This question arose after I read Jerry Bridge’s book ‘Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate’. I didn’t agree with all of it, but it is a thought-provoking book written by a godly man and worth reading. We were discussing it for a book club.
Jerry Bridges says this:
Is it okay to be angry toward God? Most pop psychology would answer yes. “Just vent your feelings toward God.” I’ve even read the statement, “It’s okay to be angry at God. He’s a big boy. He can handle it. In my judgment, that is sheer blasphemy.
Let me make a statement loud and clear. It is never okay to be angry at God. Anger is a moral judgment, and in the case of God, it accuses Him of wrongdoing. (Respectable Sins, Chapter Fifteen)
I was troubled by this. And yes, ironically enough, it made me a little angry in response. (This, admittedly, was partly because I had spent the last month being mad at God. We were not really on speaking terms at the time.)
Of course, in some senses it doesn’t matter that it is a sin, if it is a sin. If we are Christians then we are forgiven, and all our sins are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.
But even if it doesn’t matter on a doctrinal/salvation level, it does matter pastorally. If someone is angry with God, do we need to rebuke them? Do they need to repent of it? Isn’t that just pastorally insensitive?
So I argued back:
As Christians, we tend to get bothered by anger, but it’s not described as a sin in and of itself. It can lead to sin, that’s why Ephesians says ‘in your anger do not sin’. It is a healthy emotion. Sadness is a healthy emotional response to loss; anger is a healthy emotional response to injustice, either against us or against other people. It’s simplistic to say that you can’t be angry at God.
We are told to be joyful and rejoice, but that doesn’t mean that the Christian can never be sad or that it’s a sin to be sad. The psalms are full of lament. There are also angry psalms, not the kind of ‘righteous angry-at-the-sin-of-the-world anger’ but the ‘why are you picking on me? Why have you let me down, God?’ anger. They direct their anger to God. It is not pop psychology that tells us to ‘pour out your hearts to God’ but the Bible itself (Ps 62:8).
But someone else in the group countered with this:
“Isn’t it still wrong to be directing your anger at God? If anger is a natural emotional reaction to injustice, surely being angry at God is implying that he’s unjust? Isn’t that then accusing God of being morally deficient?”
I thought she had a point. Naturally, I didn’t say this, but instead came back with my ‘But the psalms…’ argument again. But I am pondering it.
What do you think? I need some input on this one! I shall gather responses and write a follow-up post in a few days.
Over to you:
- Is it a sin to be angry with God?
P.S. I am aware that this is a potentially emotive issue. Please bear this in mind when responding to others’ comments.