Etiquette of Laughter

Laughter? Let’s talk about the “Etiquette of laughter.” Is there such a thing as etiquette when it comes to laughter? Do we need a written prescription to take to the pharmacy to get our laugher? Do we need insurance to pay for laughter? Maybe Laughter should be written in the new health care bill?

Norman Cousins wrote in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, “When you laugh, endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killers, are released.”

The Word of God records the words of a wise man, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 15:13, 15


What about raucous laughter? Is it proper? If so, when and where? Why laugh? Does smiling fall in the category of laughter? What makes one laugh? Do we all laugh at the same things and time? When should we not make ourselves or others laugh?

I think most of us are fascinated with laughter but maybe not sure how to handle such a powerful tool. The Message Bible in Proverbs 17:22 gives a health pill if taken. “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

But, what is laugher? Let’s invest some sharing time in this valuable commodity and have some laughs with one another along the way.

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16 thoughts on “Etiquette of Laughter

  1. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines laughter as “the action or sound of laughing.” Looking further…by definition laugh is defined as ” to make the sounds and facial movements that express mirth, ridicule, etc. The act or sound of laughing. A cause of laughter. Mere diversion or pleasure. To be amused by. To make fun of.”

  2. Sara,
    One of your questions said: “When should we not make ourselves or others laugh”? There could possibly be numerous answers to this question, but I found some scripture that I believe may give us some idea of when not to laugh? Read with me and see if this could help with one answer: (James 4: 7-10) “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinner; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

  3. You are so right, Needles! After we have walked our way through the maze you have given above we will come out to our reward. And then we will be filled with laughter as recorded in Psalm 126:2…”We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.” New Living Translation (©2007)

  4. Wisdom seems to be one component to the etiquette of laughter…to know when to laugh and when not to. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4 (NIV) instructs us:
    “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…
    (vs 4) a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…”
    One example of when not to laugh would be that we shouldn’t laugh at a crude joke or join in with foolishness (Eph 5:4).

    On the other end of the spectrum, Abraham’s laughter seemed spontaneous and appropriate: “Immediately, Abraham bowed with his face touching the ground. He laughed as he thought to himself, “Can a son be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, have a child?” (Genesis 17:17 God’s Word)
    And Sara, his wife, laughed also and even acknowledged that God had given her this laughter. “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (NAS)

  5. And that’s what they named their son…Isaac! Isaac, meaning laughter. Oh what joy.! What happiness! The son of promise coming forth in mirth and genuine joy and Laughter.
    God has a sense of humor, truly.
    One of the funny stories in the Blble, that I find amusing, is the time when Elijah challenged the priests and prophets of Baal in ascertaining who was really the true God, for Elijah had challenged them with this question; ” How long are you going to be fence sitters? If Baal is god then follow him. But if the Lord is God then follow Him.” So he proposed that the prophets of Baal bring two oxen, one for Baal and one for GOD. They would sacrifice theirs first to their god and then Eijah would sacrifice to his God and whichever God answered with fire then, THAT WAS TRULY GOD. The people loved the idea. So the adversaries went first and they prayed and leaped about and cut themselves and shouted and stomped. Nothing! Elijah taunted them. “Shout a little louder. He may be on vacation or maybe he is in the rest room or maybe he’s sound asleep and you need to make more noise to awaken him. Nothing! Exhausted and covered with blood from their sacrificial cuttings and ritualistic tricks they were stumped. They had put on a good circus show trying to egg on their god to perform but it was more like a 3-ring circus. Then Elijah said that he had seen enough. So he called for buckets of water to be poured all over his sacrifice to God Almighty. Buckets after buckets of water were poured over and around and under and everywhere on the altar where Elijah’s bull was to be sacrificed. It was completely drenched. Then Elijah prayed
    a simple prayer invoking the Name of the God of the universe. Elijah prayed and said to God, I am doing what You have commanded me to do. Now answer me, O GOD and prove to these people watching that You are truly God and that You will give these people another chance at repentance.
    Immediately, fire fell from Heaven and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt and licked up all the water in the trenches. The people fell on their faces. There was no question as to Who is GOD…and still is. But God and Elijah had a laugh at the antics of the worshipers of false gods as they tried to summon up their god to obey them. (1Kings 17)

  6. I think it is a good idea to laugh at oneself many times. Maya Angelou must agree with me….” My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself. Maya Angelou

    And check this out and try not to waste today:
    The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
    e e cummings (1894 – 1962)

  7. I have always heard and read, “God Loves a Hilarious Giver”, hillarious, boisterously merry… very funny, hysterically funny, hysterical, uproarious, riotous, rollicking, farcical, rib-tickling; humorous, comic, amusing, entertaining, jocular, jovial, laughable; informal side-splitting, gut-busting, knee-slapping, thigh-slapping, priceless, a scream, a hoot.”

    I wonder if one would give to God’s Kingdom with this kind of attitude-behavior if healing would be in the whole of the frame work.

  8. Psalm 2 says to me that God is so secure in who He is that He is not in the least bit threatened or concerned by anyone who attempts to enter into a power struggle with Him. He finds them laughable for He’s put His Son in charge. The government is really upon His shoulders. He’s the King and we’d be wise to bow quickly to Him and to defer all judgement tto Him.

  9. These are good to read. Thanks for the “fun”.
    Another example of our wonderful God’s sense of humor, (as I was reading in Moody,) and I have found in the Scriptures is the story in Exodus when the Lord told Moses to speak to Pharoah to let HIS people go. Moses performed through the aegis of the Lord God, many signs before Pharoah, like throwing down his staff and it’s turning into a snake. But Pharoah’s magicians were able to do that too, until Moses’ snake gobbled up the Egyptian snakes. Another funny incident is when God completely covered Egypt with frogs so that they were in the bedchambers, the dishes, the pots, the cradles. EVERYWHERE. Not to be outdone the prideful monarch called for his magic men, his sorcerers, and they, to prove their great power also made frogs come up on the land. That’s just what EGYPT NEEDED . MORE FROGS!!! And to make it even sillier, after Pharoah besought Moses to stop the plague of frogs, Moses courteously queried the King, ‘when would you like to have this frog curse stop?” And instead of yelling, “NOW” the king said, “Tomorrow’. As one Bible teacher puts it….”One more night with frogs” That’s funny!

  10. With teaching 9 and 10 years old there are numerous times to laugh at myself and what children say. The laugh seems to come from your toes and explode. Sometimes our whole class is laughing – a brief pause before charging ahead again.
    I like what Victor Hugo says here:
    Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.
    How about Abraham Lincoln:
    With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.

  11. The Proverbs 31 woman is a great role model. She lives a virtuous life (she fears the Lord, is industrious, generous, wise, etc) and seems to understand the etiquette of laughter.
    “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Vs 25)

  12. “Laughter is to laugh.” Sara

    I always understood that laughter is on the inside and it can becomes an audible expression on the outside from the feeling of joy or happiness. For instance, from Debi’s scripture reference, “she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25) If you believe that… you would feel joy, peace and happiness in the bosom of ones soul. And you would laugh when fear of the economy, or healthcare, war, or other stresses of life tries to choke out the fire of hope and give you fear.

    I think this is why Abraham Lincoln (from Rena’s comment above) wrote an antidote for stress.

  13. I read a quote about humor in “Moody” from CS Lewis, found in Chronicles of Narnia. In this scene from The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan tells the talking animals that he has created the legitimacy of laughter. “Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need NOT always be grave. for jokes as well as justice come in with speech.” That made me consider God’s people, no longer “dumb” (because we have the Holy Spirit living within us), we too, need not be “witless” in our conversations and exchanges. But we are to keep our “wits” about us at all times.
    Paul tells us to rejoice and repeats it…”and again, I say rejoice”. We can rejoice because of what the Lord has done for us…given us life for death. That certainly is something to be eternally joyous about. Moody says that in this, “we can have peace that defies logical explanation.”
    Moody goes on to say that these are the things that we, God’s people, should celebrate and rejoice and laugh in each and every day. In whatever is ” true, noble, just, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and good,”…rejoice, jump for joy, laugh, share, praise and give thanks. Life is a riot. And in the grave things, we still thank God for His mercy, compassion and lovingkindness towards those things that are distressful to us and our loved ones, even to those calamitous situations that confront us and others in this world…rejoice ,for we have intercessory prayer, petition and beseeching to a Heavenly GOD, in Jesus Name Who is in control of all things. And HE IS OUR FATHER!

  14. Also, joy and rejoicing comes from obedience to what Christ asks us to do and staying in the kind of relationship with Him and with others that he explains in John 15…being a branch in His Vine and producing fruit. Jesus wants us to have joy and lets us know how to have and maintain it.
    “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (vs 11)

  15. Yes, if Jesus abides in us and we in Him then we can have what He has. He has eternal joy for the task set before Him in that He did not waver or shrink or use His eternal Divinity to pull out of the assignment His Father had given Him from before the creation of time & tide.
    Max Lucado writes, beautifully, a scenario of a conversation between the Father & Son as THEY created the universe and mankind, in particular. Max writes, theoretically, the angels asked the Father why, while He was creating man, did HE give them the Divine attribute of ‘choice’. That was taking an astronomical risk. But the Lord answered (and I paraphrase) that He was creating man in a godlike image and because of LOVE He wanted man to be able to choose HIM. The subject then came up about what if there were failures of man to do that. i believe the Father looked at the Son and the Son looked at the Father, and THEY knew what had to be done. And in the course of time, Jesus, obedient to His convenant with the Father, came, died on the Cross for our failure to love the Father the way we are inteded to love Him and thus, has forgiven us. And now we have another fresh, new chance to obey the heavenly command to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds and strength and to OBEY Him. Thus we can have the same joy Jesus has for having done the will of the Father and keeping His convenant with Him. Just be obedient and joy will come in the “morning”.

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