I hate sarcasm.
Since the word "sarcasm" is often misused in different ways, I'll explain that when someone's being sarcastic, they're basically ridiculing someone else in an intentionally cruel manner. Say I overheard someone misusing the word "sarcasm" in a sentence. I could gently correct their misuse of the word. Or, I could employ sarcasm by shouting at them, "There's this subject taught in school called 'English.' You need to pass English to graduate, and apparently you never made it past kindergarten."
If that sounds mean, you're getting the point. When people are sarcastic, regardless of the words they use, they're essentially saying, "You're an idiot. I'm so much better than you."
So there's a lot to hate about the mean-spirited nature of sarcasm. Nothing makes me reconsider an opinion faster than hearing someone wax sarcastic about it.
I recently read some sarcastic words in "Grace,but," a commentary by Plain Truth magazine editor Greg Albrecht. Greg basically says we are saved by grace alone, and that any "works"--good deeds--we perform in life are not cause for rewards. Rather, any good thing we receive is another demonstration of God's grace.
But I couldn't have told you anything about the article the first time I read it. I was too upset by the sarcastic way he dealt with his friend in the piece. From the first word, he sets it up to bash his friend, a pastor who took issue with Greg's opinion:
This was a serious discussion, so I didn't ask him (though you can bet I wanted to!) if he had been a contributing writer for the Keeping Grace Under Control New World Dictionary. ...
I respectfully told him that his theology had gone to the dogs. My pastor friend seemed to be suggesting that God conditions humans somewhat like Pavlov’s dogs. ... But, according to my Bible, we humans are not dogs (and this is just one of those pearls of wisdom you will gain from listening to me!). ... We are created for a relationship with God in a way that no other part of his creation is (including man’s best friend).
Greg often adds a humorous edge to his writing, poking a little fun here and there. But it deeply troubled me that he was cutting his Christian brother down in a widely available public forum. (And, considering this was in a print publication, Greg already had a limited amount of space to offer ideas for contemplation. Why waste space ragging on his so-called friend?) It does seem his friend's opinion was off-track, but couldn't Greg offer correction in a gentle, loving way?
I'll admit, I fall into using sarcasm sometimes because I'm sure I'm right. Such certainty can be a dangerous thing. Who among us can define grace with 100 percent accuracy? That's like saying, "I know God completely. I know what's going on in his mind, and I can explain his nature and actions as if I were God myself."
I've learned a lot from Brooke, Kevin, Paul, Peggy, Mark, Judy, Tina, Russell, LaTonya, Angela, and everyone who has commented and talked to me about opinions I've expressed on this blog. I need regular reminders I only see a small part of the picture of faith. I appreciate how others have expanded my field of vision.
Thankfully, you all keep me in check. Please continue to add your thoughts and expand these discussions. And call me on it if I start to get sarcastic.
1) Why do you think people use sarcasm?
2) Is it ever right or helpful to sarcastically point out someone's error?
3) What are some problems sarcasm can cause in relationships?
4) Think of a time when you used sarcasm. Did you realize the words were hurtful? Did you intend for the words to be hurtful?
5) If you find yourself using sarcasm frequently, ask God to identify any pride, anger, hurt, sadness, or esteem issues that might cause you to communicate this way. It might help to ask a friend who's around you often for accountability.