rebelling against low expectations

How do I approach my friends about inappropriate joking?


NOAH WRITES: Is joking about drugs or seemingly inappropriate things right? Right now, I believe it is not right. How should I go about telling my friends, Christian and not, that I think it’s wrong when a joke comes up?

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  • Hey Noah! Good question. Let me answer as best as I know how.

    If the friends are not Christians, I recommend saying something like, “Hey, I feel very uncomfortable when you make jokes about that stuff.” If they are truly your friends, they should stop making jokes about that kind of stuff — at least when you are around. If they don’t, know that it is perfectly fine to remove them from your life.

    If the friends are Christians, I recommend saying something like, “Hey, do you think that those kinds of jokes are very God-honoring? Would you want your parents to hear those jokes?” After all, if you are doing something that you would hide or not tell your parents, the thing you are doing is probably wrong and sinful.

    Those are just some suggestions, but I am excited to see other people’s input. Hope this helps!

  • Hi Noah!! I actually come across this a lot myself. Some of the ways I combat this problem;
    Make them realize its not a joke. For example, my grandfather commited suicide, and so if someone jokes about suicide, I mention that, people generally will stop right away because that makes them uncomfortable to talk about it. The reason for that is because before you give an real life example of it, they often haven’t really thought of it as “real”. Sure, people die and take drugs etc., but they have no personal experience with those things so it is not real to them in a sense. Once they “realize” it is, they generally will stop.
    Come right out and say it. If someone is doing something you don’t like, hinting at it or just being silent will actually put more stress on your relationship. If you just tell them, worst case scenario they are tense for a day or two. Then its back to normal. If they will not listen or, when you (gently and kindly) ask them not to talk about that, or when tell them you are uncomfortable and they aren’t responding nicely, maybe you would be better off with different friends.
    Hope that helped!

  • I don’t know if you should correct them or not, but if you do, do it humbly. Don’t rush into it, and make sure that you’re motivated by love.

    Your goal should always be to help them to be more amazed by God, and grow closer to Him. If you really think these jokes are getting in the way of that, by all means go for it! But keep an eye out so you aren’t just fixing what annoys you, or trying to look good.

    And as with any kind of correction, get the log out of your own eye first.

  • Noah, great question! I have a few things to share with you. First of all, it is important to approach your Christian friends differently than your non-Christian friends. Galations 6:1 says “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” I think there are three key things here.

    1) It IS important to correct your Christian brother or sister when they are sinning. That is something that we are called to do as fellow believers.

    2) A key word is GENTLY. Be careful that you choose your words wisely. Don’t correct out of anger, but out of the Spirit’s conviction. Also, use scripture. Ephesians 4:29 and Ephesians 5:3-4 are great verses.

    3) Be careful that you do not catch yourself in the same sin! Remember the verse in Matthew about removing the log in your own eye before pointing out the twig in another’s? It is important to examine yourself so that you can go to your Christian friends with sincerity.

    Now, for your non-Christian friends, it is a bit more difficult. They have no reason to watch their words and refrain from inappropriate joking. I actually was in a situation like this just this past weekend at work. My manager was young (only a few years older than myself), and I had worked with him before. I knew from previous experience that he curses a lot, but in my workplace that is very common. What really bothered me much more is the inappropriate joking. VERY inappropriate joking, and VERY unprofessional.

    I just ignored it all night long, but finally, towards the end of his shift, he said something particularly crude that really struck a nerve. (I won’t repeat it. It is not repeatable.) Before I left that night, I explained to him that those kinds of jokes made me very uncomfortable, and I asked him if he would please refrain from making them around me. And then, something amazing happened….he said….”sure, no problem.” It was that simple! I was so pleased that my simple explanation and request had (hopefully) solved the problem!

    I would encourage you to take a similar approach, Noah. Often times all you have to do is respectfully ask and people are more than happy to oblige. Also, if they ask you why it bothers you so much, you may have an opportunity to “give an answer for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15)!

  • I know this as already been said, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just respectfully explain that those jokes make you uncomfortable, and ask them to stop making them, at least around you. I have some cousins who curse a lot, and I asked them outright to please stop cursing around me, as I don’t like it and I’m not comfortable with it. They did stop, and to this day I still don’t hear them cursing around me, and sometimes one will even reprimand the other if they think something the other said was too inappropriate/not okay. Like Rachel M. said, if they really are your friends, hopefully they will respect your wishes. Hope this helps!

  • I haven’t read any other comments, so forgive me if I repeat something that’s already been said! 😉

    First of all, if your friends are not Christians, I would advise you not to correct them. They likely wouldn’t see any reason why not to make these jokes. Plus, you can lead by example. I went to a secular conference several months ago, and swearing was prevalent among the attendees, speakers, organizers: everyone there! It didn’t take long at all for people to see that I didn’t swear, and that actually led to some questions. So for unbelievers, just don’t engage in the inappropriate joking. They’ll notice pretty quickly!

    As for Christians, it’s a trickier matter. If it’s really rude, then I’d confront them humbly. But keep in mind that many people draw different lines in joking. You may be uncomfortable with jokes about drugs, but others wouldn’t have a problem.

    It’s largely dependent on experiences. You know the game Mafia? My younger sister played it in a big group once, and the narrator said that the victim had been murdered with a machete (it was something like that). For most of the kids, it was a joke, removed from reality. However, my family spent a few years at a mission hospital in Papua New Guinea, and people *were* murdered there with bush knives. My dad sometimes drove to pick up the patients. We heard the family mourning. So it is a reality, and it seems flippant to joke about what we know brought a lot of people pain. Likewise, people sometimes joke about suicide. It can be funny, but what if someone in the group is personally affected by a suicide? It’s a fine line between not joking about anything and being sensitive to people’s needs and issues that are real. I would advise you to definitely pray about what to do, be gentle, and keep in mind that not everyone thinks of these issues as painful for some people.

    I hope that’s helpful to you Noah!

  • I know I’m a little late to join in. But heres what I got. Don’t try to join in, and don’t yell or raise your voice at them about the inappropriate joking. Tell them that you do not like the inappropriate joking, tell them at least not to say things like that around or not at all.

rebelling against low expectations

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