When should we be angry?

It is commonly held that anger is to be avoided, although you only have to watch the news to see how it pervades society. Yet there is no 11th commandment “Thou shalt not be angry”.

Those of us who Zoom Morning Prayer are being introduced to parts of the Old Testament we rarely come across. And it can be challenging, as there is an awful lot about God’s anger – you get a glimpse of it in this Sunday’s readings too.

So it has been an education to read Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain’s thoughts on anger:

“Isaiah and Jeremiah lead the Angry Brigade, lambasting those who oppress weaker members of society … If Psalm 7.12 is to be believed, ‘God is angry every day’ (given the many evils in the world, that is not surprising).”

Romain suggests that this holds a practical question for all believers: if we are created in the image of God, should we too to be angry on a daily basis? He goes on:

“What distinguishes divine anger is its cause: grief for those being hurt. That should be the litmus test for us: is our anger the result of compassion for others and how they have been treated, or is it a selfish anger arising from what has been done to us, and how we feel slighted? But there can be no doubt that today’s faithful should regularly be lifting up their voices in anger and railing against contemporary evils, whether online abuse, social exclusion, or international conflict — for surely they make God angry, too.”

Isaiah tells us “Learn to do well, pursue justice, support the oppressed.” Sometimes, as with God, anger is needed to turn hand wringing into action. In Romain’s words “Turning the other cheek is fine for hurts against oneself, but not for those against others.”

Ward Saylor

Leave a comment