‘Banter’ in the Christian Church & Tongue Taming

I don’t know about you, but I just love banter. It’s great isn’t it? I mean, so many of us love a good laugh and share funny times together. We love ‘in Jokes’  and other things which give us the shakes.

But I’ve been thinking about the Church recently. I’ve fallen in love with Ephesians 4 (I commented on it last week) where Paul talks about the Body of Christ. From that passage, I’ve been particularly mulling over the verses 29-32 over the last few days.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Yeah. Those verses are very hard to practice. But that’s what God expects of the Christian who is a part of the Body of Christ. And this is where ‘banter’ starts to become potentially dangerous in the Church. Sometimes, unwholesome talk is excused as banter.

It’s not so much banter in itself. It’s banter that…

  • Is unwholesome
  • Doesn’t build up the church
  • Isn’t helpful
  • Isn’t beneficial
  • Grieves the Holy Spirit
  • Is bitter
  • Is said in rage
  • Is said in anger
  • Is malicious
  • Is slanderous

These things just don’t have the seal of Jesus on them, I’m afraid. Now I’m not saying that Jesus didn’t have a joke, because I’m betting that he did. In fact, Heaven in my eyes will be full of jokes and laughter, but I don’t know whether the banter in heaven will be like the banter that is far too often heard of in the Church… in fact, I know it won’t – on most occasions.

Banter I often hear in Church (and sometimes banter that I create myself) is a means by which I can belittle someone else, mock someone for their weaknesses, put a dampener on their efforts, attack the things they are doing to work for the Lord and build the Church. This hideous banter results in an exclusion of someone or a group from the Body. It’s basically self mutilation of the Body. One part of the body massacring another part.

Does Jesus approve of me or you massacring His own body, the Church? I don’t think so.

Which is why we need to stop unwholesome banter. The Church is made up of people. And those people have feelings. Some people are hard; they can take a lot. Some people are sensitive; they can’t take so much. And that is why we should ‘tame the tongue’…

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. ~ James 3

Yes, no human being can tame the tongue, but God can. And it’s our reliance on God that will give us the ability to quench the fiery flames of our arrogant, ignorant, abusive, Church destroying banter, and turn it into banter that is full of life giving, positive thinking and constructive, building truth.

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about