Have you ever noticed how some things correlate? The amount of air pressure in your tires affects the smoothness of your ride and the gas mileage of your vehicle. The amount of sleep you get influences your memory and mood. The nutrition of your diet affects your susceptibility to certain diseases.
Consider another correlation that might not seem so obvious at first: the level of honor in a person’s humor with someone significantly influences the level of honor in conflicts with that person. While I am not a mechanic, sleep specialist, or nutritionist, I am a counselor and have seen this principle hold true quite frequently.
Suppose you are counseling a couple whose relationship has been stagnant for some time. The level of honor one spouse uses when joking with the other spouse sets a baseline of honor, and any temptation to dishonor that person in conflict will start from that baseline. If the husband’s normal joking includes any of the following, then there is a significant level of dishonor in his “humor”:
- Verbal jabs about his wife’s insecurities or weaknesses
- Sarcasm (otherwise known as “violence through humor”)
- Comparisons to unbecoming people
- Complimenting someone else to get a rise out of her
- References to past mistakes or faux pas
- Condescending jokes in front of others
- Suggestions of leaving or being aggressive
- Derogatory remarks regarding her friends
- Belittling her interests or hobbies
- Using nicknames that are unappreciated
If you think in terms of a 1–10 scale with anything over a 5 being an unhealthy (unbiblical) conversation, then these uses of humor give the couple an “honor baseline” of 4. At that point, they are always only one or two steps from an unhealthy, inappropriate conversation. If anything else goes wrong, they can quickly enter the “danger zone,” where any conversation can quickly explode.
With that being said, consider Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). You can encourage people you counsel to apply this verse to their sense of humor; then they will have a much easier time obeying it in their disagreements with others. Notice that this subjects humor to the process of sanctification (progressive spiritual growth).
When people you counsel can have a good laugh in a way that gives “grace to those who hear,” then everyone can also enjoy being blessed with the love of Christ.
If this post was beneficial for you, then consider reading other blogs from My Favorite Posts on Communication post, which address other facets of this subject.