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  • Writer's pictureShannon Makujina

Be angry, but...

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Recently I've been battling anger against the system I grew up in. The anger I feel is not just for me, it is for the countless victims and walking wounded. It's for the brides who were raped on their honeymoon by the man they just gave their life to, the teen girls and boys who were kept late after church by the youth pastor, the mother who gave birth to nine children by a domestically abusive husband. And it's for the countless people who came to a pastor or leadership figure with their abuse story and found themselves suddenly silenced by the person they trusted with their souls. The anger I feel is mostly righteous--and sometimes it's not. I've been doing some self-reflection this week and I want to share a few things I am coming to understand. I am learning that while rightly directed anger can be a good thing, anger is always limited in what it can accomplish. Anger can promote activism and spur us to action, it can make powerful speeches and inspire crusades, but it does not bring anything out of it but more anger. You should be angry about pedophile pastors. You should be angry when so called "Biblical counselors" give hurting people some of the most unbiblical advice there is. You should be angry at fundamentalism, at the biblical patriarchy movement, at the IBLP. But understand: your anger may awaken your soul to go and fight, but it will never heal you. Your anger may awaken a deep thirst for justice, but it will never quench it. Your anger--and my anger--to see an evil system overthrown, may quickly surpass our desire to wade through the wreckage and pull-out survivors. If you let your righteous anger go unchecked, it will checkmate you. You will be stuck in a vicious cycle, being angry over truly wrong things, but not healing or helping anyone in your path. I think I am learning what Jesus meant when he asks us to "be angry, but sin not: do not let the sun go down upon your wrath." It is ok to be angry over injustice, but if you harbor that anger for too long, it will eat your soul. Not only can I not free anyone through my anger, I cannot free anyone at all! I reflected carefully on my journey of leaving IFB and while it was a very long journey, the moment that changed my life was when I read my Bible and understood the Gospel and the grace and freedom Jesus offers. The Gospel frees people from addictions. The Gospel frees people from the love of money. The Gospel frees people their emptiness, their brokenness, their secret sins, their public failings, their prison bars, and their shallow living. The Gospel frees people from Fundamentalism. And it's the only thing that truly can. And while exposing the lies and the abuse and the perverting of the beautiful word of God can help someone start searching, the end of their search cannot be anger and bitterness over what they left, it can only be running into the arms of a loving father. A God who was so perfect and so holy that he gave himself for us, crying out "Father, forgive them" to those who nailed him on the cross. May the abuse and the fear and the legalism you left make you chase even harder after a God who is wildly different. He is the only one who can satisfy the aching of your crushed, tortured soul. I will not rest until everyone is free, but that freedom does not come from me. It comes from Jesus and I can only spread his message and spread the love and forgiveness that comes with it. Even forgiveness for those who hurt us. Not acceptance, not tolerance and definitely not trust, but forgiveness. And I promise, this is just as hard for me to say as it is for you to hear. We are in this together. Only the one who the Son sets free is free indeed. And while our anger will only take prisoners; forgiveness offers freedom. So be angry, but do not sit in it. Cry out for justice but cry out for Jesus too. Expose the unfruitful works of darkness while simultaneously pointing people to the Light of the Word, the Lamb of God without stain or blemish. I'm borrowing from Pastor J.D Greear now, but he often says that Jesus's ministry was a crazy paradox: never had anyone been so bold in calling out sin, and yet never had anyone been so attractive to sinners. The reason for this was because Jesus was full of grace AND truth. J.D. says, "Truth without grace is fundamentalism, grace without truth is sentimentalism." We need both. We need to boldly and passionately defend justice while offering mercy to those caught in the line of fire, walking humbly before our God because we know that we were also captives, till he rescued us. May God grant us grace. May he heal our brokenness. May he free the prisoners. And may he use us to do it.

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