Should Christian believers enter into the highly secular world of comedy — say, in Las Vegas? Or should they stick safely to “Christian” comedy in Christian settings before Christian audiences?
Before answering that question, let me ask you another one: Is there any place the Christian worldview does not belong — anywhere we should not be witnessing?
A friend of mine, comedian Brad Stine, had a chance to ponder that question a few years back while listening to “BreakPoint.” Hearing Chuck Colson talk about worldview, Brad began to wonder if it would be possible to bring the Christian worldview to professional comedy at the highest levels.
He believed that it was. But as Brad notes in his book, Being a Christian Without Being An Idiot, “Any believer who finds himself drawn to the arts usually discovers he's in a never-ending dilemma: Battling with secular mentality that doesn't necessarily want what he's selling, and a religious mentality that doesn't want him selling it there.”
As a Christian, Stine found he had to work twice as hard to establish himself than secular comedians. Why? Well, because he refuses to use curse words in his routine for one thing. Comedians that appear before him use the "F-word" and gratuitous sexual references, of course. But “once the style of comedy has been established as extremely graphic, which caters to the basest side of our fallen nature,” he notes, “it's difficult to pull people back into the light.”
Instead of fleeing the scene and trying to find a crowd that only wanted clean comedy, Stine said, “I wanted people to see how good clean comedy could be and if no one else was going to provide it, I'd give it a shot.”
Being clean onstage wasn't quite the witness Brad had hoped it would be, because most people didn't realize he was witnessing, he notes. Ironically, he discovered that he WAS being a witness to other comics, who knew how hard it was to be funny without being crude. He recalls one comic in particular who asked him why he used only clean material. The man was astonished to learn that Brad was a Christian. Like many church-goers, he couldn't believe someone could be a Christian and work in comedy clubs.
Brad witnessed to him, not only about his beliefs, but also through his craft. “Sometimes,” he writes, “you get further honoring God by your commitment to Him than you do talking about Him.”
Ten years later, Brad found out that the other comic had become a Christian, too.
“Did this guy become saved strictly because of me?” Brad asked. “Of course not! But for one moment in time, I was where I was supposed to be. A field of ripe harvest that had no farmers because for years Christians would rather let this particular crop rot than bring it in the barn!” Brad continues, “I was a piece of the machine God had constructed to bring another of His children home. But it only occurred because I was on the mission field of a nightclub.”
If you want a taste of Stine's clean comedy — and folks, trust me, Brad is hysterical — try one of his DVDs, especially the new one titled “God's Comic.” Watch it with your friends and your kids. And then, when you’re done laughing, open up a discussion about what the church considers appropriate careers and settings for witnessing. Ask yourselves: Is there any place God can't use our talents — even secular comedy clubs?
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: October 2, 2012