There is a great article in USA Today about the intersection of humor and religion. It focuses on whether there is a place in religion for humor. You can read the article here: Religion Hits the Comedy Circuit
As a humorist and someone who has served on my church’s Board of Deacons and Board of Elders, I can attest that humor is the only thing that got me through many a church committee meeting. I’m Presbyterian. We committee. It’s what we do.
I sincerely believe that if God created humor, then he has a sense of humor. The problem is that some people feel that any levity at all is sacrilegious or disrespectful of their belief system.
Over the years, I’ve been asked many times if there are situations in which humor is not appropriate. Truthfully, the answer is no. Humor can happen organically in any situation regardless of what else is going on. I spent ten years in hospice care and I saw it being used very effectively time and time again.
However, there are certainly times in which humor should not be introduced. And that’s the fine distinction. I would not walk into the room of a terminally ill patient and start joking about the Pearly Gates. That’s not appropriate. Additionally, I don’t think rude or offensive humor is appropriate in most situations (except, maybe, with your close friends behind closed doors). Humor that intentionally (or not) hurts is never helpful.
The same is true with religion. It may not be appropriate to introduce humor in some very serious situations or to use humor that is directed at someone’s beliefs or in some way is offensive to them. But, to have fun with the things that happen to us in the midst of these situations is truly a blessing from God.
One person who has done this very effectively is John Acuff who wrote a hilarious book called Stuff Christians Like. Basically, John holds up a mirror to the foibles and missteps we all experience in our faith walk. And I believe, in the long run, his healthy attitude and the ability to laugh at himself is a gift from God that makes his message even more powerful.
To see more of this perspective, check out the following funny faithers:
Father James Martin
The Joyful Noiseletter