What Is Wrong with Prom?

Introduction

In the United States, the term “prom” is derived from “promenade” or “promotional dance”. It refers to a formal event and dance held near the end of high-school, and so it is also called “senior prom” or “senior ball”. Prom is associated with extravagant cocktail dresses, tuxedos, flowery corsages, sumptuous dining, worldly music, suggestive entertainment, intimate dance, off-campus parties, and questionable supervision. Although exceptions surely exist, and although some parts of prom are harmless and memorable, too much of the majority of proms are worldly and ungodly.

For many young adults, new Christians, or generally “babes in Christ” — especially those who were raised in acceptance of prom — this question may be asked innocently and earnestly. For such people, it is no wonder that they see it merely as a rite of adolescent life. Others may have never thought about this question for whatever reason, and so they would also genuinely like to know the answer. If this humble truthseeking disposition represents you, it is hoped that you will find answers here from God’s Word; however, please understand that this article is not aimed at you. This article is addressed to mature Christian parents — especially fathers — who have been raised to know better, who already know the dangers of prom. If these words seem too direct or too pointed, please understand that they are aimed at people who have heard them multiple times already but have either “willfully forgotten” or argued for prom — maybe even boasted in the practice — defiantly.

Forbidden Practice

The Scriptures expressly forbid any “lewd” or “lascivious” practice:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

Flee sexual immorality. ... (I Corinthians 6:18)

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22)

Although many dances may be pure, innocent, and chaste, modern dancing is anything but. Rather, it is designed to stimulate the senses and fill the imagination with desire. It promotes the forbidden lust and lewdness that is strictly forbidden in the above verses.

Snuggling Up To Sin

Some will recognize that the dances of high-school proms are condemned; nevertheless, they will attend and socialize on the edges, enjoying the company of their peers, the music of the occasion, and sights of the night. Although this is an improvement over actively engaging in this sinful dance, it is but slight. Gross immodesty is rampant at such dances, feeding lusts and imagination, revealing what is reserved for marriage (Proverbs 5:12-23; Song of Solomon 7:1-10). Although the attendees may not be actively participating in the dance, what will be the subject of discussion as they stand on the edges, gazing at the dancers, observing their dress (or lack thereof), and listening to the beat? Is immersing oneself in such a sensual environment fulfilling the following command — or blatantly disregarding and disobeying it?

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14)

Can prom’s attendees make the same claim as the Psalmist?

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (Psalm 101:3)

Not only has such a one failed to avoid “walking in the counsel of the ungodly”, not only have they failed to avoid “standing in the path of sinners”, but they have entered their domicile and willingly “sat in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1-6)! By willingly attending such events and placing oneself in the environment of wanton sin, he cozies up to — even snuggles right up to sin! What can he expect next?

Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? (Proverbs 6:27-28)

Christians are to avoid unnecessary rubbing up against sin:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (I Corinthians 15:33)

And yet, attending such events places one in the very midst of “lawlessness ... darkness” and worse. If you think it cannot happen to you, then please heed God’s warning specifically raised for you, “Do not be deceived.”

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:11-12)

The Lord has warned in advance of the self-deception that springs from the deadly desire for sin and fellowship with darkness (James 1:12-16). Will you heed it? Will you heed it for your children’s sake? What end do you want for them?

Influence and Reputation

Some may further recognize that attending modern proms is inappropriate and sinful; however, others insist on attending the introductory proceedings of such events, even willing to have their pictures taken with companions who are dressed immodestly and who may continue to attend and participate in the night’s events. What would be wrong with attending the prom’s opening and simply leaving before the dancing begins? What would be wrong with walking out with everyone else, participating in “lead out”, having your name announced, posing for pictures, and having your picture formally taken — and then leaving? Some have suggested that they are even setting a godly example by leaving early! Is this reasonable or true?

... avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us — providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. (II Corinthians 8:20-21)

Even though Paul was more concerned with the Lord’s judgment of him than men’s (I Corinthians 4:3-4), he still took great measures, bending over backwards to avoid unnecessary tarnishment of himself, his ministry, or the Lord he represented (II Corinthians 4:5-7, 10-11), as seen above. When one goes to the same place as the prom, dressing formally like everyone else at the prom, walking out like everyone else at prom, having pictures made like everyone else at the prom, having pictures made with everyone else at the prom, and plastering prom pictures on Facebook like everyone else at the prom, will they not still be associated with everyone else at the prom? Did they really set a good example when they left before the dancing commenced, after they participated in everything else joyfully and without hesitation or complaint that lead up to it? Will everyone understand that they left for conscience’s sake, not because they were just shy, not a good dancer, or just had some other place to celebrate? To how many of their friends did they explain why they left early? How many Bible studies did they inspire and arrange while setting this godly example? ... Friends, we are fooling ourselves willfully. Would not the true, best example be set by not attending at all, by not extending any support or fellowship to this unholy event?

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. (Ephesians 5:11-12)

Is one “exposing the unfruitful works of darkness” when they cheerfully participate in lead out and large group pictures of people proceeding to prom? Or, are they enjoying “fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”?

Please note that when God’s people refuse to separate themselves from the world, He makes sure that everyone knows He is separated from them because He is mindful of His influence and reputation:

“‘For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’” So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” (II Samuel 12:12-14; see also, Romans 2:23-24)

Although prom may not be exactly parallel to David’s ultimate sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah, please recall that David did not start with that intention. He simply was in the wrong place, when he should have been somewhere else (II Samuel 11:1-2). He allowed himself to be unnecessarily vulnerable. What sin could have been avoided if David had simply kept to his responsibilties, stayed where he should have been? What unplanned danger can be avoided if one avoids prom?

Even if fellowshipping and supporting prom does not immediately provide as “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” as did David’s sin, how foolish it would be to “tempt God” with a lesser occasion, but an unwarranted and unnecessary occasion to blaspheme nonetheless.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” (Matthew 18:6-9)

People may go to prom and participate in ungodly activities both during and after prom; however, do you want to be the one they lift up to their parents, “But, Mom and Dad, Johnny went to prom last year. He’s a Christian, and I saw his picture on Facebook from prom! If he can go, why can’t I go?”. “Offenses must come”. People will do what they want to do, but do you want to unnecessarily be their excuse before God for their sin? How will God regard what you have done to His precious name?

Conclusion

Why is it that so many Christians want to attend a worldly prom, even if for only a little while? Some like to dress up. Some like to see; others like to be seen. Some just want to be included and not be left out. Have our affections become misplaced?

We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. (II Corinthians 6:11-13)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)

This prom season, what will people see in you?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:10-16)”

Will your actions truly cause them to “glorify your Father in heaven”? Or, will they think that you are pretty much just like them — the world, “salt that has lost its flavor”, “a lamp put under a basket”?

...

Fathers, where are you? Have you forgotten what it was like to be an adolescent young man? Do you really want to send your lambs to the wolves? Have you forgotten? Have you been forgotten? Who is leading your home?

Answering Objections

On Opinions

But, that is your opinion, and my opinion is just as good as yours!

Do you walk by God’s Word? If so, please answer the above passages because we must assume they represent God’s opinion since they are based on His Word unless you can show otherwise from it. Please answer the verses with God’s Word, if it is just my opinion.

On Judging

Please stop judging our children!

God judges all of us by commanding us to avoid unnecessary “provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14). To equate following His commands with wrongful judgment of children is not only naive, but it is blasphemous because such statements necessarily judge God (James 4:10-11)!

On Immodesty

There are immodest people everywhere! If you cannot go to the prom because of immodest people, then you may as well stay home!

Immodest people may be everywhere, and it may be impossible to avoid them entirely. However, there is a far difference between going to a public place that may incidentally have immodest, worldly people present and attending an event that is known for celebrating immodesty and sensuality!

On Broader Application

But, the Bible verses you referenced would prohibit going to the beach, homecoming dance, swim parks, rock concerts, and other pleasurable events given to rampant immodesty and ungodliness!

Yes.

On False Dilemmas

But, I just want to dress up and go out with my friends and take a few pictures.

Then, do that. Prom is not the only opportunity to dress up, eat a nice meal with likeminded spiritual friends, and take a few pictures of a memorable, pure, and innocent night — is it? What light could be shown if you stood up and provided a godly alternative, designed and organized by a Christian mind seeking the eternal welfare of your children and their friends? Can you not transcend the limited options the world offers?

On Forgiveness

Not everyone is perfect! Why don’t you extend a little forgiveness unless you don’t need any!

God freely offers forgiveness to Christians who confess their sins and ask forgiveness (I John 1:5-10). For such a ones, both God and His people gladly “remember no more” such sins (Hebrews 8:8-13; II Corinthians 2:4-8). However, it would be a tragic blunder to presume that His grace permits us to willfully continue in sin — or grant our children that same “right” (I John 2:3-5; 3:3-9).

Further Consideration

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Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1994 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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