“Why So Serious?”: Should Christians Have a Sense of Humor?

People often use the scriptures “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) and others to say that Christians should be able to joke around with each other, but what types of humor are appropriate? Is it okay to still go to comedy clubs or laugh at your favorite episodes of  “Martin”? Where should the line be drawn?

I used to struggle with these questions, because I’ve always been known amongst my friends as the jokester. I believe I was born with a bizarre sense of humor, because I look at life through the eyes of a comedian; meaning, I can find something to laugh about in most situations. Even at a funeral, if someone starts a hymn in the wrong key, the grammar in the obituary is atrocious, or the woman with the greeting cards and letters can’t read, I will bust out laughing. I even laugh at myself when I become angry or frustrated, because I feel like I look ridiculous.  I know, it’s kind of strange, but that’s me. I’m a rare individual, because I don’t take life as seriously as other people. Does it get me through tense and difficult moments? Yes. Is it always beneficial? No.

It’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes, but others might not have your sense of humor. I realize that I like to laugh at what might not be considered the most appropriate things. This realization has allowed me to cut out stand up comedy, because a lot of the jokes can be obscene or vulgar. Not to mention, things that I find funny might be offensive to somebody else and those feelings should be considered. Will I ever stop watching “Martin”? I don’t see this happening in the near future. But seriously, it’s like ripping off a band-aid; you have to do these things slowly and delicately.

Now, concerning sarcasm, I have seen this particular brand of comedy cause more misunderstandings and dissensions than any other brand, mainly, because not everyone can easily detect it. My rule of thumb is if it sounds utterly ridiculous and outside of the person’s character, it’s probably sarcasm. The first joke might be hardest to detect if you don’t really know the person; but , in that case, I’d just ask, “Are you being serious?”. When someone makes a statement that sounds outlandish, it’s always better to ask than to assume they’re not joking. Otherwise, you run the risk of offending the person. Now, do I believe that sarcasm has a place among Christians? Yes and No. I would dare to say that the book of James is pretty sarcastic, but I guess that depends on the perspective of the reader. His form of sarcasm, however, was constructive. Other forms of sarcasm can be destructive, such as making fun of church-isms, imitating non-biblical tongues, and saying things in the guise of prosperity preachers.

My point is this: we must be careful that we aren’t disgracing the Lord or demeaning our brothers and sisters with our humor. Do some people need to lighten up? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean we should put those individuals down or purposely make them uncomfortable. As a certified member of the sarcasm society, I realize that I must be careful not to make jokes around certain people; it comes with the territory. If you can’t be considerate of others in your humor, perhaps you should refrain from joking altogether. And if you find the things that God despises humorous, it might be time to step back and examine your heart.