I have been thinking a lot about sarcasm lately (and that’s not sarcastic!).
My sense of humor is abundantly snarky. I don’t mean anything by it and I come by it honestly. My parents used to ask, “why is our son such a smart aleck?” To which I always replied, “Yeah. Shocker!”
A teacher in high school used to tell us that sarcasm was the weapon of the weak! My internet search also told me though, that Oscar Wilde said, “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence.” (Was he being sarcastic or serious??)
A book that really impacted me was The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns. In it, Enns details how our obsession with certainty can be an idol that replaces God in our heart. His main point is that God wants our trust more than our right answers.
I wonder if there is also a “sin of sarcasm.” Is it a sin to be so ironic that no one can tell when you’re truthful anymore? A friend and coworker of mine one time told me that he thinks we have become so sarcastic and cynical as a culture that we can no longer tell what is ironic and what is not. In other words, snarky humor really only works in contrast to a generally happy life the vast majority of the rest of the time.
Proverbs 26:19 says “Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’”
I think there is still a place for healthy sarcasm. I like to call it “sacred sarcasm.” By this I simply mean a sarcastic sense of humor that is not cynical or hateful in any way, but only used when it may bring flourishing by means of healthy laughter. In other words, we have to be careful and check out motives before making a wise crack. Like Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). Where else would we get it from, but our heart?
Rock bottom: As Rob Bell has said, cynicism is lazy. Joy is hard work! Or as Amanda Gorman has put it, “harping is easy, but hoping is hard.”