“Seriousness is not a virtue.” – G. K. Chesterton
Recently, a Christian posted the above quotation on his social media page without further comment, and I found the assertion to be quite disconcerting. To be blunt, I felt it was a rather thoughtless pronouncement void of any biblical support. Surely Christ would consider most forms of seriousness to be excellencies, would He not? My immediate conviction, in fact, was that the second beatitude of Jesus was wholly sufficient to blow Mr. Chesterton’s argument right out of the water: “Blessed are those who mourn…”
I had no doubt, of course, that the Chesterton quote had been wrenched from its original context, and upon further investigation I was able to ascertain that, according to my comprehension of the fuller text of Orthodoxy, Mr. Chesterton was merely pointing out the importance of being able to laugh at oneself, or take oneself more lightly. At least that was my optimistic take. Still, even on this point, his argument was more philosophical than biblical, which was to be expected from a larger-than-life Christian apologist whose romanticism and cleverness sometimes carried him away from the moorings of Scripture and into the waters of creative speculation.
Indeed, I did have to wonder when Chesterton (in another essay) went so far as to state that seriousness is “the fashion of all false religions.” So where exactly does biblical Christianity fit into that panoptic view?
…The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…? — 2 Peter 3:10-11
The question before us is a sobering one, dear reader. The whole of this world in which you presently find enjoyment and amusement will soon dissolve. Vanish. Kaput. Considering this, what manner of person ought you to be? Think greatly upon this truth and perhaps you will be confronted with how deeply you have entrenched yourself in the world for your pleasure, comfort, and ease. I have certainly been convicted by this realization.
Thus, The Sacred Sandwich enters a new chapter. Though we have always attempted to promote God’s word as the antidote to worldliness and a friendship with it, we nonetheless have often employed the very tools of the world that we sought to reprove. Humor and wit have their place, no doubt, and we hope to appropriately utilize it in the future, but we admit we have often failed in our past endeavors. Our satire and whimsy have often been grounded in cultural references with a wink and a nudge and a pandering to our theological constituents. It delighted our choir, but hardened our opponents; and even worse, those unbelievers who visited our site found great satisfaction in our mocking of any segment of the Christian population. And it is never a pleasant thought to think that our work might be used as a convenient tool for the devil.