People who think they want a god of love but not a god of anger ultimately want a god of apathy. What many people fail to understand is that God displays His anger precisely because God is love. Indeed, God cannot not be angry at anything that is against all that is good. He cannot not be angry at that which is against His holy, righteous, and altogether lovely character. For God not to be angry at murder, abortion, human trafficking, kidnapping, slavery, racism, domestic violence, sexual immorality, unbiblical divorce, and every other sin would make God unloving, unmerciful, and uncaring. If God did not possess righteous anger against sinners, Jesus Christ would not have had to die in the place of sinners. If God did not possess anger, there would be no propitiation, no satisfying the wrath of God in the substitutionary atonement of Christ for the elect of God.
God’s anger is always just and is always righteously displayed. God does not possess or display His anger in the same way that we do because God is omniscient, sovereign, and omnipotent, and we most certainly are not. God is God, and we are not Him. Nothing surprises God, and nothing has ever occurred to Him as an unexpected thought or as a piece of new information. He not only knows all things and knows them before they happen, but He has foreordained all things that come to pass, though He is neither the author nor the approver of evil. Moreover, God’s anger is not like our anger because our God is “without parts or passions” (Westminster Confession of Faith 2.1), and that means that God, as He is in Himself, does not suffer or change and is not a passive being who is acted on by others. He displays His perfections and affections as He chooses, but He is not subject to mood swings, uncontrolled outbursts of anger, or reckless and impulsive wrath.
Our anger, however, is always reactive, based on what we observe, experience, and feel. Because we are sinful, our anger is not always righteously displayed. We are not always slow to anger as God commands us to be in imitation of Him (James 1:19). Too often we sin in our anger, which is why Scripture so often warns us against anger and wrath (James 1:20; see Gen. 4:6; Eccl. 7:9), because it can be difficult for most of us to be angry without sinning in our anger. Nevertheless, that is precisely what God demands of us: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26–27; see Ps. 4:4). Therefore, there is a time and a place for anger.
Yet the entire concept of anger has fallen on hard times in recent years. Like discipline, speaking boldly, and expressing proper criticism, anger is seen by many in our culture as something that is inherently bad. But it’s amazing how rapidly that sentiment changes when people experience horrific injustice or evil. From what I have observed, it is not just the world that holds this perspective about anger but many professing Christians as well. Many have come to embrace the idea that because they believe that God is not angry, we should not be angry. They argue that to show anger is hateful and unloving and that to be angry at sinners is not how we show love to the world.