“He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.” – Aquinas
As Christians, ought we to be angry when we see injustice around us – and what does that look like?
Are we talking only talking about the large injustices of poverty, inequity, discrimination etc within our societies, or does this include injustices on a smaller scale within some churches, or when we see false doctrines that promote types of injustice? Examples might be the injustice of people facing dire financial stress being judged for not tithing, or perhaps a church stressing its right to receive time, tithes and offerings from all its members but virtually ignoring the needs of those who later need help – saying “God will supply” while doing nothing. (Think of Jesus’ expressive comment re the Pharisees ‘devouring widows’ houses’.) Or false doctrines promoting submission by the weak towards the powerful, when Jesus message was about the strong serving the weak.
Are we to never let the sun go down on our anger – including this type of anger at injustice. Should we just deal with it inwardly, and live a peaceful life regardless of injustice around us? Are we to walk in a kind of forgiveness and not let anger have a lasting foothold? Can we live a peaceful life while being angry at injustice and things that we perceive as travesties of our faith?
Can anger be an expression of love?
In some Christian contexts, anger is suspect. It can be seen as sign that the person has to deal with their inner man, rather than as a correct moral response. If the messenger is angry, criticisms of church methodologies or culture are sometimes deemed invalid without being considered at all. Is this approach immoral? Does it lead a congregation into a kind of immorality where injustices in their midst are belittled or overlooked?
I am not for a moment suggesting that all criticism from an angry person is invalid, or that every time we are angry we are right.
To me there is a tension in what Aquinas says, yet he also has a strong point. He is one of the most influential Christian thinkers ever.