rebelling against low expectations

Is it right to joke about Ebola?


GRANT WRITES: How do you guys feel about Ebola jokes? I don’t like them one bit. When someone brings one up I either leave the group or change the subject. How do rebelutionaries in Africa feel about this? That’s the thing I’ve been wondering.

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  • Hey Grant. I wish I could answer. But recently God has been teaching me to hold my tongue (as you well know, if you’re the Grant I think you are) and only teach what I know to be true, instead of just my opinion.

    However, my family and I do make jokes about Ebola along with about the president of the USA, about the different races, etc. but all in the privacy of our family. That way, there is little chance it will be misunderstood and taken badly. When we make jokes like that, we are anything but series. Humor is sometimes our way of saying “Even though this scares me, it has no power over me”. Now, because these kind of jokes can easily be taken badly in public, I rarely make jokes like this outside the home.

    Now, that is just what I currently do. I also would appreciate an answer to Grant’s question, because it is very important.

  • I have no choice but to listen to my classmates make these jokes.I don’t participate in this, because I don’t find the jokes funny and it’s not something we should be joking about. I don’t know why they joke about something so serious.

  • I live in Uganda, East Africa. Ebola has not been in Uganda, but anyone coming into the country has to fill out a health sheet, have their temperatures taken, and hands sprayed! Like Alana, I don’t think it’s right to joke about Ebola. For some people, it hits too close to home.

  • At my school there are numerous jokes about the Ebola outbreaks around the world. I don’t feel like its right to joke about a disease which is killing 1000s of people, so whenever those jokes make it into a conversation I kindly change the subject or leave the conversation.

  • For me it depends on how the person is saying it. Some jokes are said out of complete ignorance while others are mean spirited. What you can do is say, “Haha. But really, on a more serious note, do you know the exact symptoms of the disease? It is terrible.” Or you can say, “Haha. But really, about it, do you believe what they say that it isn’t airborne?” Basically, start a discussion and if a person continues to make jokes about it, even after the facts and seeing how you take it serious, then maybe you should just politely walk away. The person might just think twice about it, though, after actually talking and knowing more about it.

  • Recently posted an interview with Nancy Writebol- Ebola survivor and missionary. She goes into some very sobering details about the realities of ebola- having worked first-hand in a clinic in Liberia. Her stories both broke my heart for the people suffering with ebola, and sparked prayer for the gospel to be spread to the infected areas before it’s too late. After reading her interview, I can no longer joke around about something that causes so much suffering- I think a lot of the jokes about ebola are not out of heartlessness, but simply out of ignorance to the painful realities of the disease. I’d very strongly recommend reading this if you have a few minutes!

  • I don’t really know anyone who would joke about Ebola (though I’m with Trent in that my family sometimes jokes about it in private, but with no bad intentions). The problem I run into is that people just don’t seem to take it seriously, or understand how bad it is for people who are actually living in the reality of the disease. I have friends who will say, “If anyone in my school got Ebola, I would (insert some variant of ‘freak out’ or ‘die’)”. Whenever it becomes a topic of conversation, people (sometimes including myself) seem to show concern only for themselves. What would happen if I got Ebola? They focus on the incredibly slim chance that this could happen to them rather than, at the very least, praying for the people who are actually going through it.

    Sorry, I know that’s a little off-topic 🙂 Just some thoughts.

  • I’m in the Republic of South Africa at the moment, and there are people who make jokes it about it here, but I believe it’s wrong because “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.” -Proverbs 17:5

  • I find Ebola jokes desensitizing to the pain and suffering that comes with Ebola. In America we don’t have ebola but we have cancer and as someone who has witnessed the effect cancer can have on a loved one I find it rude to make jokes about cancer. With this said I relies most jokes are made in jest and aren’t meant to offend or hurt anyone. Although I do not feel free to make jokes about Ebola , I believe it is a matter of conscience ,that should be guarded by maturity, consideration and protection of your witness.

  • I think, like others have said, it depends on whether the joke is being made with knowledge of what the disease can do or out of ignorance.

    I’m a junior in college majoring in biology, and my classmates and I have sat through multiple classes on the disease. We’ve been taught to understand the symptoms, the epidemiology, the public health effects and how/why the treatments work. So I think when we make jokes, it’s with the understanding that it is a very terrible disease that is affecting too many people.

  • When I first read the question, I thought “oh well, I don’t have anything to say here” but after reading through the comments, I have a couple thoughts on my heart. I could go through and reply to different people, but I think anyone that needs to hear this will find it. (I will try to keep it short)

    I want to start off with three bible verses I found:
    Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
    Ephesians 5:4 – Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
    Luke 6:45 – A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
    As always, it is a matter of the heart.

    Now, my personal experience and thoughts:
    I think I have only made a joking comment about Ebola in my house once or maybe twice. I have never found it to be a funny topic. I think that more the joking comes from trying to cover up the fear. I think people are scared and they don’t know how to talk about it but they feel like they have to and the only thing they know to do is joke.

    My dad was pretty freaked out by Ebola when it first came up but then he found Psalm 91 (especially verses 5 and 6)
    5You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
    6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

    I encourage you, when you hear those jokes, pray. Pray for the people fighting Ebola, pray for the doctors and other people who are risking their lives to help these people – for their health & safety and for wisdom – and pray for the people here that their fear will be taken away. Fear is a powerful tool that Satan uses to bind us.

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12

    This isn’t as related to the question, but I don’t know where else to put it so…
    I want to put out a word of caution and encouragement to a couple of you that I have seen comment here.

    It is true that we must be careful with what we say and that it is important to make sure our words are God’s and not ours.
    Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
    Ecclesiastes 5:2-4 – Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.
    James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

    Yet I know the dangers of the other side. Don’t let Satan takes this and shame you into doing nothing. Let God take it and make you wiser. Use good judgment – His judgment – when you speak, and know when to hold your tongue, but don’t just sit in a corner and shut up. It is good to reflect on and learn from past actions, but don’t take it too far. You all have really good things to say.

    I’m sure you’ve seen me mention the Phylicia Delta Blog before, well I read the latest post today and wow! She had a guest blogger come on and she wrote about reflecting on this past year and not letting it leave you defeated. I want to quote part of the blog here and give you the link if you want to read it because it was hard to pick just one section to write here.

    “So as the year closes remember that God loves you unconditionally. Remember that even now, God is working in you and through you to create a beautiful story out of your life. Remember that the mistakes you’ve made this year don’t define you. Remember that failure isn’t in falling, but in staying down. Remember that the victory is already won! Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise. Remember that God already knows your weaknesses, and that His strength is made perfect in them. And remember that after every ending, there is a new beginning, a fresh start. And when the enemy whispers your faults and failings, remind him that you are loved and accepted by God, and that all things are working together for good. Your life may be messy right now, but out of that mess God is creating a masterpiece.”

    God bless you all!

    For His Glory,

    • You are welcome!

      My eyes tear up as I read your comment because I know how you feel. I was just thinking to myself this morning about the difference between “knowing” something and “understanding” something. I knew that “a^2 + b^2 = c^2” way before I had any idea what algebra or anything like that was, but when I understood it and what it meant, I was able to apply it and use it and it affected what I was able to do. I think a lot of times we know things that the bible says, but we don’t understand them – or we understand them but we don’t apply them. I could still spend hours trying to figure out the length of the side of triangleX even now if I chose not to use what I had available to me.

      You can never mess up God’s plans!! God knew everything – good and bad – that you were going to do before He created the world! He is sovereign over everything that happens – every circumstance, every trial, every failing, every victory, every moment of every day!! There is nothing you can do that surprises Him or throws Him off.

      Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

      Isaiah 46:9-10 – Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

      Sam, if you have accepted Jesus’ payment for your sins when He died on the cross and asked for His forgiveness then YOU ARE FORGIVEN! When Jesus cried “It is finished!” He said that over you! There is no more guilt. There is no more shame. None! Those thoughts in your heart and those voices whispering otherwise are lies! Throw them out! Sam, right now I pray over you freedom from those spirits of bondage and defeat in the name of Jesus! They have no place in your life and no hold over your heart!! The bible says that there is no condemnation for you and you know what that means? There is NO CONDEMNATION for you! NONE! Remember. Remember the Truth. Hold onto it. Those spirits that leave you defeated from your sin are not from God. They can only do as much as you will let them for as long as you will allow it. It is not you that does this, but Christ in you that gives you that power. (Luke 10:19, John 14:12-14) There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. One is from God and one is not. You know the difference by where it pushes you. Condemnation pushes you down and leaves you with nothing; conviction turns you around towards the cross and pushes you forward to Jesus. You are free. Walk in that freedom. I am passing a challenge on to you that I was given from the dearest friend and mentor of mine: read Romans 6 every day for a month. It changed me!

      Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set youa free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2

      I love you, my brother in Christ! And Jesus loves you more!!

      For His Glory,

      • So I just noticed that you mentioned reading Romans 6 everyday for a month, and I just thought I would add that several teens from our youth group did that with the book of James. Since its 5 chapters, we all managed to read it once every day for a month. It was live changing, not to mention the fact that i basically have it memorized now!

      • You are right!!!!! Joy and Freedom!! 😀

        Yes, I was once asked to pick my favorite book of the Bible, (seriously?! ONE favorite!?!??) and after a bit I settled on Romans. I thought it was a little odd to read the same chapter every day for that long, but that is the miracle of the Holy Spirit: I saw something completely new every single day!!! After that month, I really redefined the whole “hiding God’s word in your heart” thing. I’ve always considered that memorizing scripture, and while that is good and important to do, I don’t think it is restricted to that. Can I quote Romans 6 to right now? No!! That would be great, but no I can’t. However, I have meditated on it so much that it has become a part of me. It isn’t that we have to memorize the whole Bible; just submerge yourself in it. Take it in deeply. The Holy Spirit brings back to us what we need to remember when we need it. (John 14:26)
        And one last thing there (Trent will like this 🙂 ) I have found an enormous difference in results when I decide that “I am going to do something” rather than deciding “I am going to try to do something.” Deciding to try leaves room to end up not doing it, saying you will means making a commitment (to God!) and you will find you follow through more. Will it be perfect? No. But it will be different.
        So in the words of Yoda: Do or do not. There is no try.

        “For freedom Christ has set us free” it just blows my mind. He didn’t have to do any of this!! He didn’t have to create us, but He did. And when we all went and blew it He could of just shook His head and watched us destroy ourselves, but He didn’t! He gave up everything for us – because He wanted to do that for us. Because He loves us and wanted to show us that. Why? Why would He love me like that? It is truly amazing!!!!! Thank you, Jesus!!

        That really is the best feeling right there. I know what you are describing. It is that moment that goes beyond words when The Spirit touches your spirit and you just feel it. You feel God. You are left overwhelmed; with nothing left to do but worship at His feet! It is the smallest glimpse of the vastness of His love that goes beyond any comprehension.

        Lastly, I love how you signed your name here! Hang on to that! Don’t forget it!! THAT is a label that belongs with your name!!! Write it that way every time if you have to. Never forget! And I think I will follow your lead here and sign my name that way. I will remind my heart now of the Truth that it needs to hear. God bless you!!!

        Loved and Never Alone,

      • Great job!! *virtual high five* :). I’m still going strong! About half way through. Thanks for recommending the challenge!!

  • I would say that it is OK to joke about Ebola as long as there is nobody around you physically (or connected to a social media outlet that you have) that would take offense to it. The book of James does teach us about the tongue, but I would contend that if there is nobody around you offended then it is perfectly fine to do.

    Mind you, Ebola is a serious disease and I might have changed my opinion if the disease was transmitted differently and things of that nature.

  • I’ve noticed that a number of comments have centered on the idea of whether your joke would offend anyone around you — which is a distinctly modern and fairly relativistic way to approach a question of morality.

    According to this logic, joking about Ebola with your family members or with friends who are comfortable with this sort of jesting wouldn’t be wrong, whereas joking about it in front of an actual Ebola patient would be.

    This same sort of thinking is used to justify a number of activities the Bible condemns based on the reasoning that as long as you are doing “whatever-it-is” in the privacy of your own home and/or as long as everyone participating consents, then it is okay.

    What’s missing in this approach is a far more fundamental issue (and actually the ONLY issue) in deciding whether something is right or wrong: What does God think about making jokes about Ebola? Is He offended by these jokes?

    We know Jesus was fully human, even while being fully God. He most likely laughed a lot and told jokes while on earth. He doesn’t have any problem with joking or laughing. He created these things!

    With that in mind, imagine Jesus was attending your youth group or was sitting at your dining room table. Would the Son of God crack a joke about Ebola?

    My goal here is not to convince you that Ebola jokes are wrong. My gut instinct is that they are, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue.

    The real danger for young people growing up in a relativistic and permissive culture is that we stop evaluating our actions based on a God’s righteousness and start using our culture’s techniques — techniques, I might add, which are largely skewed towards allowing everyone to do anything they please.

    Hope this is helpful!

    • Thanks for sharing Brett! That makes a lot of sense. I’ve been hearing the jokes, but I’ve kind of been wondering what’s so funny…I mean, we don’t joke about other diseases, so I’m not sure why it happens with this one. I guess it is almost comical how much everybody has freaked out about it all around the country, so maybe people are just making fun of how big a deal some people are making it. It is a nasty and often fatal disease (and contagious), though, so it kind of makes sense that people are concerned about it.

    • Thanks for the wisdom Brett. You’re definitely right and our standard for everything we do should not be what the world around us is doing, but rather Christ is doing. he really is our high priest and our high standard.
      “Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives”
      All to us
      (I heard it by) The Zoe Group
      I would have responded more specifically about the topic but everyone else has done such a great job I thought I might respond in tangent form 🙂

    • You know, I never really thought of it that way, but you’re right. Once again, another reminder to hold my tongue. (Thanks God, as much as I do not enjoy these lessons, I know it’s for my own good.)

      Thanks Brett!
      – Trent

    • Whoa! Totally true on all of it Brett!
      For me joking about Ebola wouldn’t come up in my topic of choice because Ebola is such a serious problem if anyone has it. I cannot see why you would joke about it because people are suffering from it and even dying. Most don’t survive from Ebola which is why I find it a very hard thing to joke about. Does anyone else feel this way or am I just REALLY serious?

    • Good point about jokes in general – I tend to have quick tongue, and will sometimes crack a joke only later to realize that it may have been hurtful. While I don’t find jokes about Ebola funny and would not try to make Ebola anything but what it is, I do tend to make jokes which I regret. Jesus is (as always) a good filter to put things through.

  • Something my youth pastor said about gossip might apply here… He said that every word that comes out of our monthes reflects one kingdom or the other. God’s kingdom or the devils. The question is whose kingdom are you representing when you make Ebola jokes?

  • “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

    I don’t believe that Ebola jokes fit in any of those categories. I personally have made light of Ebola as well, but since then I have regretted it. I have come to the conclusion that such jokes are not edifying considering how many have lost their lives and have likely gone to hell because of it. God has given us an appreciation for humor; let’s just try to be discerning with it.

  • I’m from South Africa, and although we don’t have Ebola here yet, emergency measures have been implement with specific hospitals set up for the treatment and quarantine of possible patients. People here joke to deal with the scary possibility that we could easily end up with an epidemic here.
    Also in South Africa we have a lot of crime, poverty and abuse, you either develop a sense of humor about these things or you won’t be able to live here. Does that mean that it’s okay to joke about a life and death matter? Not necessarily. But the opposite is also true. I know that when I’m faced with a life and death situation I prefer it if someone cracks a joke. Again a personal choice but I think that’s my main point.
    If your conscience will not be settled around people making jokes about death then don’t stay there. Move to where your spirit feels at rest. Nothing is worth compromising your relationship with the King of Heaven, don’t let anything, even a “harmless” joke come between you and Him.

  • I don’t think it’s right to joke about Ebola.
    Think about all the thousands of people dying
    from it, yet some sinful people still joke about it.
    I bet they wouldn’t be laughing if Ebola was in there

    (Sorry that I haven’t been commenting lately, I’ve been in Auckland.)

    • Thanks for your thoughts, but you came across kinda hard. Let’s remember that we are all sinners, saved by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus our lord, not of ourselves, lest any man should boast.

  • To me, it’s absolutely unbelievable that somehow, the majority of people appear to agree on the fact that ebola is amusing. I think this is utterly abhorrent, and I simply fail to understand how this happened.
    I sort of (but still not fully) understand how disasters become ‘funny’ years after an event, but ebola is happening right now! How on earth can people be okay with joking about this, when every night on the news we see people dying by this horrible disease

    No, to me, it is very much NOT okay to joke about ebola, and I think it’s rather ignorant to state that ‘it doesn’t matter if no one who actually has it hears it”.
    What’s become of us.

  • Yes. I mean no. I mean both. Yes, to yes I agree that jokes about Ebola are bad, I mean, WHY would you joke about Ebola? I don’t get why Ebola jokes are so funny. I mean, this is the typical conversation when some is sick: “Oh my gosh! She coughed! She has Ebola!” Oh yeah. (Cough-cough.) I have Ebola. (sarcasm) People are dying from it. Why joke about it?

    No, I don’t think that jokes about Ebola are right or ok. Like I said above, people are dying from it. When someone in your family dies or is sick, do you joke about their death? I don’t think so. Why joke about Ebola?

  • Although the person making the joke may not find it offensive, and even the people that hear the joke may not find it offensive, there are others who take offense at. Just as gay jokes or jokes with vulgar language or impropriety sicken me, jokes about ebola really bother others. I suppose I never actually gave much thought to it though. My friends would joke about it, but it never really struck me as anything but them having some “harmless” fun. Actually, until now I guess I never realized how much of a negative effect they had on others. For this, I am sorry. Please don’t think of me as some callous unfeeling fool; I’m not. I am a fool, just not a callous unfeeling one. =) I just never really got that part of it I guess. I actually go to Uganda on mission trips every year, which is bordering dangerously close to the countries that have been effected by ebola lately. I guess you don’t really realize until it starts hitting close to home. When I started to think about how those I know and love in Uganda could be the next to be affected by the disease. Then that gets me to thinking that others that have it or have died from it, or will eventually get it, have been someone else’s mother or father or sister or brother. That’s another reason we shouldn’t joke about things like that. And again, we need to be above reproach. Even if something you do or say doesn’t strike you as wrong, please think first that if it could offend someone else, it is better to remain silent on the matter.

  • yeah i dont think its good at all. i mean making fun of someone who is living in such agony just isn’t cool. Kinda like making fun of people who die or get hurt in car wrecks. people who have Ebola are not just statices, they are real humans who matter as much as we do

  • Grant,
    I have a friend from Kenya, and while people there are not affected, many live their lives in fear of the dreaded illness. I personally think that it is NEVER okay to joke about Ebola (or any other sickness) because of the thousands of people who are praying that each breath won’t be their last. FYI though, over 21,000 people in the world die of hunger each day, but so far, only around 5,000 people have died in the entire Ebola outbreak. I heard a quote that said (I’m paraphrasing here) “The reason Ebola is treated as a bigger deal than starvation on the news and anywhere else really, is because rich people can die of Ebola, but not starvation.” So when you read this response, please pray not only for those poor Ebola patients, but the starving people in the world and the persecuted Christians everywhere.

  • I think that the people who make those jokes have no idea the real situation. They just want something to joke about, and it makes me sick to think that we can make a joke casually about something that is ripping families apart.

  • A lot of the kids in my class like joke about ebola:
    “Where’s ____?”
    “Oh he’s sick with ebola.”
    But I feel that they shouldn’t joke about that because people are dying from it. How would they like it if they were sick with ebola and some kid was laughing about the disease?
    Would you ever joke about ebola in front of a person who had it? I should certainly hope not!

  • EBOLO: Every Body Only Lives Once.
    Ebola should should encourage us to think about the gifts of life and health rather than simply take them for granted.

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