• In an email discussion recently the topic came up about a pastor who cracked a joke at a conference. The joke was about Episcopalians and homosexual relationships.
• I caught a few minutes of Obama on tv the other night cracking jokes about the financial nightmare many American people are dealing with.
• I watched a scene in a movie where a man said something funny but in a vulgar way, which ruined the comedic quality of it.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a rather goofy sense of humor. Some might even call it "dark humor", but I'm not sure I'd go that far in my sanctified state. Unsaved, it was a different story but a lot has changed since the Lord got hold of me 14 years ago.
The examples above got me to thinking. This can be a dangerous thing sometimes because the more I think about such things the less answers I come up with. In all of those examples above my immediate thought is "but it's not funny, so why laugh?" The easiest answer is "sin". We laugh at sinful things (or mockingly laugh at serious things) because we're sinful people. That's the easiest answer but it defintely gets more complicated the more you unravel it.
In the first example, there is nothing at all humorous about a homosexual relationship, in a Christ-centered context. Not once in Scripture will anyone ever find a joke or a light hearted referenct to this kind of lifestyle. Yet, a pastor cracks a joke about it at a conference and other men laugh and find it funny. Does God find it funny? The first person to come up with Biblical support for laughing at homosexual jokes should post that here in the comments and I'll eat my shoe, and video myself doing it. Okay? (If you're going to try this because you're demented and want to see someone eat a shoe, please be advised that twisting Scripture is generally frowned upon.)
In the second example, there is likewise nothing at all funny about people suffering financial loss or hardship. Joe American works hard to support his family and be a good citizen and suddenly he's out of a job, losing his house, maybe his car too and has no where to go. (I realize this may be extreme but it happens all the time). This is funny? Is Joe American laughing? Is Mrs. American giggling as she tucks the kids in the for the night sleeping in the family vehicle or the local homeless shelter, or someone's couch? Who's laughing when they end up divorced (finances are a HUGE factor in divorce) and the kids are learning to adapt to all that? Where are the jokes when Daddy has to head off to the food bank again because the kids are hungry? Is Joe's dear wife laughing when she goes to bed hungry again because there was just enough food that night for the kids, so she went without again? No, there is nothing at all funny about financial hardship. While a believer may suffer through this (and many of us do, for years) and there may be a peace and an assurance that God will provide all our needs (and He does because He's everfaithful), I can say without question, it's just not funny. In fact, it can be rather heartbreaking and devastating for entire families. Frankly, I'd like to see how funny Obama thinks it would be if he were dependant on the system for a while, through no fault of his own. Or worse, in a state of being over the income limit for assistance but still over his head with bills - and yet still not making enough to care for his family. I bet he wouldn't be giggling anymore. (And this IS the reality of countless American families, every single day).
In the third example, I just got mad. I love to laugh, and I love clever humor. I loathe it when someone ruins it with vulgarity or profanity. It takes more thought to be funny without being a pig-mouth, and the pig-mouths of the world just get on my very last nerve.
So the more I thought about why we laugh at sinful things, or why we laugh at things that in reality just aren't even funny at all, the more convicted I became to really guard against this myself because I certainly have been guilty of it myself. Ouch, that really stings.
The more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with as to why we do it in the first place. Rather than looking at the first two examples above with a "there but for the grace of God go I" and a thankful heart, we process scenarios like that with more of an arrogant attitude that says "ha, I'm not like THAT!" In the third example of laughing at vulgarity, I'm honestly not at all sure why that's something that people laugh at. It isn't funny, but folks will laugh at it every time. Maybe it's somewhat along the lines of knowing that it's risque, impolite and off color, and that someone is "getting away with it" so that makes people laugh. I'm not really sure.
What I do know for certain, is that this is an area where the Holy Spirit convicts me more and more all the time. I might say something that I think is funny, but then be immediately convicted that it wasn't nearly as funny as it was just snarky and snippy. Those are nice words for sinful and malicious. I don't intend for it to come out that way but it sure does, sometimes. I only wish I were convicted more often before the comment comes out, than after. Sometimes that does happen, but I just wish it happened more. I don't want to laugh at sinful things and I certainly don't want to be a Mrs. Smart Mouth.