Larry Crabb’s New Book – Is Sarcasm a Form of Addiction Like Drugs and Porn?

Larry Crabb’s New Book – Is Sarcasm a Form of Addiction Like Drugs and Porn? June 15, 2013

Larry Crabb has just released a new book. It’s called Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender that Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes.

In this hardcover by Baker, Crabb seeks to recover the biblical vision of gender and tries to encourage men and women to live according to their God-given identity per their sex.

The gender wars are hot among Christians today, so I’m curious to see how Crabb’s book will end up being received from both the progressive left and the conservative right.

Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes - By: Dr. Larry Crabb

Even so, the book seeks to present the two genders through the lens of love and what it means to love another human being. Carbb tries to transcend the gender role debate and focus on what Scripture says about being “fully alive” as a man or woman.

Here are some interesting thoughts from the book that I’d like your comments on:

* Sarcasm, for some people, is a form of addiction to escape pain. Much like porn or drugs.

* A woman’s greatest fear is rejection.

* A man’s greatest fear is being alone.

* Divine beauty lives in the center of men and women when they follow Jesus.

The book is filled with stories from Larry Crabb’s career as a psychologist. It’s not the easiest read nor is it the shortest. But if you’re interested in the gender debate, you may want to talk a look at this. You can see more reviews on
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Thx. for all the comments so far. These are interesting questions fo sho.

  • Tyler Aberle

    Let me begin here: Wow that article title just strikes me as so awful: Larry Crabb’s New Book – Is Sarcasm a Form of Addiction Like Drugs and Porn? Really? I’d think maybe that was his primary message. I’ve read most of the book and though it is in there, I did not recall seeing it (it’s a minor point). It is certainly an okay question to ask and wonder about –but how strange to make that the big association with the new book. And not even the correct statement…

    Most discussions of gender in our age are challenging. I very much appreciate Larry’s attempt to take it on. Those who are critical of simplistic categories, roles, characterizations… of gender seem to have good reasons for why common attempts to describe masculinity or femininity are trivial or restrictive –but are often unwilling to put words to what makes us different –and how to value that –beyond mere biology.

    Dr. Crabb is a thoughtful voice. I appreciate your noting the book and inviting conversation. However, the biggest problem with the statements you chose is their lack of context. Without context, the rest of the book, these quotes don’t have the depth to connect. You have pulled out a couple of bones and wondered whether we think it describes the man. Another thoughtful writer / speaker recently said something along the lines of “It is foolish to try to speak about gender in one or two paragraphs, maybe even five to ten pages. But to not try to put some words to this is to be a coward. And so I will be the fool…”

    It seems to me that you have tried to simplify Crabb’s thought to pose the questions? I do not think they adequately characterize his thoughts in the book (except that last one). Its worth noting at this point that Crabb has thirty years of careful attentiveness as a counselor / spiritual director from which his listening to repeated themes and struggles over and over in light of Biblical reflection gives rise to his categories. He spend a lot of time to point out how men and women live out their difference are in the ways they relate.

    One of the reflections on women would be his chapter title: “The core terror of a woman: an invitation with no response”. But even this may go significantly unrecognized without careful consideration & exploration. A better reflection on men (not sure why you focused on aloneness) is the chapter title: “The core terror of a man: weightlessness”. Again this bears much consideration and exploration –and I think (as a man who’s had the privilege of talking deeply with many different men about their lives) it holds. Men deeply despise weakness in themselves and find it very difficult to embrace in a meaningful way. They (we) long for deep impact in life, are wounded where it has been damaged, fear having it rejected or distorted, and play out those fears in a myriad of ways from diabolically abusive to pathetic means of getting others to care for them.

    To your first quote:
    COULD sarcasm be a FORM of addiction for SOME people (my emphasis)? …like porn or drugs… Lots to explore there. Perhaps the analogy falls short in that as Susan
    notes, porn or drugs are something “taken in” and sarcasm is something “put out”. So in that way they are different. But the appeal is not to the direction of the use but the intent, the form. In both cases, Crabb is suggesting, something is being used –without a sense of conscious choice or control-but is more “controlled by”, to cover over or drive away something else terribly unpleasant.

    I agree, there are other things to explore, such as what is underneath the sarcasm. Crabb does that powerfully and convincingly in other books but that is not the focus here. His point is that many things (sarcasm is one possible example) we easily dismiss as “not too big a deal” that have a fierce tentacles wrapped around our hearts and actions that ought to be considered as just as difficult to release (maybe more so), and with damaging effects that matter as much as others struggles with porn or drugs. Sarcasm used in this way is wrong and damaging. Exploring it kindly and wisely (which in my experience Crabb is a gifted man) should not obscure awareness of how it is used against others.

  • Steve Kitzman

    Boy, if my wife reads this, she will certainly comment. I might be someone who could be labeled as addicted to sarcasm. I could even be accused of taking it to an art form. Since I have been engaging in daily sarcasm since I was probably 3, I have a very hard time not seeing irony and making sarcastic commentary everywhere I go. I have never even considered it an “addiction”, especially as one would drugs and porn, even though I am aware of the negative effects it can sometimes have on others. My wife is currently studying to become a Psychologist and these questions make me want to read the book to find out where Crabb is coming from, so I won’t say if I agree or disagree based on one statement, but I do know that my sarcasm truly annoys my wife occasionally. And if I am doing something knowingly that causes her frustration, then that is wrong. But wow, I do love some well placed and clever sarcasm. And if a woman’s greatest fear is rejection and a man’s greatest fear is being alone, one would think they should just get together and then there wouldn’t be anything to worry about!

  • Susan Gerard

    What an interesting set of questions! Food for thought. I’d like to hazard some opinions, especially on sarcasm, because it alienates so many of us from each other.

    “Sarcasm, for some people, is a form of addiction to escape pain. Much like porn or drugs.”

    I disagree with this. Porn and drugs are something a person takes in to erase a pain they are experiencing. Sarcasm is an outward expression of pain, usually anger, which itself is a secondary emotion in response to a primary emotion (hurt), like feeling valueless, disrespected, unloved, etc. I do think we can be addicted to anger, however, since it, too, masks the underlying pain, albeit in an unconstructive way. But sarcasm needs to be seen as an expression of the deeper addiction to anger. If we see sarcasm as an addiction, we run the risk of condemning and dismissing it as wrong, as we would porn, without addressing the underlying cause. When someone is being sarcastic, it would be loving to stop and think for a moment that the person is in pain, and form a response in that light. In responding to sarcasm, I try to affirm the person, but not the sarcasm, in my response. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. jmho.

    “A woman’s greatest fear is rejection.”

    Again, I’m not sure I agree with this. I think our greatest fear is of being unloved, unlovable, unworthy of love. Admittedly without having read the book, I think Crabb is making gender distinctions here based on roles. If the woman is actively or passively looking for love (or the less threatening version, acceptance), the negative response to her effort is rejection. The end result is feeling unlovable. So, yes, we fear rejection, especially if we are being vulnerable and putting our deeper selves on the line. But to say rejection is our deepest fear is to remove by an action the deeper fear, that of being unlovable.

    “A man’s greatest fear is being alone.”

    I am not a man, so this must be taken with a grain of salt. Is a man content as long as he has company/companionship? That’s what Crabb seems to be saying. I would ask, why does he fear being alone? Is it boredom? Is it loneliness? Is it the deeper need to be in communion with someone? What does it mean to be in deep communion with someone? Is that love? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it is not different for a man or woman. Maybe what is different is the way that deep need is expressed. “I fear being unloved” vs. “I fear being alone.”

    “Divine beauty lives in the center of men and women when they follow Jesus.”

    Amen to that. What is it about dying to ourselves and following Christ? A life of selflessness, giving, loving, leads to good things, and Christ knew that. If it is not Christ’s love, and the gratitude of the recipients of our actions, or the gratitude for the affirmation that comes from Christ or following Christ, it is, at least, a deep purpose for living. Whether that trumps love (and I think it does), I will leave others to discern.