When Good Christian Women Get Pissed: Righteous Indignation, Not Rightfully So?

There’s a famous passage in the New Testament that references Jesus clearing out the temple in a fit of anger. After finding peddlers, loafers, and money changers using the temple grounds for their own personal gain, he became enraged. John 2:15 says “He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” At The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this is one of my favorite scenes. As Jesus runs up the temple steps and overturns the crates of doves, they scatter across the night sky like a barrage of white-hot fireworks, and the crowd collectively gasps.

A reminder of the respect that must be shown to God’s temple and a reference to his own impending resurrection, this also has served as justification for many Christians to judge, demean, and basically treat others as ‘less than.'

Before you get pissed at me, let me explain.

Let’s start with the definition of righteous indignation from www.dictionary.com: retributive justice, anger and contempt combined with a feeling that it is one’s right to feel that way {entitled anger}; anger without guilt.

Where do we even begin?

Retributive justice is justice that involves payback. You disappointed me, so I’m going to ignore your Facebook messages, fire you, treat you like a pariah, or heap metaphorical coals on your head. How did you disappoint me? You did something un-Christianlike, so I will do something that hurts you, so it will be clear to you how upset I am about your transgression.

"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9

Hmmm

Entitled anger is anger that one feel’s completely justified in having, which means one also ignores scriptural demands advising against it. Daughter got pregnant? Of course you should be angry, because you taught her ‘better’. And as one who did not commit that sin yourself, well…if you could stay out of trouble, couldn’t she? After all, as a Christian, isn’t this your job, to search high and low for fault from your lofty view atop the pedestal of perfection?

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Ephesians 4:31

Hmmm…

What both of these have in common is they produce anger without guilt. Christians should feel guilty when they show anger against each other. But what has happened instead is that we find ourselves on the hamster wheel of justification, telling ourselves that our anger is okay because we are simmering over someone else’s fall, their sin, their struggles. We are angry for God, angry that someone who claims to believe has developed a crack in their foundation.

We must remember that God did not call us to be angry for Him, but to love as He loved. To forgive as He forgave. To serve as He served.

Scripture is clear on anger. It is unwise, a sign of immaturity, and for the most part, misplaced. Over and over again, Proverbs cites it as a reflection of evil and foolishness. Christians are warned to stay away from those who express it and to keep their own selves in check.

Be honest. We do this all the time, especially us women. We see another fall, we huddle together to express our disdain, and then we stand back. Wayyyy back. Because it might be contagious. 

And we do it without guilt. Without hearing the conviction of the Holy Spirit who prompts us to stand with not step on, to reach out and not push away. We are too quick to judge and run when we are  being called to forgive and encourage.

Let’s stop hiding behind the fallacy of righteous indignation and simply be good to each other. Accept and embrace sin? Of course not. But humiliate, chastise, and abandon the sinner?

Shame on us.