Should Christians express anger?

Our church Sunday School class hosted an elderly missionary yesterday, an earnest man who has committed years of his life ministering to an increasingly secular France.

The gentleman’s devotion was evident, but an opening comment he made struck me as curious. Describing his reentry into the United States for an extended visit, he shared how disappointed he was with how “angry” American Christians appeared to be these days. He didn’t go into extensive detail, but it was clear to me (based on some other things he said) what he was getting at.

We’ve heard this line of reasoning and rationale: Christians should be salt and light – we should love our enemies, turn the other cheek, don’t get so worked up about wrongs because God is in control and will eventually right each one.

There’s wisdom and truth in such sentiment, and there is clearly biblical justification for this approach. But is such a tactic incomplete? Is it only one-half (if that) of a two-sided coin?

Righteous anger is not only an understandable reaction to some of what’s unfolding in culture today, but it’s also biblical. Jesus despised hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-32), grew indignant when children were disrespected (Mark 10:13-16) and raged red hot when His house was used to cheat people (Matthew 21:12-17).

Of course we must realize that Jesus was the perfect incarnate Son of God, while we are mere mortals.

Divisions within Christendom over cultural engagement aren’t new, of course. The names and subject matters may change, but believers have been at odds over approach, strategy, and action for generations. It’s split churches and strained denominations.

But should Christians apologize for being angry over that which makes God angry? It seems there are many things on that list in 2022:

We should be angry over the slaughter of innocent babies. Nearly one million children conceived this year will never be given an opportunity to take their first step, let alone their first breath.

We should be angry about innocent children being exposed to deviant and confused sexual themes and behavior. When a man walks into a classroom full of young children wearing prosthetic breasts, it’s the responsible parent who says enough is enough.

We should be angry when our daughters are forced to compete against men in girls’ sports, simply because a male “identifies” as a female.

We should be angry when girls and boys are sexually trafficked and subjected to horrific and evil behaviors.

We should be angry when a spouse or child are abused or someone in a position of authority violates a sacred bond of trust.

Righteous anger is borne of grief, sadness and heartbreak. Sinful anger is borne of pride and ego. There is a strong distinction between the two.

“Be angry and do not sin,” wrote the apostle Paul to Christians at Ephesus (4:26) – and admonition to hate sinful things.

But with righteous anger we must also show compassion for the hurting and the lost.

“There is a right kind of anger,” taught Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones. “In and of itself anger is not sinful. It is a capacity which is innate in every one of us, and clearly put into us by God. The capacity for anger against that which is evil and wrong is something which is essentially right and good.”

Psychologists will tell you that when a person begins to lose their ability to care or empathize – that’s when we need to begin worrying about them. Coldness and indifference are dangerous emotions. The same might be said about us if we begin to cool on our anger when it comes to that which angers God.