I’ve just listened to an “Out of the Question” discussion by Andrea Schwartz and Charles Roberts, on the Chalcedon website:
It’s some 43 minutes long, but well worthwhile. And the short answer to the question, “Is Satire Unbiblical?”, is… no. In fact, it’s found throughout the Bible. Elijah and St. Paul used it very effectively.
What are the purposes of satire? It exposes evils that need to be seen as evils. It exposes foolishness that needs to be seen as foolishness. And it questions false authority that needs to be questioned. All of this is usually done in a humorous style, hopefully to make us laugh at the pretensions of the wicked and the foolish.
Throughout history, God’s enemies have presented themselves as wiser than God’s people, much smarter, worthy of our respect, people we should emulate–and obey. Because usually they’re trying to acquire power over others: it’s in their DNA.
So it really bugs them if we can show that, contrary to their claims for themselves, they are not wise but foolish, deserving of our laughter, sorry examples for anyone to emulate, and certainly unworthy of obedience. In exposing evil as evil, we do good. Satire can be used in God’s service to unmask lies and make them distasteful to us–because who wants to believe in something that’s demonstrably ridiculous?
We do a bit of satire on this blog. Every Friday Joe Collidge reveals himself to be an ass and his intellectual aspirations to be asinine. Let’s face it–a huge portion of what they, um, “teach” in our colleges is only so much garbage, much of it toxic. It deserves to be exposed. It deserves to be laughed at.
Once upon a time in Wales, bards would direct satires at kings and nobles who had done something or other that was unworthy of their high positions. As if being laughed at by their subjects wasn’t deterrent enough, it was also widely believed that a really biting satire would raise boils on the target’s face. An exaggeration, of course–but the business at hand was accountability. It was hard to get away with being a bad feudal lord if everyone was mocking you.
Satire can be a tool for goodness and truth. If it was good enough for Elijah and Paul, it’s good enough for us.