What you laugh about says a lot about you.
Most of the world is laughing at things they should be crying about . They are inviting you to join them. The Bible teaches that marriage should be honored, and that people shouldn’t defile the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), yet the marriage bed is scorned on the silver screen during countless scenes of fornication that are seen as humorous. Adultery is inane, blasphemy is a gag, and sin is joke, and they want you to start laughing.
To compound the problem, many of us find ourselves confused about the types of things we should be joking about. You know the situation, right? You’re with a group of friends, and someone tells that border line joke, and everyone nervously chuckles and shifts their eyes towards everyone else to make sure it’s OK to laugh. Your conscience is pricked, and you (and everyone else in the group, for that matter) know you shouldn’t be laughing. How should we think about this?
Jesus wants to be Lord over your laughing, and he inspired Ephesians 5 to show us the way. Here are a few things to keep in mind about crude humor, filthy talk, and sexual immorality as you engage in conversations and entertainment:
It’s improper. You were not made to indulge in any type of sexual immorality. Paul tells these people that sexual immorality and impurity, “should not even be named among you, as is proper among saints”. Like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet all day long, indulging in impurity throughout the day doesn’t fit with believers that are indwelt by the Spirit. Why would we let these things have a name among us when these are the very things that Jesus bled for? It’s improper among Jesus’ cleansed bride.
It closes up the kingdom. If you indulge in sexual immorality for the rest of your days, you won’t go to heaven. Paul tells us that you can be sure of it. The raunchy joke on your favorite show may be drained of its humor if you see it as something that is a roadblock to heaven. Yes, Jesus died for all of your sins and every stumbling into impurity, but Jesus also died so that you would be set free from the power of sin (Romans 6), and that you would be delivered from this present evil age (Galatians 1:4). Paul is warning Christians that if they are sexually immoral they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is damned. When we laugh at sexual immorality, we are laughing about things that people are being punished for in hell. Paul tells the Christians that because of sexual immorality and impurity the wrath of God is coming. The picture painted for us by the world around us is opposite. Explicit sexual immorality is not that big of a deal, and it’s easy to be numbed and carried by the current of laxity in regards to this type of humor and joking. This is why we need the truth of Scripture to wake us up to the reality of sin and kick us in the pants to start swimming against the tide. Paul tells us not to be “deceived”. How easy it is so consume the view of the world around us without exposing it for what it is.
You were made for so much more. Finally, crude joking just isn’t that funny. When viewed through the lens of Scripture and brought under Jesus kingship, we begin to see these types of jokes as simply out of place. Filthy talk and crude joking is nothing but a counterfeit joy that will give you the temporary buzz of laughter. What Jesus calls Christians to is something much more durable and long lasting: thanksgiving. You were not made to laugh at sex-scenes in movies and make line-bending jokes; you were made to experience the heart-bursting, pure thrill of thanksgiving. The next time you are tempted to talk filthy or crudely joke, replace those thoughts and words with thankfulness. Your joy will be compounded, your community enriched, and soul refreshed. You were made for so much more.
It would be easy at this point to nuance all of my words with qualifications and exceptions and warnings about being legalistic towards others. There are people who have over-corrected and think that God loves them based on their humor. However, I believe that what I need more than anything is Paul’s straight talk about my mouth rather than definitions about where the line is when it comes to my humor. As we seek to bring even our laughter and humor under Jesus’ rule, let each of us live as those who will give an account for every word – and joke – we speak. There are better things to laugh at, and better gifts to be enjoyed.