When I read Ephesians 5:4 in translation, in the original Greek and in the Vulgate Latin, I am yet confused about what, ifany, humor and/or lightheartedness is proper to the Christian.
It would seem that, in the early Church, humor of any kind was frowned upon. Yet, I see no reason for this. Cannot Christians be a little lighthearted once in a while (if not more often?) as long as we also maintain knowledge of what should be seriously observed? It has been my experience that, in many cases, joking, even sometimes about more serious topics, can be set aside when that serious topic is actually present or more immediate to one.
You may look up the reference in the translation/source text of your choice, but here I wish to look at/inquire into a few key words in the passage…
– “filthiness” (Grk. αισχροτης, Lat., turpitudo): The nature of this term seems to convey a sense of “moral baseness” in both languages. Fair enough. However, the entire context of this passage seems to lean toward that in word. What, precisely, is “moral baseness” in word? Is it simply obscenity? If so, what do we define as “obscenity”? Why would, for example, telling a joke about sex (even licit sex) be considered “base”? Is not sex a natural (and, yes, God-given) part of life?
– “silly talking” (Grk., μωρολογια, Lat., stultiloquium): This is clearly referring the veral acts. However, what, precisely, is it referring to? Is it referring to light-hearted humor or just joking around? Once again, it seems we may have here a prohibition against levity generally as being improper to the Christian. But, I ask, once again, why? Can we not have some fun but also be serious where/when it counts? Granted, I have alwyas had a bit of a problem with absurdist comedy, though I’ve always thought that more a matter of personal taste.
– “coarse jsesting” (Grk., εθτραπελια, Lat., scurrilitas): Here, the Latin translation seems to differ markedly from the Greek original. The Greek original would seem to have many connotations, including, yes, “double-entendre” but also “keen wit” generally. The Latin, once again, seems to imply “buffoonery”, similar to the “morologia/stultiloquium” above. In either of these three cases, however, I just don’t see a problem! What is, indeed, wrong with being witty, if you’re doing it merely to be funny/make others enjoy/laugh with you? Is laughter and levity in all its forms to be prohibited?
Is there any definitive Church teaching on this particular passage? How should we as Christians understand it? I am indeed quite confused with this one.
Thanks in advance.