Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

When Anger is Godly

As we write about abuse, as we speak about it and give counsel to abuse victims, the subject and question of ANGER frequently comes up. It arises in various ways:

  1. Victims who are Christians are conflicted because they are angry, yet they think that it is a sin to be angry.
  2. We feel anger when we hear victims tell us how they are being treated with terrible injustice by their churches.
  3. Critics cry “foul!” when we expose and critique some beloved notable Christian leader, pastor, author, theologian’s erroneous and damaging teachings that add immense suffering to abuse victims and enable abusers.  “How unkind, how unloving to be so critical of a brother in Christ!  You should be ashamed!”  So they are angry with us because we are angry. (Increasingly, I am convinced that these critics are motivated by a blind loyalty to their icons and would be upset with anyone who would question their chosen one for anything).

But there is a time for anger:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Anger in its essence is not sinful.  That is obvious because God is angry.  God incarnate was angry — intensely so.  In fact, to not be angry is a sin sometimes:

Matthew 23:13-25 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Bancroft refers to “dispassionate, academic” ways of writing and speaking about things.  He says that those attitudes have their place, but that when it comes to the atrocious injustice of abuse, we need to be angry. He is right. Be angry and don’t sin. But be angry. “Woe to you…. abusers!  Woe to you false shepherds who protect the abuser!”  Woe to anyone who stands in front of their congregation and authoritatively (implying his authority is from God) declares things that oppress and enslave the innocent. Woe to you who heap huge loads of guilt upon the weak! Woe to you who demand that a woman submit to her abuser and to you as her priest.
For such anger, we will be labeled “un-scholarly” and “radical” and “slanderous.” But what kinds of labels were laid on Jesus, do you suppose, when He publicly declared the iconic religious leaders and teachers of His day to be objects of God’s wrath? If God Himself is moved to wrath when the innocent are oppressed, so will His children who have become partakers of His nature.
When our critics say “why are you so angry at all of this?” we ask them “why aren’t you?”


The Other Way to Peace


"If You Only Understood…" Using History as an Excuse for Sin


  1. Innoscent

    This is such an important topic! There’s so much confusion about emotions nowadays! Anger is seen as the chief sinful emotion, even as a desire for vengeance and retaliation, and should be avoided. Most of the time, emotions are put into ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ categories, anger being negative, joy positive for instance, so as a Christian you’re expected to not be angry, but always happy. You sin if you show anger, or if you lack joy. It’s pure nonsense. There is such a thing inappropriate joy for instance in Proverbs 24.17-18.
    God gave us a whole range of emotions to deal with life in this fallen world and each one has its own purpose and can blend with others. The Lord himself expressed admiration, joy, anger, irritation, sorrow, anguish, peace, frustration, compassion, crying, etc. It surely is Satan’s aim to confuse God’s people and vilify certain emotions, anger being one of those. Why? Because emotions serve as indicators of what is going on around us, and especially in case of dangers. Just like physical pain warns you of being burnt, anger indicates on your emotional radar that some injustice being done to you. And you shouldn’t stifle your feeling of anger.
    When well managed under the leading of the Holy Spirit emotions such as anger prompt you to take appropriate ACTION in order to correct injustice or to move forward in a certain course. Satan hates that. As long as Moses was submitted to the Holy Spirit he followed God’s instructions, expressed righteous indignation when breaking the tables of the law signifying the breaking of the law by the idolatrous people around the golden calf. But then in his irritation he took it personally and swayed in his obedience before the thirsty people and was reproved by God for that as he stroke the rock twice instead of once.
    Feeling righteous indignation as a Christian shows your conscience is in tune with the Holy Spirit, but then what you’re going to do with the emotion has got to be Spirit-led all the way. This is key.
    Unfortunately, ignorant or arrogant people tell you that this kind of anger is reserved to an “elite” such as Christ, God and prophets, or that your anger is not holy, and who can determine that anyway, they reason.
    Those who denounce anger as sinful are often uneducated about the role and nature of emotions (often due to the lack of proper teaching by the church leaders), and they focus on its expression instead of its rightful motive and purpose. They prefer to not rock the boat, keep the peace and not get involved in whatever change and sin that need addressing. Therefore abusers have no obstacle to continue their evil course while their victims are muzzled if they dare crying out for justice and take action to denounce them and escape.

  2. Amy

    Sometimes we have to finally get angry enough to be able to take a stand against abuse!
    My abusive ex used to tell me with a smug look on his face how I was the one with an anger problem on those rare occasions I would explode after days and months of his abuse.
    The pastor of our former church once told me how my ex had gotten in his face at a men’s prayer breakfast and through clenched teeth told the pastor how he (my ex) did not have an anger problem! Hmmmm, okay then! LOL
    And the message I heard over and over in church and women’s bible studies was to never allow anger to control you and of course, never go to bed in anger. So I stuffed my anger, my righteous anger, for two decades, scared that perhaps my ex was right and I truly was the one with an anger issue.

  3. walkinginlight

    Isn’t it amazing how the abuser tries to pin his own sin on the innocent wife and tries to get her to believe his gaslighting scenario! Now that makes me angry!!!! The abusers anger is never “righteous” and he uses it to try and scare and control. The victims anger is always righteous knowing that Mr. abuser is sinning against her and acting like the accuser of the brethren that he is. It will be a glorious day when the Lord Himself punishes these vermin.

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