Too often I hear people talk guiltily about feeling anger toward God. More often than not, we get angry at God over things over which we have no control. If we don’t control it, God must – someone has to be in control!
It may be a failed relationship. Or the death of a loved one. Or our cumulative grief over the on-going HIV/AIDS crisis. Or financial worries. Or any number of things about which we feel we have no control.
So we are angry. And since no one else seems to be available to be angry at, we get angry at God.
And we feel guilty. We feel we shouldn’t get angry at God! We worry that God’s feelings will be hurt. Or worse yet, God will return our anger – and we all know how much better at being angry God could be!
I say, Go ahead, be angry at God!
This isn’t like the old saying about not teaching a pig to sing, because you won’t succeed and it will only irritate the pig. Being angry at God may indeed have a salutary effect on your life. And I don’t believe it will irritate God.
First of all, God already knows that we are angry – if not, then God isn’t God. Being all-knowing, God is quite familiar with your anger, even before you are. Our anger will not come as a surprise to God.
Second, God knows the source of our anger. God knows the events and experiences that make us angry. God knows our emotions and feelings. God knows all about our situation. God might even share our anger!
Third, God knows why we are angry – the feelings of helplessness, fear, confusion, and dismay that lead to our anger. God intimately knows the inner workings of our minds and spirits, and God knows our limitations. We often are angry because we are powerless, and God knows our powerlessness.
Fourth, God can take it. Oh yes, our anger is so titanic that God will quail before us! Nonsense. God has faced greater anger than ours and survived! God’s shoulders are broad and powerful – God can certainly deal with our puny anger. We do not run the risk of harming God with our anger.
So if God already knows about our anger, understands the source of our anger, discerns why we are angry, and can easily handle our anger, why are we reluctant or guilty about expressing our anger?
In fact, some times expressing our anger can be a good thing for us. It is good to vent a bit. Rather than keeping it all pent up inside us, some times just letting go and yelling our heads off can be a good thing. Too often we let our anger fester inside us, building up and growing until it seeks escape in destructive and violent ways. Let off some of that steam – go outside and yell at God. Sit in your room and tell God what you think. Pace your living room and give God a piece of your mind. Give God a good talking to! Read God’s beads!
You just might feel better and God won’t be any worse off – honest!
Then you can go about the business of seeing with a clearer mind if there might be some way for you to do something about the situation. Clear the air with God about your anger, and then sit down with God and try to figure something out. But it is often necessary to get that anger and fury out of the way first. Having done that, you can more calmly and dispassionately consider the problem about which you are angry and find ways to do something constructive about it.
So go ahead, be angry at God. God can take it. There won’t be any retribution from God. And you might be able to do some clear and constructive thinking about what made you angry after venting your emotions.
R. Adam DeBaugh has served the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches since attending the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C., in 1973 and is a director of Chi Ro Press.
He served on the Board of Directors of the Gay Rights National Lobby.
In late 1975 he was named Director of the UFMCC Department of Christian Social Action, which position he held until 1986. As Director of Christian Social Action and of the Washington Office he traveled extensively throughout the UFMCC, visiting, speaking, and preaching at over 100 churches throughout the U.S., and supervised the Christian Social Action programs of the denomination.
In 1979 he and the Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson were named the first co-directors of the new Department of Ecumenical Relations and in 1981 Adam wrote the UFMCC’s original application for membership in the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S. With Elder Wilson he supervised the first triennium of dialogue with the NCCC through 1984, when he stepped down from the ecumenical work of the Fellowship.
In October, 1983, he was elected District Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic District, only the second lay person to hold the position of District Coordinator in the UFMCC. (In the UFMCC, the District Coordinator is somewhat analogous to a Bishop in other church polities, having episcopal, pastoral and administrative responsibilities. The Mid-Atlantic District covered six states and the District of Columbia.) He served on the UFMCC General Council (the governing body of the denomination) from its inception in 1985 until his retirement as District Coordinator in June 1992.
In 1990 the Mid-Atlantic District Committee, recognizing Mr. DeBaugh’s gifts in the areas of writing, editing, and publishing, granted his application for Special Work status for Chi Rho Press, a Gay and Lesbian Christian publishing house. He decided not to stand for re-election as District Coordinator when his term expired in June 1992, in order to follow God’s clear call on his life to devote his energies to the ministry of Chi Rho Press.
A committed lay person, Adam DeBaugh is an accomplished writer, speaker, workshop leader, and preacher. He served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Blade newspaper in the early 1970’s, and on the Board of Directors of Emmaus House of Prayer, another Special Work of the Mid-Atlantic District. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Fund for Overcoming Racism, a scholarship fund for people of color who are studying for the UFMCC clergy ministry. He was a member of the board of directors of Among Friends, Inc., a non-profit Washington area agency that provides transitional services to Gay and Lesbian people in crisis.
He has written a number of booklets, including “Writing to Congress” and “The Least of These: A Christian Social Action Bible Study on Matthew 25”, which are currently distributed by Chi Rho Press. He is a contributor to the books “The Road to Emmaus” and “Positively Gay”.