Chances are, if you’re reading this right now and you’re a man, you’re angry.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, angry men are becoming the norm. Why?
Well for starters, from a professional standpoint, men are now trailing women in college and in the workplace. In their personal lives, fewer of their relationships lead to marriage with many of them feeling masculinity is under attack. Given all the zaniness happening in our culture, it’s hard to argue with that last point.
When men go online seeking male solidarity, they often find more rage that fuels their own angry rocket ship. The results aren’t good: oftentimes the result is depression, and sometimes worse — the suicide rate among men is about four times higher than that of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of men in the U.S. say they’re hesitant to seek professional help for their anger and corresponding stress, anxiety, and depression, according to a study from Cleveland Clinic. And in a horrible twist of the knife, the respondents who expressed such reluctance were twice as likely as other men to spend several hours a day on social media, which leads them back down the rabbit hole of rage.
Such men are walking time bombs, much like Bruce Banner who says, in “The Avengers,” — “I’m always angry” right before he turns into the Hulk.
An angry man’s psychological MRI will often reveal more to the story about why they have the fury they do. “It may look like we have an epidemic of male anger, but under the anger is loneliness and sadness,” says Justin Baldoni, a filmmaker and actor behind “Man Enough,” a podcast about masculinity.
New York Times writer Sarah Lyall chronicled these unseen aspects of anger in a story she did on cultural anger, which included a 60-year-old man going off the hook because a store didn’t have the imported cheese he wanted.
She writes, “You’re looking at someone and thinking, ‘I don’t think this is about the cheese.’”
But Christian men are different, right?
Of course, Christian men don’t have anger issues because we’ve been saved, have the Holy Spirit, and thus only ever experience the fruit of the Spirit.
I’ve been a Christian for decades now but get me out driving in our township and watch me turn green. Most drivers on our roads fall into 3 categories: 1. the “driving dead” whose average age is 125 years old and who drive 15 miles under any speed limit, always in the passing lane. My Audi idles faster than they drive; 2. “haulers” who are pulling everything from landscape equipment to ballistic missiles, also always in the passing lane, and 3. “phone addicts” whose reaction to a red light that just turned green is to pause 10 seconds before going because they’re starting at their screen.
Every now and then, all three make me want to grab a baseball bat, walk up, and say, “I just want you to know that as a Christian, I’m forgiven for the beating I’m about to give you.”
Of course, I’m kidding about that. Christian ethics aside, our society calls that assault with a deadly weapon. However, sans the bat, I admit I struggle with anger, even though I’m a believer.
The Bible has an interesting way of describing anger — the Hebrew word for it is charah, which means to become hot with flared nostrils.
The Greek carries some of the same imagery. For example, in the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, we’re told that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit” (John 11:33) with the verb used having the root meaning to snort like a horse and be moved with anger.
If Jesus exhibited anger and was sinless, then having anger as a Christian man can’t always equate to acting in a morally wrong fashion. Scripture says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26–27), and tells us to be “slow to anger” (James 1:19).
So, if anger isn’t part of our fallen nature (witness Christ), why did God program it into our DNA? What good does it produce?
One answer is that anger motivates us to action. Anger often arises from feelings of fear, frustration, disappointment, and injustice. Properly channeled, anger can lead us to respond in ways that short-circuit, prevent, and rectify the situations in which those things occur.
Where we get into trouble is when anger devolves into a bitter spirit that lashes out in unproductive or vengeful ways, especially over insignificant events. This is why Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31–32).
Staving off the wrong kind of anger isn’t easy, even for a Christian man. If it was, the Bible wouldn’t say, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32).
But it is possible to thwart the wrong kind of anger that tries to own us. I find a few proactive prayers aimed upward before I leave the house help me not fantasize about a meteor crashing into a driving dead, hauler, or phone addict driver that’s in front of me.
So, if you’re a Christian man who’s reading this right now and you’re angry, take heart. The Spirit of God can lead you to action with the right kind of anger and also extinguish the wrong kind of anger and bitterness that wants to claim you. So, “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26).
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master’s in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.
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