Thursday, June 21, 2007

Does God Hate Sarcasm

Does God hate sarcasm?

I love the church I go to. It’s probably my favorite church of all time, except for the one my dad started at a car wash.

But a few weeks ago, a stand-in minister, who was great although he didn’t have a beard which I often associate with wisdom, made a point that I’m pretty sure God hates.

Here’s the setup:He was talking about how in good marriages you need to know if your spouse is a safe person or an unsafe person. On one column of the bulletin he had signs that they were unsafe and on the other signs they were safe. The information was fill in the blank so that me and the other 5,000 people in the crowd could play along.

I read ahead because TiVo has ruined my attention span and here’s what I saw for his last point:

Unsafe: Safe:

________ humor Words of _______

I instantly started to rack my brain with words he could put in there under the unsafe column instead of the one I feared. Hateful? Mean-spirited? Unfunny? (Let’s be honest, being consistently around someone unfunny would be a fairly serious marital problem.)

Any of those options would have worked perfectly, but before I could stand up and suggest one he said “And the last sign that you’re spouse is unsafe is that they use sarcastic humor instead of words of life.”

Here are three reasons I think that’s wrong:

1. God was sarcastic.
In one of my favorite and least quoted verses in the Bible, God delivers some classic sarcasm to his buddy Moses. Basically, in Numbers 11:23 Moses does one of his “you gotta be kidding me God” monologues about how there’s no way there will be enough meat for the Israelites. This is God’s response: “”Is the Lord’s arm too short?” At that point in their relationship Moses had witnessed God open and close the Red Sea, rain frogs from the heavens and countless other miracles. Was God really asking Moses about the length of his arm? No, He was being sarcastic.

2. People that God dug were sarcastic.
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on top of a mountain seeing whose God can light an altar with fire. The prophets of Baal are freaking out because Elijah is playing head games with them by throwing water on his altar. Then in verse 27 it says:At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”Clearly, sarcastic. And how does God respond? He lights the altar on fire for Elijah and all the other prophets are slaughtered. I don’t know Hebrew, but I’m pretty sure that’s an indication that God is a huge fan of sarcasm.

3. I’m sarcastic.
It’s entirely possible that when I’m more mature in my faith God is going to ask me to give up sarcasm. I might just have bigger issues to work on right now. Like honesty. Good Lord, sometimes I lie for no reason. Like instead of saying “I saw something interesting on TV last night” I sometimes catch myself saying “I saw something interesting in a book” just because I want complete strangers to think I’m smart. That’s ridiculous. Obviously God doesn’t want me to lie, but until sarcasm is added as the eleventh commandment, I can’t accept that when it comes to communicating, the opposite of words of life is sarcastic humor.


Marc David said...

Bro, found you randomly. God bless Google. Great post. As I am ridiculously sarcastic and passionate about my relationship with god, I'm gonna agree with you.

Anonymous said...

nice post! I typed this in on google because I have a sarcastic sense of humor as well and I wanted to make sure everything was straight w/ God. I definately agree w/ your post.

Anonymous said...

just happened upon this myself and love it. My friend who is going through a difficult time, found a part in Job (38:21) where God seems to be really sarcastic. I am pretty sarcastic myself and have often wondered what God thought of my sarcastic sense of humor but i think this passage does a pretty good job of letting us know we're good. :)

Anonymous said...

I must confess I use sarcasm and I am a Christian. Sometimes you simply cannot say "you are an ignorant!" to a brother directly. :P

Anonymous said...

and don't forget about God's diatribe to job -- some super sarcasm there

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget about Job. God was extremely sarcastic. He asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you understand." Awesome!!! If you read enough, God seems to love sarcasm.

Michael said...

Thank you so much for posting this!

Anonymous said...

I think you have to be careful with sarcasm. Sometimes, for example, someone may ask a serious question, and a very ugly, sarcastic answer is given, making the one who asked the question feel belittled. I think that's when sarcasm is bad. Like any words, if it's used, should be used in a friendly, humorous manner, not to belittle others.

Anonymous said...

I Also came across your post through google, as late as I am, obviously. I wanted to say something about how you said you tell little white lies and until sarcasm becomes the eleventh commandment, you'll keep doing so. Lying and being sarcastic are nowhere near the same. The bible tells us not to be simple and needless to say, simple-minded (foolish). So sarcasm is more along the lines with an individual such as the Almighty who is intelligent and wise. I too love to be sarcastic, which actually stands as an issue because I tell jokes and other people just figure I'm simple but majority of the time, they just didn't catch the joke. Anyways, lying is not ok and I'm sure you know that. Sarcasm, as I found, should be shared among people who have an understanding about one anothers' sense of humor. And going back to how you didn't understand why the minister called it unsafe, it's because, without these two people knowing the depth of one another's sense of humor, it can be confusing to know what truth is being tossed out you as a joke and what really was nothing more than a joke. For example, if my insecurity bugs me, and I ask my spouse if he cheated being that he was gone all day and I just want to know, he could respond by saying, "yeah, with a girl who looks like Naomi Campbell".... It's unsafe because it could be sarcasm and nothing more than a joke but at the same time, he could have been telling me the truth and said it as a joke so that I wouldn't think much of it, and say I find that he was unfaithful... now all trust is ruined and the dynamic of our entire relationship.

savedbygrace said...

Thank you for posting this! My fiance' has issues with my sarcasm, funny thing is, I'm not even sarcastic with him. He doesn't understand that not all sarcasm is mean spirited. All of my friends, family and most of the people I fellowship with are sarcastic. My pastor is hilarious in his wit. I should not be made to feel bad for my personality type. I appreciate all of the comments.

Anonymous said...

I'd say be careful. using sarcasm in defense is much more justifiable than using it as an attack.

katie said...

I urge u to research this further. The bible seems very clear about "coarse joking" and that it is not edifying to one another. I think ur heart is in the right place but u r scripturally way off base. Nothing good can come from sarcasm. It has ben ripping my marriage apart for years. I think Christ used satire...sarcasm however no!

Faithflower said...

Sarcastic joking that is demeaming to another person is wrong . Gods Use of SATIRE is different . Many biblical warnings on this.

CAREFUL with words Christian friends, they cause unintended damage to many sensitive, already damaged souls.

Kinds words never damage and so are...Safe :)