POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Anger, Contempt, and Slanderous Speech

Last night I read a great piece on the nature of anger, contempt, and slanderous speech. Now right, what a fun life I lead to read such wonderful topics. But seriously, it was about the teaching of Jesus on anger and our relationships to others in a great book I am reading (Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy - we'll probably blog a bit in the coming weeks on this book). The passage discussed is found in Jesus' sermon given on a hillside - a short but world-changing discourse that philosophers pupils, and preachers have marveled at for centuries. As recorded in Matthew's gospel (Matt 5):
Verses 21,22 - "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.
1) Anger is a response to others and circumstances which arises when something thwarts our will - we get angry when someone messes up our game plan. Anger in and of it self is not necessarily bad - in fact, there are some things which ought to make us angry. However, anger which lingers, which stews, and boils in the cauldron of the soul becomes a root in the affections from which the most heinous of human evils flows. Jesus said, it is anger towards a brother that makes us liable to judgment. 2) Contempt finds its origin in unresolved anger and resentment of another. It moves past "he made me angry" to "that guy makes me sick" - Insult, contempt for another - Jesus, warns us in Matthew 5 - is a high crime that is worthy of judgment at the council - or the tribunal that ruled on the affairs of people. 3) Slanderous speech! "You Fool!" - moving from anger to contempt into cursing another - for our day saying to another "You Fool" sounds very tame. How can that possibly be that bad of a thing - the word used in the New Testament here is actually "Raca" - a harsh term of abuse used to slander and insult. "That guy is a piece of #%$@!" - would better explain the term in our day. That may sound harsh, but that is the nature of the heart Jesus is describes. To devalue that which God has declared immeasurably valuable - the human soul defiled in the heart and speech of another - it is worthy of hell. How much of the pain in our world - violence and murder have found their seat on the pride and offended will of man which brought forth his anger. James' advice is well taken -
  • Quick to listen - showing value to others
  • Slow to speak - shut my big mouth, for how much stuff that flows from our traps becomes a trap for others
  • Slow to become angry - Why? It does not bring about the righteousness that God desires...nor peace, nor hope, nor love, nor healing for communities, nor passion for the good, nor anything else profitable.

If anger comes because of the view of evil and injustice - may it move us to action - not angry souls at war with the world, viewing all as an enemy. May we ever remember that there is an enemy but it is not your neighbor - such an enemy must be fought with weapons not carnal. Now, what of pacifism? The role of the state to bear the sword of wrath against wickedness (Rom 13) - such will have to wait for other days. Out