A reader asked:
I feel that I have a good sense of humor. I reject vulgar, offensive humor and reject humor involving God. Here is a joke I received from the minister at the church I had been attending:
You have taken my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. And you have taken from me my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcet. You have also taken from me my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze. Lord, I just wanted to let you know that my favorite president is Obama.
I think that joking about God or our interaction with Him is an attempt to bring Him down to our level. I like God being where He is, way high above me in all things. It lends me a sense of security to know that my God is who He is, the almighty God of all creation. I respect your opinion and wonder how you view this alleged joke.
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I think God has a sense of humor because 1) we are made in his image and 2) we read about laughter and humor in His Word.
- Ecclesiastes 3:4 – A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; (NKJV)
- Proverbs 15:13 – A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (NKJV)
- Luke 15:32 – It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” (NKJV)
There’s not enough specific Scripture about humor or merriment to line out a dogmatic doctrine. We take two primary points 1) we are made in God’s image and humor is obviously part of our human nature (but like all things in human nature, can be tainted with sin), and 2) there are no specific statements in Scripture that pits God against humor either in us, or with Himself.
Some would say that a talking donkey is a pretty divine sense of humor. (Numbers 22:28)
However, God’s humor must also align perfectly with His perfect and holy nature. It could never be belittling, cruel, vulgar or have even the slightest speck of human pride or hidden agenda.
The Obama joke implies that God lowers Himself to takes sides in human politics and while we could argue all day which side is right, the truth is, it’s more of a question of which side has MORE WRONG. Humans in any form, conservative or liberal, misuse, abuse and corrupt politics at all levels; some more than others. It’s matter of sinful degrees. That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for “goodness” in politics but to imply God is a Republican or Democrat, or would laugh at wanting Obama dead, is just plain missing the mark on His transcendence and holiness. So no, I don’t find the Obama joke funny or appropriate even though I could hardly be more “anti-Obama” politically speaking. While I disagree with him politically to the core, I keep in mind that he is a husband, father, and a soul in need of the same Savior who took pity on my flawed and hell-bound self.
The joke is not calling for actual violence… let’s not be silly or unreasonable.
It’s making a political point. To invoke God in the joke, I would agree with you, is to take God far too casually. We’ve gone from the days of not even uttering His name unless done so carefully and reverently, to hearing “Oh my god!” a thousand times a day in public (a new cultural habit I’m sickened by). So of course no one blinks when God is used in casual jokes.
This is tantamount to using the Lord’s name in vain because we are using it flippantly, as part of a silly, and some would say “mean” joke. After all, how much laughter do you think you would hear from Conservatives if it were a joke about killing Reagan?
Fear Of God
As always, we should invoke the proper fear of God (divine respect) when contemplating something God might find humorous. I think he would delight right along with us at something funny a child does, or a truly harmless and funny joke. Of course, He always knows the punch line, so His laughter might be more of an enjoyment of our own merriment than His.
In summary, there are two issues here:
First, should we use God’s name in jokes? I think not. God is far too holy, far too majestic, far too transcendent to be part of casual human jokes. That’s not the same as saying God doesn’t have a sense of humor. It is a matter of personal conscience, and as we grow in our spiritual understanding of the true nature of God, it goes without saying that our reverence for his Unequaled Name grows accordingly.
Second, is our sense of humor God-given and God-approved? When wholesome and loving, yes, without question. Our Lord Jesus certainly loved children and while inappropriate to invoke the name of Jesus Christ in joke for the same reasons I would not use God’s Almighty Name, don’t you think our Savior couldn’t help but get a laugh out of something like this:
A Daddy was busy packing his bags for a business trip. His little daughter, wanting to get his attention, kept pointing her finger at him and saying “Daddy! Daddy!”.
Hurriedly, wanting to pay attention to her but needing to get out the door, the Daddy grabbed her little hand, stuck her finger in his mouth and gave it a big slurpy kiss and declared, “mmmmm… yummy fingers! My sweet little baby…”.
Dad quickly went back to packing and a minute later noticed his daughter sitting, dejected, a tear in her eye, staring at her finger.
“What’s the matter honey? Why are you crying? Did I hurt your finger?”
“No Daddy. You didn’t hurt my finger… but my booger is gone.”