra dancing in a "worship context."

Your questions are very interesting because the dancing rule varies so much from church to church and Christian to Christian. There are some churches that would have dancing in the service and other's where you couldn't dance in the service but you could dance in the fellowship hall (basement). In others, you couldn't dance anywhere on church property, and still others forbid all kinds of dancing. Other churches allow folk dancing as part of their "church culture," while others do not.

* Another dancing story *
My parents attended a Nazarine church when I was little. One day, as we were driving, my mom was telling my dad about a conversation she had with one of the ladies at the church. Mom said that dancing was forbidden as this church, except for the kind that you do in your own home with the curtians drawn. I piped up from the backseat, "I know what that means." My parents were horrified, since I wasn't supposed to understand what they were meaning. But, they played it cool and asked me what it meant. "That it's ok to dance as long as your curtians are closed and no one can see you." I thought that they were saying that it was ok to break the church's rules only when no one knew. My parents breathed a bit easier after that since I didn't yet know that they were referring to "horizontal dancing."

Interesting discussion. There is no biblical basis for not dancing. As a pp said, it's just a church rule.
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#18 of 31 Old 12-31-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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The Church of the Nazarene forbade dancing, inresponse to wartime USO dances. Young women whose hubbies were away for months/years, being encouraged to dance with young men about to ship out. It led to "unseemly and immoral" behavior and should be avoided to prevent temptation. The church has revised their rule to allow dancing between married couples, and specifically discourages any behavior (including dancing) that would create temptation or encourage sinful behavior.

I personally will only dance with my DH, kids, or in a group ( i.e. women, line dancing) with no physical contact. I am very conservative though, and would also not be alone with a man other than my husband (I do not have brothers, so that is a moot point).
that is interesting to read about the nazerene church. I grew up nazerene and you should hear some of the excuses fed to me

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#19 of 31 Old 01-01-2010, 01:59 PM
 
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that is interesting to read about the nazerene church. I grew up nazerene and you should hear some of the excuses fed to me
What I found was that a majority of church members have never read the manual, so they have no ideas why rules were created. I am one of those people who just has to know why.

Now that I know the rationale behind the rule, I understand it. I can also see situations where ti is very appropriate, but I do not think it applies to me dancing aroung the LR with my kids, or dancing at weddings or other social events with my husband. I would not go out dancing with men other than my husband though.

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#20 of 31 Old 01-17-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Coming from a similar religious background as the Duggars' current religion, the reason they don't dance is probably a matter of "seperation". They probably also don't listen to many kinds of music, from pop to country, or go to movies or clubs.

It's sort-of... "Don't be seen doing things that non-Christians do, therby being the same as them. Be different, so they'll ask you why and you can tell them about your belief in God."

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#21 of 31 Old 01-19-2010, 03:09 AM
 
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Not dancing for me is more about modesty than anything. It's about not shaking around body parts that shouldn't be emphasized and not wearing clothing that is immodest. That being said, I have no issue with dancing that is fairly benign, such as square dancing, where there is not booty or chest shaking going on. I guess you could say dancing that is not sensual.

So much of modern "dancing" is bumping and grinding, emphasizing parts of the body that I believe should be saved for your spouse, and immodest apparel that highlights the body.

I'm a fairly conservative Christian and I was actually raised that dancing was taboo except in the privacy of your own home (by yourself or with your spouse). As I've gotten older and looked into it more, the only aspect of it that I can find that is unBiblical is if it causes the one you are dancing with to think thoughts of you they shouldn't be thinking (lustful, usually). And in that regard, it goes more along with being modest than the actual dancing part.

I hope that makes sense.

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#22 of 31 Old 01-20-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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Does this prohibition cover trained dancers- like Ballet and Modern dancers? I was wondering what would be the response if one of the church members had a true passion and talent for dance.
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#23 of 31 Old 01-20-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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That would depend on the church denomination and the form of dancing. In the Nazarene church, the dancing itself is not the problem, it was the behavior that the dancing led to. Prohibiting dancing was done to "discourage licentious behavior."

As a former ballet dancer myself, I was never in any danger of "illicit acts" with the men I danced with. It was a "stage relationship." However, there were many people who did not support me, and would have thought that dancing with another man once I was married was a BIG no-no. I think that most professional dancers end up in churches where this is not an issue.

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#24 of 31 Old 01-20-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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When my eldest was a baby, I was hoping to move to a conservative Mennonite community, and they were very clear that no dancing was allowed. The thinking is that since there are no mentions of godly folk dancing in the New Testament, it is obviously not being held up as part of a holy life, even if it's not inherently sinful. Plus, as it's not mentioned in the NT, there's no Biblical template for a godly way to do it, so better to avoid it than inadvertently do it in a way that offends the Lord.

In addition to the sexual immorality that can be associated with moving the body to music (dancing considered to be the possible beginning of a steep and slippery slope, a gamble you don't want to take), it also is a frivolous activity, that does not glorify God. That time and energy would be better spent in missions, working hard, teaching your children, ministering and serving others, Bible study/devotions, prayer, etc. Even dancing in the conservative Jewish manner (men with men, women with women, and no contact between the sexes) still takes time away from those loftier, serious pursuits. Carnivals were prohibited for the same basic reasons.

Also, Mennonites don't generally use instruments in their music, preferring instead the instrument of the voice. Again - instruments aren't mentioned in the NT and therefore are considered questionable - sinful at worst, unnecessary at best. (Which means Mennonite choirs tend to sound fabulous - a cappella in beautiful harmony!)

Naturally, there are positive mentions of dancing and instruments in the Hebrew scriptures; however, some denoms are very firmly rooted in the authority of the NT.

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#25 of 31 Old 01-20-2010, 09:28 PM
 
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Does this prohibition cover trained dancers- like Ballet and Modern dancers? I was wondering what would be the response if one of the church members had a true passion and talent for dance.
Yes, for the community I mentioned, absolutely. The clothing, designed to highlight and reveal the lines of a dancer's form, and the movements themselves, would be considered immodest, and the time, dedication, and effort put into this or any other fine art would be considered a waste. Possibly even prideful, depending on who you asked.

Communities like this tend to highly value only practical crafts, and "sobriety" of dress and manner. Not that they don't laugh and have fun -- but art for art's sake is not held up as something to praise, and most things and activities are to be functional, to allow them to work to a higher purpose - they seek to find joy in that instead of in aesthetics or admiring others/seeking admiration.

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#26 of 31 Old 01-21-2010, 12:03 PM
 
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Yes, for the community I mentioned, absolutely. The clothing, designed to highlight and reveal the lines of a dancer's form, and the movements themselves, would be considered immodest, and the time, dedication, and effort put into this or any other fine art would be considered a waste. Possibly even prideful, depending on who you asked.

Communities like this tend to highly value only practical crafts, and "sobriety" of dress and manner. Not that they don't laugh and have fun -- but art for art's sake is not held up as something to praise, and most things and activities are to be functional, to allow them to work to a higher purpose - they seek to find joy in that instead of in aesthetics or admiring others/seeking admiration.
Very interesting. That is so foreign to me because I am a choreographer/performer and come from a family of visual artists. I have to say it really makes me sad.
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#27 of 31 Old 01-21-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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Not dancing for me is more about modesty than anything. It's about not shaking around body parts that shouldn't be emphasized and not wearing clothing that is immodest. That being said, I have no issue with dancing that is fairly benign, such as square dancing, where there is not booty or chest shaking going on. I guess you could say dancing that is not sensual.

So much of modern "dancing" is bumping and grinding, emphasizing parts of the body that I believe should be saved for your spouse, and immodest apparel that highlights the body.

I'm a fairly conservative Christian and I was actually raised that dancing was taboo except in the privacy of your own home (by yourself or with your spouse). As I've gotten older and looked into it more, the only aspect of it that I can find that is unBiblical is if it causes the one you are dancing with to think thoughts of you they shouldn't be thinking (lustful, usually). And in that regard, it goes more along with being modest than the actual dancing part.

I hope that makes sense.
I'm her sis so we were raised in the same home. We both came from an extremely conservative/hardline Church of Christ.

Like most things when I was growing up, the emphasis was put too much on behavior rather then heart. Like not doing certain things made you a Christian, rather than developing a good heart and letting that dictate what you do. Personally, I find that incredibly hypocritical. I know plenty of people who abstain from so called wordly activities that are just white-washed tombs with bitterness filling their hearts.

While I'm not comfortable with bump and grind kind of dancing that is done to be purposefully sensual/sexual, I do not have issues with dancing done as art (such as ballet, which both of my DD's are in though it was forbidden in my birth family except my youngest sister who got to do it for a couple years in preschool). I also take no issues with most cultural/traditional dances and rather appreciate and enjoy them.

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#28 of 31 Old 01-22-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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Fascinating thread. I have cousins who are Nazarene, but I barely know them so I hadn't known they avoided dancing.

I have a friend who was raised Church of Christ, and I've been told that they were also no instruments, only vocal music at church.

As for the biblical basis for not dancing, I thought that came out of the story of King David, 2 Samuel Chapter 6.

Growing up Catholic, I saw liturgical dancing only once. I've read that the Catholic church discourages it even more now.

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#29 of 31 Old 01-22-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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Very interesting. That is so foreign to me because I am a choreographer/performer and come from a family of visual artists. I have to say it really makes me sad.
why would that make you sad? are you thinking of joining such a community?

many groups of people believe to give up things often consider "rights" or "pleasures" we gain something precious deep within us. this isn't just a christian belief, but in many religions.


that said I disagree about the visial arts thing - all visual arts aren't looked down on in plain communities- just any art to will lift the physical person up. anything that negates their modesty would be considered taboo. it's not ART itself which is taboo- it's the particular expression of art. one may be good at lots of things- but it doesn't mean we HAVE to indulge in public displays of them ykwim?

that said, if that's not for you, then it shouldn't sadden you. they may very well find that a worthwhile and lifestyle for them.

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#30 of 31 Old 01-23-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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why would that make you sad? are you thinking of joining such a community?

many groups of people believe to give up things often consider "rights" or "pleasures" we gain something precious deep within us. this isn't just a christian belief, but in many religions.


that said I disagree about the visial arts thing - all visual arts aren't looked down on in plain communities- just any art to will lift the physical person up. anything that negates their modesty would be considered taboo. it's not ART itself which is taboo- it's the particular expression of art. one may be good at lots of things- but it doesn't mean we HAVE to indulge in public displays of them ykwim?

that said, if that's not for you, then it shouldn't sadden you. they may very well find that a worthwhile and lifestyle for them.
I guess it makes me sad because I have always considered my talents as natural, God given and VERY life affirming. I am thinking of a child who feels like more than anything, they want to dance or create art of some kind and then to be told they can't because it is sinful. Just makes me sad for that kid.
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