(For.......) SUNDAY SCHOOL DANCING
Rev. J. L. Scudder, a Congregational pastor of Jersey City,
USA, has been preaching the duty of dancing. He regards it as wholesome and proper, and a graceful amusement that is suitable for Christians, and quotes Scripture references to dancing with a sublime indifference to the fact that dancing, so-called, of the East is such as could not offend the veriest Puritan, since even at a wedding the men and women not only dance separately, but entirely apart from one another, while even a Puritan might agree with his statement: "If your dancing is of such a character that you can glorify God in its performance, dance all you please. Dance so as to maintain your self-respect and purity of the heart."
But, perhaps, lovers of dancing will not be quite so ready to agree with the restrictions he advocates for their favourite amusement – that they should never dance after 11pm, that a man should "hold his partner at a respectful distance," and that women should avoid what is mistakenly called "full dress" – costumes which might pass muster in Central Africa, but are sadly out of place in Christian civilisation.
By way of proving that he practises what he preaches, this liberal pastor took part in a united excursion of the Methodist and Congregational Sunday schools, when a string band was provided on the boat, and in spite of the protestations of the Methodist minister the young people danced all the way to a popular resort, danced all the while they were there, and danced all the way back again.
(Preston Guardian, July 16th, 1898)
(.........and against!) OBJECTING TO DANCING
The Churchtown Co-operators object to dancing – and so does the Rev. F .B. Meyer, whose mission in Southport is still vividly remembered. Addressing a meeting of Free Churchmen of North and West Lancashire at Preston last week, the President of the Free Churches said, "To allow anything like dancing at social gatherings in Sunday schools is a perfect scandal. It is a shame for School teachers to put up mimic stages and train their scholars to dress up and act a pantomime show. Kissing ought never to be allowed upon church premises.
If I were a pure, sweet girl, I would keep my lips and my cheeks for the man to come along who is my predestined lover. Every pure maiden should reserve herself for her future husband, and if I were a young fellow I would not marry a young girl who made herself so cheap. I would rather shut up every church in England than allow ‘drop the handkerchief’ and ‘kiss in the ring’ under their auspices. I would never mingle Jesus Christ’s pure, simple, and holy religion with that which is full of the world, the flesh, and the devil. I am not a sour old Puritan, I enjoy a laugh and a romp. The things I have spoken of are demoralising and hurtful to Christianity."
Southport Guardian, July 6th 1904