Wrath of God

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by John Martin 1852According to the Bible, God’s just response to wrongdoing and sin is his settled opposition, or wrath, towards it. The Bible describes God as holy; his righteousness and love do not allow him to tolerate sin without responding justly: 
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.       Romans 1:18-19 ESVUK     
There are examples within the Old Testament of God destroying whole cities because of his anger at the sin of the people (see Genesis 19:12-14; Genesis 19:23-25), but even in a description of the downfall of a sinful city (Nineveh), the Bible describes God as ‘slow to anger’ Nahum 1:3.
According to the Bible, God’s wrath is tempered with mercy. The Old Testament is full of details about how he looks after, and forgives Israel, his chosen people, even though they forget to follow him time and time again. And the Bible’s central teaching describes how sinful humans deserve punishment for their wrongdoing and yet God sent Jesus to die in their place, himself facing the just judgement of God.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.                        Romans 5:8-9 ESVUK     

Jesus on anger

In the New Testament Jesus taught that it is wrong to allow anger to rule over a person: 
I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.                            Matthew 5:22 ESVUK      
One of his disciples, Paul, went on to write Ephesians 4:26
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

However, no-where did Jesus say that feeling angry is wrong. Indeed, sometimes it is the only appropriate response.

Righteous anger

Casting out the money-changers by GiottoJesus himself got angry – but at the right things. His anger was not self-seeking or self-justifying, but rather was directed towards sin. When he visited the Temple and found people profiteering there he got extremely angry, overturning tables and driving them out using a whip John 2:13-17. He was also angered by the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and the Pharisees (for example, in Matthew 15:1–9). 
Christians believe that Jesus’ example shows that is okay to be angry, but it must be done in a selfless, righteous and self-controlled way. The Bible says that allowing selfish anger to flare up is wrong Ephesians 4:26, but shows God getting angry at things like injustice Amos 5:7-15. Jesus also warned about the consequences for those who caused others (especially the vulnerable) to do wrong ([Luke 17:1-26]).

Other cultural references

  • Texts: The Iliad by Homer; the poem A Poison Tree by William Blake. In the 1950s there was a group of there was a group of playwrights and novelists known as the ‘angry young men’ – some of their work included texts such as Angry Young Man by Leslie Allen Paul, Look Back in Anger by John Osborne, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, Room at the Top by John Braine
  • Paintings: modern paintings The Anger Within by Elsie J. M. Pacquette; Farewell to Anger by Leonid Afremov.

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