Anyone who has spent much time around me knows that I enjoy humor. There is much comedic joy to be found in life and I do enjoy finding and taking note of it, whether it be silently or aloud. However, Christians are often portrayed as a bunch of old sad sacks who believe that anything more than a smile is cause for reprimand; and to tell jokes and be entertained by such things is slanderous behavior. Such observations are, by no means, true.
You see, the disconnect often comes with the lack of understanding of what “humor” really is. “Humor” is defined as “the quality or content of something such as a story, performance, or joke that elicits amusement and laughter; the ability to see that something is funny, or the enjoyment of things that are funny.” Thus, humor is simply the finding of amusement in something and gaining enjoyment from it. There is nothing inherently wrong with humor; for many people it is, and should be, a part of everyday life.
Nevertheless, there should be a difference between the humor that Christians find and the humor that the world accepts. In our world today, humor is generally presented as being found in sex, vulgarity, and irreverent behavior. Most “humor” in today’s society is fraught with blaspheming God, taking his name in vain, making light out of sin and wickedness, and belittling someone else so that the people hearing feel better about themselves. Such is not the standard of humor that Christians should accept or promote.
Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV). Did you notice that Paul did not put a modifier on that statement? He did not say to let your speech be gracious when around Christians, or that it should be seasoned with salt when in times of serious conversation. Do you know why that statement was made? Paul is writing in context of opening doors for teaching the Gospel. He precedes that verse with the statement, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Col. 4:5). How could a Christian teach someone about Christ and serving him on the heels of a profanity-laced joke; or a story of promiscuous exploits that violates multiple aspects of Scripture; or the depiction of God doing or saying things that should never be attributed to his high and holy name?
Paul admonished that we should think on “whatsoever things are pure” (Phi. 4:8). The word “pure” means “clean, without fault, chaste, modest.” None of those descriptions fit the overwhelming majority of what passes for humor in today’s society.
It is for the above reasons that I cringe when I hear Christians speak of the enjoyment they receive in watching Family Guy or The Simpsons when they are full of vulgarity and objectionable humor. It is why I wonder how Christians can say there is nothing wrong with such shows as Saturday Night Live, when they obviously have no problem with blaspheming God and the actions of Jesus. It is why I get so frustrated when almost every animated movie that comes out has to be rated PG for “rude or crude humor.”
I am not against laughter, fun, or light-heartedness. What I am against is sin being purported as “harmless entertainment,” and the name and principles of God being dragged through the mud as though they were just as meaningless as the rest of the things about which people laugh.
Our pleasure and joy should never come with the demeaning of God or the despising of our morals and virtues. There is plenty about which to find joy and humor in life without cursing God, hurting other people, and promoting sinful actions. Let our hearts be filled with the joy, happiness, and pleasure that life can bring; but let it never be with disregard for God and our place in his service.