[the following was written for a couple of local newspapers for which i write a (irregular) bi-weekly column- hence the capital letters- i hope you will understand!]

On a recently aired taping of his popular late night talk show, David Letterman admitted to committing adultery with multiple women who work on his show. The audience’s reaction? Laughter. For over ten minutes Letterman described the situation and was interrupted by laughter and applause. At one point Letterman even stops and looks bewildered, asking “Why is that funny?”

Days later I recently listened to a conference talk given by a well known pastor and author. At the beginning of his talk, he confessed that he was very aware of his own sinfulness. The audience laughed. He continued, recounting how he often struggled with pride, insensitivity, and other attitudes and behaviors that were sinful. The audience continued laughing- so much so that the speaker paused and said “I am not sure why you are laughing?” The response? More laughter.

Yes Christians can laugh and enjoy life. We do not have to go through life always somber and morose.  but what are we saying we approve of with our laughter? Why is it that sin, which scripture tells us is an affront to God Himself, something that He hates and will punish, has become a laughing matter, even among Christians? I am not suggesting that we make out a list and demand everyone follow extra-biblical regulations as the Pharisees did. I am suggesting that we ought to take to heart scriptures exhortation to “not be conformed to this world” and keep ourselves “unstained by the world.” (Rom. 12:2 & James 1:27)

The problem for most of us, regarding those things what we give our approval, is not that we are too strict. Rather, it is that we all too often are accepting of, if not supporting of things that would provoke a troubled sadness rather than a chuckle from our Savior. How many of us say things prefaced by “I know I shouldn’t’t laugh at this, but…” or “I know this is bad, but it is so funny!”?  Philippians 4:8 is should be our guide, not what is culturally (even in our churches) acceptable.

 It is a lie of this world that if we acknowledge that something is inappropriate before we indulge in it, that it is o.k. to enjoy it. Perhaps when the world sees us grieving rather than grinning over sin, they will take more seriously the gospel we share that says Jesus came to save us from our sins, not laugh at them.  Therein lies true joy.