Are you loving your neighbor when you speak to them sarcastically?
“Christianity permits sarcasm—if used in the appropriate spirit, for Jesus Himself uses various types of sarcasm when confronting His corrupt naysayers: the Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees. As told in Matthew 23:23–33, Jesus uses His divine, satirical wit by calling the religious leaders the following: hypocrites (vv. 23, 25, 29, NIV), blind guides (v. 24), blind Pharisee (v. 26), white-washed tombs (v. 27), snakes (v. 33), and a brood of vipers (v. 33). Jesus also uses sarcastic irony to chastise the religious leaders for their inconsistency: tithing but lacking “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (v. 23). The inclusion of an em dash before “justice” in this verse demonstrates that Jesus purposely rebukes the Pharisees with perfectly timed pauses to emphasize the unjustness of the Pharisees’ actions. Verses 31–32, moreover, extend Jesus’ righteous condemnation of the Pharisees by adding an unforgettable, sarcastic “Go ahead!” stinger.
We may answer the question, “How, then, may Christians know how, when, and why to use sarcasm in a godly way?” by following the teachings of Colossians 4:5–6 and Ephesians 4:29. Our words must “be always full of grace” when we Christians speak with non-believers, as the verses from Colossians note; furthermore, only “helpful,” edifying words should come from our mouths, as Ephesians teaches us.
Jesus’ omniscience enabled Him to know exactly what to say and how to say it; we must pray in abundance to know how to help others, in general, and how to help others by rebuking them with sarcasm, in particular. Using sarcasm righteously is a divine art that we must learn to use well, which can only occur by regularly reading God’s Word, listening to the wisdom of our spiritual mentors, and hearkening to the counsel of the Holy Spirit.”
-Dr. Will Korver