Anger Revisited

Many people struggle with the sense that anger is wrong, especially those with a strong Christian faith. The difficulty is that anger is a healthy emotional response, without it we simply wouldn't be human. The Bible clearly reflects that God expresses anger and Jesus expressed anger in his earthly ministry. We see this very clearly in his cleansing of the temple.

If anger is found in God's expression and Jesus ministry it simply cannot be a sin in itself since there is no sin in God. However, like all emotions it can be misused and sinfully expressed in the same way that pride can be both a good and bad emotional expression.

The repression of anger is commonly suggested to be one of the causes of depression. 'Depression is anger turned inwards'. It is highly likely that some of the depression in our churches is a result of people prohibiting themselves from the expression of their anger.

I believe that much of this repression is a result of a misrepresentation of the value of anger as an emotion. Many Christians see anger as synonymous with unforgiveness, punishment or violence, they therefore deny themselves the opportunity to be angry. As a result the benefits of being angry are lost and real resolution is not possible.

In Ephesians 4:26 it says, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry". It is very clear that in this first clause anger and sin are separated, anger is a state in which it is easier to sin than whilst we are in a more placid state, however anger is not a sin in itself. Anger also has a shelf life, it needs to be resolved within a reasonable time or else it becomes something different, commonly bitterness or depression.

However, despite these attached warnings, anger is important. Anger like guilt helps us to respond to things that are wrong. If we see a child being beaten or a person being attacked we rightly feel angry. It helps us to know that something unjust is happeneing. It is important to note that you are also worthy of the protection that anger offers. By this I mean that if you are personally being wronged in some way you have the right to feel angry. Anger lets you know that something is not right, it prompts you to respond.

We have the choice to respond in healthy or unheathy ways. By believing that we must not be angry, anger gets suppressed and can become depression. By exploding anger can become violent or aggressive. However, by examining why we are angry, reflecting on the cause and responding to others by expressing that what has been done has made us feel this way resolution can be found, growth and forgiveness can begin.

Revisit anger...how do you respond and what do you believe about it? No one lives anger free...if yours has disappeared find out where to and ask Jesus to help you to reconnect to this important feeling.

Will Van Der Hart, 29/01/2007