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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

There are limits.

Laughter isn't always the best medicine. Typically a humorous thought, memory, or idea can shove difficulties to the margins, making them subtexts to the moment. Like it or not, however, humor is distasteful in some occasions, magnifying the darkness rather than enlightening it. There's a subtle line of acceptability that makes even the most well-thought jests offensive and derogatory. And, that boundary has become feint, almost undetectable in our world of anything goes. Truth is, there are probably 328,000,000 definitions of what is unsuitable humor and what is not in the US of A. That's because our standards have been adjusted downward over the last few decades. What was profane in my childhood rarely earns a flinch these days. The mean streets have invaded the parlors and sanctuaries today. Trash-mouth is more the deal and obscenity the most laughable. Yuk! Yuk!

The clear admonition of Scripture should define, at the least, a Christian worldview of language and humor. It's true, many of the brethren have gotten edgy in their preaching and teaching, variance in musical selections, and use of drama in worship. These adjustments are widely accepted as means to reach the millennial cohort with the Gospel. Still, we cannot overlook the clear instruction of Scripture about communicating with others. There are many Bible verses about the words we speak and the humor we use. Let me reference one at this point---

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but

instead let there be thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5: 4, ESV

The context of Paul's writing in that verse is clearly "among the saints", that is, within the Christian community. Verses before and after this reference point, however, give reference to broader application, specifically "the sons of disobedience" and becoming "partners" with them. Scripture sets a high standard for the believing community. So, filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking are are off limits. Most translators view those terms as applying to sexual innuendo, vile cursing, and joking that is "crude", below the virtue of Christ, our example.

The cultural sense of profanity is even more difficult to define. Many people in the land of the free and home of the brave use their own versions of right and wrong in the humor and language departments. There once was a time when certain four letter words wouldn't be used in a public forum, or language that took the Lord's name in vain. Jokes and memes that pose negative thoughts about race, gender, lifestyle, financial or social status, education, and many of personal distinctions are thought to be profane in culture today. They are excused, however, by our individualistic approach to right and wrong.

The anonymity of social media has created editorial license in our population. Face it, 1.69 billion FaceBook users have made us pretty much editors of our own space. And, that's the deal for me, my personal responsibility to monitor posts and Tweets on my feed. Friends can post whatever is permissible in their space. I can delete or hide the ones that offend me or perhaps others in my friend list, like children.

Religion used to be an off-limits category. But, no longer. Today, people of Christian faith are a favorite target of the many pundits and joke-sters. In my mind this bigotry runs afoul of everything American. I am reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples. We learned it as children---the Golden Rule---

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up

the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7: 12, ESV

So, let's laugh and value humor as a gift from God. But, remember, there are limits, And, let us value that too.

Humor Pill for the Day

Medical professions advise that we wear

our masks at home all the time, not so much

as a guard against Covid-19, but to keep us

from eating all the time.|&mediapopup=6028056

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