To Laugh or Not to Laugh

In a typical week, I will listen to three to five different sermons by as many speakers.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I listened to one speaker share a story of road rage in which he was a part of a few days earlier and though he explained how his actions and attitude were wrong, people laughed at the story.  This week, I listened to a different speaker share a story about how he was alone swearing at nobody in general but swearing none-the-less and how his attitude and behavior were wrong and as he shared the story people laughed.

I wondered why pastors can share struggles in some areas and yet would ruin their reputations if they shared struggles in other areas.  I’m not suggesting that all details of all struggles would be wise to share but in a recent email conversation with an author of one of the books we have read, he suggested that sexual issues are considered taboo in the church, and at times I would even argue outside the church as well.

A few years ago a credit card commercial featured Jerry Seinfeld doing stand-up in England with no laughter from the audience.  Once he understood the culture and developed material people could relate to, they laughed.  Most people laugh at others struggles when they relate to them as well.  Stories of failure with road rage and language can sound funny, whereas, sexual failures rarely can come across with humor, which can explain an audience’s differing reaction to varying stories.

Interestingly it is estimated that 16 million Americans are affected by road rage or intermittent explosive disorder*, while 40 million American adults regularly visit porn websites every month (Internet Filter Review), and this does not include teens, or other forms of sexual integrity issues.  In actuality, more people identify with sexual integrity issues than road rage; however, sexual sin is so deep, so embarrassing, so hurtful, and has so many other issues connected to it, that rarely is it a laughing matter.  If every man and woman with a sexual integrity issue were to wear an armband for a day, our society would be astounded.

I wonder why people would prefer a person to keep their issue so private that they never ask for or are afraid to ask for help, in fear someone may find out?  I tend to respect those people who realize their own faults, desire to improve themselves, and seek out help.  Those people who have brought their issue into the light, typically have more success in overcoming their issues.  Obviously, I am not saying one should share their issues with everyone and everywhere, but the secrecy is usually more damaging than the openness.