Is mockery a legitimate tool?


#1

I’m sure we’re all aware of the potential effectiveness of mockery as a rhetorical device; it being used to undermine, without need for argument, all manner of positions - political, religious, theological, personal, ethical etc. It is used by anti-theists against theists, Christians against Muslims, Liberals against Conservatives, anti-feminists against feminists, and so on and so on. And, arguably, it is quite effective in changing popular opinion regarding such-and-such an issue.

But is it a legitimate and appropriate tool for the Christian to use?

Can mockery and insult be used lovingly to speak truth to power, prime ethical pumps, change the course of failing political movement, force personal introspection, or inoculate against harmful ideology? Or is it always something unloving, uncharitable and illegitimate for the Christian? Perhaps it could even be viewed as verbal violence.

My first thought on this is that it seems at first glance that mockery, strong language and insult was a tool used by both Jesus and biblical writers (and potentially therefore God) let alone later Christians, which to me indicates its probable legitimacy.

Opinions? :slight_smile:


#2

A good keyword search on Google is “is mockery a legitimate Christian tool?”. And see what comes up on page 1.

But first, a little story. I took many creative writing classes, at the College of Dupage. One professor, I liked, was a graduate of Wheaton College (a conservative Christian college, where Billy Graham graduated). She once mentioned in class, that some ultra-conservative Christians, thought Harry Potter promoted witchcraft. But her response is that it’s a work of literature.

Now back to my keyword search. I found this article very interesting. First, the person’s background:

Now for the article:

“How Should We Then Mock?”

And it makes a brief distinction, between mockery and satire - where I focus on the last element:

And this is very interesting - from the article:

Here’s another article (from page 1) I found interesting:

Mocking The Prophets Of Baal: The Beauty And Power Of Christian Satire (And Why So Many People Hate It)

Let me briefly quote from the article:

And here is a definition they give:

And here are 2 points they make (and expand upon) - which may shock you. :astonished: :open_mouth:

And this article points to a website they run, called theendtimes.news/. They also mention babylonbee.com/. I found this story, from the Babylon Bee - very interesting:

Demon Appears On Church Stage As Drum Set Introduced

In my opinion, the ultimate experts in Christian satire, are from the Holy Fools tradition. Which is a legitimate, historical Christian element, of the Russian Orthodox Church (but accepted by both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy).

Let’s view a live, historical example, in Simeon the Holy Fool:

And if you put into Google the words “Christian satire”, you will find Christian sites - devoted to the art. :exclamation: :smiley:

But keep in mind that a person using the tool - more often then not - satires or mocks themselves, as well as everyone else :slight_smile:

And sometimes, it’s not satire or mockery at it. It’s like the master Shakespeare, that uses comic elements at strategic points, to break up a serious tragedy he wrote. :slight_smile:

And here’s an interesting essay at:

How does the use of satire help to define Shakespeare’s tragedies?

Let me briefly quote from it.


#3

1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

2 Timothy 2:24-25 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves

2 Timothy 2:25 He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Romans 12:19-20: If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.


#4

St. Michael’s post, reminds me of an interesting article - I came across: :wink:

Top 6 Bible Verses Often Taken Out of Context


#5

Completely in context. It says with GENTLENESS AND RESPECT

You are trying to justify your ego.


#6

Would you expand upon the context, please :question: :confused:

But I might have to continue this “intellectual discussion” until tomorrow. Tonight I might be emerged in TV shows, that have no redeeming value. :exclamation: :laughing:


#7

We are not to be like Christ in every way. As God He has rights and prerogatives that His creatures don’t. We are commanded:

1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

Insults and mockery is disrespectful.


#8

Here’s a definition of context (from dictionary.com):


#9

Okay Randy. Hold on to your EGO then.


#10

Ego is a judgment call. If I am providing links to articles, written by professionals (and Christians to boot), how is that ego? I could say the same about a person, not providing links to professionals - to back their ideas (i.e. what a bible verse means and what context surrounds it).


#11

It’s EGO because you don’t want to treat others with respect. You are trying to justify forcing views on people through insult and mockery. That’s disrespectful and controlling. And that’s EGO for creatures. There’s a God and I’m not it.


#12

Have you follow the thread, God does not create, commit, or allow evil!? In it, I presented several professional opinions, on the why of evil and suffering. Then I had a long and interesting dialogue there with Dennis. Then I made the statement, that a person needs to choose, what works best for them.

I really don’t care if you agree with me or not. Kind of like the academic professor, who presents some professional ideas. Then leaves it up to the class - to discuss them.

Like, here is a Calvinist context, to Galatians 5:22-23 you quoted:

What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

And a question occurred to me. Is Simeon the Holy Fool an egoist? And how can we tell, if historical figures like Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Buddha or Aristotle - are egoists or not :question:


#13

To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves - Will Durant


#14

Uhh, Michael, it appears you have put yourself on the bema and are judging Randy in a not so gentle and kind way…


#15

Thanks for the input folks.

Michael, you raise an interesting couple of points: firstly, to what degree and in what manner is it legitimate to emulate Christ; secondly, various NT texts speak plainly of ‘gentleness’ in our communication, but does this then always delegitimise mockery?

A) Emulating Christ - if He was sinless and mocked others, then doesn’t that imply that mockery is not a sin? If one argues that it was ok for Him but not for us then surely that same point can be applied to everything He did and therefore the call to imitate Jesus is gutted of all power, for what of His behaviours then can we be sure of are to be emulated by mere humans rather than being reserved for the divine only?

B) It certainly seems that we are called to be respectful and gentle in conversation. But does this preclude mockery? What about gentle mockery? And what about the fact that the apostles themselves sometimes used very strong language, warnings, insults and mockery in the NT, let alone the examples of such found in the early church fathers (let alone the OT prophets)?

I agree it seems tricky.


#16

Gabe,

Nowhere have I mocked or insulted Randy to try to change his views. To make a judgement isn’t the same thing as judging self-righteously or hypocritically. I haven’t mocked or insulted him. I can say something is wrong without mocking or insulting. For example: drinking and driving. If it’s wrong I can say so without mocking or insulting. The same thing goes with abusing children. I can make a judgement and say “it’s EGO to abuse children” without mocking and insulting. We are not to judge self-righteously or hypocritically.

Hey Pog,

Where does the N.T. command us to mock and insult? It commands the opposite:

Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

In the Bible people do things that are sinful. Just because the Bible records a person doing something doesn’t mean it condones it. For example: Peter denied Christ three times. That doesn’t mean it was a holy act though. God often does use evil people to speak prophetically through them. Caiaphas comes to mind. But just because someone commits a sinful act in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s approved of.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~~ Micah 6:8

Moreover, God is infinitely perfect and great and glorious - we are not. Therefore, God is the only being for whom self-exaltation is a most loving act. In seeking His glory from creatures it breaks the bondage to the idol of self in us. Therefore, it is an act of love on God’s part. He knows we won’t be complete until we give Him the glory. There are many ways we are not like God. To try to be like God in every way leads to megalomania because we are finite creatures. This is what happened to Satan when he was cast out for prideful megalomania. For creatures, all sin comes from EGO.

God is all-knowing - I am not

God is self-sufficient - I am not

God is all-powerful - I am not

God is infinite in wisdom - I am not

God is infinite in holiness and love - I am not

God is omnipresent - I am not

God is in control of the universe - I am not

God is infinitely great and glorious - I am not

I trust and rely on God. He is all powerful. I am powerless and depend on Him.


#17

There is a big difference between insults and mockery - and satire

Satire is:

A form of literature
An art form
A literature form and style, used by the Bible and the reformation
Used by a valid, historical Christian group - the Holy Fools tradition

I don’t mind someone here, taking a certain position:

No free will
Creationism (as a science) is true
The “two-wine” theory
The garden of Eden had smoking herbs
The OT Nephilim were space aliens
The devil really caused the flood
Trump is the anti-Christ
The non-Christian bad folks, temporary become zombies - during the tribulation
Etc.

However, I ask myself these questions:

Is this a position normally taken by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches?
Do historical and contemporary theologians, philosophers and scientists - who are Christian - embrace this position?

So if we can’t answer the above questions in the affirmative - guess what? It’s a good position for satire.

Now suppose someone says we have no free will. And God controls the strings - like a puppet master. Then I could present an equally absurd theory. That we have the end times unfold, like that in the Left Behind series. But God turns the bad and non-Christian folks into P-Zombies - during the tribulation. Then later redeems them all, just like in both theories.

Or the Devil is a powerful entity, causing the flood of Noah and all natural disasters. Then I might propose a couple of ways, to defeat the devil.

A fiddle contest, with the right fiddle player
Singing the best song in the world

And fundamentalists like to quote passages out of context - like what sometimes happens here. And it’s a proper question, to ask what the passage is saying, within the context of that particular Bible chapter.

And folks might think satire mocks and insults them. That’s their “personal subjective opinion”. Imagine someone says:

This work by Shakespeare insults us
This Bible chapter insults us Jews, etc.
Etc.

Let me share a quote from Satire: humorous criticism or insulting attacks?:

Let me dawn my statistical hat here. The only way to determine, if something is insulting or mockery - is this. You create a proper survey questionnaire. Then you take an appropriate statistical sample, to address the questions. And this sample, must be representative, of a valid, statistical population. So I might say something like this - as a conclusion.

80% of the people surveyed, found this particular passage from Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathon Swift, to be both insulting and a mockery, to the historical population of England. And one can argue, that is a “group opinion”.

And let’s end, with an historical Rotor Rooter commercial - that uses satire :exclamation:


#18

Michael,

Where does the bible command we drive cars? Simply because something isn’t commanded doesn’t mean it is prohibited, especially when we find the behaviour in question exampled by Christ and the apostles (who we are called to emulate).

Or, to try a different tack, where in the bible is mockery forbidden?

We might have to agree to disagree as to the force of your argument here. As of now I lean tentatively towards mockery and insult being legitimate under certain circumstances.


#19

Proverbs 17:5 ~~ Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Isaiah 28:22 ~~ Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.

Jude 1:18 ~~ How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Matthew 27:29;31 ~~ And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!..And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

1 Peter 3:15 ~~ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~~ Micah 6:8


#20

ad hom·i·nem (hŏm′ə-nĕm′, -nəm) adj. fallacy

  1. Attacking a person’s character or motivations rather than a position or argument: