It Takes Three to Tango


I was terrified of ballroom dancing in Junior High School, but in College I embraced a Folk Dancing class--which did include the Tango as an option. But the skill and practice necessary to be good at ordinary dancing eluded me. I was scared of girls also! Yet the fact that God created two sexes, not one or three, has interested me for years. As a single man, never married, the polarity of the universe presupposes, I believe, that we become willing to know God as a whole Person in spite of imposed cultural overlays down through the centuries. We really ought not to take the word of others on this as the last word, but know Jesus personally in life every day. This in spite of ourselves.

Fifty percent of life is about a woman's point of view, but we men tend to balk at that. In dealing God we encounter an amazing Being who is Himself Love. We are made in the image of God. Our relationships with people presuppose that we know ourselves to some degree and are aware of the great commandment explained by Jesus,

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Marriage is so common in the world today, and has been since the beginning of our race, that the subject is much too big to analyze. Each of us has gained impressions about marrying, or living together, from our parents and grandparents. Their influence has been positive in some cases, but not always. Provided we are not orphans or we did now grow up in a toxic environment, we may have good examples to follow. Negative relationships with the same sex or with the opposite sex are so prevalent today many give up on any and all relationships and join a monastery or a nunnery. Loneliness often drives people into the wrong arms. Then too, some of us have great respect for our parents. We just don't want to be like them when we grow up.

Among Millennials, peer influence carries much greater weight than our parents, than the older generation, or than "the church." A huge disconnect in American society has come about in the past 50 years or so. Millennials may treat their elders politely and respectively but they are all too often disconnected relationship-wise.

I know too many Christians who can tell you about their first encounter with Jesus "back when," or about the wonderful things God did for them 'when they first believed." They are usually great people! Moral, well-behaved, and church-regulars in many cases. These friends are "the best" because they have integrity and have taken responsibility for their lives and their families and their jobs, and their friends. But Jesus does not seem to have done anything much for them lately? Not much beyond the initial changes when they were "born again," or joined a church. Life-styles like these are a turn-off for many kids. But for so many, the fire has gone in their relationship with Jesus.

The status quo today is not good! Not continuing to grow in the personal knowledge and fellowship of Jesus usually has to do with some compromise the Flesh, the World, or the Devil, sad to say. Jesus came that we "might have life and have it more abundantly." He wishes to set us free from religion and cultural ghettos, from country-club Christianity, and from cliques, where "in-group solidarity promotes out-group hostility."

But God!

God brought the entire universe into existence ex nihilo, out of nothing! Subsequently he built in lots of order and harmony. Even nature is filled with hidden order as seen in fractals.

The world we live in today is damaged badly, some say beyond repair. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is how Physics sees the increasing disorder over time, tending towards disorder and chaos, and the growing unavailability of energy for powering everything. God is however mightily at work in mankind. He is updating the world of nature as well! The Bible describes the entire created order as now groaning in birth pangs which will bring out in time a true "new world order."

There is such a thing as social order! We have culture everywhere--culture unique to every nation and ethnic group. One aspect of civilization is music, art, literature, and dancing. The real God is a Person--Three Persons in fact. He is running the universe today as He always has been. God does not need our help, but amazingly He wishes us to be partners, friends and fellow-travelers with Him! We are not spectators in some Cosmic Grandstand. Christianity is not a spectator sport. Of course, God is Perfect Gentleman, polite and fun to hang out with, as long as we know something about Him. Flying by the seat of the pants, by instinct, is not recommended unless you don't really know the Bible. Jesus very much wants to meet as beloved children here and now. This aspect of our Lord's nature is known as His Imminence as contrasted with His Transcendence. Both aspects of God's nature are true--experience by itself is not enough to separate the sheep from the goats.

In the Bible, the Redeemer is depicted as singing! The Jewish people today feature enthusiastic singing and dancing at weddings and in Shabbat gatherings. These things depict the coming Kingdom of God among men on earth!

Dancing has long been a mode of expression in every culture down through history. Square dancing and folk dancing were favorites of mine back in my youth. Good dancing requires agility and practice regardless and most forms of the Dance require one or more synergistic partners. The Tango is but one form of dancing of course! But this mode of human expression displays, I believe, a Yin/Yang harmony in life which suggests hidden order everywhere in the creation.

That's why is Takes Three to Tango! There are endless possibilities in life for the single (Jesus is still single by the way), or the engaged or the married. Wholeness in life--God's goal for everyone is often expressed by a good marriage and a supporting community! But dancing is for everyone!

I have never seen two men, or two women, or a father and son, or a mother and daughter--dance the Tango. I suspect each partner needs both skill and practice. It is a dance for a man and a woman. Their dynamic interaction hints to me of a hidden harmony in the creation itself. Years ago I saw this same synergy in the Song of Solomon. When I was first introduced to the religious traditions of the East, I was impressed by the polarity their sages found in nature, for example in the I-Ching or the Wisdom of the Tao. There is no need for Westeners to shun this alternate way of seeing reality. The Bible is set, afterall, in an Oriental not an Occidental setting. Fifty percent of life can only be understood and appreciated from the point of view of the opposite sex. But God is greater than all and always ready to meet us where we are.

In conclusion, watching skilled dancers dancing the Tango is inspiring to me. I see a Third Party at work assuring a "reconciling of opposites through a middle way". I believe the Silent Partner is Jesus. Key features of the Tango are one man and one woman in leader/follower roles.

Jesus is the Lord of the Dance. Sydney Carter wrote in 1963:

I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus.

Whether Jesus ever leaped in Galilee to the rhythm of a pipe or drum I do not know. We are told that David danced (and as an act of worship too), so it is not impossible. The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly (in a church, at any rate) does not mean that Jesus did.

The Shakers didn't. This sect flourished in the United States in the nineteenth century, but the first Shakers came from Manchester in England, where they were sometimes called the "Shaking Quakers". They hived off to America in 1774, under the leadership of Mother Anne. They established celibate communities - men at one end, women at the other; though they met for work and worship. Dancing, for them, was a spiritual activity. They also made furniture of a functional, lyrical simplicity. Even the cloaks and bonnets that the women wore were distinctly stylish, in a sober and forbidding way.

Their hymns were odd, but sometimes of great beauty: from one of these (Simple Gifts) I adapted this melody. I could have written another for the words of 'Lord of the Dance' (some people have), but this was so appropriate that it seemed a waste of time to do so. Also, I wanted to salute the Shakers.

Sometimes, for a change I sing the whole song in the present tense. 'I dance in the morning when the world is begun...'. It's worth a try.

Jesus desires to know you as an individual, one-one-one, as your friend and Savior and Lord. But, "You shall have no other gods before me." Jesus is our Champion, our Advocate, our High Priest and Friend--in every relationship in life--provided we permit it! Jesus usually works silently and behind the scenes, with utmost concern for our fragility, our history and the vast potential encoded in us when we were created. It's OK that we start out weak, helpless, broken, decrepit, full of shame.

"A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not put out." (Isaiah 42)

Listen to "The Lord of the Dance
Watch "Amazing Tango"

Email Lambert Dolphin

Made in the Image of God
|Yin, Yang, the Tao and Wholeness
elationships in Christ: Song of Solomon
Intimacy with God
Jesus the Breaker
The Exchanged Life
The Great Harlot

January 1, 2019