The high schoolers formed a tight circle in the corner of the dance floor. One of the nearby chaperones tried to see what was going on in the middle, but they kept obstructing her view. She finally pushed her way through and discovered couples, in the middle, having sex. As in sexual intercourse. But hey! They were at least using condoms, so that makes it OK, right?
Welcome to prom.
Now, I understand not every prom is like that, but throughout the years, prom night has developed this reputation for being a night of reckless escapades and expensive ones at that. What starts as a ‘formal’ school-sponsored dance can morph rather quickly into a night of underage drinking, drug use, and orgies. An unsuspecting young woman may find herself in compromising situations. The star of the football team might wrap his car around a tree.
But, again, not every prom is like that. What if yours is? What if yours could be? How do we, as Christians, navigate this?
Well, the obvious first answer would be not to go to prom at all. I actually never went to my high school prom or homecoming. It is certainly not a popular opinion, but if you needed some reasons, consider this:
1. It’s expensive.
There’s the dress, the flowers, the nails, the hair, the accessories, the limo (seriously, who does this), the tickets to the dance. All of it adds up, for what purpose? If you are someone who wants to be mindful of their money, this seems like a waste.
2. The ‘dancing.’
I never actually went to prom and this is precisely the reason why. Let me say from the start, I do not have a problem with dance. I am not going to debate whether or not Christians should dance. I was raised that they should not at all, because dancing was too sexual.
As an adult, I enjoy, going down to a local ballroom to swing dance. I am horrible at it, but it is an art, it is beautiful, and it is fun. I appreciate ballroom dancing, ballet, and Riverdance just sends chills down my spine. That is the art of dance. The bumping, grinding, pulsating, convulsion that happens in most club dance settings is not dance. And do not even get me started on twerking.
3. The temptation.
I have shared throughout this blog how important it is for us to avoid temptation. The fact of the matter is prom night is no longer going to the dance and then going out for burgers. It is a night when curfews are waived, condoms are stocked, and older siblings supply the booze. Again, it is not like that everywhere, but if it is like that where you are, do you want to/will you be able to stand in the face of that temptation?
I would honestly encourage you to think about your choice to attend prom. If you still choose to go, let me make these suggestions.
Be clear on your boundaries.
Whether you think a certain temptation will be there or not, you need to know what you stand for before you even get there. What if you find your classmates having sex in the middle of the dance floor? Is that enough to make you leave or will you stay around and pretend it is not happening? When everyone starts making out, what are you going to do?
What if your friend hands you a beer? What if your date gets drunk and starts to proposition you, or even worse, what if he climbs into the car to drive you home? Where are your boundaries? Make sure your date is aware of these.
Have an ‘escape’ plan.
Be sure you have your phone, fully charged, a little extra cash or a metro/bus card. Have someone agree to text you throughout the night or even call in just to make sure you are OK. Let your parents or someone responsible know what your plans are and where you will be throughout the night. If those plans change, be sure to update this information.
This is also a great tip for any time you are out alone with a man. I have done this for some of my first dates. I let people know where we were going to be, what the plan was, and even gave them my date’s phone number. I made sure I took extra cash and my metro card in case I needed to get out of there quickly, and I had someone check in on me throughout the night. It was just a simple, “Everything OK?” text. Make sure it is someone who can come and get you if needed.
No House After Parties
House after parties involve private space and access to all sorts of things: drugs, alcohol, the hot tub… you get where I am going with this. If a group of you prom-goers want to go to the local fast food joint all snazzed up before going home, that is one thing. If the prom king and queen invite everyone to an after party at Susie’s house, your red flags need to be up! Again, stick with your boundaries. There are other ways to keep the party going that do not involve dark rooms and skinny dipping.
Keep a Curfew
Usually, you have to be home by 9, but Mom and Dad are willing to make an exception this time. After all, the dance starts at 8, so they want to make sure you can enjoy yourself. Instead of taking that as a free ride to be out until 5 the next morning, sit down with your parents and discuss an alternative curfew. This is a very mature accountability measure for you. Agree on a new curfew and stick to that. It will be helpful as you go through the night. “Sorry, I need to be home by 11” may not look cool to all of your friends, but it can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
If you are really into prom for the memories, then why not make them with people, instead of one guy that many of you will not remember ten years from now? Decide to go to prom with a group of friends and do your own thing that night. Everyone pitch in to rent a limo (if that is your thing), and arrive in style. Meet up earlier in the day and take care of each other’s hair instead of going to a stylist. Sit together at dinner and hang out together throughout the night. Go out together afterwards. There is strength and protection (and more fun!) in numbers.
If you choose to go to prom, be sure to stay safe, and pure. Remember who you are and Who you represent. Prom night is not a ‘free’ night; it can have lasting and devastating consequences if you are not careful. Please be careful.1