I’ll never forget a conversation from a few years ago with a teen who was in anguish about her first middle school dance. It wasn’t deliberations about her dress or hair that caused knots in her stomach and kept her awake at night. There was another decision that lay before her just wasn’t sitting right. Her friends on the other hand were excited for her as they built up the night as the moment that would end her “grinding virginity.” I listened as this girl explained her inner battle as she wondered if she had the courage to march to the beat of a different drum.
As any middle or high schooler knows, this “dance” has made its way from nightclubs to homecomings as a cultural norm for this generation. Grinding’s cousin, “twerking” has added some variation to the craze, and not in a good way.
So the burning question arises, can the way you dance really harm your purity? To start, let’s try to answer this question with some questions of our own:
- What is the first thing you think of when you see someone dancing provocatively?
- Are dignity and honor demanded through suggestive dance moves?
- How would you feel if your parents, pastor, youth minister or future spouse saw you grinding with another person?
The truth is, if you’re asking the question, you probably already know the answer. Sexuality, within the context God created it, is meant to bring us closer to the Lord. Grinding and other provocative moves clearly don’t point to holiness. If you are looking for a boy/girlfriend who will walk to the Lord with you, you won’t find them while imitating sex on the dance floor.
Reflecting on this very topic, a friend of mine, who happens to be a twenty year old male college student, put it beautifully. “It is for good reason that the first dance for a newlywed couple at a wedding reception is held for everyone to see—it is an outward sign of affection between the bride and groom. I have never heard of a newlywed couple grinding during their first dance—for good reason. The dance should show how much the two outwardly love each other, not express their sexual desires.” Is the sexual union a huge part of the sacrament of marriage? You bet it is! However, in regards to dancing, the couple publically shows their union in a totally different way. Their sexual expression of love is saved for a private moment… much to the relief of all in attendance!
As John Paul II says, “The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine.” The Lord gave us the physical world to point to Him. Dance has been a physical expression across cultures for all of time. Just like all art, it is an opportunity to make visible what is invisible. The question is, what will you make visible? Will you express the spiritual and the divine? Will you raise the minds of others to love or lower it to lust?
We all know the popular quote, “Sing like nobody’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching.” In debates on grinding, many people love to state that this is a personal decision that schools shouldn’t be allowed to restrict or ban. OK… however, a dance floor is definitely a public arena, and sexual acts are clearly a private choice. In this case, please dance like somebody’s watching, because they are. In the words of Daniel, my hip-hop dancing, professional choreographing, full-time youth minister friend, “if grinding is the way you prefer to dance, then it proves you don’t know how to dance. Let’s be honest, that’s something nobody else wants to see.”
As for the distressed middle school girl I spoke about earlier… she chose not to grind and she did so for all the right reasons. She is now a junior, and still a “grinding virgin.” In her words, believe it or not, she’s “survived just fine.”
Katie Hartfiel is an author and speaker dedicated to sharing the intense love of God. She graduated Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she received a degree in Theology. She served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she now resides with her husband, Mark, and two daughters. In 2012, Katie released her first book, Woman in Love (available at womaninlove.org).