Freed to live through the death of another.

Three Reasons to Not Make Sexually Immoral Jokes

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-6 ESV)

This past Sunday I had the privilege of opening up Ephesians 5.1-21 at Grace Fellowship Church. In the verses above, Paul warns the Ephesians that they ought not to joke about sexual sins.

Why would he do that? Does God not have a sense of humour? Are we just supposed to be a bunch of prudes with out-dated morals?

I suggest that from the text, there are at least three reasons why you should not be making or laughing at sexually immoral jokes.

1. You cannot repent of something you find funny

Ephesians 5 4The essence and grounds of repentance is hatred of sin. How can you hate it if you’re laughing at it?

Crude joking can be active or passive. That is, jokes can be something you speak or something you hear. You pick this up in the TV shows and movies that you watch, and the conversations you engage in at your workplace.

We cannot find sin both humorous and repulsive at the same time; either we laugh at it or run from it, but we cannot do both.  How can you be serious about walking away from these sins if you’re laughing at them?

2. When you laugh at these things, you are laughing at something that is sending others to hell

If other humans experiencing the wrath of God is funny, then we can entertain ourselves with sin. But Paul’s words are clear: ‘Because of these things (the sexually deviant acts we joke about), the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.’ If we actually believe in the wrath of God, we’ll quickly see why sin isn’t just funny.

3. Those things that you’re laughing at are the things that put Jesus on the cross

Paul just reminded us of the love of Christ: ‘He loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Eph 5.2). Why did he have to die as a sacrifice? Because of my sexual immorality, all impurity, and covetousness (which is idolatry) (Eph 5.5).

He died for our sins. Should the one who had his hands and feet pierced with nails and his side pierced with a spear, now have his back pierced by the knife of his peoples’ jokes? How can we laugh at what killed our King? How can we snicker at what caused unimaginable sorrow to our Father, when he crushed his Son?

So what?

I’m not telling you what to watch or laugh at. You should think carefully about it, but I’m not going to suggest rules.

But if you’re not growing in holiness, do you think it could be partly because you’re so enamoured with the world you’re supposed to be leaving behind?

How many of us are using sitcoms and rom-coms as a way to live like Lot’s wife, looking back at the world being destroyed, laughing along, inwardly longing to go back there? And then we wonder why we fall into sexual sin, covetousness, and worldliness.

May God help us to become serious about what is truly evil.


  1. Wayne Wilson

    I would suggest a fourth point from the text itself — it's ungrateful. It shows an ingratitude for the beautiful gift of sexuality and all God means it to be.

    • Julian

      This is an excellent observation. In the sermon I talked about how the "walking in love, as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us…" is the exact opposite of the selfish, covetous heart of the sexually immoral.

      One heart is thankful for what it has received in Christ. The other is obsessed with what it hasn't received. One heart is self-giving, the other is self-seeking.

      So, yeah, you're spot-on, Wayne. Thanks for the helpful addition.

  2. Jason Goings

    This is really good and so very helpful. Thank you for boldly posting this. Again, it helps!

    • Julian

      Thanks, Jason!

  3. Don Johnson

    So essentially you advocate for an avoidance of all joking that somehow includes any sin (truly all sin is condemnatory and all sin is atoned for by Christ) in its structure? I suppose then that we should never tell a joke or laugh at a joke that involves: a lie, alcohol, theft, slander, certainly not violence, sloth, pride, selfishness, conceit, envy, and so on. While the verses in question isolate course jesting and sexuality, the standards you've outlined would extend to all humor involving something that Christians are called to abstain from (sin).

    Seems that such parameters are entirely restrictive and quite possibly legalistic.

    • Julian

      Thanks for the comment, Don.

      Maybe it would help me to understand what it is that you're arguing towards. You're wanting to have affirmation that it is legitimate to engage in joking about slander, theft, pride, covetousness (which is idolatry), etc.? This is not antagonistic, but an honest question: Is that really what you want to be arguing for?

      As for your concerns that this is legalistic, thank you. True legalism is always something to be concerned of. However, I'll just refer you back to the article: "I’m not telling you what to watch or laugh at. You should think carefully about it, but I’m not going to suggest rules."

      Honestly, I don't think you're justified before God by keeping rules (that's legalism, right?). But do I think that "trying to discern what the will of the Lord is" and trying to understand "what is pleasing to him" (Eph 5.10, 17) is a good thing that sometimes involves calling sin "sin"? Yeah. Absolutely.

      • Guest

        I think Don is asking "What, then, are we supposed to joke about, if all of these things are off the table?"

        I do not disagree with you, yet. I am going to think and pray about this article. But I don't know if I can agree with it.

        I know some people who cannot joke about anything that could be classified as sin, and they were horrifically boring people with whom to associate.

  4. Robert

    People who no sense of humor tend to be condesending and arrogant. I will be perfect in Heaven, until then I will be a sinner saved by the grace of God. It is easy for some to be saints apparently, I just struggle day by day.

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