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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Navigating the anger zone . . .


Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one. — Benjamin Franklin

Dear Friends,

Anger is one of the few moral reactions that can be both a virtue and a vice. Love doesn’t fit that category—at least not agape love. Neither does meekness or honesty, or almost any other virtue that I can think of. This is why anger can be so dangerous. One, for instance, may say, “I love the sinner but hate the sin” and yet do everything they can to make life miserable for the sinner.

Take the gay bashing Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) out of Topeka, Kansas, which  in the name of Christ picket military funerals simply because the solider wore the uniform and sacrificed his or her life to protect American freedom, including homosexual rights. Even though their protest signs may read “We love the sinner, but hate sin” these Baptist are angry people, and I might say unchristlike to say the least. Why? Well, the answer is that they have tried to sanitize their free float homophobia to disguise their true feelings. Instead of taking the Biblical route to control their disgust, they have allowed their anger to control them. They have appointed themselves moral policemen of the public at large.

Strangely enough, I find nowhere in Scripture that God has appoint them or anyone else as forceful arbitrators of morality. Not even Christ did that. He came to offer hope not condemnation. It is not the church’s duty, either, to take the law in their own hand, even if it is the moral law. To do so violates human freedom. God will judge the sinner in His own time.

Coincidentally, this is precisely what Omar Mateen did in Orlando at the gay nightclub where he shot and killed 49 people—that is, he set himself up as judge and executor. Yes, he was Muslim; however, had he been Christian would that have lessened the pain and suffering or awfulness of this hideous crime? Certainly, not.
Make no mistake, homosexuality is condemned in Scripture, and, no, Jesus did not condone the practice, either. Stretch his Gospel of love as far as you can and it will never get beyond one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4-6).

Be that as it may, however, we must never let our anger go beyond that which God allows. Personally, I am against indiscriminate abortion, as I believe any Christian should be. That, however, does not give me a God given right to blow up abortion clinics or murder abortion providers.

We must not just assuage our anger with kindness, we must channel it into a loving response.
“Be angry and sin not” is still an active command, as is “we should not let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26).” And, in doing so, I believe it is high time that we get over our homophobia and learn what it truly means to minister to the  LGBT community, as well as the jihadist Muslims in our midst or abortionist. We have our pulpits and the voting booth to register our complaints, and we should. Our local and state, as well as, national legislators have their responsibilities, too.

Now, stop and think with me for a minute: Could you imagine Mother Teresa carrying a hate sign against anyone regardless of the atrocity of their sin? Perhaps, a placard inviting them for an evening meal, but never one of hate. Christ expects no less from us, either.

On a practical level, this election, in my opinion, is going to be settled on the issue of anger and hatred, may we have the God given wisdom to direct our anger in the right direction—that being, the direction of love, not a seething hatred.

As ever, may you be blessed,
JimR_/