St. Basil the Great said that the Lord Jesus Christ never laughed. In the eulogy for his sister Macrina, St. Basil said that one of her greatest virtues was that she rarely ever smiled. St. Basil says more, “The Christian ought not to...indulge in jesting. He ought not to laugh nor even to suffer laugh makers.” St. Chrysostom said that the Lord nowhere laughed or even smiled, saying also that, “This world is not a theater in which we can laugh.” St. Chrysostom mentioned: “When you see persons laughing, reflect that those teeth that grin now will one day have to sustain that most dreadful wailing and gnashing.” Also we have this from St. Chrysostom: “Feet were made, not given for dancing, but to walk modestly, not to leap impudently like camels.” And another: “What are the pomps of the devil? Every form of sin, spectacles of indecency, horse racing and gatherings filled with laughter and abusive language. Portents, oracles, omens, observances of times, tokens, amulets, and incantations – these too are pomps of the devil. But the cross has the strength of a wonderful amulet and a mighty incantation; blessed is the soul which speaks in the name of Jesus Christ crucified. Call upon that name and every disease will flee, every attack of Satan will yield.” St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.
Many people who had first hand, or very near first hand experience with the Lord, give us these examples. Such tradition should not be mocked. Do the Scriptures say anywhere that Christ ever laughed or danced? It was the Gnostic Christians who wrongly presented the Savior as having laughed. I can understand how some may feel compelled to laugh at what is absurd, absurdity is laughable. It is still all the better to exercise moderation in all things, even in such situations.
At the time of our Lord there was a Roman by the name of Pouplious Lantoulos, who resided in Jerusalem. He wrote a letter to the Roman senate and this is a part:
“In those days there appeared a young man, who is still living, a youth that has great power and whose name is Jesus Christ... Not once was He seen laughing, but He was often seen crying...”
Luke 6:25 “Woe unto you that laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.”
Ephesians 5:3-4 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
James 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
2 Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...?
St Romanos the Melodist – On the Beheading of John the Baptist: “The birthday feast of Herod appeared wicked to everyone, since, in the midst of the banqueters, the head of the Faster was brought in as a dish of food. Grief was mixed with joy, and bitter wailing was joined with laughter when the platter bearing the head of the Baptist came into the sight of all, as the child had asked. And because of their wantonness, lamentation fell on all of those dining at that time with the king; for this gave no pleasure to them nor to Herod himself; for it is written that he was sorry, but not with genuine grief, but a false and temporary one.”
“Once, Blessed Sarah saw a young nun laughing, and said to her: Do not laugh, sister, because by this you chase away from yourself the fear of God, and are subjected to the mockery of the devil.” written by 4th century Abba Isaiah to the nun Theodora. From the book Matericon, page 40.
One of the mightiest of prayers is from St. Ephraim the Syrian which teaches us to refrain from foolish talk. In English it might read something like this:
O Lord and Master of my life take from me the spirit of sloth
faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience, and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother; for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.
St. Ephraim the Syrian – “Laughter and familiarity are the beginning of a soul’s corruption. If you see these in yourself, know that you have come to the depths of evils. Do not cease to pray God that He will deliver you from this death...Laughter removes from us that blessing which is promised to those who mourn (Matt. 5:4) and destroys what has been built up. Laughter offends the Holy Spirit, gives no benefit to the soul and dishonors the body. Laughter drives out virtues, has no remembrance of death or thought of tortures” from the “Philokalia” Russian edition, Moscow, 1913: vol. 2, p. 448
St. Ephraim the Syrian departed this world in AD 373 and they say he left us with “The Cave of Treasures” and it is there that we will find at ‘the transmission of music and singing and dancing’ these lines:
“And lasciviousness and fornication increased among the children of Cain, and they had nothing to occupy them except fornication…eating, and drinking, and lasciviousness, and drunkenness, and dancing and singing to instruments of music, and the wanton sportings of the devils, and the laughter which affordeth pleasure to the devils… And Satan, finding his opportunity in this work of error, rejoiced greatly…And Satan had been made ruler of that camp…the men and women were stirred up to lascivious frenzy by the devilish playing of the reeds which emitted musical sounds, and by the harps which the men played through the operation of the power of the devils, and by the sounds of the tambourines and of the sistra which were beaten and rattled through the agency of evil spirits, the sounds of their laughter were heard in the air above them…”
Sts. Barsanuphius and John, 6th-century (Answer 451): “In the fear of God there is no laughter. The Scripture says of the foolish, that they raise their voice in laughter (Sirach 21:23); and the word of the foolish is always disturbed and deprived of grace.”
The wise philosopher, King Solomon, wrote:
Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of laughter – “Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”
Ecclesiasticus 21:20 A fool lifteth up his voice with laughter; but a wise man doth scarce smile a little. v26 The heart of fools is in their mouth: but the mouth of the wise is in their heart.
The 75th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council says – “We desire those who attend church for the purpose of chanting neither to employ disorderly cries nor to force themselves to unnatural shrieks, nor to introduce anything that is not becoming and proper for the church; but, on the contrary, to offer up such psalmodies with much attentiveness and contriteness to God, Who sees all that is hidden from our sight. For the sons of Israel shall keep reverence (Lev. 19:30), the sacred word has taught us.”
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
The Twelve Books of John Cassian Book V Chapter XXIX – WE knew an old man, Abbot Machetes by name, who lived at a distance from the crowds of the brethren, and obtained by his daily prayers this grace from the Lord, that as often as a spiritual conference was held, whether by day or by night, he never was at all overcome by sleep: but if any one tried to introduce a word of distraction, or idle talk, he dropped off to sleep at once as if the poison of slander could not possibly penetrate to pollute his ears.
Expletives are something most people do not even think twice about. People have tried to get around them, like the Puritan colonists. They devised the name Jiminy Cricket (in place of Jesus Christ) that the Freemason Walt Disney helped to make so famous. Other such words have replaced the more overt name calling of Jesus Christ, so that they would make an excuse away from using the Lord’s name in vain. Like Judas’ Priest for Jesus Christ or Gosh darn for God damn, Jeez for Jesus, etc. There is a long list of such words if you think about it. In looking up “Sheesh” the American Heritage Dictionary defines its meaning, originally and historically, to be an alteration of the word “Jesus”. For reference, I place a link to the American Heritage Dictionary listing here. I know that on the soon approaching and dreadful day of judgment I will give an account for every idle word I have spoken, let us hope we can aviod taking the Lord’s name in vain.
And the Golden Mouth says this also, “They who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, but they who sing satanic songs are filled with unclean spirits… But now your children will utter songs of Satan, like cooks and caterers; no one knoweth any psalms, but it seems to be a thing to be ashamed of.” He offers another set of good words on this, “…nothing so uplifts the mind, giving it wings and freeing it from the earth…as modulated melody and divine chant…” and to the “lascivious songs” he says are the work of “comedians, dancers and harlots” which he said makes us “softer and weaker.”
I believe that if Jesus were here today that He would weep more often than before, because of the increase in vanity and frivolousness that practically all of us bring upon ourselves, because the spiritual defilement is worse than ever before. Jesus truly could not have done His work during this mixed up time. This makes me remember a public service announcement from years ago, when I had a TV, about the crying American Indian who noticed how the mountains had pollution everywhere and when he came close to the cities there were speeding cars and even more recklessness. All this brought a tear to the eye of this Indian. How much more so it should be for those who are honest with themselves about Christ. I did a search and found this television commercial from the early 70s and placed the link here. Of course, if we would be Christian the rules tell us to abstain from theatrics such as this, from all things pagan (including man-harnessed electricity) but since we all have to start some place I thought it important to give as many examples as possible here so that perhaps a few people might realize just how far gone we truly are.
A reading from the famous Benedict (founder of Benedictine monasticism) goes as follows, “As for idle jesting and empty chatter and talk leading to laughter, we sentence them to perpetual imprisonment in all places, and we do not permit a disciple to open his mouth in order to engage in words of that kind.” Adalbert de Vogüé notes that, “...the Master, absolutely condemns idle speech (Mt 12:36) and anything inducing laughter (Lk 6:25), whether words or gestures. This double prohibition...may appear stringent. In the eyes of the monks of old it simply followed from the Gospel. This is one of the points on which our way of thinking as modern Christians and monks finds it most difficult to concur with that of our Fathers—most difficult, but also most profitable.”
The Nikonite heretic Seraphim Rose, a noted linguist, did have something right about this topic. I thought it would be good to add an excerpt of his at the bottom here. “When … a child becomes an adult, he naturally surrounds himself with the same things he was used to in his childhood: comforts, amusements, and grown-up toys. Life becomes a constant search for “fun” which, by the way, is a word totally unheard of in any other vocabulary; in 19th century Russia they wouldn’t have understood what this word meant, or any serious civilization. Life is a constant search for “fun” which is so empty of any serious meaning that a visitor from any 19th-century country, looking at our popular television programs, amusement parks, advertisements, movies, music—at almost any aspect of our popular culture—would think he had stumbled across a land of imbeciles who have lost all contact with normal reality. We don’t often take that into consideration, because we are living in this society and we take it for granted.” In his talk on the Orthodox World View.
There is always more to say or add, so if interested you may review this link to Anti-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, chapter 5, On Laughter
One last tidbit to think about is this. Humor is generally created by those who belittle others unjustly or without cause, at the expense of somebody else.