Were you ever admonished at a dance or party to “leave room for the Holy Spirit”?
Christianity is about being forgiven of one’s sins and getting into heaven, but it’s also about living your life according to the morals and teachings found in the Bible. And the Bible has quite a few things to say about cozying up too closely to people of of the opposite sex who you aren’t married to!
So at dances and other social functions, if a boy and girl (or man and woman) are dancing or sitting a little “too” close, then you might hear a chaperon or teacher or other responsible adult tell them, “Hey, leave some room for the Holy Spirit!” Sometimes, to drive the point home, couples would have to dance with an inflated balloon between them to remind them to keep some space in there! See sense 2 below for some examples of this term in use.
This term leave room for the Holy Spirit has another commonly used meaning too. Pastors and preachers will remind one another to be willing to alter their lesson plan if it seems like that’s what God wants or the congregation needs. See sense 1 below for examples of people using the term in this way.
leave room for the Holy Spirit v. phr. See various senses.
1. A catchphrase that reminds preachers and teachers to be willing to deviate from previously planned material in a sermon or lesson if God should inspire them to do so.
• 1969 The American Benedictine Rev. XX. 246 : The Cardinal concluded this interview by saying: “We have to leave room for the surprising Holy Spirit. I believe in the surprising Holy Spirit.” 1981 Cowan, Futrell The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola: A Handbook 194 : The director should take a neutral stance toward the retreatant’s decision, leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work with the individual. The director must remain in equilibrium, like a scale, allowing the Spirit to work directly with the person. 1983 New Parish Ministries 97 : [When conducting premarital counseling,] they should present the materials with a very positive attitude, make sure that all the pertinent information is presented clearly, and leave a little room for the Holy Spirit to inform the consciences of the couples. 1984 Zuck The Holy Spirit in Your Teaching 71 : Is Christian education merely a human process, leaving no room for the Holy Spirit? Are Christian teachers left to their own human resources? 1991 Parmisano Testament: Belief in an Age of Unbelief, Faith in an Era of Skepticism 129 : I’m not to force my words on another or think too much of my part in the preaching. I’m to leave room for the Spirit to enter into my words and get between them and so speak to the individual heart beyond them. 1992 Stanley The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life 218 : Read [the Bible] with the original context and audience in mind, but leave room for the Holy Spirit to lift something out of its historical context for the purpose of ministering to your specific needs. 2004 Williamson Preaching the Gospel of John: Proclaiming the Living Word 15 : The task of the preacher or teacher as a good witness is to say what he or she has seen and leave room for the Holy Spirit to say some things in the hearts of hearers. 2004 Pickett Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit 32 : Some churches have become embarrassed by the moving of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of tongues and interpretations. They relegate such “interruptions” to the prayer room on Wednesday nights. Other church programs leave no room for the Holy Spirit to change the agendas that their leaders judiciously control. 2005 Comiskey The Spirit-Filled Small Group 106 : Some small group leaders over-organize the agenda, to the point that at times it appears the Holy Spirit must make a prior appointment in order to be involved! … Effective small group leaders leave room for the Holy Spirit to break in and manifest Himself through the giftings of His people. 2008 Lewerenz The Answer Book for Troubled Times 216 : Though there should be a well-designed curriculum, we need always to leave room for the Holy Spirit to preempt our plan and guide us in His direction. 2008 Ripley Help! I Want My Church to Grow: 31 Myth-Busting Ideas to Make Your Church the Place to Be 49 : I have been questioned when I proposed a need for a high degree of planning of the worship service. The concern expressed again and again is that such planning does not leave room for the Holy Spirit to work on Sabbath morning.
2. An admonition to unmarried couples to refrain from physical intimacy, such as when dancing.
• 1996 McNamee Trophy and New Writings 50 : This was a long way from waltzing and the courteous, self-disciplined care of a calculated movement with ordinance and decorum…. This prompted one young lady to say to her partner, a young Don Juan, “I think you should leave room for the Holy Spirit to breathe.” 2000 Allen Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith vii : I was born in 1965…. I never memorized the Baltimore Catechism, never went to Mass in Latin, never collected indulgences or kept a balloon between me and my dance partner to leave room for the Holy Spirit. 2009 Mount Saint Joseph Academy 9 : Fall mixers started the fun. and Mounties welcomed LaSalle and St. Joseph’s Preparatory School boys to the gymnasium, all under the watchful eyes of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who encouraged students to “leave room for the Holy Spirit.” 2009 Crook Zeus Blinked 121 : I planted a big kiss on her. Not too sloppy, but not a little peck either. Todd pulled us apart. “Alright, alright,” he said, separating us with his arm…. “Yeah, could you two please leave some room for the Holy Spirit?” Mary said. 2010 Meaney Bloodthirsty 87 : Being close to a girl—I mean, literally being within three feet of a girl—was new to me. The motto at St. Luke’s dances was “Leave room for the Holy Spirit.” Our dean and chaperones would tell this to any guy who was dancing too close to a girl. 2010 Acuff Stuff Christians Like 95 : Leaving room for the Holy Spirit when you dance: When in doubt, stay at least one Bible length away.