Pitch Perfect –Thoughts on God’s Sense of Humor
Rather than do a review of the plot, or look at some way Pitch Perfect connects with the Christian story, I would like to take a different approach this time. It’s not that there aren’t any connections—undoubtedly I could wrestle out some (probably obscure) connection, but a heady connection wouldn’t fit the light hearted nature and utter silliness of the movie. As I left Pitch Perfect and contemplated what I would write about, I realized I wasn’t thinking about the Christian story – I was thinking about the nature of Christ (and God the Father) Himself.
This movie, while it did have a plotline and therefore some sort of point to the story, wasn’t intended to moralize or tell a story nearly as much as it was intended to make people laugh. The story seemed more for the sake of stringing along the laughs (and the songs) and giving them a context. In the issue of primacy, contrary to most movies, for Pitch Perfect, the laughs are primary and the story has the supporting role. I think this is why I don’t want to focus on the storyline—it wasn’t really the movie’s focus either.
Laughter—we all love it, we all need it. It’s universal. We can laugh long before we learn to walk or talk. How many of us, though, think laughter is just a human thing, not a God thing? Have you ever thought about it? Does God laugh? Maybe you think He laughs at us from time to time, but do you think He has a sense of humor? I confess that, while I would intellectually assert that He does have a sense of humor, I don’t really believe it, or live like I believe it anyway. What I mean is, while I live my life expecting to see God at work in it, what I expect from Him is instruction, correction, help, etc…but never His humor. Just as when I read the Bible, I’m looking for a “word” from Him…not a laugh from Him. I don’t often see humor in the Bible, but I question if that is because the Bible is really that serious, or if I am just missing it because I have completely missed this part of God’s character.
I said that I would intellectually assert that God does have a sense of humor, but maybe you aren’t even sure about His humor at the intellectual level. Before you can find His humor on a practical, experiential level, it would probably help if you were looking for it because you knew, at least intellectually/theologically, that it did exist. The first proof is in our own nature. If we find that laughter and humor are universal (i.e. not some cultural phenomenon), then we have to assent that it is part of our human nature. The Bible says that God created us in His image, so it would fall to reason that the humor and laughter in our image originate from/in His image.
If the first proof of God’s humor is our nature, I would say the second proof is nature in general, or creation. Who hasn’t laughed at some point while watching some animal on the nature channel? Creation is funny. Looking out at the mountain range by my apartment, there’s a “sleeping Indian”—a ridgeline that looks just like a Native American Indian taking a nap on top of the mountains, from his headdress to his toes, and it’s remarkably detailed. I wonder all the time if God just giggled when he created that one. I wonder if He gets a kick out of us and our surprise when we suddenly look up and see the sleeping Indian in all his detail. How many awkward creatures are there on the earth? How many awkward things do we do? I mean, honestly, if I were given the task of creation, I would have done it with a lot more dignity and seriousness…because I’m not nearly that funny.
My friend Katy is hilarious—one of the funniest people I could ever hope to know. Part of what makes her so darn funny is her willingness to admit the awkward, in life and in herself. This is the very thing which makes me so completely un-funny, my utter unwillingness and inability to admit the awkward in anything. When I look at creation, I think God’s more like Katy on this one. Creation is funny; it’s silly, and it’s awkward…and it’s that way because God made it that way. He made it that way because He’s that way. He made it that way because He has a sense of humor and He loves to laugh. He also made it that way so that we, His children, would laugh—just as parents play peek-a-boo and make silly faces at their children to make them laugh.
Earlier I stated that the Bible says that God created us in His image, so it would fall to reason that the humor and laughter in our image originate from/in His image. I should clarify that the only thing we have in our nature that is not in His image and of His nature is from the Fall: our sin nature. That sin nature taints everything, even our sense of humor. Because of sin, we can now find comedy in inappropriate places. We can laugh at the very things for which God weeps, just as we can laugh at things which anger God. Laughter, which was once pure and an imitation of God, can now be twisted and a mockery of God. Like most things, humor has been hijacked, and the humor that is holy and righteous and God-honoring is now far more difficult than the humor that is sinful and base—just as a sinful life is far easier to lead than a righteous, holy, God-honoring life.
So, if God has a sense of humor and loves laughter, and if all humor and laughter is not necessarily good or holy, then we ought to be asking how we can discern the good humor from the bad humor. For starters, God gives us some guidelines on how we treat people in the Bible. Anytime something “funny” is in violation of His principles for how we treat others, it isn’t funny. Therefore, anything cruel, or hurtful, or gossipy, or ugly about another person, or anything which makes light of someone else’s pain…anything that does not show love and honor to one another…it’s not God’s kind of funny. Actually, it’s more like Satan’s kind of funny—the kind of funny that has been hijacked by sin. Another time we should have caution is anytime we make light of sin, rather than having the heart of God towards sin. God hates sin, so should we.
As our hearts become more like the heart of God, we will gradually learn to love what He loves, hate what He hates, grieve for things He grieves for, and laugh at the things He laughs at. God doesn’t want us to give up laughter, He made it—He loves it! But God does want us to be like minded with Him, which means He does care about the kinds of things we laugh at and He wants to help us learn to laugh at the right things…as He does. Is there anything more inappropriate than being around someone who laughs at the wrong times and the wrong things? Have you ever heard someone bust out in laughter at a time when everyone else is grieving, like at a funeral, maybe? It’s shameful.
When I look at the things which we find “funny” in our entertainment (for starters), I have to wonder if we will someday (when we are more mature in Christ), realize how shameful our sense of humor has been? Will we suddenly realize how often we laughed at things over which we should have grieved or been angry? Just as I wonder how many truly funny things we have missed…things in life that we took too seriously that God actually wanted us to laugh about, or things in the Bible and moments in Jesus’ life which were completely hilarious and we missed it, thinking God was a stoic.
I was working at Kids Across America one summer, and someone asked my friend Kyle to pray. As we were bowing our heads in trained reverence, without missing a beat, in his characteristic dry humor Kyle asked, “What language would you like that in?” (Which was twice as funny coming from a non-pentecostal, reformed theologian type.) He proceeded, in English, with an equally comical prayer—not irreverent, but hilarious. Afterward, the group leader, drying his eyes from the tears of laughter, remarked, “I always like it when Kyle prays because he reminds me that God has a sense of humor.” Oh that the funny things in life may always remind us that God has a sense of humor; and may we be committed to discovering just what God’s sense of humor is, ever refining ours to match His.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you think God has a sense of humor?
- If Jesus were watching Pitch Perfect with you, what do you think His reactions would be? Would He laugh? Would he be angry? Would he be sad? And at what parts?
- When it comes to having a sense of humor like God’s—meaning that you and He find the same things funny (and you don’t find things funny that He doesn’t)—how similar would you say that you are? (Scale of 1-10) Or do you have any idea? If not, you might want to ask God to show you His sense of humor.
- Where do you see God’s sense of humor in nature?
- Can you think of any parts of the Bible which are funny?
- Can you think of any parts of Jesus’ life which are funny, things He said or did which reveal His sense of humor?
- How might it change your day to day life and/or relationship with God if you expected to see God’s sense of humor in His interaction with you?
by Stacey Tuttle
Click here to read quotes from the movie.