Can sarcasm hurt? How much is too much? Is sarcasm really Christ-like?
I have been wondering about these type of things lately. I actually use sarcasm quite often, usually several times each day. And as my friend and I exchanged a round of this good-natured ribbing, I began to consider what we were saying to each other. We said things we would never say if it weren't in jest. Over and over again I really listened to what I said to others, and what was said to me, just for some good laughs.
So began my wondering.
By the end of this post you might think I'm against humor. Far from it! I believe God has a sense of humor and intends for his followers to also. After all, the Bible does say that the Lord laughs (Psalm 2:4; 37:13).
Anyway, back to my post. I decided to look up the word sarcasm in the dictionaries. What I found was very eye-opening.
The modern dictionary* defined sarcasm as:
cutting language: remarks that mean the opposite of what they seem to say and are intended to mock or deride.
That doesn't sound very good, and with synonyms like sardonic, satirical, and caustic, sarcasm is quickly falling out of favor as my preferred form of humor. Let us, however, move to the 1828 dictionary. Maybe it will be more encouraging.
Sarcasm: A keen reproachful expression; a satirical remark or expression, uttered with some degree of scorn or contempt; a taunt; a gibe. Of this we have an example in the remark of the Jews respecting Christ, on the cross, "He saved others, himself he cannot save."
Oh. Guess not.
So, we see from these definitions that not only can sarcasm hurt someone, but was originally intended to be hurtful. Sarcasm wasn't a joke, but a mocking taunt, a humiliating remark, a dash of insult to injury. Sarcasm isn't all bad though, and certainly not a sin when applied in a godly way, at a godly time.
Elijah used sarcasm in 1 Kings 18:27, saying, "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." to show how ridiculous the worshippers of Baal were in their devotion to a fake god. In this way humiliation was used as a tool to bring others to the true God.
Sarcasm, I believe, is an attribute of the fall. We would not, nor would need to, mock anyone or anything if we were still perfect, but in in God’s ever amazing wisdom and power, He is able to turn all evil, into good. Even sarcasm.
*Encarta World English Dictionary