Last weekend, a well-known evangelical Christian college near Chicago recently held its first open dance in the school's history.
Wheaton College only used to allow square dancing on campus. Some students would take dance classes to enjoy dancing. After “Community Covenant” which is the school’s lifestyle statement, was revised, it made possible for the students to dance on campus.
Last weekend, a swing band called the “Rhythm Rockets” took over the stage and more than 1,000 Wheaton students danced all night.
The school vice president Dr. Sam Shellhamer says the time had come to rewrite the Covenant. "The new statement is put into a context that's more biblically based, scripture is more directly applied -- and we wanted to come up with a Community Covenant that more reflected biblical standards," he says. "There's nothing in the Bible that prohibits dancing."
The revised statement reads as follows:
The Wheaton College community also encourages responsible freedom in matters of entertainment, including the places where members of the College community may seek it, such as television, movies, video, theater, concerts, dances and the Internet. The College assumes its members will be guided in their entertainment choices by the godly wisdom of Philippians 4:8: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."
On-campus dances will take place only with official College sponsorship. All members of the Wheaton College community will take care to avoid any entertainment or behavior, on or off campus, which may be immodest, sinfully erotic, or harmfully violent (Eph. 4:1-2, 17-24; I Tim. 5:2; Gal. 5:22-23). [excerpted from Wheaton College "Community Covenant"]
Dr. Shellhamer, who took his wife to the dance, says he appreciates all the media attention the school has received because, as he puts it, "people want to understand what our community is all about."
Shellhamer says those rewriting the statement asked themselves questions such as: What does such a community look like? -- and, How can we create an environment that fosters, for college students, growth and maturation as a believer in Christ in a way that is positive, wholesome, and truly reflective of what scripture sets forth to us?
Wheaton College has given the chance to partake in expansion of Christian culture. Through dance many students will promote Christ-centered community.
"The motivation to change it was not singularly [the issue of] dance," Shellhamer says. "The real focus was primarily on our Community Covenant statement of aspiring to be a Christ-centered community."