Should people be happy?

Yes.

God’s people should praise him joyfully. Everyone should. That’s what righteous people do. There is no law against joy. Everyone should rejoice when they see bad things happen to bad people. That’s what righteous people do.

People should rejoice at home and in public. People should do good deeds gladly, and bring their parents and leaders joy. Don’t act like you’re mourning during religious ceremonies; you should be enjoying yourself. Even if your life is hard, you should be happy about it. Enjoying your life is the best thing you can possibly do!

God satisfies people’s desires and makes them happy. He commands people to celebrate and rejoice and to make other people happy, and he rewards them with happy lives when they do what he wants. He wants us to be glad to know that he will reward us. He rewards people for being delighted with him and for gladly doing what’s right. He even punishes people for not being joyful. God wouldn’t do those things if it wasn’t good for people to be happy, would he?

Solomon wisely wished for his son to have a happy marriage, and encouraged others to be happy too, because he knew that being cheerful is good for you. David, who always behaved just the way God wanted him to, rejoiced and celebrated a lot, and he said other people should rejoice, too. God himself is often delighted with people, particularly when they do what he wants, and he rewards them gladly. Everything God does is right, so we should follow his example.

No.

God does not approve of people rejoicing over their enemies’ misfortune. And according to Job, that’s not the only kind of rejoicing that’s wrong; it’s also a sin to rejoice over your own fortune. Job was the most righteous person on earth, so he ought to know what he’s talking about.

You should not gratify your desires by doing what you want, because your body’s desires are perverse, and will lead to your destruction. Shun life’s pleasures, so they won’t get in the way of your spiritual growth. You must not indulge in pleasures, or you might as well be dead. God will not answer your prayers if what you’re ultimately trying to get is pleasure.

Those who love pleasure will be punished. Pleasure is not good,1 and you should have nothing to do with people who are so foolish, disobedient, flawed, and depraved as to love pleasure.

Solomon wisely advised people to refrain from laughing, because he knew that being sad is good for you. Pleasure won’t do you any good; it only brings poverty. Only a fool would go and have fun at a feast; it’s better to join the mourners instead, because you are going to die, and you should keep that in mind.

When the Babylonians rejoiced and were glad, God thought it was a shameful disgrace. God will never forgive people who insist on joyfully laughing and partying when he clearly wants them to be crying. It doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating because it’s a holy day; God will make you stop.

Jesus wants you to suffer when you don’t deserve it, just like he did. Anyone who doesn’t hate their life isn’t a real Christian. So don’t laugh, or God will make you cry. Grieve over what God is doing to those around you, or you too will be punished. Don’t even think about enjoying your life, or you will die and go to hell!

Sometimes?

Besides the clear yes or no answers, there are parts of the Bible that are more on the fence. Maybe these passages will provide an explanation that will resolve the contradiction? Nope. Saying happiness is sometimes good and sometimes bad only further contradicts the Bible’s statements that it’s always good or always bad.

There is a verse that suggests that enjoyment is good as long as you’ve earned it (which contradicts the part that says you should follow Christ’s example and suffer even though you don’t deserve it). There is a verse that suggests that God may want his chosen people to be happy, but not other peoples (which contradicts the parts that tell all the nations to rejoice).

There is a verse that suggests that it’s good to be happy about some of God’s gifts, but not others (which is strange considering that Jesus offered to make his disciples happy by getting his Father to give them whatever they asked for). There is a passage that suggests that whether you’re happy or sad, you should act like you’re not feeling that way (which is incompatible with the commandment not to deceive one another).

There is a passage that suggests that it’s not good to please yourself, but it is good for one person to bring pleasure to another. Other passages suggest that pleasure is good as long as you’re taking pleasure in doing good. But these passages contradict all the ones that say pleasure is evil.

There are passages that suggest that being happy and being sad can both be good, as long as you feel the right way at the right time. For instance, you shouldn’t rejoice when everyone around you is mourning, or vice versa. You shouldn’t celebrate a victory too early, when you still might lose.

You shouldn’t rejoice when bad things happen to God’s people, or the same things may happen to you. And you shouldn’t rejoice or grieve about everyday things when the end of the world has come and God is about to kill everybody. But these passages contradict the parts that say you should rejoice always.

Sorrow may be unpleasant, but God wants people to become sorrowful because that’s an important part of getting people to repent and be saved… at least if it’s godly sorrow, that is. Worldly sorrow only brings death. Too bad Solomon didn’t mention that detail when he was writing about the virtues of sadness. Now people following his advice are going to make themselves miserable for nothing.

Jesus says you can only be happy in one of your two lives, so you’d better make sure it’s the everlasting one. You should spend this life weeping and mourning and being tormented. If you do that, you will be rewarded and comforted in the next life, and then you can be joyful. But if you laugh and live comfortably now, you’ll have to spend eternity weeping and mourning and being tormented. Too bad God forgot to mention that detail when he inspired people to write all those passages telling people to rejoice.

And then there’s this confusing verse, which says it’s terribly evil for God to let some people enjoy his gifts, rather than letting some other arbitrary unspecified group of people enjoy them.

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