Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Sometimes at school dances I feel uncomfortable with some of the music and the way some people dress and dance. What should I do?

New Era

  • Don’t ignore uncomfortable feelings. They could be a warning from the Holy Ghost.

  • Don’t go to or stay at a dance where the Holy Ghost is not welcome.

  • Follow the inspired guidelines in For the Strength of Youth.

  • Inappropriate dancing is easier to avoid if you’re familiar with the basics of appropriate dance styles.

  • Attend Church-sponsored dances, or plan activities where you and your friends can feel the Spirit.

No matter what the activity, any time you are uncomfortable about something, don’t ignore that feeling. It’s often a warning from the Holy Ghost that something is wrong. In this case, the Spirit could be trying to tell you that the music, the dress, or the way people dance is inappropriate and could lead to problems.

Inappropriate music can drive away the Spirit and lower our defenses. Inappropriate dancing can stir unworthy sexual thoughts and feelings, which could lead to more unworthy actions.

Church leaders have been very specific about what is and isn’t acceptable to the Lord.

Music: “Don’t listen to music that drives away the Spirit, encourages immorality, glorifies violence, uses foul or offensive language, or promotes Satanism or other evil practices” (For the Strength of Youth, 20).

Dancing: “When dancing, avoid full body contact with your partner. … Plan and attend dances where dress, grooming, lighting, lyrics, and music contribute to a wholesome atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord may be present” (For the Strength of Youth, 21).

Dress: “When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit. … Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance” (For the Strength of Youth, 15–16).

Note the emphasis on keeping the Holy Ghost. Without Him, it’s much harder to withstand temptation. If the Spirit won’t be at the dance, you shouldn’t be there either. Impressing your friends is far less important than impressing the Lord.

You don’t have to lower your standards to be part of the social scene. Participating in appropriate activities, or even planning your own, will help you find good friends who are more likely to share your standards. Join a club. Attend a Church-sponsored dance. Set up your own party where you can control the environment. You won’t enjoy a dance where you aren’t comfortable.

If you do feel comfortable attending a school dance, play it safe. When possible, arrange to attend dances with others who share your standards or at least understand them. Letting others know how you feel about inappropriate dancing before you go will relieve a lot of the pressure of trying to explain your feelings after you’re already at the dance.

Also, if you have made an effort to learn the basics of some appropriate dances, you’ll be surprised how many around you will be eager to learn. An awkward situation could turn into a fun one.

President Thomas S. Monson

Look to the lighthouse of the Lord. … It beckons through the storms of life. It … sends forth signals readily recognized and never failing. These words of warning, these safety standards, are printed in … For the Strength of Youth.—President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Ensign, Nov. 1990, 96.

Readers

You could invite some friends from school to do some other activity. If your friends still want to attend the dances, then you should recommend different music and try to avoid people and things that make you uncomfortable. Jordan Ross, 13, Spanish Ridge Ward, Spanish Fork Utah Canyon View Stake

I used to attend all of the school dances just to hang around with my friends. I didn’t really like the music either. I knew that the Savior wouldn’t like me to be listening to it. I decided that I would participate only in things that the Savior would like me to do. There are other things you can do to have a good time. Brittney Dawes, 15, Taylorsville 20th Ward, Taylorsville Utah North Central Stake

If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go. If you’re afraid you’ll miss out on social events, invite your friends to go to Church dances and activities with you. You should never have to risk your standards to have fun. If you do, it will be only momentary pleasure and not the true joy you will experience through doing what is right. Evelyn Smittenaar, 17, Rockville Ward, Washington D.C. Stake

School dances can be excellent opportunities to set a positive example by dressing and dancing appropriately. Talk to those in charge about the music they will be playing. If you still feel uncomfortable about attending, don’t go. Memories of school dances will come and go, but the choices you make can affect the rest of eternity. Catherine Loveland, 17, Mesa Linda Ward, Victorville California Stake

That uncomfortable feeling is the Holy Ghost warning you. To involve yourself in explicit dancing and immodest clothes may momentarily get you into the social scene, but it can rob you of self-respect. Your choice of clothing and style of dance are important in setting an example. Marc Ruggles, 15, Fair Oaks Third Ward, Fair Oaks California Stake

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet encourages us to plan and attend dances where the Spirit can be present. Although people can get used to being in a room with questionable lyrics and suggestive dancing, the Spirit won’t. Kristi Thomas, 14, Taft Canyon Ward, Fort Collins Colorado Stake

At a Church dance you can dance, have fun, and be with people who share your standards. You won’t have to feel uncomfortable. If you can’t find a Church dance, get together with your friends and find something else to do. Tanis Taylor, 17, Cody Second Ward, Cody Wyoming Stake

I have had this experience before. To some of our peers, it doesn’t seem wrong to dance and dress as they do. Go with close friends who share your standards. If you are worrying and uncomfortable, you should probably leave. It’s not worth the time or guilty conscience. Amber Forsgren, 12, Indian Hills Ward, Cheyenne Wyoming Stake

[photo] Photograph by Craig Dimond, posed by models