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Foot Loose and Integrity Free

The story plays out like the plot of a dated ’80’s teen angst movie staring Kevin Bacon.

A kid just wants to dance.

The evil-restrictive-hypocritical-stereotypical- hierarchical-age-ist-sex-ist-racist-pompously-pious-powers-that-be conspire against such a celebration of life.

Rebellious kid digs in.

Dancing commences.

Kid becomes hero.

Embarrassing break dancing scene set to Kenny Loggins’ music ends the flick.

Well, in the SRL files under Life Imitates Art,  a “Footloosian” story is now all the rage on the Internet.

Teen suspended for going to girlfriend’s prom

His Baptist school forbids dancing, rock music and hand-holding

Kent Tarbox / The Courier

FINDLAY, Ohio – An Ohio teenager has been suspended by his Christian school that bans dancing because he attended another high school’s prom.

Officials at Heritage Christian School in Findlay had warned 17-year-old Tyler Frost that he would be suspended and prohibited from attending graduation if he went to the public school dance over the weekend with his girlfriend, according to The Courier.

Frost danced and held hands with his girlfriend, Rebecca Smooty, at the Findlay High School prom, attended by about 800 students, officials told the newspaper.

Frost says he didn’t think going to the dance was wrong even though his fundamentalist Baptist school Ohio forbids dancing, rock music and hand-holding, a situation reminiscent of that depicted in the 1984 movie, “Footloose.”

Frost didn’t go to school Monday. Instead, he and his girlfriend are heading to New York for a Tuesday morning TV interview.

The majority view on the net  is pretty easy to anticipate.

“Lighten up! They went to the prom. What’s the big deal?”

But there is a “big deal” to be found here.

You just have to dig a bit to find it in the fine print.

The young man attends Heritage Christian School and part of their rules is that each student pledges to abide by the code that prohibits dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing.

You see the issue isn’t  “Can Christians dance?”

There’s no “Thou shalt” or “Shalt not” to be found in Scripture concerning this.

Ultimately it ends up being a judgment call.

As a friend of mine who enjoys ball room dancing with his wife once remarked,

“Can Christians dance? Some can and some can’t!”

But what is a non debatable point is a bit closer to the real center of this issue –

“Should Christians keep their word?”

Jesus saw this as a big deal. In the Sermon on the Mount He said:

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37)

I will never forget the first day I signed up for my seminary classes at Biola University in Los Angeles.

After wading through an endless amount of paper work the registrar handed me one final sheet to sign.

It was a code of conduct.

Now not being raised in the church I have to admit I was still pretty ignorant of some of the hot button issues that dominated discussion in some corners of the Christian world.

And I was genuinely confused when I saw that among the provisions I was to adhere to was – No dancing.

I asked the lady about it.

“Why is dancing a problem?”

She replied, “Well, it leads to other things.”

I responded, “OK. But I’m married.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “If you want to enroll here you have to sign this statement. Period.”

Although I thought that this seemed like out Bible-ing the Bible, I signed on the line.

And for the next three years – I didn’t dance.

Even at friends weddings.


Not because I suddenly saw the inherent evils of giving in to seductive charms of the Hokey-Pokey.

But because I signed my name to a statement that said I wouldn’t.

It’s interesting that in all the comments about Tyler Frost’s decision, the emphasis seems to be on how weird and strict  these people are who would deny a kid the chance to rent a tux and enjoy a high school memory.

But no one seems to bring up what the hero of this story has lost in the process –the priceless treasure of personal integrity.

No one forced Tyler Frost to sign that code of conduct statement.

But when push came to shove, the desire for a good time meant more than keeping his word.

And when we begin to make personal compromises like this,  trust is the first casualty.

If Frost’s code of ethics is so shaky he will ditch his word for a dance, how well will his commitments hold up when he promises to make a monthly car payment

Or meet a mortgage

Or even promise to love, honor and cherish till death do us part?

No wonder the Bible tells us:

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.  (Proverbs 22:1)

You can’t have a good name if you have made your name famous by breaking your word.

Hopefully Tyler Frost will grasp that someday.


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