Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It is OK to get Angry

The Bible has a good bit to say about anger. In fact, other than money, anger is possibly a top topic in the Holy Writ.

Back in about 1975 I spoke to Friday Morning Men on several occasions. I did one series on sex and we had a record setting number of males turn up. I was not surprised and was very pleased that my choice of subjects was so well received.

A few months later I spoke on anger and almost twice as many men came. When I expressed my surprise that this topic out pulled sex, one of the men said, "We get a whole lot more anger than we do sex."

I suppose that is why God inspired His authors to write their Spirit led thoughts on the topic. First, let me tell you about my family and how we tried to deal with anger and other negative emotions. My Great Grand Father had been a Holiness Minister and Evangelist. He believed and taught that once a Christian had been "Baptized in the Holy Spirit" he or she could live above sin. This meant that anger, lust, coveting and so forth could be eliminated from our lives.

His daughter, my Grandmother, was a true follower of this philosophy and, as far as i could tell, she did a pretty good job of living without anger and lust. This brings me to my mother who was a fiery, red headed Irish woman who did not live her life without anger, but she had an enormous guilt complex about being imperfect in that regard. She insisted that Christians did NOT get angry. "I get frustrated," she would say, "but Christians do not get angry."

So, we had some very unhealthy ideas about how to deal with the reality of anger and what the Bible actually teaches about it and other negative emotions. For example, until I was an adult who learned to study a bit of Greek and actually understand that there are very different Greek words translated with the same English term anger. This means that the Bible is often precise and clear that the FEELINGS of anger are natural, normal and acceptable. However, resentment, bitterness and revenge are forbidden.

In fact, in Ephesians 4 St. Paul says, "Go ahead and get angry but do no let the sun go down on your anger." The first term translated as anger means "Feel the emotion of anger" but the second term means "bitterness and resentment". It is not possible by an act of the will to stop feeling anger. It is, however, possible to stop thinking about revenge.

More on this topic later.

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