Righteous Anger… really?

Is righteous anger really righteous? Some Christians seem to think that calling anger ‘righteous’ is a good enough reason to make anger ok, when really it is a big fat excuse so that they can vent their frustrations. It’s something that really irritates me, people bandy around the phrase as if it’s a God given right for them to get cross. Well, it’s not. I am not sure we should even use the term at all. I mean when we use the word ‘anger’ or angry we usually mean something that has got up our own nose, someone has done something against us, we have been charged the wrong amount on our phone bill, our children left their towels on the bathroom floor. again. When we talk of righteous anger, it’s all of the above but it’s just that we think we are right. So then it’s ok to be angry. Isn’t it?

So what is ‘righteous anger’? if there is such a thing? I mean God gets pretty angry in the Old Testament sometimes, that’s true, usually because His people are ignoring Him or worshipping idols. But in the same Old Testament whenever it talks of being ‘righteous’ it is usually referring to someone who is spotless, a faithful follower of God, or ‘blameless’ even as The Word says of Noah. The Dictionary says:
Righteous: morally right, virtuous, law-abiding

I think we need to be very careful before we start saying, ‘that’s ok it’s righteous anger, that’s allowed’. The bible teaches us to think of others, to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies. It does not say that it’s ok to be angry when we feel we are in the right. Isn’t it God’s place to be angry for us?  In a time of prayer a few weeks back along with 2 others we were praying for a friend who is suffering greatly at the moment, and has had some pretty awful stuff happen to them. As I was praying I felt a great anger rise up within me, I wanted to shout out loud, it was like I was shouting in my head in all the anger. It was very strange. In discusssion aftewards one of the others had been feeling the same, it was rather like God was showing us His anger at the situation, that he didn’t want this person to be suffering either, that He was angry at the way this person had been treated.

The bible does talk of pepole other than God being angry, even Jesus gets cross with the Pharisees, and usually this is when people are acting against Gods will or in reaction to sinful situations. This strikes me as the true meaning of Righteous anger.

Paul says in Ephesians: In your anger do not sin (4:26) and I think that’s key, that when we feel fired up about someting, it doesn’t have to be wrong, to be angry per se, but that whilst being angry we should not sin. and that is, frankly, damn near impossible. For most of us we get angry or riled by something and then we rally against it. We shout, we curse that person or thing (if not openly, most of us do it in our heads), we react against it before we have time to think. It is those situations that we console ourselves with the fact that it is righteous anger, so it’s ok to be angry.

This, from James, sums it up for me. I don’t think that we, as humans, can be righteously angry because we can never be truly righteous, can we?My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1: 19-20

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  • Reply
    Alan Crawley
    March 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I once heard the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman (before he was Bishop) talking about righteous anger being justified in South Africa. I think for me the difference is that righteous anger is much more likely to be on someone elses behalf than on our own.

  • Reply
    GOD thinker
    March 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Great post!! The problem is most of us sin when we are angry. We yell and call names or use rude gestures. We defend or attack. We gossip and rage. Then we think we have a right to do that because we were hurt or whatever. Most of the things we get mad at are really fleshly emotional issues. We should get mad at injustice and oppression and evil but any type of anger should not lead us into sin.

    I like Alan observation too that righteous anger is often on behalf of another and not ourselves. So true!

  • Reply
    Nancy Wallace
    March 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Good post. I think there are situations that should cause us to be angry and as Alan Crawley comments these will usually be on someone else's behalf e.g. as a reaction to gross injustice, cruelty etc. Then the challenge is how to use that anger constructively to change things for the common good. So often it doesn't go further than condemning the 'other' and boosting our own self-righteousness (back into sin again).

  • Reply
    March 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Well for most theologies, their institutions tend to preach that, when all is said and done, all acts are moral if done in the name of their "faith," which tends to justify everything given enough history.

    This is why I don't see religion contributing any real moral values in society. There's too many moral loop holes (most explicitly written out) that justify selfish and horrible acts. And some of those acts are seen as commands from a creator. A creator who is quick to lie, cheat, and kill anything at will and has done so. lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    March 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    *at least from what I've read: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html

  • Reply
    March 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks all and some interesting comments. Yes I like Alans suggestion that righteous anger is often on behalf of others but I'm still not sure it should be referred to as 'righteous'!

    Hi Phaedrus and welcome, enjoyed reading some of your blog – raises lots of points I would love to respond to, must find some time! However I'm not sure it's fair to say that theological institutions preach that 'all acts are moral if done in the name of faith'. Yes historically people and nations have done some pretty horrendous things in the name of faith, but that doesn't mean that they were acting through that faith, but through their (usually flawed) understanding of it. I think it's interesting that you feel religion doesn't contribue any real moral values in society too, love to hear more on that… (genuinely)
    And sorry, but as for the link you shared – it simply lists lots of out of context bible references, with no explanation or research into their meaning, implied or otherwise, or the background to it. Anyone can take scriptures out of context and make them mean what they want to, (and have done historically, and it is those people that give Christianity a bad name) that doesn't mean they are either right or well-informed. Having read the basic info about the site, I feel that the author of it is probably blinkred by his own experience. It is also rather ill-informed. There is plenty of negative stuff out there without making it up!! Rons blog 'Ramblings' (http://ronmurp.blogspot.com) might give you a much more intelligent approach to anti-christianty, I would recommend it.
    For me being a Christian (or being part of a religion) is about sharing Gods love, not invoking hell-fire on my enemies ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But that all said, do come back, I love a good debate!!
    red ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    March 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Well at least you looked at the links ๐Ÿ™‚ It was an unfair exaggeration on my part, but I was doing so in the context of your "righteous anger" article. Um.. yeah so I'll definitely keep following your blog. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    March 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    lol!! glad to hear it and I will be following yours too…;)

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