Why should abortion—and the merchandising of the body parts of murdered babies—fill us with godly, righteous anger?
Every day I read at least some news, so I spend my fair share of time feeling sad or shocked or simply perplexed at the things seemingly regular people do to other seemingly regular people. Thankfully, information saturation hasn’t numbed me to human suffering, and I can still get shocked and upset by what I see. I really wish there was enough good news to offset the bad, and I really wish I could walk away from a news report feeling happy and hopeful for everyone whose stories I read and hear about. It doesn’t happen very often.\
Godly, righteous anger is about justice, not revenge.
Every now and again I read a story that goes beyond the everyday shock and awe at the darker sides of human nature. You probably had the same reaction when you read about it or watched the videos that were shared around. I’m talking about the revelation that representatives of Planned Parenthood, the United States’ largest abortion provider, were caught on video bartering over body parts from aborted children.
Sure, I was shocked. I felt stunned and sad. But I felt another emotion as well—something deeper and rawer than sadness or shock. I was angry.
Was it right for me to be angry? Should you be angry about abortion? Is it possible to be angry in a godly way? I’ll come back to America’s abortion crisis, but first let’s lay some groundwork on the complex concept of righteous, godly anger.
God’s anger is righteous
We don’t often think of anger as a Christian emotion—and for the most part, that’s probably a good thing. Christians are to be defined by their relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. They are measured by the character of Jesus Himself. And He perfectly modeled self-control, patience and mercy. But He was also capable of anger when the situation called for it.
All four Gospels record Jesus’ anger at the moneychangers in the temple for profaning God’s holy house. Maybe when you think about our Savior shouting, flipping over tables and using a makeshift whip to drive animals out of the temple it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you have a difficult time reconciling this very real image of Jesus with other very real images of Jesus defending the weak, healing the sick and taking up the cause of the poor.
If we honestly and humbly read the Bible, though, we’ll see that this instance of Jesus’ life is 100 percent, entirely consistent with His righteous character as it’s displayed throughout the Bible. The author of Hebrews gives us an essential truth about Jesus: He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). That means the same godly character that produced anger at the temple moneychangers also produces great mercy every day. The same godly character that commands care for widows and orphans commands justice and judgment on those who reject God’s way.
Psalm 7:12 tells us, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” It should come as no surprise then that God is very angry at the senseless killing of helpless children. We shouldn’t be shocked that God is angry that people are profiting from the killing of His precious children. We also shouldn’t be afraid to feel some of that anger ourselves and to “sigh and cry” over the evil actions we see (Ezekiel 9:4).
When we read about callous violence and injustice, it’s right to be angry. We need to tread carefully however. Anger is a powerful and potentially very destructive emotion that, in the wrong context, wrong frame of mind and wrong spirit, can wreck our spiritual lives and cause us to hurt others.
Is your anger righteous?
Christianity is all about becoming more and more like God as Jesus modeled His righteous character for us to follow. It’s important that we keep close tabs on our thoughts and actions to make sure that we’re following His lead and not the pulls of the flesh and allowing human nature to dictate our responses. That’s why we need to constantly examine ourselves to make sure we’re staying on the “straight and narrow.” How do we know if we’re right or wrong in being angry at something?
Many scriptures show us there’s a vast gulf separating righteous and unrighteous anger. In the very beginning of mankind’s history, Cain’s anger drove him to murder his own brother (Genesis 4:8). Unfettered anger—or misdirected anger—can lead us to great sin. God Himself tells us that it is good to be angry as long as we don’t sin through misdirected, unrestrained anger (Ephesians 4:26).
So what is godly anger? One condition of righteous anger is that it should be directed toward sin. Just as Jesus was furious at the profaning of His Father’s house, we should hate sin and the negative consequences it brings on people—especially the innocent or helpless.
Proverbs 6 lists seven things that God actively hates. The common denominator is sin and its effects on people: “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
A second aspect of godly anger is that it isn’t quickly or easily kindled. God’s anger at sin isn’t explosive. He’s not a “walking time bomb” like some people are.
No one likes to be around other people who have a reputation for their quick tempers. Sometimes people with explosive anger can be very dangerous. God Himself testifies to His slow temper: “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).
If we want to cultivate only righteous anger, we need to follow His lead, being “slow to wrath” (James 1:19). In fact, this quality of God is one of the fruits of His Holy Spirit that develops in us as we grow close to God and He begins producing His character within us. Paul wrote that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis added). Notice here self-control—another essential trait of those who don’t sin in anger.
A third factor in godly, righteous anger is that it’s about justice, not revenge. Do we get angry at people and hope for the time when they “get theirs”? If I’m being honest, I have to admit that sometimes my anger over horrific events like the mass slaughter of infants gets me going down this path.
But that human desire for punishment isn’t even remotely related to God’s promise of true justice for the innocent and the guilty. Paul tells us that we should “give place to wrath, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Wait for God’s time of judgment and justice.
God will ultimately deal with evildoers. And it helps to always keep in mind what God is well aware of—that people are misled in their thinking and actions by a powerful malevolent spirit—Satan the devil (see 1 John 5:19 and “An Evil Spirit World: Where Did It Come From?”).
Why be angry about abortion?
Back to the Planned Parenthood controversy: Why should abortion—and the merchandising of the body parts of murdered babies—fill us with godly, righteous anger?
Consider that our society—our culture—is murdering, wholesale, the most precious and helpless among us. Psalm 127 tells us that children are a gift from God. They are precious to Him and should be to us. They’re not a burden, not a negative consequence, and certainly not a “parasite” in the womb as some characterize the unborn.
To say that we can choose to, at any point in a nine-month window of time, kill the next generation of the human family—all potential members of the divine family of God—is a great evil and a curse. We should be furious at the very notion.
Let’s be honest: Almost all abortions, by some estimates more than 99 percent, are performed for the reason of convenience. The baby was conceived at an “inconvenient time” for the parents. No one has yet explained why a child can be given the death penalty because of the circumstances of their conception.
A fairly conservative estimate—based on numbers collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—puts the number of legal abortions performed in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 at approximately 51 million. That’s 51 million lives cut short, 51 million untold stories, immeasurable potential thrown away and sacrificed to the false god of convenience and personal choice. Does that make you angry? It should.
Godly anger should lead to repentance
It should make you angry because, as Ezekiel warned Israel, sin twists people’s lives (Ezekiel 7:13, New Living Translation). The sin of murder through abortion twists the lives of those affected. And on a bigger scale, the widespread acceptance and support of abortion and organizations like Planned Parenthood twists the moral fiber of a people. If America’s national conscience can tolerate the dismembering of a child and the merchandising of its body parts, what can’t it tolerate?
There’s one last element to godly, righteous anger, and it’s the most important element. The anger that comes from God should convict us to change and become more like Him. It should motivate us to fix our problems and turn toward the mercy and love God desperately wants to extend to us.
God doesn’t want people to suffer the bad consequences that sin produces, and He doesn’t want any nation to suffer these consequences either. God is patient and “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8).
It’s not too late for those whose lives have been twisted by the sin of abortion to repent and live by God’s high standard of respect for the sanctity of life. And, while it would require a great miracle, it’s also not too late for America and other countries where abortion is legal to experience a nationwide repentance and to turn away from this sin.
God is waiting with arms wide open to accept those who turn away from sin to seek Him. Will America respond? Will you?