Preach On Booze, Adultery, and Dancing!


Sometimes it’s tough to know where to draw the lines.

I’m talking about sin, of course. We live in the era of “If it makes you happy / it can’t be that bad” (see Sheryl Crow). Our culture has become so wishy-washy on areas of right and wrong, that nobody has the courage to say, “I think what you’re doing is wrong.” As Christians we need to stand firmly on what the Bible says is right and wrong, without caving to the culture.

But we need to make sure that what we’re standing for really is the truth. I think that most people have a sixth sense (I’m resisting the temptation to make a joke about seeing dead people) that lets them know when we are spouting our opinion on something, rather than proclaiming God’s word. If they think that we’re just pushing our opinion, they’re going to push back. After all, why is my opinion worth more than their opinion?

John R. Rice was one of the leaders of the fundamentalist movement in the 1930’s and 1940’s. This is what Andrew Himes says about Rice:

Rice was interested in cultivating and promoting a very specific type of preaching. It was preaching that pulled no punches. It was preaching that was sharp and clear, preaching that took a definite stand. It was preaching that could bring revival back to America. In 1940, one of his sermons titled “Evangelistic Preaching” appeared in The Sword of the Lord [Rice’s newspaper]:

Preach on booze. Preach on the scarlet sin, adultery. Some cheeks will turn red with shame, and some won’t like it, but it will bring people to repentance. Preach on the dance, tell people it is rotten as sin. Tell people they dance because they enjoy the lust, the deliberate inflamement of passion of the dance. They do!

I would agree with a lot of what Rice says. We need preaching that has guts and spine and conviction. We need to preach against the sins clearly spelled out in the Bible. Rice said we should preach against booze. If he meant drunkenness, I’m all for that! He said that we should preach against adultery. Yes John, yes! He said we should preach against dance!

Wait, what? Dance?

I understand what he’s saying. There are many dances that are inappropriate, and I’m sure that many people do dance for the sake of lust. But to call dance “rotten as sin” goes beyond what the Bible says and forces you to draw all sorts of lines in the sand that are purely arbitrary. For example, is ballroom dancing wrong? What about tribal dancing? Was it wrong when David danced in the Bible??And are you sure that everyone who dances is dancing for the sake of lust?

We can tell people that lust is wrong. We can tell people that, if dancing causes them to lust, that’s wrong too. But we can’t flat out say that dancing is sinful.

When it comes to declarations of right and wrong, each of us face two temptations. The first temptation is to be too soft on sin, and not take a stand for what’s right. The second temptation is to swing too far the other way, and to draw lines where God never draws lines. People can smell our opinion from a mile away. And people can disagree with my opinion. But they can’t disagree with the word of God. So let’s stand on the word.


  • Tim says:

    So true! We must be willing to admit to ourselves and others that the foundation upon which we speak is NOT from ourselves: it is from the Word of the Creator of the universe. GOD has asked us to live holy lives, separated unto Himself. GOD has given the Ten Commandments. GOD sent His Son to save us from our sin and He wants a relationship with us.

  • I am going out on a limb here and being bold/brave!

    The scriptures are clear as to what sin is.
    While we can argue all around over opinions of the specifics of that, we clearly can not argue with the word or we are calling God a lier.

    The problem as you stated above is that we can take our interpretation of it too far.
    What we may understand it to mean for ourselves may not be what it means for others.

    How can that be?
    We need to refocus on the Cross and remember why Christ died and what happened for us upon his death.
    Do we live a life under the Law? Or Do we live a life under Grace?
    We are no longer bound by the law, but are led to follow the Holy Spirit.
    If we live life under the Law then Christ died for nothing.

    I personally do not believe that the Holy Spirit leads us all or deals with us all in the same way.
    ( Now you, the reader, may think of that as my opinion where as I know it to be my understanding of the Holy Spirit) Who is to be the judge of that? The Holy Spirit

    We get sooo caught up in all of the do's and don'ts and the I think I'm right mode that we forget about Grace and Mercy and begin ramming our logs into everyone else's heads.

    Not only do we forget about Grace and Mercy, but we forget who it is that really has the authority in the matter.
    Grace and Mercy are not wishy washy ideas. They are the the Biblical example of what God did for our sins by giving up his only son. An example of how we are to behave as Christians to everyone we encounter. Wether we agree with them or not..
    We need to stop trying to be the Judge and Jury of what sin is, who is committing it and how.
    When we are playing judge and jury, we need to remember that that too is sin.

    We need to let the authority/Holy Spirit do his work and quit trying to do it for him.

    So stand on the word, but stand on ALL of it and not just certain parts.

    Remember…Life under Grace/The Holy Spirit…Not the Law.

    It makes me sooo sad to witness the judgement of fellow Christians and their lack of Grace to others…
    We may know someone who is going through a hard time and may be sining or we just think they are because of our extended opinions of what sin is. We may not agree with something they have chosen to do, just as much as they may be feeling horrible because they had no choice but to do what they have chosen to do… Just because we disagree with them, does not mean they are wrong or that their walk with Christ has fallen off the path.
    It means that we need to get back to the reality of remembering who we are and who God is and allow HIM to do the work..

  • Billie Letso says:

    Good article! Here's one of my favorite quotes:

    One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons–marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who use them, he has taken the wrong turning."
    C.S Lewis

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