As school winds down in the Spring, young Christians in high school face a question unique to this period in life: “Should I go to the prom?” Non-Christian kids may be wondering if they can get a date or afford the costs of this expensive night. Some kids aren’t interested in anything associated with the prom. However, young Christians often face several choices that their non-Christian friends do not have to deal with:
- Is right to attend the prom or dance?
- If I decide it is right, what is modest to wear?
- What do I say to Christian friends who believe it is wrong for me to attend? How can I defend my decision?
- What do I say to my friends if I am not going to attend? How can I use this as a teaching opportunity?
- Why is it such a big deal?
The answer to the last question is easy. As Colossians 3:17 tells us, the authority of Jesus should guide our life. We are an example to others and must dress and act in ways that glorify God and do not lead others into sin. The reason that dances in general and the prom in particular become an issue is the activity that takes place at these events and often surrounds them and the clothes (or lack of) that are worn. A broader issue should also be considered: am I concerned more about enjoying worldly entertainment and approval than keeping myself unstained by the world (James 1:27)?
I have found two very good articles that any young person (and their parent) should read and consider before deciding to go to dances and the prom:
- A Teenagers Answer to “Shall I Go To The Prom?” I went to college with Sherry. In school she was extremely outgoing, attractive, and talented. She was popular at college and I’m sure she was in high school. Her article describes the struggle with the question, her desire to go, the consequences of her decision, and her lessons learned. This was written when she was a teenager and reflects the emotional struggle and scriptural issues surrounding the question. After 25 years, the issue and emotions have not changed for it was also a time when dancing was popular and young people struggled with the question.
- Is There Life Without A Prom? Steve Higginbotham has written an excellent article that addresses the spiritual concerns and he shares some of the consequences of young Christians in his area as well as the world’s view of the prom as described in teen magazines.
- David Hartsell’s 2011 FC Alabama Winter Camp class on dancing and modesty (both issues are linked with these questions)
- If you want to go true “old school,” some of the principles regarding dancing were addressed by Benjamin Franklin, a 19th century preacher (not the founding father), in a sermon on dancing. No surprise that many of the same questions were asked then as are considered today.
Though you didn’t ask, my decision was not to attend. I knew my mother and many godly people that I esteemed would not approve of a decision to attend. If I went it would most likely be with someone who did not embrace the standards of modesty that I did which would be embarrassing and tempting. In addition, I knew a lot of my friends were going to use the night as a pretense to let many inhibitions go (they were talking about it for weeks before the prom). I did not want to be associated with any of that and had no interest in attending. I didn’t wrestle with it, that I recall, since nothing associated with the prom interested me.
For our kids, my wife and I decided before we had them that it would not be a part of their lives. We don’t anguish over the decision because the “no” is our final answer. We approach it from the perspective of adults that have lived longer and seen more than they have seen. In addition, we have worked to provide wholesome alternatives for them such as a banquet at a nice location with a lot of their friends where they can dress modestly, have a nice dinner, take photographs, and have a memorable evening in a morally positive atmosphere. We are firm believers that if you say “no” you need to provide a good alternative that they can enjoy.
As with all of your decisions prayerfully ask yourself whether choosing an action will glorify God or hinder your ability to shine your light.