[stextbox id=”custom”]This is the 3rd article in the “Where in the Bible does it say” series. Here’s the 1st2nd4th5th, and 6th.[/stextbox]

Here is a most blessed truth: The Bible is filled with hundreds and hundreds of commandments!

It is not filled with recommendations, or suggestions, or guidelines, or even tips for getting a better life now, either. God issues commands, because He is the all sovereign One.

Question: Have you ever wondered where in the Bible does it say anything about the “gray” areas of life?

It is important to realize that the commandments of Scripture are not to be burdensome for a genuine Christian, but liberating. Yes, freedom! Freedom in Christ! Liberation from the yoke of trying to live righteously enough in order to earn God’s favor. But there’s also a dramatic difference between the liberty we have in Christ and a lifestyle of licentiousness that too many in American Christianity seem to think they can flaunt.

Here’s what I mean. From the list below, you tell me (in the comments below) where we–as God-loving Christians–should draw the line between “liberty in Christ” and licentious behavior.


Look, I prefer to think of myself as a relatively conservative Christian, but not when it comes to Christian liberty. Perish the thought! I’d like to think that my Christian beliefs are conservative–or, rather–biblical. But I also know that thousands of genuinely saved Christians in America would consider my beliefs to be borderline liberal. The other half of American Christians might call me a Pharisee.

So the question remains: Who is right and who is wrong?

At what point do we draw a line in the sand and say, “This kind of behavior is perfectly acceptable for a Christian, but anything going beyond such-and-such is sin and should not be done.” And who gets to decide where that line should be drawn?

You see, that’s the difficulty we face in Christian circles today. That’s why there are so many factions, church splits, denominations, Christian circles, etc. Everyone has their own line drawn in the sand. And depending on what you feel most comfortable with as a Christian typically determines the sort of church you attend for worship and fellowship.

I’m not saying that it is wrong, and I’m not saying it is godly, either. I’m merely saying that I believe it is true. We tend to fellowship and worship alongside other Christians who are a lot like us.

For me, the last thing I want to do is place a minefield of stumbling blocks before Christians, and even non-Christians, for that matter. It’s not my job and, frankly, it is above my pay scale as a pastor.

But should Christians ever dance? Should Christians ever smoke cigarettes? Should Christians ever drink alcohol? Should Christians watch cable, or surf the internet in the privacy of their own home, or rent PG-13 movies, or…

The Problem With Liberty

I was once a member of a church where a young couple began attending. By their choice of Sunday attire, you could tell they weren’t exactly conservative. After five minutes of conversation, I was even sceptical of their salvation. But does that matter for someone to come and check out a church? No way! I was just so glad they came! Oh, how wonderful is was that they came!

But then something happened that made me cringe, furious, and frustrated all at once. While speaking with me and an elderly woman from the church, the young couple mentioned that they had been attending (not members, just attending) another church in town but that they stopped going because a small handful of people were giving them a hard time about living together.

The last thing I wanted to do at that moment was pound religion down their throats. I wanted to put my arm around them and just say I grateful I was that they were here. However, the elderly woman next to me was cut from a different cloth. She then immediately said, “Well, you are going to get married, aren’t you? I mean, it’s a sin to live together.”

Ugh. Guess what. That young couple stopping attending our church soon thereafter.

That young couple lost out on hearing more about Jesus. They lost out on hearing more about our glorious sin-liberating gospel. They lost out on being exposed to God’s merciful message on a weekly basis. And why? All because someone  was raised in church with a list of spiritual do’s and don’t’s, and she felt like everyone around her ought to abide by the same list.

Don’t get me wrong. Things like adultery and sex before marriage are absolutely wrong. Plain and simple, per the Bible. Sexual fornication is also wrong. But I also don’t believe that young couple was saved, either. God’s Word had no authority over their lives because they weren’t submitted to Him and His authority—yet. But there is a right and wrong time for everything, including religion.

What about you? Would you go to a church that had a list of do’s and don’t’s? Would you become a member of a church that had a written Covenant of expected behavior, that you knew you were likely to fail at keeping at some point soon? Would you?

Here is a paragraph from a 1-page church document that I came across recently. Both potential members and actual members of that church are expected to read this document, and agree to abide by it, in order to become members. Tell me, what do you think about it?

We believe it would be pleasing to the Lord, since the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, to abstain from the use of tabacco and from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage and to keep ourselves from questionable worldy amusements such as dance, theater, etc.

QUESTION: What do you think about this paragraph. Actually, what do you think God thinks about this paragraph?

* Image credit: Kendall Conner (Creation Swap)

Reader Interactions


    • I think that it goes against the Bible because when Jesus walked on the earth he turned water into wine and on the day of the Pentecost God’s people danced and spoke in tongues unknown to man. King David danced in the streets also and God spoke to him and told him that he was a man after his own heart. God also instructed us to drink but not to get drunk. I am a recovering alcoholic/ Addict so in order to follow God’s instructions I still drink non alcoholic beverages but abstain from alcohol and all illegal drugs. I am a smoker and I don’t believe for a minute that the God of my understanding is going to send me to Hell for smoking cigarettes. The Bible also tell us that no mortal will ever be allowed in the presence of God. It is our spirits that have to be pure and ready to be in the presence of God not our bodies.

      • For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit ,even from his mother’s . womb. Luke 1 verse 15.. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. Judges 13 verses 4….yes they danced moved by the holy spirit which means that they were so overwhelmed by the spirit of god which took over there bodies and there bodies were no longer under there control because the power of god moved them. I was baptised with the holy spirit by God’s grace and when the spirit comes down its power shakes you and you may even sway left to right but not dance. I’m sure the day of Pentecost did not look like a bunch of people at a party Friday night. But it was beautiful peace heavenly the work of the holy spirit is nothing of this world and god glory and most beautiful work will never come close to a bunch of people shaking there goodies around. Lord I pray that you give us all a clear understanding to your word and let us never mold your truth to our selfish ways for you said narrow is the way life .and broad is the way that leads to destruction. Help us keep your path as strict and narrow as possible amen. And as I say better safe than sorry. What lose do we have if we don’t drink smoke dance and at the end it was always okay to do. But we would have such a great lose doing these things and at the end we come to find we live a life after the flesh and not according to God’s will. May god bless us

  1. Just some thoughts that came to mind…

    Dance? Well, King David danced in the streets…Theater? Jesus told stories that riveted the crowd like a Hollywood blockbuster…Alcohol? This one I can see both sides of the coin. On one hand I say drink, but drink cautiously. The other one says Don’t do it at all.

    • Yes, King David dancing instantly comes to my mind as well. Strange, but there are so few passages in Scripture which speak about dancing. When you take into consideration the Palestinian cultures during both Old & New Testament eras, dancing was typically “normal” in the Jewish culture.

      However, the dancing done by most Americans today certainly would not compare.

      I’ve been blogging about some of the more controversial issues in the church lately, and it has been both thought provoking and liberating. When you take into consideration all the commandments of the Bible, they can be summarized down into the 10 Commandments. Those 10 can be summarized down into the two great commandments, which are to love God with you heart, mind, soul, strength, and your neighbor as yourself. In other words, all of the do’s and don’t’s of the Bible boil down to love.When Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” He was saying, essentially, if you love Me, then love Me.

      I think there is a lot to learn by that.

      Thanks for stopping by, Joe!

      • Charles,
        When you say “dancing done by most Americans today certainly would not compare”, what are you referring to?

  2. Very Thought provoking stuff. Dancing and theater are some of the topics that I have tried to tackle with a couple of different pastors and church elders in my life. As a father of growing children these are subjects that I deal with and will continue to deal with in the future. Look forward to reading more on this

    • The issue is two-fold: Not hindering Christian liberty, and not going beyond liberty into licentiousness. The apostle Paul said, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” I do think that is the line in the sand that needs to be drawn.

      Ron, brother, we need to have lunch! Let’s get together next week sometime and hash these fun issues out. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. The  most bothersome aspect is the “etc.”  What else will be deemed inappropiate?  Based on what?  And by whom?  Freedom is sometimes messy, but the potential for bondage to the doctrines of men can be even worse. 

    • Yes, I didn’t even think about the “etc.” too much, but you’re right, Lee. There’s a lot of stuff that can be included in “etc.” 

      There are enough (sufficient!) inspired instructions in the Scripture, which is why I don’t like the idea of creating an “uninspired” list for Christians to be obligated to follow.

  4. I am a believer and love the lord with all my heart and soul. I love to dance and only dance when I attend weddings, Christmas parties or birthday parties. I think that it is up to the conviction of the individual. I had considered going to a club to dance and really did not think it was anything wrong with it until the thought of, “what would all the people who knew me as a child of God think if they seen me”. I would not want to cause anyone to stumble. There is nothing wrong with dancing as long as you don’t look like the “world” while you’re doing it.

  5. Since David danced and WAS a man after God’s own heart than I would say God dances as well. We need to not be concerned with trying to be The Holy Spirit in others lives and allow God’s Spirit to convict the individual. Alcohol is also fine-Timothy had to take a little wine for his stomach-but it says not to be drunk with wine, but filled with The Holy Spirit. When we pray for God’s Spirit to be free to move and just teach truth in love, God takes care of the rest. “Be still and know I am God”.

  6. I too love to dance, at weddings and family celebrations, and i occasionally have a glass of wine. I’ve often wondered if it was the Holy Spirit that was convicting me or some of my friends in Christ that had “strong” opinions against both. I love our Lord and I pray that I would not show “religion” to my unsaved friends and family but that I would show the love of Christ to them. Thank you all for your comments pertaining to this question I’ve had for so long.

  7. Ask yourself this: are you living by mans laws and traditions or God’s? I don’t drink, by choice, it’s not biblical! If I hold others accountable for my personal convictions, who’s the sinner?!!! “Sober” from the bible… From the Greek… Means “not in excess” ANYTHING in excess can cause you to take your eyes off of God and then can become sinful!!!

  8. I think everyone should listen to the Holy spirit as a Christian because as a Christian we are convicted by the Holy Spirit when we are wrong.his the one that guids us because we no longer live but he lives in us as for me my body is a temple of Christ it’s very important to me I’m here to please my lord Jesus Christ and not man what we do or say or act determines who we are so our testimonies and how we represent God speaks more then our words so as for me I would not dring or smoke because I am the temple of Christ even though a lot of people do not see that as a sin or wrong the reason I won’t do it it’s because I want to keep Gods temple purify and sanctify because I am a new creation in Christ old things has pass and they have all been made new. If I know that smoking kills people by getting lung cancer or alcohol also kills people or them selfs I don’t want to participate with anything that will kill or hurt people and by be doing this thinks I’m really saying its ok to drink and smoke as a Christian so as for me I won’t do that. And dancing I love dancing but I also won’t dance because if it’s not for the honer of my Lord Jesus Christ then it’s for me or others I will dance to honer and glorify God because he deserves all the honer and glory so even though I love to dance like in a wedding or party or even at church it would be all for the honer and glory of God so the only place I do dance it’s at church or a Christian concert that’s it.