Sin is no laughing matter

Barbara Bartocci thinks we ought to stop laughing about adultery. In her common sense Woman’s Day article, “ADULTERY HURTS – So Let’s Stop Laughing About It,” she calls for bringing our humor into line with reality, writing:

“Adultery creates incredible anguish. So why do we make light of it in movies and books? When we romanticize adultery or use it as a slapstick tool to provoke laughter—as if the hurt and betrayal are inconsequential—what kind of values are we teaching? Since in real life, adultery is no laughing matter, I propose we stop laughing at or romanticizing the extramarital affair.”

King David would have agreed. After the king’s adulterous rendezvous with Bathsheba, he was miserable, feeling older than his years. His thoughts were in turmoil and he had no peace. The inner joy that had formerly made him the world’s most accomplished composer of praise and worship songs had been replaced with deep depression that, like a dark cloud, seemed to hover over him continually.

David fell into sin as a result of watching beautiful bathing Bathsheba from his roof.

And the emotional pain that followed his tragic moral drop ought to be a warning to all that we’re influenced by what we see, even on TV.

But give this depressed king some credit. He finally faced his moral lapse and confessed it to the Lord, even calling his terrible act (dare we say it?) sin. His prayer of confession has become a pattern for millions who have found themselves suffering the almost unbearable guilt that follows moral failure (Psalm 51). The sadder but wiser king had learned that it’s impossible to sin and win. But what is sin?

According to the dictionary, sin is a transgression of a law having divine authority (such as the Ten Commandments). The Bible confirms this definition but expands on it: refusing to do good when we’re given the opportunity is called sin (James 4:17), as is any faithless act (Romans 14:23).

Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, who had such a powerful moral and spiritual impact on their nation and the world, wrote: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your vision of God or takes away the relish of spiritual things or increases the authority of your body over your mind is sin.”

Bartocci is right. Adultery is serious and sinful; not funny.

Daily television fare may provide lots of laughs, poking fun at virtues that were the norm only a few years ago. But it’s important to remember that God hasn’t changed with the times. His standards of right and wrong are the same as they have always been.

What good news!

There is an unchanging standard by which to guide our lives; a constant light to keep us on course when public standards fall.

I once heard a woman pray, “Lord forgive us. We do so many things we used to think were wrong.” Her prayer revealed that over the years she had become more tolerant of sin. Too many of us are like her. And that’s no laughing matter!

Roger Campbell was an author, a columnist and broadcaster who was a pastor for 22 years. Contact us at

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