Is It Biblical to Be Funny?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
TEN WAYS HUMOR IS HELPFUL
Humor is incredibly helpful to the gospel, in general, and to my ministry, in particular. Historically, humor has been a great gospel weapon. One of my heroes, the renowned Reformed Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said:
I do not know why ridicule is to be given up to Satan as a weapon to be used against us, and not to be employed by us as a weapon against him. I will venture to affirm that the Reformation owed almost as much to the sense of the ridiculous in human nature as to anything else, and that those humorous squibs and caricatures, that were issued by the friends of Luther, did more to open the eyes of Germany to the abominations of the priesthood than the more solid and ponderous arguments against Romanism . . . “It [humor] is a dangerous weapon,” it will be said, “and many men will cut their fingers with it.” Well, that is their own look-out; but I do not know why we should be so particular about their cutting their fingers if they can, at the same time, cut the throat of sin, and do serious damage to the great adversary of souls.20
After pondering the benefits of humor for the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have uncovered ten reasons why I believe it is beneficial.
1) Jesus Christ laughed, and Christians are supposed to be like Jesus and thus laugh. Trueblood wrote:
The widespread failure to recognize and to appreciate the humor of Christ is one of the most amazing aspects of the era named for Him. Anyone who reads the Synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] with a relative freedom from presuppositions might be expected to see that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh, but our capacity to miss this aspect of His life is phenomenal.21
2) Religion is the great enemy of the gospel because it seeks to replace the gifted righteousness of Jesus Christ with some other human work. Therefore, poking fun at the silliness of religious people and their sources of sinful selfrighteousness serves both them and others who are prone to follow in their example. Such humor is arresting and difficult to ignore.
3) Too many people take themselves too seriously and God too lightly. Subsequently, like those who rebuked Jesus for not washing his hands but had no problem murdering him, and the homosexual pastors who are more offended by rock worship music in church than their sodomy, the far too serious among us need to be made fun of as a prophetic gift of being awakened from slumber.
4) Nearly everyone makes fun of other people, though not often in public as preachers do. Instead, they post anonymously on blogs and Web sites, send nasty anonymous letters to their church, and gossip behind people’s backs so that they can continue to present a holy face in public. Yet, by suffering the blows of sharp comedic criticism, those who make fun of others are often tenderized, becoming more compassionate toward people they would otherwise speak ill to or of.
5) Some things are a joke, and to treat them seriously would be a sin, but turning them into a joke keeps them from being legitimized. For example, anyone who takes seriously a religion with its roots in Utah (Mormonism) or Pittsburgh (Jehovah’s Witness) is doing a disservice and wasting a lot of comedic material. Likewise, anyone who thinks the earth created itself, fornicating single people who think that God sees their hearts but not their pants and thereby blesses them, and every pothead who knows only two verses (that every seed-bearing plant the Lord God gave is good and, of course, thou shall not judge) are better served by a punch line than a syllogism.
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