When husbands and wives are embroiled in anger, I suggest that they follow that anger and see where it leads them. This journey may lead to some eye-opening destinations. Men, we might find ourselves angry at our wives because we feel the need to have power and respect. We need significance and when our wives don’t give it to us – anger! Wives might be angry at their husbands because they need love and when they feel their husbands aren’t delivering – anger. Just a word about the difference between husbands and wives (generally) Husbands express anger by being aggressive. They raise their voices, maybe throw things and, at the height of sinfulness, abuse their wives – either verbally or physically. Wives express anger by being passive/aggressive. They find out what their husband’s goals are for the weekend and they sabotage them. They might be late for an engagement or have a headache (guess what I’m thinking of with that thought?); either way, marriage is filled with anger when something other than God is on the throne of importance.
The love of Jesus found in the cross, when he laid down his life for us, can take away the source of anger. A good friend of mine told me of a time when he was angry at his wife. She just offended him, let him down, and interrupted his plans. But instead of erupting in anger, he disciplined himself to reflect on how his fitfulness offended Jesus, how he let Jesus down, how he interrupted Jesus’ plans. When he followed his anger – it took him to himself. His anger towards his wife was disarmed and they were able to have a conversation about the circumstance and come together in harmony and love. He laid down his life for his wife because he realized how much Jesus loved him when he laid down his life for him.
Parents and children are frequently embroiled in anger. Now, I want to remind us that there is a place for righteous anger, and it is often appropriate in parent/child relationships. (See Eph 4:26-27.) I would suggest that a guideline to remember is be angry at what God is angry about. Candy Ljghtner founded MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) because she was angry that a drunk driver killed her daughter. She was angry, but she did not react – she responded in a healthy way. But if parents react in a destructive way – outbursts or abuse – this is sinful anger and it is never appropriate. I would suggest that if a home is frequently filled with anger, parents would be wise to follow their anger. I suspect it will often lead them to their own sinfulness. They get angry because the misbehavior of a teenager tramples on their reputation, they are offended because they are not being respected and they are personally offended by their children’s behavior. Obedience and respect are very important, but not because parents are so wonderful and worthy, but because this is the way God has set up the home in order for children to learn to love God and get along in society. Parents, we need to reflect on how Jesus laid down his life for us, and then lay down our lives for our children.
A word to teenagers (as I write this I wonder how many teens might ever read it, but here goes anyway.) If teens would follow their anger, I suspect that it will lead them to a desire for freedom and independence. Teens are often angry at their parents because they want their own way with no restraints, and when they travel their own path they want no consequences. Life for teenagers is so unfair and they are angry about that!! But if they would realize that Jesus lived a life of obedience to his Father in heaven, and in so doing he laid his life down for them, they will learn an example of how to live when there is (perceived) injustice.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1Pe 2:21-23 ESV)
For all of us, but especially teens, if we entrust ourselves to God, he will judge justly and we will learn real quickly if our cries for justice are godly or sinful.
So, when there is anger in the home, follow it to its source. If it leads to anything that we are valuing more than God, it is a sinful anger. Consider that Jesus laid down his life for you. Then, parents, lay down your lives for your children and, children, lay down your lives for your parents.