Are You Going to the Prom?

Many high schools have an annual celebration called "The Prom." Young men and women dress up, go out together to eat, enjoy special introductions at the event, where pictures are taken, music is played, and many dance together and enjoy the night. It is considered by many a kind of rite of passage. This is what I have been told. I have never attended a prom. I would encourage every Christian youth not to attend a prom either. This article is about why I recommend that all say, "No, I'm not going to the Prom."

The first problem is the common attire of the young women who attend. My wife and I were in a restaurant one night when several young couples came in who were going to the Prom. They were all dressed up. Most of the young men were well dressed, but the fanciful dresses the young women were wearing were immodest and designed to be so. The dresses seemed in stark contrast to the words of Paul in his letter to Timothy. Indeed, the Prom seems in contrast!

Paul wrote, "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:8-10, NASB).

Christian women, young and old, are to adorn themselves properly, modestly, using discretion. The Greek translated "modestly" in the New American Standard Bible is from a Greek word that means, "to be ashamed; a sense of shame" (NAS Exhaustive Concordance.) Thayer's Greek definitions says it means, "a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect." And Vine's Expository Dictionary of Bible Words says it, "is that modesty which is 'fast' or rooted in character," referencing Davies Bible English in that definition. The King James Version has the word "shamefacedness." The Greek word translated "discreetly" here is translated elsewhere in the NASB as self-restraint once and as sober once.

Paul is teaching that women professing godliness will give their first attention to proper clothing, modesty, and discretion. A sense of shame regarding immodest things will be a part of their character. They will have a sense of bashfulness that respects themselves, others, and God. Their attitude is one of self-restraint governed by a sober mind. Instead of focusing first on hair, jewelry, and costly clothing, they will rather focus on good works. They will think on things above, knowing, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God's word is their guide.

There is also the question of the effect of one's appearance on others. Jesus said, "whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt. 18:6). There can be no question that an immodestly dressed woman can tempt others to lust, desiring things forbidden to mind and body. No Christian would want to knowingly seduce such thoughts through improper dress or to attend an event where such immodesty would be on display all around them. Likewise, Christian men, young or old, should want to avoid such. Jesus warned against looking with lust in one's heart (Matt. 5:28).

Then we have Peter's words. While encouraging wives to be willingly in subjection to their husbands, he said, "Your adornment must not be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:3-4). Add to these instructions the description of "the works of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19-21, which includes sensuality - which other Bible versions translate as lasciviousness, lewdness, wantonness, and licentiousness - and it is hard to imagine why any Christian would want to attend the Prom.

Thayer defines the Greek translated "sensuality" here to mean unbridled lust, excess, and shamelessness among other things. It would seem to me that when we put a young man and young woman together with other young men and women, many of whom will be dressed immodestly, and allow them to dance with each other, the stage is then set for their emotions to run in the wrong direction - toward unlawful sensuality and excess and lust for things wholly inappropriate for Christians.

Paul wrote to the saints in Thessalonica, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thess. 5:21-22). If we examine the Prom honestly, testing what goes on against God's word, understanding that Christians are to abstain from every form of evil, then how could we come to any conclusion other than to say no Christian should attend, and no parent should want their child in such an environment either. Let us resist the devil (1 Peter 5:9).