Anger, But Don’t Miss the Mark

If you read my older post, You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry, you probably have a pretty good idea on my views about anger.  In that post I pointed out the time Jesus flipped out on the money changers and how in Ephesians 4:26, 27 it says “‘Be angry, and do not sin’:do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” My point was that anger happens in this world so we might as well learn how to deal with it.  What I would like to add in this post is the idea that sometimes anger is the appropriate response to a situation and that sometimes withholding our anger does a lot more harm than good.

Of course I know that there are some people who would take this point of view and use it as an excuse to act like jerks.  That is not what I am going for.  I’m really talking to the people who think it is “spiritual” to act like they are not angry when they are.  Now to accept the experience of anger arising in oneself does not mean that you should go berserk just because it feels good to release your frustration on whoever or whatever is around.  The irony is that when we accept that we are angry and that it is a natural response to some situations, the pressure that often leads to going coocoo actually subsides.  Anger is an experience that can teach us as much as anything else.  It does not have to be mindless, it just has to be appropriate.  I define appropriate anger as anger that is not  toward something or someone, but it is for the betterment of that person, place, institution, etc.

When expressing his feelings about America’s decision to participate in the war in Vietnam, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road which can lead to national disaster…”

Sorry for pulling the MLK card to make my point, but I know that most people who fancy themselves as being socially conscious will at least pretend that they agree with MLK if someone uses him as an example.  So there! Anyway, in my opinion, MLK had to allow for anger in order to express disappointment. Still, he expressed it in a way that was appropriate to the moment. And notice that he did not say, ” I am disappointed in America.”  He said, “I am disappointed WITH America.”  He took part in the American ideal and was rightly disappointed when we were not living up to it.  That is because ANGER IS NOT A SIN!!!  To sin simply means to miss the mark.  In that sense, pretending to not be experiencing anger when one is can also be a sin. It misses the mark.  No one would say Jesus was sinning when he called people:

  • Brood of vipers (Matt 12:34, 23:33)
  • Satan (Mark 8:33)
  • Hypocrites (Matt 15:7, 16:3, 22:18)

The above are all insults that Jesus more than likely expressed with anger and frustration.  In Luke 9:41 when his disciples could not heal a man’s son he even said,  “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?” Doesn’t that sound frustrated? So how do you explain it?  Was Jesus sinning with anger or was he just calling the people out because no one else was saying anything?

Of course no one wants to hear it when they need correction, but guess what, that’s what Love does. So if you think you are loving people by pretending like you condone everything they do, guess again.  Love sometimes means you look like the jerk or the loser for giving a voice to the unexpressed frustrations many of us keep inside.

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