Why are there so many off color jokes? Why do we call them off color? We used to call them “dirty” jokes. Why do Christians tell these kind of jokes? We’re just joking, we say. Really. Should Christians use obscenities and “four letter” words? Should Christians be participating in the course talk and jokes?
I remember when I was in Korea and speaking every Sunday at our small group of believers. My boss and others on the staff nicknamed me “Preacher”. I discovered that they did not expect me to participate in their “off color” conversations. Sometimes, they would tell me to leave the room because they had a joke they wanted to share. They didn’t claim to be followers of Christ but they knew what followers of Christ should be like. They did not expect me to curse, or tell dirty jokes. They did not expect me to listen to bad words or jokes. I didn’t have to tell them, they knew.
For years I worked along side people who claimed to be Christians but who used course language and shared course jokes. They saw nothing wrong with it. They wondered why I walked away or did not laugh at their crudity. When those who wear the name of Jesus and claim to be his disciples can’t be distinguished from those who don’t by their language and thoughts, the Christian loses all effectiveness as a witness for their savior.
In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul talks about what is improper for God’s people. We look especially at verse 4. “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or course joking, which are out of place….”
Out of place, improper. Immoral, impure. This is Paul’s take. Apparently God doesn’t see this kind of behavior as fit for a Christian. Non-Christians feel the same way. What are we saying about ourselves if we participate in obscene language and course jokes?
Exercise: Read this chapter to the end and see how you personally measure up. God has expectations for his people. Shouldn’t we have them for ourselves?