Scoffers: Trapped in Sin

Scoffers Use Sarcasm and Laughter
Elevating Themselves at Other’s Expense

“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you” (Pr 9:8). Scoff is an old English word meaning to “to speak derisively; mock; jeer” (Dictionary). You would know it better as sarcastic speech today. The Proverbs has much to say about scoffers, those who use sarcasm; none of it beneficial to the user nor the object of such contempt.

Sarcasm is primarily used against those who are different from those doing the scoffing. It may highlight speech differences, looks, cultural differences among many other issues but its primary concern is to highlight differences and belittle them in order to elevate those doing the scoffing.

Growing up in the military and moving often, usually in the South, I often found myself the object of intense scoffing in the early to mid 1960s. Not only was it practiced at the individual level but also at the institutional level when two different school systems actually classified me as mentally retarded (to use the parlance of the day), forcing me to attend special classes. Today it would be called bullying proving it not only still occurs but has intensified to such an extent that people kill themselves. And, as the above verse illustrates, scoffers are the hardest to deal with since they see every attempt to reform them as an attack and intensify their sarcasm further trapping themselves in their fear.

To understand scoffers we must search the Bible to learn why it occurs; clearly, God says nothing good about sarcasm and its practitioners. Paul (Ro 1:28-2:5) lays the philosophical basis of the effects of sin. As we are all born sinners each of us has these effects in our lives to some extent. Of particular concern are those who who do not acknowledge God {all sinners who reject the Gospel}; since they reject God, God does not force Himself on them but allows them to remain in their sin to reap all its unhappy fruits.

Another component is judgmentalism. The nature of sinners is to huddle together in order to prove their sin is legitimate. They seek and gain approval from those who practice similar sins as they; yet, their conscience reproves them – they have little inner peace. Their solution: condemn those who practice the same sin as themselves but worse. They seek out those who are more vile in their sinfulness and focus the attention of other’s on these examples while excusing their own practice. Therefore they are practitioners of the very thing they condemn in others. They “hope” God, and others, will excuse they while condemning those who are the focus of sarcasm. This diverting of attention away from oneself toward others does not divert the sense of guilt and doom for they are only storing up greater condemnation for themselves. This positive feedback behavior is obviously self-defeating yet remains extremely popular.

How popular? Well, sarcasm is the major form of modern comedy. It is the tool used to foster sinful values while deprecating biblical morality. Sarcasm works best when their is little or no opposition. Thus, in most media forms there is little audience participation and “canned” laughter or there is a sympathetic audience to provide the requisite laughter implying approval and agreement with the point of the sarcastic comedic schtick. In my day sarcasm was used against politics, religion, different ethnicities and family members. The “I Love Lucy” show was a master of scoffing at husbands while elevating the manipulating wife. This widely acclaimed television program began to change how Americans viewed family dynamics. It was not alone in deprecating the role of fathers and husbands while promoting women at the expense of families, “me first”.

Today ethnicities are off limits but very little else is beyond the bounds of deprivation. Sarcasm is now considered the norm in everyday conversation and one can hardly watch even news programs without receiving a huge dose of sarcasm. This has become the normal conversational technique of the Millennial generation which was raised almost exclusively on the “higher self-esteem” philosophy {legitimizing selfishness}. What is the harm in laughter? Man uses laughter are the means to implement his sarcastic attacks. The usual reply when confronted is, “I was only kidding; can’t you take a joke?” This is supposed to neutralize the harm of the sarcasm but this sham excuse only exposes the hardness of heart of the one using sarcasm.

Additionally, sarcasm is used to drown out truth that opposes one’s sin. Western culture for nearly a century in the popular media has emphasized feeling over intellect. For example, the most popular character of “Happy Days” was not the teens in school nor the parents but the street smart hood, Fonzi. This glorification of ignorance over intellect, anecdotal philosophy over biblical truth pushed the myth that truth was irrelevant compared to beliefs.

Sarcasm springs from the false premise that God cannot judge me until He punishes those who are more sinful, and I will help Him find them. It is used as a screening mechanism to hide one’s sinfulness behind the flaws of others. Any who attempt to reveal my sins while be virulently attacked. Facts become the enemy revealing one’s self-deception. In Star Wars, Obiwan tells Anakin that only the sith, evil ones, deal in absolutes. This gnostic tale promoting gnostic values reveals its fatal flaw. God deals in absolutes but He is the absolute unchangeable standard of Good. Lucifer rejected God demanding that his individuality be accepted as “good” even though evil resulted from his rebellion. Man has taken the same stand. Freedom is frequently defined as being able to do what one wants to do {the caveat, “as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else” is casually tossed in as an excuse to legitimize the rebellion} rather than as the willingness to do what is right regardless of the consequences from those who disagree.

Sin is always selfish. Sin loves the darkness. Sin hates the light. Sin attacks those who bring the light to reveal their darkness while giving them the opportunity to learn of the Gospel of salvation to save them from their bitterness. The fruits of sarcasm are manifold but the major aspect is bitterness: against, God, against others and against self. One cannot escape the consequences of one’s choices. To those who choose salvation they experience God’s peace and the ability to seek forgiveness for additional sin {this is not a “get out of jail free” card but repentance of one’s sin to God acknowledging the truth of our sinfulness}. Those who remain in sin are plagued by guilt, God’s gift of warning. They reject this warning and seek to neutralize it through psychology/psychiatry, drugs, frivolous diversionary pleasures and attacking those who would bring them the truth of the Gospel that would truly relive their guilt.

Sarcasm is the major tool of pastors, politicians, teachers, media personalities and most people. I listen to a popular Christian apologestist and his major defense against those who criticize him is, sarcasm. Parents use this to cow their children into submission so they can self-righteously decry the use of corporal punishment. Children use this to reject their parents based on the fallacy of perfection {parents are not perfect therefore their decisions are not legitimate}. Christians are not to use sarcasm less we return to our former state of unhappiness by rejecting the peace of Christ {one cannot lose one’s salvation but can surely live miserably} (1Co 15:33; 2Pe 2:20-22). Did not Peter warn us about scoffers coming in these last days laughing that the prophecies of the Bible are not true while they chase after empty pseudosciences that promote their sinful rejection of Christ and His Gospel for them (2Pe 3:3-7). If we succumb to this deprication our state will be worse than before we were saved. Christ used truth to reveal sinners, that should be sufficient for us also. Enjoy the peace of God by shunning sarcasm and scoffing which only serve to condemn us before God.

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today's churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master's of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).