My Musings

Let’s Get Serious!

Let’s Get Serious!

I love “Weird Al” Yankovic. I saw him in concert at the Minnesota County Fair years ago and I still enjoy his videos on facebook.

Can I still be a serious person?

If by serious you mean one-dimensional, then I don’t qualify. A serious passage in the Bible affirms that there is an appointed time for everything, “…a time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). So, there is a time to be silly and a time to be serious. The key is in our ability to tell the time.

Let’s put our silly sides aside and talk. I mentioned “Weird Al” only to let you know I have one (or to get your attention). But I realize that asking readers to get serious is risky business in today’s blogosphere. If you are still with me, thank you. You probably even consider Christmas, Easter and Memorial Day to be more meaningful than April Fool’s Day. Weird.

The ancient Greeks called our serious side, “semnos.” In Latin, it’s “gravitas.” In both classic cultures, it was a virtue to be august, serious, venerable, dignified and respectful. Notice the words pompus and arrogant are not included. An early Christian theologian, Clement of Alexandra (150 – 215 AD) defined gravitas as “a life turned toward the divine.” Now that IS serious!

Semnos a serious virtue in the Bible. After all, repentance and forgiveness are serious business. The apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to think about things semnos (Philippians 4:8). The New International Version (NIV) translated it here as “noble” and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) called it “honorable.” Paul encouraged the young Timothy to “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and semnos (1 Timothy 2:2; “dignity”, NASB; “respectful,” RSV; and “holiness,” NIV). Elders must also be men of semnos (1 Timothy 3:4). So must deacons (1 Timothy 3:8). Three verses later, women get equal instruction in semnos.

But seriously, the vast majority of biblical challenges to be to semnos are directed at men. In Titus, both old and young men are urged to seek it. Imagine that! Paul expected young men to be serious:

    Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified [semnos], sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:6-8, NASB’ “seriousness” in the NIV)

A better description of manhood has never been written.

Our culture is seldom serious. There is almost as little gravity today as there is shame. We can see the decline in semnos over the last generation on television. For instance, Jim Anderson of “Father Knows Best” was replaced by Archie Bunker (a loud-mouthed bigot), and then by Homer Simpson. Then by no one. Enough said.

Will Rogers, a 20th century humorist, said, “Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Seriously, getting your political education from comedians proves you are not serious.

Your well-timed silly side is important. Nevertheless (I love that word), an inability to take your life and the lives of others seriously can have serious consequences.

Let’s get practical:

  • Most “reality” shows lack semnos.
  • Tell a dirty joke and you lose some semnos status.
  • Flying off the handle is not very semnos.
  • When presidents reply to questions about underwear, semnos suffers.
  • Playing video games all day long is very unsemnos.
  • Excessive complaining does not get you to semnos.
  • Drinking contests are as unsemnos as it gets.
  • Ignoring genocide is not something semnos people do.
  • When I see crowds swooning for charlatans, I long for semnos instead.
  • When I see wild extatic shaking and holy laughter” on stage in the name of worship, I see a semnos void.
  • Discussing a rising nuclear threat is semnos as a heart attack.
  • Defending the integrity of marriage is highly semnos.
  • Ever notice how serious Jesus was? This article has serious length limits so do your own research. It’s a no-brainer. One mark of our shortage of seriousness is the fact that the only Bible verse many people can cite from memory is; “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). He did that a lot.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.