“I’m Only Joking”

BCC StaffFor Those Seeking Hope5 Comments

Sarcasm is a style of conversation you hear almost daily. Late-night talk show hosts use cutting remarks to entertain audiences. Politicians use sarcasm to convince their constituents that the opponent is unworthy of their vote. And we use ironic criticisms in our daily communications with one another at work, home, or church.

So is sarcasm a godly – or ungodly – style of communication? Ought Christians be sarcastic with one another?


Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking,” we read in Proverbs 26:18-19, ESV.

A madman or. . .a church lady? It seems everyone nowadays spouts hurtful comments. When confronted, the person who makes the slice-and-dice remark turns it around on the neighbor or friend. He says the neighbor is too sensitive or simply, “Lighten up, I was only joking.”

Proverbs terms this person a “madman” because of his duplicity. He intentionally wounds with his words. Then he tries to shift attention off his sin of wanting to harm and onto the other person. Perhaps he changes the subject. What he doesn’t do: take responsibility.

Listen to James’ description of the tongue:

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:7-9, ESV)


Sarcasm does have a place in our language and is often used to poke fun at one another. In fact many close friends are often sarcastic with one another, laughing and joking good-naturedly.

When we poke fun at one another and ourselves in a sarcastic manner we know that it is in fun. Proverbs 17:22 states,

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

But when our sarcastic remarks go over the top, it’s time to humbly repent and make sure the relationship is restored.

In sum, laugh it up and poke fun at one another. Laughing with and at one another builds friendships, but be careful not offend your neighbor or friend or spouse.

What Do You Think?

Is sarcasm godly or ungodly? Leave a comment.

photo credit: capn madd matt via photopin cc


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5 Comments on ““I’m Only Joking””

  1. Great thoughts and verse.

    I think sarcasm is ungodly on two levels. First, sarcasm is, at best, “idle words” or thoughtless banter, which usually uses another person as it’s object. Second, sarcasm is often a cowardly attack which can be retracted with the protective, “I was only joking”or “you’re too sensitive”.

    Communication is a gift given by God and holds amazing potential for building up or tearing down. Communication reveals our heart and motives. Instead of using sarcasm, use compliment; instead of hidden rebuke, use loving confrontation.

    1. Great comment: Instead of using sarcasm, use compliment; instead of hidden rebuke, use loving confrontation.

  2. I was interested in this article because our family seems to take sarcasm to a whole new level. I have wondered about how to seperate the humorous bantering from the intentional stinging remarks done in the name of sarcasm. It seems that the nature of sarcasm is to say what is not true. If someone makes an outlandish statement to me that is obviously not true I reply with “Yah, right!” , a sarcastic statement saying I agree but meaning I do not agree. So isn’t this just a clever way of lying? Great thought provoking article!

    1. Sarcasm can be a clever way of lying. Not always. Lying involves deception, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing. God bless you.

  3. Everyone is overlooking the part “deceiving your neighbor”. This verse is not addressing sarcasm or cutting remarks. There are other Scriptures that do address these but this isn’t one of them. No, this Scripture is instead addressing things like practical jokes. Practical jokes are wicked and sinful and only serve to tear down and denigrate the other person. They only exist to make the joker feel better and superior to another person. Practical jokes are a form of bullying and as such are among the most vile and wicked acts that you can commit against another person.

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