Schadenfreude — pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.
Actually, schadenfreude is a perfectly normal emotion and is
a dangerous emotion only when injustice is celebrated, not when justice is served. As Christians, we should experience schadenfreude when the wicked fall.
The Scriptures drip with biblical schadenfreude.
Israel’s songs in Pharaoh’s defeat (Exodus 15)
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6 Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7 And in the greatness of thine excellency, thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
Woman Wisdom’s sermon at the city gate (Proverbs 1:20-33)
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
Elijah’s raking of the Prophets of Baal
26 And they (the false prophets) took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked
This schadenfreude in Scripture reveals again that as the Church in the West finds practicing this kind of schadenfreude to be unacceptable, it is following the PC codes, and is attempting to be nicer than God. Indeed, we might go so far as to say that where Christians to not experience schadenfreude where the wicked are caught in their own trap and so destroyed, there we find an example of sub-biblical Christianity. Indeed a lack of biblical schadenfreude could be a case where “Even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
John Portmann, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, set forth his own schadenfreude theory three years ago in his book, ‘When Bad Things Happen to Other People.’ Portman offers that we all consider justice a virtue and feel pleasure when we see lawbreakers brought low.
In response to Professor Portmann, we might say that it’s all to the good that Christians experience biblical schadenfreude because this pleasure reflects our reverence for God’s law and God’s justice. If Portmann is correct there is such a possibility as Biblical schadenfreude and to experience Biblical schadenfreude would be a corollary of justice rendered to the guilty and so God’s law being upheld.
It is schadenfreude that the saints will experience in the judgment of the wicked when the wicked are brought low.
18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Certainly, schadenfreude, over the ruination of the wicked has been held by the Church Fathers throughout history;
“Therefore the elect shall go forth…to see the torments of the impious, seeing which they will not be grieved, but will be satiated with joy at the sight of the unutterable calamity of the impious .” Sent. Iv 50, ad fin
When questioned whether the Blessed will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest tortured answers, “Not in the least.”
“…the Blessed will see their friends and relations among the damned as often as they like but without the least of compassion.”
“They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints’. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost.” [The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 22, “What is Meant by the Good Going Out to See the Punishment of the Wicked” & Book 22, Chapter 30, “Of the Eternal Felicity of the City of God, and of the Perpetual Sabbath”]