Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 28, 1964
NUMBER 4, PAGE 2,11b


Kent Harrell

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness....they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21)

From the above passages, we can readily see that lasciviousness will condemn one's soul to an eternity in Hell. It thus behooves us to learn what constitutes lasciviousness and to determine what things or manner of things are lascivious that we might not be guilty of this great sin.

From Thayer's Lexicon, we find that the definition of "lascivious" is: "unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence....wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males or females." (Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 81) We find that Vine defines the word: "denotes excess, licentiousness, absence or restraint, indecency, wantonness.... the prominent idea is shameless conduct." (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. II, p. 310) "1. Wanton; lewd; lustful. 2. Tending to produce lewd emotions." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary). The above definitions may be summed up thusly: anything that tends to produce a lewd emotion in us or in someone else is lasciviousness.

Dancing is lasciviousness. The wearing of immodest apparel (shorts, halters, bathing suits, any other lust-producing clothing) is lasciviousness. Mixed swimming is lasciviousness. The reading of lustful literature is lasciviousness. Why are such lasciviousness? Because of the effect they produce on you or on someone else.

Let us discuss dancing first of all. We know that our young people are caught on all sides trying to get them to partake of the evils of the dance floor. The schools and colleges favor such practices and one is placed in the position of going along with the crowd or being ostracized. Many parents think they are doing their children a big favor by giving them dancing lessons at an early age so they will develop "poise, dignity, and be socially acceptable."

Let us see what some authorities have to say about this matter of dancing. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the F.B.I.: "Most juvenile crime has its inception in the dance hall, either public or private." Dr. Phelps, New York City Police: "It is estimated that in New York City. 4,000 women are living the life of infamy, and that three-fourths of these are started on their life of infamy through the dance." Chicago Vice Commission: "Of 300 prostitute girls asked, 'What led you to do wrong, what led you to become a sinner, what led you to become what you are today?' 85% of them said, 'My first step wrong was caused by the modern dance'." Dr. E. S. Senners, eminent nerve specialist of Chicago and Los .Angeles: "I attack the modern dance as a reversion toward savagery. As a medical man, I flatly charge that modern social dancing is fundamentally sinful and evil. I charge that dancing's charm is based upon sex appeal. I charge that it is the most insidious of the maneuvers preliminary to sex betrayal....The basic spell of the dance is the spell of illicit physical contact....I tell you frankly, it is not safe to subject even the strongest men and women to the subtle temptation of the dance. A trail of broken homes proves this." Dr. Thomas C. Whitefield: "The modern dance is condemned precisely at this point. It is not wrong solely because it might lead one to the physical act of fornication, but it is sinful to the degree that it arouses unrestrained desires that cannot be fulfilled under present relations and conditions. When such desires are aroused, the dancing is within itself sinful because it is then a lascivious act." Prof. W. C. Wilkerson of Chicago University, having analyzed the modern dance, concluded that it is "a system of means, contrived with more than human ingenuity, to excite the instinct of sex action." Christian Dior, designer of women's clothes in Paris Presse, an afternoon newspaper said: "For the first time I have done away with corsets even for dance dresses. I have often heard men complain that in dancing they couldn't feel a living form under women's corsets." T. A. Vogner, former supervisor of the Dancing Academy of Los Angeles and also former president of the Dancing Masters' Association of the Pacific Coast: "No woman can waltz well and waltz virtuously." Arthur Murray, the noted dancing teacher, is quoted by Reader's Digest as saying: "The difference between wrestling and dancing is that, in wrestling, some holds are barred." In an audience of 1500 men the question was asked: "How many can dance and not have evil thoughts?" Not one hand was raised.

Dancing is also classed under the items of "revelings" (Gal. 5:21). "A feast with noisy jollity; carouse; spectacular dance performed in procession and pageant" (The Twentieth Century Dictionary). "Inclusive of drinking, feasting, dancing, etc." (Whedon's Commentary). Dr. A. C. Dixon said: "The modern dance is the fine art of covering with music, indelicate, immodest and ofttimes indecent attitudes and postures between men and women. It is too bad for reformation. Its only remedy is extermination."

Father, Mother, if only one boy or girl each year is led into a life of impurity and adultery because of the dance; if it were your boy or girl, would it be worth the price? Dancing is questionable, lasciviousness, of the world, revelry, a stumbling block to others, destructive, and makes obedience to Christ impossible.

Next, let us turn our attention to immodest apparel and mixed swimming. These items are condemned by the Scriptures: "In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel...." (1 Tim. 2:9). Modest means "seemly. orderly, decent:' Bathing suits, halters, shorts, and all like clothing are designed so as to accent the physical appeal of the body (and what woman would deny this?). Such as these tend to arouse inordinate desire (lust) within those who see women so dressed. It is sinful to violate God's will even when we can see no reason for His having commanded a particular thing; but in this matter the reasons for the command are most obvious, for the wearer not only creates and magnifies lust, but becomes, in at least some cases, responsible for a sin or crime on the part of someone else. Last year the newspapers carried numerous accounts of sex crimes and attempts of the same. One young man killed the wife of his brother because he saw her (in his own words), "Just standing there in her shorts." He bluntly put the blame where it should be. The following quotation was printed in the Nashville Tennessean, Wednesday morning, June 3. 1959: "BERLIN: (AP) — The 15. U. S. Army's Berlin command has declared war on shorts, blue jeans, and other casual attire for American dependents of the garrison. Officers and enlisted men were told in a special directive that their wives and children should wear appropriate dress while in public." Evidently these hard boiled, practical Army officers know that people are responsible for their influence ...that all people are influenced by what they see...and that women who go dressed like that are a major contributing cause to the worsening and sickening downward trend in American morals. The story the newspaper told about the behaviour of the American women on board the Santa Maria when Portugese rebels took over the ship, was very interesting. According to the paper, these women left off wearing "enticing" clothing. The paper said they stopped appearing in shorts and halters and quit going swimming for fear that the rebels might "have designs on them." They had enough sense to know that such lack of clothing would arouse lust in these men. It seems that the world recognizes what many "Christians" do not. "If a bathing suit is not immodest, what would it take?"

Thus, practically any garment can be designed or worn in such a way that it will cause the perversion (in word, thought, and/or deed) of someone. Always dress and always act in the utmost modesty and decency.

"Pornography is big business, and an old one, and the fight to suppress it never ends. Currently the smut trade runs to $2 billion dollars a year in this country, and the arguments over its effects on the nation's youth are hotter than ever." (Nashville Tennessean, March 15, 1964). The income from the sale of this literature is more than is taken in by the movie box office, or sports entertainment, or the radio and T. V. industry combined! Since it is so big, we have a real threat confronting us. The great danger of exposure to such material is demonstrated in the fact that it is so accessible. The effects of obscene and licentious publications are clearly evidenced in a statement by J. Edgar Hoover: "I believe pornography is a major cause of sex violence. I am convinced that if we can eliminate the distribution of obscene material among impressionable school-age children we can reduce the current sex crime rate." As parents, we should ever be on guard against all such trash! The Kefauver committee in 1956 found that about 75% of such material is read by college-age students and younger. We cannot afford to think "our children" are not in danger.

Now that you have studied this matter of "lasciviousness;' what do you plan to do about it? Souls are at stake. Much more could be said, but the above is surely enough for the thinking individual. Will you continue to be the adult or young person that will pass the above off lightly and go on your merry way in sin? If the above has not convinced you that such things are against the will of God, and "...they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21), then there is something wrong with your thinking. We believe that enough material has been presented to convince anyone with an open, honest heart.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4:8).

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