(Created before June 8, 2012)
Humour me and read this article, or don't.
The fact that I felt the need to analyze my inclination to find things funny and the morality behind it is kind of funny, but maybe just to me.
Today I was reading an article in the newspaper (it's funny how many of my articles are inspired by something I read or watched in the news) and there was a page featuring twitter tweets of people trying to be funny. However, their jokes were connected with something incredibly sick and devastating that happened. Many people were outraged that they would joke about something so serious. If I was honest, I would have to admit I chuckled out loud after reading a few of the jokes made. At the same time, I realize that the proper response was not humour.
The ability to laugh is one of my personality flaws, as well as one of my strengths. But when is humour right? Is it ever right?
Why wouldn't it be right? I heard a story of a renown preacher that would go months at a time in deep depression. "There's no way I could be that depressed," I thought to myself. But I can understand why he was.
When you look at the (really) big picture, you will see that the only thing that matters in this world is the human soul and its destination. The more one is acquainted with the truth of Hell, the more one grieves those who end up there. It's a natural response, it should be the natural response.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 - It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless.
However, I don't believe God designed us to be constantly sombre and downtrodden.
Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
I realize that my life has been thus far incredibly sheltered from much of the pain that is ever present in the lives of others; I've been blessed by God, so my article may not be as convincing as someone who has had more suffering. However, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't believe it to be true.
I hear the most prescribed medication in N. America is anti-depressants. I am of the opinion that Christians (for the most part) shouldn't need to rely on these drugs.
"But, Stephen," you protest (you're probably not actually protesting, I just said that for the sake of argument, which is kind of silly since as I'm writing this no one is arguing with me... but anyway, quit distracting me!), "Stephen they're just being biblical. Look, Solomon said it in Ecclesiastes "Frustration is better than laughter, a sad face is good for the heart."
This is true, but look at what Solomon is responding to: "for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." Sorrow is the proper response to death, in particular to the death of those of those who aren't going to heaven.
Solomon also says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is a time to weep AND a time to laugh.
"So Solomon contradicts himself, good job using that guy to back you up," you laugh (but if you are really laughing and saying that, that would be kind of weird).
Apart from Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man to walk the earth. The way the book of Ecclesiastes (and Proverbs) was written was generally speaking "common sense, good advice" manual with absolute truths here and there. DON’T take this to mean the whole bible is like this, the bible is a true book that must be read literally, I'm just saying things should be taken in context. In this context, Solomon is saying that there's a time for everything, and the proper response to the reality of death is sorrow. But there is also a time to laugh.
Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time? Suppose you had a father who died and left you with a billion dollars. You would be sad that your father died of course (I hope), but you would also be happy with the income of wealth.
In a sense, this is what happened for all of us. Jesus died for our sins, allowing us all to be able to go to heaven. You don't have to go to Hell! Plus, Jesus didn't stay dead, so while you can mourn the fact that he needed to die for your sins, you can rejoice in the fact that he is alive, and his inheritance is still yours!
I was wondering if my happiness was just a subconscious barrier that I set up in my mind to protect me from the truth that people are dying, and going to Hell. And although I believe laughing can most definitely be a self-defence mechanism of sorts, I don't believe that's the reason for my happy disposition.
Christ died for me. He saved me. He didn't need to: he could have let me, along with everyone else, die, and still be perfectly just. But God saved me. I'm going to heaven, I'm going to be in the presence of my most beautiful Creator for all eternity! I would submit to you that knowing this makes it next to impossible to be deeply depressed for any extended period of time.
Proverbs 2:10 - For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Revelation 21:4 says that in heaven God will wipe every tear from our eyes. I firmly believe that the source for these tears will be seeing those we walked the earth with be condemned to eternal punishment. This verse also goes on to say that there will be no mourning or pain in heaven. Heaven will be a joyous place!
So we as Christians are to be full of joy. A symptom, and I would say, and outcropping of this joy is laughter. When one is full of joy, one can't help but smile, one can't help but laugh.
Any good doctor will tell you that laughing is healthy for you. Laughing isn't wrong. In fact, it's right. Yet, it's possible to laugh for the wrong reasons.
I heard one message about humour in the bible. However, little to none of the examples used to support there being humour in the bible did I find were meant to be humorous in the original context. When Jesus "made fun of" the Pharisees, I don't believe he was really "making fun." Maybe I'll have more to say about humour in the bible at a later date.
I already said laughing is okay, for the right reasons, but what about humour in general?
Ephesians 5:4 - Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Oops, maybe I should have started one verse earlier, to make it even clearer what is meant by "coarse joking."
Ephesians 5:3 - But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Like I said before, humour is one of my personality flaws. I've said my share of "that's what she said," jokes, "gay" jokes, and I've laughed at things I shouldn't have.
What is considered coarse joking?
Today I smelled something so utterly disgusting and stomach wrenching that I gagged. I personally believe that even more deplorable than this foul smelling thing is how God views our sin. If God has this response to our sin, then it shouldn't be something we should joke around about.
Sex is something sacred God made to be between a married man and woman, NO exceptions! When we say coarse jokes about sex, not only are we taking something out of marriage which should be left alone, but we are also mocking something God has made sacred.
I find that humans have the proclivity to make the most jokes about the things that are most sacred, most holy. For example, Jesus is the single most parodied man in the entire world, even though he was the most holy man to ever walk the earth. The human life is also very sacred. We are made in God's image. The story in the newspaper that I mentioned earlier was related to the killing of someone. When people joked in the light of that event, even though the majority of them didn't mean to, they were arguably making light something that should have been considered very sacred.
I'm going to be 100% honest to you, I'm not sure where that leaves us for humour that is safe. Perhaps it's best that I don't point to a particular line between black and white, right and wrong, because then people will tend to get as close to it as possible.
You might notice that earlier when I talked about sex, I said that we shouldn't say "coarse" (and something doesn't need to have foul language to be coarse) jokes about sex. I've heard a number of "clean" jokes that included sex. The reason I say they are clean is that they didn't bring to light anything that was to be left in between spouses, and they didn't demean the sacredness of the act. The jokes basically used our knowledge that the deed in general existed and went no further than that.
I would say humour is allowed as long as we don't take away from the sacredness of something, and if we don't make light something God finds disgusting.
Here's a couple things that, according to my opinion, are safe to joke around about:
- The folly of humans. This isn't sacred; foolishness isn't a trait of God or to be revered. Although I don't believe it's okay to insult people (because, like I said before, humans are made in the image of God, and are sacred because of it), I don't see anything wrong with finding humour in the quirkiness of humans. One example of this kind of humour is laughing when someone goes fishing but forgets a fishing rod. However, we shouldn't make fun when the foolishness in question is an actual sin, because it's absolutely abhorrent to disobey the most Holy God. (Addition August 23, 2012: Reading Proverbs 1:26 shows Wisdom personified laughing when the fools that rejected Wisdom ended up in destruction. I’m not sure why she laughs instead of shaking her head in sorrow, but this does imply that there are some things worth laughing at, if only to serve as a warning to those that follow. Reading the verse in context shows that the laughing only came after Wisdom attempted to reach out to the fools)
- Language in general. This is one of my favourites. Puns and twisting the meanings of words (cleanly) are some of my favourite things to do.
But since this is a topic that isn't talked about specifically a whole lot in the bible, there's a good chance I'm off the mark when it comes to humour. I'm obviously interested in any (well maybe not any, I know you're wanting to twist my words!) input of any kind that you may have.