"God really must have a sense of humor." We've all heard this said, usually when something ironic or surprising happens in people's circumstances. It's like the spiritual version of "Ain't that a kick in the head?" I know it's just something people say, but this little platitude has always seemed a little unsettling to me--it's almost like it implies that God likes to play tricks on us as His version of humor. I hope not. We'd all better watch our backs if that's the case. I have often wondered, though, what God's sense of humor actually is like. Yes, I believe God has a sense of humor (that doesn't only involve pranking us). I can't imagine that any gift that brings humans so much pleasure couldn't have started with God. But I also wonder what God thinks of our humor sometimes. By "sometimes" I mean when it's not overtly holy and clean, like a popsicle stick joke. In this age when anything goes, I'm asking where, as Christians, our humor boundary lines should be drawn, especially humor that pertains to spirituality.
The main reason I'm asking these questions is a Facebook debate I played a very small (but evidently very controversial) role in recently. A Christian friend on Facebook posted an image comparing Christianity to atheism. The point, apparently, was to use an ironic, outrageous form of "humor" to show how much faith both belief systems require. Atheism was described as the belief that things happen for no reason with no cause and the universe came out of nowhere. Christianity was described as believing in a "cosmic Jewish zombie" one must "telepathically" accept in order to be saved because "a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree." Of the thirty-some comments, mine was the only one that took issue with a Christian putting such a comparison on display. My citing of Romans 14:16 ("Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil") was condemned as un-contextual and my offense dismissed as "faux."
So I'm going to use my own blog to do a little ranting and raving. Feel free to disagree with me. I'm not looking for a fight. I'm looking for truth (spoken in love…please be merciful!)
When did Christians become comfortable with humor that mocks or derides our faith--or even our Savior? When did humor become a value that trumps reverence, even for followers of Christ? It seems to me that our culture has fed us the lie that if it's funny, it's okay--and we've bought it hook, line, and sinker. I'm not talking about poking fun at our own silliness as Christians. Blogs like "Stuff Christians Like" can shine a needed spotlight on the ways Christian culture sometimes has nothing to do with Christ. I'm talking about treating our faith, on which we base our lives, with derision, or mocking our God, who paid the price for our souls with His own blood. There is a line between acute insight and mere ridicule.
So which is the higher value, holiness or humor? I don't believe we have to choose with exclusivity. I'm all for humor, and not just the creepy Veggie Tales/church stand-up comedian humor universe (in fact, I think I'll pass, thanks). But when these two heavyweights meet in a dark alley, which do we let win the fight?
I think my humor rule of thumb is two-fold: 1. If that Little Voice in my soul gives me any pause, it's probably off limits, and 2. It's a question of character. I am not okay with poking fun at the character of my faith, my church, or my God.
So with that off my chest….the Pope and Billy Graham arrive at the Pearly Gates…