Alternatives to Outrage

angry-womanout·rage
noun: outrage
– an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.
synonyms: indignation, fury, anger, rage, disapproval, wrath, resentment

There sure is a lot of outrage going around. The political left is outraged at the political right, and vice versa. Some people are outraged at criminal behavior, others at police behavior. Some at both! Naive college students, outraged at everything establishment, spout nonsense, calling down outrage from more experienced thinkers. Welcome to America, all outrage all the time!

It’s exhausting this being outraged so much, but we seem to like it. You can admit it; doesn’t it feel great to be right, and more righteous, than the other guy or gal? What they believe (and/or are doing) is wrong! Let’s work up a righteous anger and attack on social media! We’ve all been outraged at something or other, but speaking for myself, I’m tired of it.

Recently my church was involved in a little social media kerfuffle. Many were outraged by certain actions of our senior pastor and elders, although without themselves having the full story. Naturally, and as is the custom these days, this outrage was vigorously communicated on Twitter, Facebook and a couple of blogs.   It’s died down now – a soft answer turning away wrath (Bible advice works!) – but it’s left me thinking about alternatives to outrage.

I don’t remember reading much about Jesus being outraged. (Just that whole moneychangers in the temple thing.) And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is said to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23) which doesn’t look to leave too much room for outrage, or at least outrage leading to mean spirited attacks. It’s certainly okay for us to correct one another, but we should be doing that with humility, patience and love. Outrage can be a manifestation of pridefulness.

Just how should Christians react to ideas and behavior we find objectionable? We know that the world is fallen. Sin and evil are not going away until Jesus comes back. Moreover, non-Christians will never understand our convictions (1 Cor 2:14) and thus we can expect our beliefs to continue to be devalued. Of course, we ourselves often err in thought, and we certainly are not able to live up to what we know we should be doing. So, even if not prideful, outrage seems to be a poor general strategy.

As alternatives to outrage I’ve been thinking about the following:

  • Inquiry – Maybe I don’t have all the facts. Let me look into it a little bit.
  • Sadness – It’s sad that this or that happened. I’m sad for the perpetrator and for the victim. Jesus was sad when Lazarus died. I try not to hold onto the sadness for long. I’m not looking to become a sad person, just like I’m not looking to be an outraged person.
  • Compassion – I have compassion for those affected by sin, Christians or not, and especially for the not. Jesus had a lot of compassion.
  • Faith – I can remind myself that nothing is a surprise to God. He’s got it handled and he doesn’t need my help. Jesus had a lot of that too.
  • Prayer – Perhaps I should pray about the situation.   I can pray for the people, for resolution of the issue, or for guidance on what practical action I might take. More Jesus here.
  • Practical action – what, if anything, could I actually do to help in the matter? Maybe I could craft a loving response, or maybe I help only by praying and remaining silent. Jesus took a lot of practical action but he didn’t heal all the sick, or right every wrong. We won’t be able to either, no matter how outraged we are.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather just some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately. What else can you suggest as good alternatives to outrage?

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Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.   Eph 4:29-32

Comments

  1. Thank you Peter. Wonderful Christian thoughts, always well written.

  2. Tonya Farling says:

    Great read Dr. Weiss!