2 Times Anger Is Acceptable in Marriage and 3 Times It’s Not

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2 Times Anger Is Acceptable in Marriage and 3 Times It’s Not

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I’m guessing you don’t need a dictionary definition of anger. But if you do need one, anger is defined as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” The Bible often speaks of anger. And it speaks of wrath.

Wrath is more of a settled disposition. Anger is more of an intense emotional state. Robert Jones defines it as “our whole-personed active response of negative moral judgment against perceived evil.”[1] Anger is a biological response to a perceived threat or wrongdoing. It is our body’s way of preparing us to defend ourselves.

In this case, it’s a little like the lights on your car’s dashboard. Those lights are responding to something that is going on under the hood. Anger is responding to a perceived injustice. When we feel that “negative moral judgment against a perceived evil,” our anger light comes on. That’s why we might say things like, “You made me angry.” That’s what it feels like. But the reality is that we make ourselves angry—it is our body’s response to a perceived illness. You did this thing, and I responded with this emotion.

When Ephesians 4:26 discusses anger, it doesn’t say, “You do well to be angry.” Rather, it acknowledges that we have anger. When this intense emotion comes into our bodies, we are told not to let it lead us to sin. When we’re told not to let the sun go down on anger, God is telling us that we need to look under the hood. Don’t let those dashboard lights keep flashing and beeping. Deal with it.

Sometimes, our anger is the right response. But many times, our dashboard lights are set to the wrong standard. They beep when they shouldn’t. We tend to place ourselves at the center, and the perceived evil isn’t actual evil; rather, it’s a slight to ourselves. In many cases, what God said to Jonah is fitting: “Do you do well to be angry?”

You’re angry, but should you be? That’s certainly the case when we’re talking about marriage. There will be many opportunities for anger. But should there be? Should we be angry?

There is such a thing as righteous anger. God can be angry. In fact, there are times when anything but anger would be a sinful response. There are some things we should and must be angry about. But I would argue that these are few and far between. Most of the time, our anger isn’t righteous at all. Truly righteous anger has the heart of God at the center. Here are three times when anger in marriage is an accurate response.

[1] Robert Jones, Uprooting Anger, p15

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