It is not good practice to judge other people. Most of the time we don’t like it when people judge us so we shouldn’t do it to others. Here is the reason why.
I have been a fan of Seinfield for sometime. Therefore, I am really excited by the news it is being made into a drama.
Humans hold humour in high regard. Peruse any ‘lonely hearts’ dating column and without fail you will see those familiar capital letters; GSOH – Good Sense of Humour. Why do we place such importance on laughing and being funny and if we humans think it is important we must then wonder if God has a sense of humour? What about Jesus, would he have sat down and entertained his disciples with a classic, rib busting, eye watering, fart emitting gag. I wonder if any of his parables started with ‘Hey guys have you heard the one about the Jewish Rabbi, the Levite and the Philistine, all walking along the beach?”
Now I realise the Humour of God is not a topic that is often found in the contents page of your average Christian theology book. Nor is it a regular theme for the myriad of Christian books printed every year. However, I believe this question must be explored, because if we delve deeper, this seemingly minor question has some serious theological implications.
Did humans get there humour from God?
Was humour built into us when God created us in His image?
Is humour something the human race received as a result of sin?
Will there be humour in heaven? If so what type would God prefer; the classic text based stand-up style, perhaps British humour or maybe God would be a real practical joker.
You might snigger at the above suggestions but to me, as someone who enjoys a good laugh, these are important considerations. For instance if the bible revealed that humour is something that came after the fall, like greed, deception and envy, then laughing at this
Q: How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?
would be a sin.
Alternately, if the bible revealed a humourous God then upon hearing this joke
Q: Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A: Noah; he was floating his stock while everyone was in liquidation.
the appropriate Christian response would be a laugh even if you thought it wasn’t funny.
Let’s be honest about the humorous content of the bible. Humour, at first glance, is almost entirely missing from the bible. There are no cheap family jokes hidden in the Torah, despite the rhyming that could have been used with names like Enosh, Libni and Mushi.
Nor do there seem to be any gags in any of David’s Psalms, when once again the use of a limerick could have got the massage across so well while adding a little humour. Lets just see how Psalm 23 may have looked if David had of used a humours limerick.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in need,
He lies me in pastures and gives me a feed.
Through the valley of death and decay,
His righteousness is A- okay.
Because his rod and staff are all that I need.
Furthermore, the prophets, with their message of doom and restoration, saw little value in adding examples of practical jokes the Israelites must have done. Forty years is a long time to wander in a sandy desert without some cheeky monkey tying all the sandals together while everyone was in the temple?
Even in the New Testament, and the age of grace, humour seems to be nonexistent. Jesus, being God, could have drawn on ever joke available but they seem to be missing from the final draft and Paul such a prolific New Testament writer seems to have been born minus a funny bone.
Despite this if you really search there are certain types of humour hidden within the sacred pages. Many of it falls under Jewish humour and is based around puns and language use, which means it is difficult to comprehend for us today. However, there are certain bits of humour that even us in New Zealand can get our laugh chops around.
In Judges 14:14, Samson foolishly bets with his bride’s relatives that they wouldn’t answer this riddle:
“Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.”
The relations are bamboozled, mainly because the riddle makes no sense unless you were with Samson when he saw honey deposited in the carcass of a lion, which he had then scraped out and eaten. To get the answer the pesky relatives badger the bride for the answer, and she pesters Samson, who finally breaks down and tells her the secret to the riddle. When it comes time to give their answer the relatives answer, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson is furious and his answer is more than a little humoroues.
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,” Samson ungallantly compares his wife to a cow, “you would not have found out my riddle.” He then takes out his anger and massacres 30 unlucky locals to raise enough money to pay off the bet. Hilarious, eh?
While your mother might scold you for a little bathroom humour the story 1 Samuel 4-6 certainly has a bathroom feel to it. The Philistines, having captured the Ark of the Covenant, are visited with twin plagues: mice and, if you read the Darby Version of the Bible, hemorrhoids. Ozy naturally prefers the latter. Consider the unspeakable eloquence of the following:
“There was a deadly destruction throughout all the city . . . and the men that died were smitten with the hemorrhoids: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.”
The Philistines then have to decide what to do. They ask their priests and the priests say to send the Ark back to the Hebrews with a “trespass offering.” What kind of offering, the Philistines ask?”
They answered, “five golden haemorrhoids, and five golden mice.” Now I have firstly never had haemorrhoids and my sympathy goes out to those that have. However, one step worse then having haemorrhoids would be sculpturing golden ones!!! I am sure that the author of this didn’t necessarily think it was funny, and I’m confident this column’s intelligent and sensitive readers won’t think it’s funny either. But nobody’s going to tell me whoever wrote it didn’t have a slight grin on their cheek at the time.
We have made an art form of mocking in our society. Americans seemed the best at it and our diet of their 30min sitcoms ensures that mocking has become and art form in our schools and workplaces. One would not expect Paul, the great New Testament writer to stoop to such levels, but he does. Now while I did say at the beginning of this post that Paul was missing a funny bone, he is certainly not missing a mocking bone. In Galatians Chapter 5 he employs this technique when he tries to show the mistake of some men who advocated circumcision. He first explains that circumcision changes nothing and then he goes ahead to take a direct hit at the people debating him. A hit literally under the belt if ever there was one. “I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves!”
I am a little apprehensive about highlighting this aspect of biblical humour but to ensure academic validity to this study, I must not be biased. I am usually not one for putting down women but there seems to be a definite bias in the bible against women and quite frankly being man I think it is rather funny. Proverbs is a classic for anti women humour
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
The writer from Revelation also used a little sexist humour to make a point often missed in the bible. He humorously implied that women wouldn’t be included in heaven. How can this be you may ask! Well in Revelation, when the seventh seal is opened, there is silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Interestingly despite all these examples of humour in the bible it is clear that to find humour in the bible sometimes drastic measure and giant leaps of logic need to be taken. The fact that there is so little of this obviously entertaining form of communication must rest squarely on the shoulders of the Prophet Elisha, and in particular an incident from 2 Kings. Elijah had just taken over the mantle of Elisha and as he was walking along the road some young kids came out and called him ‘Baldy’. To us this seems a simple jest at someone who is a little folically challenged. What boys hasn’t humorously reminded his father of the need for a comb over or pointed out that he needs to do a Martin Crowe and get some hair implants. Elisha took exception to this friendly jib and called down a curse from heaven upon the group of boys. Just then two bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths. After this response you can see why humour is often left out of the bible. Getting mauled by a bear is a heavy price to pay for a little practical joke or a sly mocking comment.
However, just like in life it is Jesus who comes and saves the day. While humour is either missing from the bible, or the consequences seem excessive Jesus comes along and provides us with the perfect example. When we look at humour we should go no further than looking at Jesus as our model. While definitely no stand up comedian form the reading I have done, he would have certainly had his audience in stitches of laughter at certain points.
Jesus has a particular eye and a love of irony. He gave His disciples nicknames: Peter the Rock who was big on fancy words, but a little coward when it mattered; James and John, hotheads, were ‘Sons of Thunder’. Reminds me a little of my time at high school. Most of the time you referred to your mates by a nickname, usually because of some character trait or a once stupid action. There was one boy at school I didn’t even know the name of but everyone called him Potato Head, due to the excessive size of his head.
Jesus show a subtle wit in the story in Mark 5 about the man possessed by devils.
“What is your name?” The devils reply,
“My name is Legion; for we are many.”
Conceivably this is a pun on legion in the sense of “a vast bunch of” and legion in the sense of a Roman military unit. The devils beg to be sent into a nearby herd of swine, which stampedes into the sea and drowns. Could it be that Jesus is using this as a prayer that the Romans, an unwelcome presence at the time, would also take a running jump.
So it is clear from the above study that there is an absence of any great humour in the bible. However, if you are willing to search hard enough there is some humour modelled by Jesus. Some of it might not be to your taste but you shouldn’t knock 2000 year old Jewish humour. Just think in 2000 years time people might look back on our humour and be astounded with acts like the Top Twins and Mr Bean and wonder what on earth we found funny in those comedians. Sadly, many of the deep theological questions based around humour that I posed in the first paragraph have not been answered. This may disappoint some readers and for that I am sorry. I hope this joke cheers you up.
A small town in Belgium had just taken delivery of a motorcycle for the local policeman and a great fuss was being made of the fact. To publicise the event the mayor decided to have the bike desecrated at a special ceremony. So they called in the three denominations to bless it.
The Catholic Priest put a candle on the front and then completed the Rosary while seated on the bike. Next up the Baptist took the bike and drove it into the local river to ‘baptise’ it before it began its mission. Finally, the rabbi said a silent blessing and then took out a pair of tin cutters and went round the back and cut an inch off the exhaust pipe.
 Galatians 5:12
 Proverbs 21:9
 Revelation 8:1