I don’t know if you ever wake up like this, but today I woke up really sad. Last night, things went south at our house. Feelings were hurt, and it all began with sarcastic joking. Our kids started out joking, but then it went too far.
And why am I surprised?
Sarcasm is our society’s natural pose. It’s all over media, TV shows, sitcoms, in the news, in politics. ”It’s the language of the 21st century,” one psychologist states. Another linguist stated, ”It’s practically our primary language.” It’s a trend I see that leaves everyone in its wake wounded. And then we wonder why people around us are hurting.
The Greek word for sarcasm is “sarkazein” which means “to tear flesh like dogs.”
It might be funny, but at who's expense?
Sarcastic joking may be funny, but it has an element of truth that leaves a sting. I often quote the verse to my kids, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” Proverbs 14:13. It might be clever, it might even make you laugh‚ but so often, the words hurt, the comments chip away at our loved ones’ insecurities because that is where they are so often aimed.
Sarcasm in relationships doesn’t encourage another person. But rather, it condemns and sets an ill tone that infects our homes. And if your family is anything like ours, it might start out small but far too easily and too often is taken too far.
Following Scripture in how we communicate is the only way to rise above these raging waters of sarcasm in our culture. Scripture is really clear on how we are to speak.
What does Scripture say?
Listen to a few ways Scripture talks about it:
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. —Proverbs 15:4
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. —Ephesians 4:29
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. —Proverbs 21:23
The tongue has the power of life and death. —Proverbs 18:21
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. —Proverbs 12:18
I pray for my home and yours that we would not be conformed to the sarcastic pattern of this world, but that our words would be transformed and guided by God’s truths and commands for how we are to speak. May our homes be full of encouragement and grace.
Marilyn Rhoads is Co-Founder of Grace Marriage. Marilyn graduated with a psychology degree from Lipscomb University and got her Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern Indiana.