Teasing—Good or Bad?
THERE was a certain German family consisting of parents and five children. The eldest and the youngest were girls, with three boys in between. The eldest boy was fond of teasing his still older sister. Whenever she appealed to her mother because he was tormenting her, strict disciplinarian though the mother was, all the comfort she gave her daughter was to remind her of the German proverb Was sich liebt, das neckt sich (‘Whom a person loves he teases’). In other words, teasing expresses affection, fondness. And that may well be.
However, there is another kind of teasing. One elderly Christian minister, when addressing couples whom he is about to pronounce man and wife, counsels them with the words: ‘Do not tease each other, and especially not in public. It might seem to be a bit of harmless fun, but it always leaves the one teased feeling hurt, embarrassed or humiliated.’
Obviously, there is good and bad teasing. This is apparent from the foregoing examples and from definitions of the term. Among these are: ‘to cause a person annoyance; to make affectionate or good-humored fun of; to make a joke of without annoying; to annoy or weary by jokes; to ask persistently; to pester.’ So whether teasing is good or bad, and whether you should indulge in it or not, depends upon the circumstances and the nature of the teasing.
When Children Tease
Because of thoughtlessness, many children are prone to tease or poke fun at those who happen to be handicapped or disadvantaged in some way, possibly due to a birth defect or an accident. Or youngsters tease others because they are of a different race or nationality. Often, as in the foregoing instance, it is the boys who do the teasing, perhaps because they are generally more aggressive than girls. But it would be a mistake for parents not to notice the nature of the teasing and forbid it if it is of the wrong kind or betrays a lack of kindness.
Teasing often shows a lack of empathy, for almost invariably it involves having fun while causing another person discomfort or pain. After all, young as well as old like to be treated with due respect, do they not? The Bible tells of God’s displeasure with youthful teasers. Once, some small boys teased Jehovah’s faithful prophet Elisha by jeering at him as a “baldhead.” They did not get away with this, for two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of their number.—2 Kings 2:23, 24.
Children are prone to indulge in another form of teasing, if it is tolerated by their parents. They keep teasing, actually pestering their father or mother until the youngsters’ request is granted. However, such a thing could be as much the parents’ fault as the youngsters’. How so? Well, the youngsters would soon learn that nothing is to be gained by teasing their parents in an effort to change their minds if the parents carefully thought out matters and then firmly held to the Scriptural rule: “Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No.”—Matthew 5:37.
Teasing Among Adults
Some menfolk enjoy teasing their wives or female relatives or acquaintances. This is the kind of teasing meant by the elderly minister mentioned earlier. It is amusing to the person indulging in it, and it may be so to some bystanders. But teasing usually causes at least a twinge of hurt or embarrassment. Obviously, godly individuals led by Jehovah’s holy spirit and displaying its fruitage of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control cannot at the same time be loveless, unkind, and so forth. (Galatians 5:22, 23) How can they tease or trick others just to have some “fun”?—Compare Proverbs 26:18, 19.
At times, though, there can be positive, constructive teasing—that borne of sincere fondness. This kind is sensitive to the feelings of others; it has empathy. A husband might gently tease his wife when she overindulges in sweets, reminding her of her weight problem.
With a delicate sense of humor, he can make his point far better than by complaining, scolding or criticizing.
Teasing That Lacks Morality
However, there is another form of teasing for which nothing good can be said. And what is that? It is teasing in the form of trifling with the affections or emotions of others, as by flirting, or dressing and/or acting in a way designed to arouse erotic feelings. This really is an extreme form of selfishness, although it is often indulged in without full awareness of all the implications.
It cannot be denied that there are many men who, not subscribing to Bible principles, enjoy being teased sexually, for this whets their appetite for promiscuity. But Christian men, who are determined to live by the principles set forth in God’s Word, do not appreciate being thus exposed to temptation. First of all, they do not want to come under the censure or condemnation contained in Jesus’ words: “But I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Moreover, godly men and women do not want to be tempted to engage in fornication or adultery, knowing how Jehovah God views such wrongdoing. “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement,” says Jehovah’s Word, “for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”—Hebrews 13:4.
Hence, there is teasing that can be harmless and even constructive, an expression of fondness. But other teasing can cause injury and can even tempt others to succumb to unchristian emotions and actions. So do you like to tease others? If so, do not forget that though teasing can be good, very often it is bad.