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What Luther Says

'You're Too Sarcastic!'

It feels like this blog is becoming more like an online diary for me as far as this week is concerned.

That's ok though. I need to work out some things and do a better job to "notice the log" in my own eye before trying to take out the one in my brother's eye (Luke 6:41-42; Matthew 7:3-5). I get that.

Some might suggest that it's best for me to just STOP BLOGGING until I've worked these things out, but where's the fun in that? Besides, I'm willing to bet there are more than a few people out there who are struggling with this sort of thing like I am so if this helps just one of them, then that's fantastic!

"You're too sarcastic!" I had that charge thrown at me in recent months in one very heartbreaking face-to-face conversation and have also heard it many times in response to things I've written online or shared on social media.

That got me wondering -- what if they're right and is sarcasm a sin?

My initial thought was to agree with them. Yes, I can be very sarcastic at times. I fully admit that sarcasm may not be helpful when you're engaging in one-on-one conversations with people, but is sarcasm really a sin though?

I mean, after all, I believe it was Jesus Christ Himself who was quite sarcastic with the Pharisees in His day whenever he engaged them in conversation. Surely, we wouldn't try to claim that He sinned in that regard, would we?

I'm not for a single second suggesting that I'm somehow trying to follow a "WWJD" model here on purpose either, but can we quickly conclude that sarcasm is "bad" and perhaps even "sinful" in any and all cases?

In my quest to examine myself this week and to discover the answer to that key question, I came across a couple of VERY HELPFUL resources on this very same subject.

The first is a commentary from Pastor Joshua Scheer.

Pastoral Death Match -- Social Media And The Ministerium 
It doesn’t take long being Facebook “friends” with a bunch of pastors to see it unfold – fighting, feuding, snark, mockery, and downright cruelty. This is conduct unbecoming the called and ordained (1 Timothy 3:2-3) but it happens. In the short term it means a lot of passive-aggressive behavior, taking the battle to the blogs and comment threads, and who knows where else. In the long term I fear it will have a much more destructive effect. 
Doctrine is important, we get it. Pastors strive to make sure we have the proper teachings and preserve them for the good of our hearers. We strive to be the best preachers and teachers we can be. Pastors also strive to live a godly life, not as perfectionists, but as examples to the flock to which the Holy Spirit made us overseers. This means “good” behavior, but more importantly Christian behavior – confessing our sins and having faith in Christ’s work for our forgiveness. 
In studying church history and even in knowing older pastors today, this rivalry and even bitterness towards brother pastors is nothing new. The anger at each other, talking past one another, insulting one another, breaking the 8th against one another, and holding onto lifelong grudges has been and continues to be found among the clergy (of course laity also). What is changing is the rate of which the offenses can come in an environment ruled by 255 characters or less, statuses and comments that take seconds to type but have lasting repercussions, and blog posts indirectly directed at your perceived foes. 
It is a death match that is happening. We are grudging ourselves to death, and bitterness is taking root. It can be seen in communications between known opponents of the theological debate du jour. Each one rallies others to the cause, and pretty soon it is more about who can out-snark the other and come up with more “likes” or simply mock the other ones with sarcasm and plain cruelty. 
Fellow pastors, what is this doing to our Life Together? If we can sense grudges among men of God who could only communicate through letters and printed words, how much worse is it getting for we who can in a moment’s notice burn down the reputation of one another through a comment firestorm? Is “winning” the status comment war worth it? What will the ministerium of the LCMS look like in ten years? If the opportunity for offense and the temptation to trample underfoot is so easy to fall into because of the disconnected nature of this social media, should we caution ourselves and pause before entering the flame wars? 
There is time for debate and arguments over our beliefs and practices. This can happen on social media. It is difficult to have happen, but it can be beneficial. It can help us be better pastors, teachers, and preachers. I am not advocating having no debates. I am pleading that such debates do not have to leave wounds which form into scars on the surface with roots of bitterness running down to hearts hardened by grudges. Even if you “win” in such a situation, the Church loses, and even if your cause is truth, the truth is lost to those you had to kill to prove yourself the victor. 
Writing this has caused me to reflect on my own actions online. They have not been what they should. There is a time for repentance and it is always right now. Pastors need Jesus, and it does not take long lurking and reading the Facebook feed to understand that. Pastors, you have Jesus. The same one you preach for your members is for you. He is for you and for your conduct on social media. As you type the keys in front of you, remember that your unclean hands have been washed clean by your baptism and that means something.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14

Very humbling indeed. He's absolutely right too (as much as my flesh is screaming "Nooooooo!" right now because it hates the idea).

Next, I found some material from Pastor Jonathan Fisk and Worldview Everlasting that talks about the same thing, but from a slightly different angle in not one, but two excellent videos.

Mmm... Foundation... (John 1:43-51)  

"Today’s Greek Tuesday text, John 1:43-51 sets the foundation for the entire Gospel as it touches on several themes of the book. And Jesus is sarcastic, too!! Stick around for this quick side trip to the Gospel of John before we head back to Mark for the next six weeks."

You're No Good But Tradition Is 
"This Friday, AskDaPastor tackles two questions. One about tradition and whether it is good for the church and another about being nice. Cause being a Christian makes you better than other people, right? So we should, like, totally be nicer than anyone else and make sure that they know we are nicer than them and that we are better than them and that God loves us more. Right? And while we’re all about being nice, let’s forget about what any dead people taught us and just do church however we want. Cause we totally know what’s best way more than anyone who came before us possibly could. (This episode description brought to you by the Sarcasm Monkey…at midnight the night before this is published…you get the picture.)"

Good stuff, right?

Ironically, Pastor Fisk's sarcasm upset one Christian brother of mine so much that he responded by trying to claim tha Pastor Fisk was somehow into the Occult and Tarot Cards! Remember that?

Yes, this is still the #YOHBT (the Biblical reality is that EVERY YEAR will be the #YOHBT due to what it says about the wolves and false teaching always being with us in this life), but I think I personally need to learn a thing or two about contending for and defending "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) better than I have by letting it essentially control me and my mood all the time.

I know that there was one lecture delivered at last week's BJS "When Heterodoxy Hits Home" Conference that dealt with this topic too, which is why I can't wait to listen to it later this weekend.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, I may be too sarcastic, and if that's a sin per se, then the good news is that Jesus Christ died for that sin too while forgiving me even though I may be one of the most sarcastic Christians who ever lived.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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