Saturday, July 2, 2011

That's Not Funny

I don’t know about you, but I love a good joke. It’s a well-known fact that my sense of humor is fairly easy to satisfy—I’ll laugh at the corniest joke you ever heard—but there are a few jokes I’ve been hearing around that I just don’t think are funny.

Dirty jokes. They’re an epidemic. Even in the church, some Christians have just come to accept, laugh at, and even tell sexual jokes. What does the Bible have to say about it? Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5:3-5 to find out.

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Dirty jokes give the world the wrong impression about our faith. Before I get deep into the point, I’ll give you a quick run down of the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote his letter to the Church at Ephesus to tell them two things: the blessings of being in Christ (chapters 1-3), and how to display Christ in one’s life (4-6). This passage in Chapter 5, therefore, is giving us instruction on how to prove that we’re Christians through our actions. According to Paul’s writing, immorality and impurity are not “proper among saints”… but I didn’t have to tell you that, right? The kicker is the second verse in the passage— “filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting… are not fitting”. Filthiness and coarse jesting… sounds like foul humor to me. It just doesn’t fit in with Christian character to laugh at or tell dirty jokes. How is that being an ambassador of Christ?

There are better things we can do with our words. After verse 4 tells us that filthy jokes aren’t fitting for us, it suggests an alternative: “but rather giving of thanks.” We could use our words to tell jokes that could potentially lead others to lust or be a detriment to our faith—but instead, we could thank God for all that He’s given to us. In the same vein, we can use our words to be encouraging to others, to preach the word to non-Christians, to pray for strength in times of trouble. Later in the same chapter, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians to “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (5:15-16). We only have so long on this earth, and we only have so many words to speak. Let’s pick the words that are going to lift people up in their faith, not damage it.

We shouldn’t joke about something so serious. Let’s look at verse 5 again. “For this you know with certainty…” Wait a second. “For” is a connecting word—this thought is directly tied to the one before it. So let’s keep looking: “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” This statement is the “why” to Paul’s previous “what.” We shouldn’t participate in “coarse jesting”… but why? Because the acts we’re joking about send people to hell! A soul being lost to hell for all eternity isn’t something to laugh at. It’s serious and it’s sad.

So, dear ones, I’m going to leave you with a few charges:
-Watch your influences. Whether it’s your friends, the TV shows you watch, or anything else, if it’s telling dirty jokes, stay away from it! The more dirty jokes you understand, the more tempting it will be to find them funny. Keep your mind pure! (Philippians 4:8).
-Make it very clear that you don’t want to hear dirty jokes, especially if you struggle with them. If everyone around you is telling them, ask them to stop. If they don’t, leave. If they’re Christians, call them on it. Be an example.
-Practice the presence of God. I know it’s cliché, but would you tell Jesus that joke? If not, don’t tell it.

We don’t want to look like the world, we don’t want to squander our words, and we certainly don’t want to kid around about eternity. Let’s keep our jokes pure!