As our society recognises harmful versions of masculinity, it’s good to be reminded that God is also in opposition. God does not condone sinful anger, and neither should the church.
One of the few heresies today is to suggest that there are many if any differences between men and women. We are even at the point where some are arguing gender is so fluid that categories like men and women are becoming superfluous. I suspect however that few will find offence with a hypothesis that submits that anger is a more aggressive issue among men than for women.
The reason for mentioning this is because I’ve come across research that supports a biblical proposition. The Bible presents many positive differences between men and women but on this occasion I’m thinking of a negative example.
I’m about to start preaching through Paul’s first letter to Timothy at Mentone Baptist. The Epistle is filled with encouragements and instruction for churches, which together provide directives for how a church is to conduct herself. As Paul says to Timothy, this conduct matters because God’s household is “church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
Despite the positive and constructive way the Apostle outlines life for a local church, some parts of the letter have created significant controversy; not least are the sections that discuss the roles of men and women in the church. I’ll preaching through the entire letter, including ch.2, but for now I want to share an interesting article that I recently came across which may help us further understand what Paul means in 2:8,
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing…
Verse 8 is an instruction given by God to men in the church. What follows in vv.9-15 are instructions given to women in the church.
Paul introduces verse 8 (and the following verses, 9-15, for they 8-15 form a coherent section) with the strong conjunction, ‘therefore’. Paul is tying this application with what he has written previously in verses 1-7. The connection between vv.1-7 and v.8 is not only the subject of prayer, it is also ‘godliness and holiness’. Similarly, godliness and holiness is the concern of vv.9-15. The Apostle is concerned with godly behaviour in the church as it pleases God and because it functions as a Gospel witness to outsiders. That godliness is on view in v.8 is confirmed by the way Paul contrasts hands used in prayer and hands used in anger.
Why does Paul’s teaching on men here focus on “anger”? Surely anger isn’t a male only attribute?
1 Timothy 2:8 seems to support the idea that anger is a greater issue among men than it is for women. In a paragraph where Paul is making distinctions between men and women in the church, it is observable to Paul that a proclivity toward anger is one characteristic that sufficiently differentiates men from women. It’s not the only distinctive attribute but it is one.
It’s not that women don’t experience anger. Of course women can be angry, for good reasons as well as for sinful reasons. Is there however something in Paul’s statement that rings true? For example, we know that most cases of domestic violence are perpetrated by men. We also know that most violent crimes are committed by men. Do men and women process anger in different ways? It’s not only such extreme forms of anger.