Can Christians Be Angry?
A Christian Counselor’s Thoughts
Anger is an emotion that we all share. We’ve all felt it. We’ve all witnessed it. It is part of the universal human experience. Anger involves a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. It is an emotion that everyone experiences and it can occur in various forms and degrees of intensity. You may get angry over small annoyances or larger frustrations, from stubbing a toe to being betrayed by a spouse.
Anger is the leading cause of depression, accidents, road rage, sickness, inefficiency, anxiety, grief, marital conflict, and other interpersonal tension. (Collins, 159) I have seen anger cause wars, terrorist attacks, church splits, divorce, and disorder in the workplace. Anger can interfere with our lives in many ways.
Is Anger a Sin?
You may think that anger is bad in itself, but this is untrue. Anger is an attribute of God and is part of His nature. In His wisdom, sovereignty, and omniscience, God always uses anger to correct the sins and injustices of this world. For example, Jesus was angry about the injustices of the world. He used His anger in the temple when He saw the moneychangers exploiting religion, instead of using it to bring people closer to God. The text tells us that He left, fashioned a whip, and returned to express His anger openly in public. Yet, in His anger, He did not sin. So we can see that anger is not necessarily sinful.
How is Human Anger Different?
Anger is a normal, God-given emotion and is not necessarily sinful. As God’s image bearer you can experience constructive, Christ-honoring anger. But you can also use your anger destructively and sinfully as a human being. You can misinterpret situations, make errors in judgment, react quickly, and respond with retaliation and cruelty, making anger a destructive emotion. As a result, human anger can be harmful and dangerous.
What is Causing My Anger?
There are many causes of anger. When you think about your anger, you will most likely think about the times when you were mistreated, manipulated, or attacked by others. Usually, circumstances or events are less likely to cause anger. Other causes of anger can include biology, injustice, frustrations, and being threatened or hurt. Anger can be a learned behavior or it can be rooted in our personality or perceptions. Understanding where your anger comes from is an important step in understanding why you get angry.
What Does Anger Look Like?
The Bible warns human beings about the dangers of anger. As mentioned earlier, anger show up in various forms, including violence, abuse, passive resistance, and criticism. Here are some unhealthy anger styles that you should be aware of.
- Anger Avoidance involves avoiding both conflict and anger.
- Passive Aggression means expressing anger in subtle ways, including non-cooperation, stalling, and sabotaging.
- Distrust-Based Anger expects to be hurt by others and uses anger as a form of self-defense.
- Sudden Anger is anger that is on a “short fuse” and involves quick explosions.
- Shame-Based Anger is anger that is used in order to deal with guilt and shame.
- Deliberate Anger is anger that is intended to be intimidating and bullying.
- Habitual (or Toxic) Anger involves a critical and hostile worldview and a perception that “nothing is right.”
- Depressive Anger is anger turned inward or bottled-up and can reappear as depression.
- Moral Anger or righteous indignation can lead to insensitivity.
- Resentment and Hatred is anger that persists in bitterness and refuses forgiveness.
How Can Christian Counseling Help You Deal with Anger?
Anger does not have to be destructive or sinful. There are important steps you must take in order to recognize and change unhealthy patterns in your anger. Christian counseling can help you to determine if your anger is unhealthy, destructive, and non-biblical. Admitting your unhealthy anger is the first big step in overcoming anger.
Christian counseling can help you to express your anger and find its source, and a Christian counselor can teach you anger management skills. With determination and the power of the Holy Spirit, human anger can be controlled and even used for good. I would be honored to help you find ways to use your anger to glorify God.
Collins, G. R. (2007). Christina Counseling: A comprehensive guide. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing.Photos
“Disaster,” courtesy of Matthew Wiebe; Unsplash.com/matthewwiebe; “Alone,” courtesy of By Joshua Earle, Unsplash.com/joshuaearle