Things I Shouldn’t Joke About
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
I’ve seen other people pretend to be intoxicated, attempting to be humorous, and for them it can be funny. For me however, even though I’ve been sober for seven years, it’s too soon. Since addiction has been a life struggle for me, if I tried to be funny by pretending to be under the influence of chemicals, it just would not be appreciated. It’s simply not amusing, because for me, it hits too close to home. Addiction has personally been an all-too-real problem. Being flippant about it would be insensitive to the hurt I’ve caused and joking about it would be seen as an attempt to normalize my self-destructive nature.
This seems to be the tone of Paul’s warning in today’s passage. In it, he had just commanded that as followers of Christ, we are to abandon all sexual immorality. He said that while engaging in sexually sinful behaviors or even thoughts, we cannot simultaneously be filled with the life God intends for us. In the midst of this warning, he added that we shouldn’t even joke about such things. Why? Dirty jokes are sometimes funny. Why shouldn’t we be able to tell them and laugh at them?
This is, I think, similar to my situation with joking about being intoxicated. If we’ve struggled with pornography, I doubt that our spouses would find it funny for us to make jokes about going to a strip club. If we’ve been unfaithful, I doubt that many people would find it humorous for us to jest about engaging in an adulterous relationship. Sexually immoral behaviors distract us from following God and, according to Paul, making jokes about them does the same. When we engage in filth, particularly when it’s humorous, we normalize it to ourselves and to those around us. If it’s a sin, we shouldn’t laugh about it, even though it seems funny to us.
Paul said that as Christians, there is a standard for which we are to be known. Sexual immorality must not even be named among you (Ephesians 5:3). We’re all known for something. How do others see us? Do they know us as people whose lives, deeds, and speech indicate that they follow God? Or do they know us as people who claim to follow God, but still engage in the same behaviors that everyone else does? As followers of Christ, our actions and our words should point others to him, not to our appetite for self-destructive behavior.