All Joking Aside

Titus 2:6 –“Young men likewise exhort to be soberminded.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to come to a fresh understanding of that verse. And my dad was happy to oblige.

Young people–oh, and old people–like to have fun. For me that means humor. But the fact that our humor often crosses the line into inappropriate territory leads us to ask how we can be “sober minded” and still enjoy a little laughter.

I think most of us recognize that certain subjects are off limits. Racist humor and innuendo, among other things, ought to be avoided.

But what I’m talking about is the way we joke, the general tenor of our humor. C.S. Lewis talks about four types of laughter: Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy (See chapter 11 of The Screwtape Letters). Of course, the whole discussion is worth reading, but particularly convicting (to me) is his explanation of flippancy:

Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it….It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.

Being a Christian is serious business. Seriously enjoyable, but serious just the same. So let’s enjoy humor without cheapening the gospel, the Bible, and the God who made the universe. Let’s be sober minded.

One Response

  1. I believe that in the perfect state of God’s Creation, one can only make good humor out of everything. It is a shame that man disobeyed God and chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are prone to misunderstand and judge each other based on our own opinions. What is fun and innocent to one person can be flippant and offensive to another. Thanks for the great topic on joking. In my own experience, it is hard enough to expect all friends and loved ones to share the same humor as mine, let alone using humor to point strangers to the gospel. – Kevin L

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