In the months following my decision to leave fundamentalism for good, I began to shy away from the idea of God as a God of wrath. No, how could God be wrathful? God is love. God isn’t angry at us. God loves us.
Maybe I was wrong.
The wrath of God in fundamentalism is often used to talk about God sending little children to hell for taking a cookie out of the cookie jar. It’s often used to talk about how God was so furious with us disgusting human beings that God had to use his own son, Jesus as a punching bag to let out his anger. The wrath of God in fundamentalism was something used to instill terror and force people into submission.
But what if the wrath of God is something else?
Anger doesn’t have to be a tool of oppression.
For those who base their image of God mostly on what is found in the Bible (I know I do, if only because of my social context), the wrath of God is there. You’d have to jump through a lot of hoops to say that the God of the Bible never got angry. We can just dismiss that (I’m certainly not a Biblical literalist). Or, we can look at it and ask, “Why is God angry here?”
The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice. (Ezekiel 22:29)
Maybe God is an angry feminist, furious at the way the patriarchy has raped, killed, and held back her children.
Maybe God was there, in all over the protests and rallies that took place after the George Zimmerman trial, and maybe she was furious at the racism in this country.
Maybe they would call God “humorless” because she refuses to laugh at transphobic jokes or mock homeless people.
Maybe God isn’t going to “calm her tits.” Maybe she’s not going to always respond with calm, civil dialogue. Maybe God’s mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore. Maybe God goes on swear-word-filled Twitter rants about the latest horrible thing Mark Driscoll said.
Maybe God doesn’t just love the oppressed, weep with the oppressed, and join the oppressed in their sufferings. Maybe God is angry on the behalf of the oppressed and maybe that’s important for two reasons.
One, it’s comforting.
It’s empowering. It’s nice to know that my anger is validated. I am not angry because I’m a “Bad Christian.” On the contrary.
I am angry like Jesus was angry.
I name call like Jesus name-called.
I know that I am made in God’s image because sometimes I, like God, respond to injustice with anger.
Two, it’s challenging.
I don’t believe in scaring people with hell into behaving. In fact, I don’t believe in hell. So the idea of God’s wrath doesn’t scare me into acting a certain way anymore.
But I have privilege, as a white, cisgender, able-bodied woman who is marrying a man. In many contexts, I am in the same category as the oppressors, not the oppressed.
Which means, unless I acknowledge my privilege and choose to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, God is not on my side. She might even be angry with me.
It’s weird, as a white, American Christian, to think that if there is a God, she might not be on my side. That’s not something they tell us in Sunday School. White America seems to think of itself as especially blessed by God and to think of God as being angry at those people.
The thought that God might be angry…with me?
That’s a thought that should knock me off my arrogance seat of privilege. It should encourage me to check my privilege, listen to the voices of those who are oppressed in different ways, and reevaluate the choices I am making in life.
It should be a call to repentance.
Maybe God’s a “bitch.” An “angry black woman.” A “bitter” abuse survivor. Maybe God’s “too sensitive” and needs to “learn to take a joke.” Maybe God is all of the dismissive words that we throw out to try to silence those who are fighting for change and for justice.
Maybe God is angry, and we should listen to her.