The church I attended in California often had square dances — mostly to give singles something to do on Valentine’s Day. Singles, married couples and children all joined the fun, and I enjoyed watching and chatting with other spectators. Over the years, I learned that square dancing isn’t really that difficult if dancers simply listen to the caller. Callers always explain the calls before each set so that everyone understands how to respond to each call. Thus, even though I didn’t dance myself, I knew that the trick to square dancing comes from paying attention to the caller.
About that time (I’m guessing over 30 years ago) a friend of mine from another church had started a ministry to disabled children using equestrian therapy (she was herself a wheelchair user who had benefited from horseback riding). She always invited me to her fundraising events. When she called to invite me to a wheelchair square dance, I couldn’t resist!
Like every other square dance I’d attended, this one began with the caller carefully teaching us how to respond to each call. Because we all used wheelchairs, he also taught us how to adapt the calls to dancing in chairs. It really wasn’t rocket science, even with the added condition of wheelchairs, and everyone caught on pretty quickly.
Everyone except the partner they gave me.
Despite several of us telling him how to listen to the caller, he just flung his wheelchair every which way, apparently in his own little world and unconcerned that his interpretative dance made it hard for me to enjoy dancing. After one set I was exhausted and frustrated with the whole thing. Maybe I had less patience with him because I knew how to square dance. Maybe I wasn’t charitable enough, taking into consideration that he’d probably never been around square dancing. Forgive me if I am too harsh and judgmental here, but the man made me want to tear my hair out! And I definitely did not want to dance with that man again. Ever.
As far as I could tell, my partner at the wheelchair square dance was having the time of his life! He didn’t quite like all of us telling him he did it wrong, perhaps. But aside from us being a nuisance to him, he seemed perfectly happy to dance according to his preferences. And I think his resistance to correction illustrates the way people (including Christians) would rather do whatever feels good to us than to obey God’s Word.
We find the most obvious example of this rebellion in the so-called Gay Christian movement. The proponents of this movement know exactly what the Bible teaches on human sexuality, but they invent loopholes and alternate interpretations of those passages. Egalitarian Christians do similar mental gymnastics with Scriptures about male leadership, and as growing number of Christians are manufacturing ways to embrace evolution. People don’t want the Bible telling them how to live. Like my square dance partner, they much prefer dancing their own way instead of having the Bible make the calls.
Yet Scripture teaches us how God thinks and, in turn, how He expects His children to conduct ourselves. Square dance callers serve as dim reflections of His authority over every aspect of our lives. Like square dancers, we do well when we follow His instructions in obedience, and we mess things up for ourselves and others when we decide that we can go by our own instincts. As a God of order, He knows much better than we do how He intends for us to glorify Him.
Should we despise God’s wisdom with the presumption that we know better than He does? Are His commands irrelevant to our 21st century understanding of how life should be lived? Scripture answers those questions.
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~~1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (NASB95)
We may think, for example, that reserving sexual expression for heterosexual, monogamous marriage is no longer necessary and actually a ridiculous relic of the past. Does our opinion on human sexuality change God’s design for human sexuality? As much as we might argue that we’re not hurting anybody by having sex on our terms, the truth remains that someone eventually suffers consequences from our selfishness.
The same principle applies with any defiance of His standards. Sooner or later, someone suffers because we have broken God’s law in order to dance the way we felt like dancing. We forget that the Lord created the universe for His pleasure, decreeing everything to be done according to His good will. In His generosity, we benefit by obeying His ordinances, which indeed demonstrates His amazing grace and compassion. But we dare not suppose that we can take His goodness for granted, tossing away any parts of His Word that makes us uncomfortable.
Square dancing, whether in or out of wheelchairs, can be beautiful to watch and fun to do, provided that all the dancers listen to the caller and follow his instructions. As Christians, let’s listen to the Lord and follow His instructions. In the end, we won’t regret taking our cues from Him.