Does Sarcasm Belong in a Preacher’s Arsenal?

Sarcasm: \ˈsär-ˌka-zəm\ Function:noun Etymology:French or Late Latin; French sarcasme, from Late Latin sarcasmos, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer, from sark-, sarx flesh; probably akin to Avestan thwarəs- to cutDate:  1550 1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain2 a: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, andoften ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b: the use or language of sarcasm.

Sarcasm is a powerful literary device.  In fact, as I googled “examples of sarcasm,” I had the distinct privilege (sarcasm intended) of coming across an organization called the Sarcasm Society.  As you could imagine, they are all for this:

Sarcasm usually requires a quick wit, and the ability to extract the
minutest points of weakness in a conversation. So it is quite unlikely
that it is the lowest form of humor as some would like to call it. Perhaps not being able to enjoy sarcasm is directly related to not having the ability to come up with sarcastic comments, which in turn creates a feeling of inadequacy, which in turn can spawn a Napoleon complex, that can cause someone to logicise that sarcasm is the humor of the stupid.

According to them, HouseThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are prime examples of those who make frequent use of sarcasm.

The question is, does sarcasm belong in a preacher’s arsenal?  The answer is an unequivocal “No — if it is directed toward a person!” Groucho Marx used to say, “I never forget a face — but in your case I’ll make an exception.”  That’s sarcasm that is personal, attacking a specific feature on an individual.  Remember this rule:  humor at the expense of someone is never funny.

Yes, we can also answer that sarcasm can be used.  While comedians may use this and generate a laugh, by definition sarcasm is intended to exploit “points of weakness in a conversation” and cause “pain.”  Preachers should work to exploit flaws in logic when it comes to doctrinal issues.  An example: they include a quote used by many preachers:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” – Anonymous

This is a poignant quote which exposes the weakness of someone who believes going to church makes you a Christian.

What do you think?  Do you believe sarcasm belongs in the conversation or even the sermon of an expository preacher?


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