Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Years ago, I’m told that a famous comedian was asked if there would be comedians in heaven. He answered, “No – because comedy is always at someone else’s expense.” Some comedy is just funny. But the wrong kind of humor can really be a problem in the context of relationships.
My wife Donna and I have always referred to this kind of problem humor as negative humor. A friend is kidding you and you look at them and say, “You’ve got a great personality – for an ape!” Everybody laughs but the friend might be wondering what you really think of him. It might not bother him – or it might pierce his soul and wound him significantly. Often this is a ‘culturally approved’ way of putting people down or putting them in their place. It can be like a knife between the ribs.
Haven’t we all heard spouses, siblings or friends make cutting comments to each other while laughing? One might be annoyed or offended by something a loved one did or said and this is a way of getting back. How often have we seen someone wince at the pain from a biting bit of humor?
Donna and I are so grateful for the teaching we had 40+ years ago that led us to recognize negative humor for its destructive nature. Far too often it wounds – and the wound festers, leading to other destructive comments and interactions. Fortunately, we made a decision before we were married to never allow negative humor or sarcasm (a very close cousin) into our family, our relationships or our home.
It is simply too easy to hurt one another. While trying to be funny, we can unintentionally hurt those dear to us. We can develop a blind spot, not even recognizing when we do it or the damage it does. The Lord wants our speech to be wholesome and affirming. Humor is important and it’s wonderful to laugh with one another. We simply need to be wise and discerning to avoid the negative.
We have such wonderful memories of times with our sons and now with their families that were filled with laughter. We were once at a restaurant with all four of our sons and we all got the silly giggles with each other. It was such a fun time. Soon all the people at the neighboring tables around us were laughing too. What a marvelous and memorable evening that was and a great heritage to have such wonderful memories.