Several months ago, I wrote on why how we talk as believers matters. I’ve hesitated since then writing this follow-up post, primarily because I risk coming across as judgmental and arrogant with these words. On the other hand, I write these very words because I, too, could easily fall into the trap of ungodly speech – and I must daily remember these truths myself. Here’s why we must fight for holiness in our joking:
- The Bible demands it. The apostle Paul gave us this mandate with decided clarity: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph 5:4). Double-entendres and indecent language have no place among believers.
- Our jokes betray our heart. Culture may affirm crude jokes, but culture is not their origin. The human heart is. Your heart is. My heart is.
- Crude jokes usually demand closed doors and quiet whispers. That reality itself ought to give us pause. We who are called to announce the gospel miss the point completely when we find ourselves instead quietly telling our jokes.
- Such joking promotes a distorted understanding of Christian brotherhood (and sisterhood). We’re most inclined to use such speech around those with whom we’re the closest – those we most trust to grant us permission to move in that verbal direction. Relationships that permit disobedience, though, are not gospel relationships.
- Spoken immorality never leads in the right direction. That’s not to say that everyone who jokes in an ungodly manner winds up in sexual immorality, of course. It’s simply to say that letting our guard down at one level makes it easier to let it down at the next level.
- Immorality minus the pictures can still be pornographic. I fear that we sometimes give ourselves more permission to speak immorally as long as Internet pornography is not a current problem. That’s not a wise move.
- Most of us don’t need more openings to think lustful thoughts. The battle is intense enough without promoting it with our speech. Wrong words – even joking words – quickly lead to wrong images.
- We miss an opportunity for edifying others and expressing thanksgiving. Paul told us not only to avoid foul language and crude joking (Eph 4:29, 5:4), but also to speak to build up others and express gratitude to God. All of our ungodly words are a missed opportunity to do both.
What reasons would you add to this list?