April Fool's Day

Charles J. Aebi

Dear Aebi: "What do you think of 'April Fool's Day?' Don't you think it's a good joke and just good, clean fun?"

It does not matter what I think; what do you suppose the Lord thinks about it? I have no objection to good, clean fun, although I observe that most of what passes as fun on TV and radio is neither good nor clean. It is not just nostalgia when I say I long for the kind of clean humor that used to characterize radio and television. On most comedy (and other) shows today, the laughter you hear is spawned either by a soundtrack or else by a dirty joke, and both vulgarity and profanity are standard fare. That is too bad; it is a commentary on our morality.

What is meant by "April Fool's Day?" I have seen it (ever since I can remember) as a kind of practical joke pulled on people. It goes something like this: Someone will tell one or more people, sometimes a whole class or assembly, about something surprising, unpleasant, or even downright terrible. Then when all the exclamations have subsided, the narrator will say, "April Fool!" It is supposed to work only on April 1. If it is done before that time, the hearers are expected to say, "April Fool's Day is not yet here, and you're the biggest fool this year!" Or if it is done after April 1, the hearers might say, "April Fool's Day is now past, and you're the biggest fool at last!" Someone is sure to say, "That's silly!" Perhaps it is.

In any case, it is thought to be acceptable to tell a lie designed to shock people, then, after some time elapses, to tell them it is a lie. Here is the nub of the question: Is it ever right to tell a lie? If you tell some lies, how is a person to know when you are telling the truth? Does the hearer have to watch you carefully to see if you have crossed your fingers, toes, arms, or eyes? Do you have to swear on a stack of Bibles or say, "I promise," or say or do something else that assures them you are really telling the truth?

When Jesus said, "But I say unto you, do not swear at all ... But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Matt. 5:34,37), he meant that your truthfulness is so regularly a part of your speech that those who hear you know it is true or you would not say it. People who say things that are not true just to shock others are not to be trusted, not even if they are preachers. A man told the elders of a congregation his account of what had happened. Some years later, he came before the same eldership and told them just the opposite. They said, "When did you lie, then or now? We can't tell." They were right. Maybe the man had more motivation to lie the second time, but they could not judge motives. Christians should always tell the truth! All liars will have a part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

April Fool's Day may be meant to be a practical joke; if so, it should be said that practical jokes can be very harmful at times. One practical joke in a Pennsylvania steel mill resulted in a man's being killed. So, I guess I have to say that I see no good that can come from April Fool's Day jokes. They may cause harm, so I avoid them. 2660 Layman Rd., Vincent, OH 45784-9730. cjandi@juno.com


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