There is a famous quote that says, “Laughter is the best medicine.” There is a lot of truth in that quote. Have you ever had a terrible day where you felt depressed, tired, in a bad mood–yet, one really funny thing totally changed your mood?
There is humor everywhere we look. If you turn on the television, you will find sitcoms, late night program, and more filled with jokes, humor, and parodies. But this brings up an interesting question: Are jokes a sin? Is it a sin to tell dirty jokes, riddles, or other such things? Does God have a sense of humor? What does the Bible say about joking?
Are Funny Jokes, Parodies, and other Humor Considered a Sin?
Obviously, not all humor is a sin. But when does a funny joke or parody cross the line? Can it become a sin? Let’s consider these questions.
First, we know that humor isn’t talked about a lot in the Bible. There are a few references below:
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
Ephesians 5: 3-7
The verse above clearly shows that “foolish talk” or “coarse joking” are not to be done by God’s holy people. So what does it mean by “coarse” joking. Notice that it didn’t say “all” joking, but just “coarse” joking. This refers to the “bad” or “obscene” type of jokes that are inappropriate and contain sinful or impure parts. For example: “Your momma is so fat…” type jokes.
In other words, jokes and parodies that harm people, hurt their feelings, insult them, or contain vulgar or sinful ideas or language should be avoided. They do not lead to anything positive. To be honest there are so many other ways people can be funny or tell a funny joke without resorting to this level. Some of the funniest people in this world did it without cursing, or harming others. Instead, they just poked fun at life’s little ironic things.
At the same time, we do see some cases of humor in the Bible. When Abraham’s wife Sarah was told she would have a child in ripe old age, she immediately laughed at this. We have no indication that this displeased God (although she did deny that she laughed, but God knew otherwise).
Another reference to mocking or poking fun is Elijah. In Kings 18:27, we have Elijah mocking the other’s for believing in a false God:
At noon Elijah started to make fun of them. “Shout louder, since he is a God. Maybe he’s thinking, relieving himself, or traveling! Maybe he’s sleeping, and you have to wake him!”
Jesus often talked down to the religious people of his time for their erroneous beliefs and ideas. Some have said that sometimes Jesus even appeared to be “making fun” or “politely mocking” their errors.
These are just a few instances where humor occurs in the Bible. Again, we do not see anything wrong in these instances, and the Bible certainly never commands us not to laugh or have a good time. I joke all the time with my wife, but I do it in a loving way and she knows it is all in good humor. I also poke fun at my own mistakes and faults.
The truth is, this life can get pretty rough sometimes. If it wasn’t for a good laugh now and then, we would all walk around moping and depressed all the time. Laughter is medicine for the bones! Nevertheless, the Bible does tell us that we can benefit from sorrow more than just foolish laughter, simply because we can grow more during times of sorrow.
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Does God Have a Sense of Humor?
Of course, we can’t fully know everything about God’s nature. But we can assume that it is very likely God does have a sense of humor. After all, we have a sense of humor, and it was God that created us in His image. That means we have a little bit of God in our design. So it is quite possible that God does have a sense of humor.
Conclusion: What Does the Bible Say About Humor, Funny Jokes, etc.
Joking around, acting silly or funny, poling fun, or doing other humorous things isn’t a sin as long as it is within an acceptable context. If it isn’t harming anyone, doesn’t include vulgarity or sin, and isn’t being done in excess–then jokes and humor are perfectly fine, in fact, you might even say necessary at times!
But the Bible does warn us against following humor or jokes in a way that is harmful, sinful, or otherwise inappropriate. We can joke, we can laugh. God created us to enjoy life. But it shouldn’t be done in a way that invites sin, or hurts other people’s feelings.
Did you know that death is no joke? One day you’re going to die. The Bible says all men have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. The Bible also teaches that all men will die once, and after that, face judgment. Will you be ready to meet Jesus Christ as judge, or as savior? You can receive salvation by confessing your sins to God, asking for His forgiveness, and placing your total faith in His son Jesus Christ.