When does anger become sinful? (Q&A 90)


by Ram Ritho

Q. Hi!

Quite a while ago, you quoted St. Paul when some other guy asked you for concrete examples of mortal sins. And the verse you quoted was  “…fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)

I wanted to ask about anger: what is evil about getting angry? For instance if someone was to do something extremely unjust to you, isn’t getting angry a perfectly reasonable response?

I think anger can be used for good. Anger can drive one to seek justice. Take a guy whose family is murdered: the anger he will feel may drive him to make sure those who did it face the law. Isn’t that a good thing?

A. Indeed! You’re very right! You’re saying the same thing the Church and the saints say.

First that any sin or any evil is a corruption of something good. Evil (whether physical or moral) cannot exist on its own just like you can’t have bad apples or apples that go bad  unless you already had good apples in the first place.

This corruption is always by pushing something good to its excessive end or by starving it to its defective end i.e. all sins and vices are either a excess or defect of something good.

So even the sin of anger is a corruption of something good.

Q. Of what?
A. Of what is called good or “righteous” anger.

And such anger basically has to be of the correct degree/intensity and duration/timing for it to be good.

To not be angry when you should be can be sinful though rare; to be too angry (either in degree or duration) can be sinful and is the more common type.

This latter is the one St. Paul refers to.

Happy Palm Sunday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *