Article - Is It a Sin to Joke?

Webster defines a “joke” as “something said or done to provoke laughter.” According to God’s word, is it a sin to joke? The Bible does speak of sinful jokes in such passages as Proverbs 26:18-19, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’” and Ephesians 5:3-4, “…fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting [joking], which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” But is all joking therefore sinful? In this article we are going to examine a few passages that teach in principle that certain types of joking are acceptable to God. For example, the Scriptures teach that “joy” and “laughter” are authorized practices of the faithful child of God (Proverbs 17:22; Luke 6:21; 1 John 1:4). As Christians today, we should bear the fruit of the Spirit, including joy (Galatians 5:22). Ecclesiastes 3:4 mentions that there is a time to laugh (the original Hebrew word means “joke”). So, if joy/laughter is authorized, then provoking one to laugh (joking) can also be authorized. What kind of joking is authorized by God? According to the Bible, the kind of joking that is not sinful is the kind that: (1) does not offend the hearer (Romans 14:13; Ephesians 4:29); (2) is not filthy or coarse (vulgar, involving sexual content, Ephesians 5:3-4); (3) does not take place at an inappropriate time (Ecclesiastes 3:4); and/or (4) is not anything of which Jesus Himself would not approve (1 Peter 2:21). When telling or listening to a joke, let us be certain that we as lights in the world are not participating or supporting any sinful jokes (Philippians 2:15).


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