Ecclesiastes 2:2—Is laughter good or bad?

Problem: Sometimes the Bible speaks as though laughter is good and other times as though it is bad. Solomon concluded, “I said of laughter, `It is madness’; and of mirth, `What does it accomplish?’ ”(Ecc. 2:2). He added that “sorrow is better than laughter” (7:3). Jesus added, “Woe to you who laugh now” (Luke 6:25). On the other hand, the Bible encourages laughter, claiming that “a merry heart does good, like medicine” (Prov. 17:22). Solomon even “commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry” (Ecc. 8:15).

Solution: The answer lies in another verse. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven ... a time to laugh; a time to mourn” (Ecc. 3:1, 4). What the Bible says about laughter can be summarized in the following contrast.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.