It was in 4th grade that I started saying sexual jokes. Yes, you read that right! My mind was already corrupted with profanity at a very young age. At that time I had a seatmate who always drew sexually explicit figures. Although I did not get it, I never felt it was wrong. I actually perceived it as cool. To cut the long story short, I brought that up as I was growing up through words. My day was not complete without uttering green jokes. Fast forward, everything has changed when I practice my faith again. I thought there was something wrong with this act. Although I did not know if it was a sin, I ceased jesting. I avoided it as much as I could. But really, is coarse jesting a sin?
What is Coarse Jesting?
But first, let’s define what Coarse Jesting is.
Coarse Jesting is the use of vulgar words and gestures for the sake of humor or to get attention. It’s often used to make others laugh. It can also be used to insult someone or make fun of them.
It includes the following:
- Using lewd gestures
- Vulgar jokes
- Mockery or insults
Example of Course Jesting
One example of coarse jesting is when Daniel Tosh, a celebrity, made a remark about women.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”
This is an example of a misogynistic act of coarse jesting.
Although it is a joke, it is still wrong! Rape should not be a laughing matter.
What does the bible say about coarse jesting?
There are many bible verses that prove the inappropriateness of coarse jesting.
Here are some.
“We use [the tongue] to say, ‘Praised be the Lord and Father’; then we use it to curse men, though they are made in the likeness of God. Blessing and curse come out of the same mouth. This ought not to be, my brothers!”
“You must put that aside now: all the anger and quick temper, the malice, the insults, the foul language”
“It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
“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.”
Coarse Jesting as a sin
First, let’s discuss what sin is.
According to the Catechism,
CCC 1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”
For insult, cussing, and lewd gestures, it’s quite evident these are serious sins for these could harm others, physically, emotionally, and even mentally.
But for vulgar or green jokes, it’s a gray area.
First, the joke is not true and not serious. That’s why it is a joke!
And since it is not true, one requirement of sin is absent, the intention.
The purpose of jokes is to make people laugh and not to lure them.
But since we are talking about vulgar jokes, it could somehow affect the people whom jokes are thrown at.
For example, for those who are recovering from porn addiction, sexual-related jokes could trigger them causing them to possible relapse.
Also, it could cause a graphic image in the head which could lead others to other sexual sins such as masturbation, pornography, or even actual sexual intercourse in the case of unmarried individuals.
So, is coarse jesting a sin?
Yes. Aside from being sinful, it is also inappropriate. As to whether it is a mortal or venial sin, it depends. To be sure, confess it. Confessing venial sin aside from mortal sin is a good practice.
How do you know if you are guilty of coarse jesting?
If the following statements apply to you, then yes:
- Making jokes about other people’s physical appearance or mental capacities.
- Using racist or sexist jokes as a way to get laughs from others.
- Telling jokes that belittle people who are different from yourself (i.e., older than yourself).
- Telling sexual-related jokes which could be a trigger to a much bigger sin.
Coarse jesting is a sin and can be a grave matter. Thus, confessing it is a must.
How to confess jesting as a sin?
Just like any other sin, you have to tell the priest the jokes that you made. It doesn’t have to be in detail.
If you committed sexual jokes. You just have to tell the priest that you told sexual-related jokes without going to the tiniest detail like the complete content of the joke.
You can also add the times you did it. If you forgot the times, you can just mention that you did it many times.
He will then give you counsel, ask you for penance and eventually absolve you from sins.
There is nothing wrong with telling a joke. It is actually an amazing moment to make people laugh. But note that there are limitations to it. We must always be sensitive to its effects on others. Before throwing a joke, we need to be mindful of the possible repercussions. We have to be aware of whether the joke makes or breaks others.
It is our duty as Catholics to love our neighbors and bring them closer to God. And we are doing it if we speak only of truth.
In this world at this point in time, we have to be a legit example of being a good Catholic. And this should start with our words. How do we inspire others if the words that come out of our mouths are not so inspiring? So it is always best to set a limit.
Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.