Compassion Requires Anger – If You Aren’t Angry then You Aren’t Compassionate

Ok, it is time to shut down these wrong-headed and damaging notions:

1) A Christian must never be angry at another person

2) Compassion is calm, huggy, weepy, kind — milktoast.

Bleh! Compassion. Let’s look at the word —

com + passion = feeling the feelings (passions) of another person WITH (com) that person

Yes, compassion is sympathy (sym (with) + pathos (feelings)) when it is extended toward a victim. But when compassion, that is to say, when we enter into the victim’s passions in regard to the abuser, compassion is not calm, huggy, weepy, or even kind. It rages. It burns with wrath at the wickedness done and at the wicked person who did it. Does that sound UN-Christian or UN-Godly? Then re-examine your idea of the character and nature of God.

When we claim to show compassion to someone who has been abused, then our compassion is a lie if we do not also feel anger toward the abuser. And you all know how this false compassion plays itself out. Listen as Mary talks to Linda after Linda’s husband Jack hit her in a rage the night before:

Oh, Linda. I am so sorry for you. Look at that black, swollen eye. What’s that you say? Leave him? Divorce him? You say you….you….hate him? Linda, Jack is a victim of his own sin. We are all sinners. It is wrong for a Christian to hate someone or to be so angry at someone like you are now. Linda, you need to ask God’s forgiveness and pray for Jack.

Mary, I gotta just say – shut up. Mary is not compassionate. Her compassion is fake. Mary is not joining into the passions of Linda. If she were, then Mary would be hot with anger against Jack too. Anger at wickedness is not a sin. In fact, an absence of anger against wickedness IS a sin!

If you aren’t angry about evil, then please don’t claim to be compassionate toward its victims.

Because you aren’t. Compassion demands anger.

[September 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

48 thoughts on “Compassion Requires Anger – If You Aren’t Angry then You Aren’t Compassionate”

  1. This captures so well what I found to be overall very disheartening about how the church responds to abuse. I can’t help but think of dystopian books like “Brave New World”, “1984”, or “Fahrenheit 451” which all have themes of controlling people by telling them to take a pill, chill out, and don’t worry because all is well. You aren’t allowed to have real pain. No, we don’t want to deal with that, we just want to apply a magic “Jesus pill” and move on in blissful unawareness. Ignore what you feel and think and believe us instead.

    It’s an offense to reduce Jesus to a “chill out pill” that refuses to show emotion or get angry when people are violated and abused. We aren’t meant to walk around like a bunch of drugged out zombies, but that’s what the “Mary’s” of this world are after. Don’t rock the boat- don’t talk about pain or hurt or anger. Just get along and “lean on Jesus” to be at peace with everyone.

    No, true love shows up and defends the weak. True love believes in justice, elevating the oppressed and punishing the wicked. True love has passion for goodness and a love of people.

    1. No, true love shows up and defends the weak. True love believes in justice, elevating the oppressed and punishing the wicked.

      Amen to that Jeff.
      Where is the rightous anger of the church towards the injustice of it all?
      Insted of being a sanctuary for the hurting, oppressed, and abused to recover in, the church has become a cold slap in the face for the victim..

      And instead of holding the perpetrators accountable for their continued abuse towards their victims, the church has become the abuser’s haven and ally..

      1. I believe that the majority of churches these days in the USA and maybe elsewhere are apostate, and that Gods Spirit has left them.

  2. Very true words. I spent so many years in an abusive marriage trying so hard NOT to be angry because all I heard was Christians should not get angry. Really???
    Well, let me tell you…I WAS angry, VERY angry for being abused and watching my two sons being abused by a man who himself certainly showed anger.

    The day my ex walked out 5 1/2 years ago was the day I began to feel again. And talk about feeling anger and a wide range of suppressed feelings which so vividly took over me. Anger one minute, joy the next and then years of pent up tears washing my face as the sobs wracked my body.

    Be angry over abuse and never ever tell an abused person it is not Christ-like to show anger. After all Jesus was angry (and showed it) towards those buying and selling in the temple…why? Because a place of prayer was turned into a place for these dishonest men to prey (instead of pray) upon those that entered.

    So we too should be angry, and rightly so, at abusers who prey upon others.

  3. Thank you, Jeff, for this piece. I can’t tell you how painful it is to be criticized, even vilified, for being angry with an abuser about the abuse. And if I, heaven forbid!, call them out about their abusive conduct or tell others the truth about the abuse then I’m labeled the bad person, the sinner. I suppose it’s only natural for the abuser to do this; denial of their sin is just a normal process for them. But what really hurts is the condemnation of others who don’t have to endure the abuse. One who is truly compassionate and “burns with wrath at the wickedness done and at the wicked person who did it” also pays a heavy price, even in the church. I’ve experienced that side of the issue as well. Why can’t the people of God get it right and stand for the victims? And if they choose not to stand, why do they condemn those who do?

  4. After some reflection, I realized that I used to subconsciously think that feeling anger was a sin. My mother used to display anger abusively, while my father seemed to be the nice guy who never got angry (yet, he skillfully hid his with passive aggression–I only realized this as an adult). So I never saw anger displayed in normal ways. Toward the end of my marriage, I would get into an unhealthy pattern with my ex-husband where I would get so furiously angry, but I wasn’t really sure why (turns out it was the way he was treating me, duh, even though, somehow he was able to stay cool and collected while I wasn’t), and so in confusion, I would think I was just failing to obey God. My anger would turn into self-loathing and feelings of “Why am I such a sinner? Why can’t I just be Christ-like enough? Why can’t God change me?” One day, as I finally extricated myself from a phone conversation with my ex-husband (he used to not allow me to get off the phone when I needed/wanted to), I just screamed out loud, alone in my car. I reached a breaking point, stopped trying to change myself and told God, “God, I am so furious! I’m literally bursting with anger. I can’t hold it in anymore. These are my feelings, for what they are.”

    It took some time with a therapist to realize it wasn’t what was wrong with me, but how my life was imbalanced… how I had ever right to be angry, to express my anger in a healthy way, to use the anger as an impetus to draw a needed boundary in my life to better care for myself (a boundary like, “I’m going to get off the phone now because I need to.”)

    The subtle idea that feelings are “wrong” is somehow taught to us. I had to re-learn that feelings are not “wrong.” They are important indicators and symptoms. They tell us something is happening or something needs to be done. Being in touch with our feelings matters. I think the problem here with a friend who can’t feel true compassion for her abused friend is that she has a significant disconnect from her own heart.

    1. The subtle idea that feelings are “wrong” is somehow taught to us. I had to re-learn that feelings are not “wrong.” They are important indicators and symptoms. They tell us something is happening or something needs to be done. Being in touch with our feelings matters. I think the problem here with a friend who can’t feel true compassion for her abused friend is that she has a significant disconnect from her own heart.

      This exactly.

      1. BiT,
        I have been told for a long time that we are not to allow our feelings to dictate what we do. But, someone else is also dictating how we should feel and respond. It is difficult to rewrite those bad doctrines and get in touch with our hearts and let the Holy Spirit dictate our feelings and responses. We are too often taught to be Stepford Christians.

      2. I think the problem here with a friend who can’t feel true compassion for her abused friend is that she has a significant disconnect from her own heart.

        To explain this a little better… a friend who isn’t in touch with her own pain is going to have a really difficult time empathizing with someone else’s pain.

        If we attempt to avoid or numb ourselves to what hurts, we also numb and blunt our ability to feel anything at all! As I thought of “Mary” in the post, she reminded me a lot of my ex-mother-law. She was some kind of super duper devout Christian, yet she usually seemed flat, defeated, and worn (probably from years of enduring and stuffing the pain of living with an extremely abusive, controlling husband). It was always so difficult to talk to her about anything real because she only spoke in bland platitudes and cliches.


        “How are you, dear?” says my mother-in-law.

        I respond, “Oh, hello! Nice to see you again. Thanks for stopping by. I’m starting my new job tomorrow! I’m feeling nervous, jittery, hoping the students don’t overrun me. I hope all the classroom planning pays off.”

        “God will take care of it, dear, God will take care of it. He has a plan.”

        “Er… um, yes, he does. Thank you?”

      3. This makes very good sense. I have seen this. I have DONE this! When I was still with my abuser and I was doing all I could to convince myself and everyone else that I could manage, I was unwilling to consider an alternative. I knew my abuser would not change and that the only way (I thought) we could be happy would be for me to change enough to make him happy. I thought leaving him would require leaving my faith. I thought divorce would ruin my children and set God against me. So I worked overtime to conceal the truth from everyone, including me. [Eds: Ellie had originally written ‘conceal the trust’, but it was probably just a typo.] This required me to disconnect my emotions (I am singing a Disney song about concealing instead of acknowledging feelings as I write). My responses to people’s pain were abrasive. I didn’t think we could escape abusers so I dispensed horrific advice about how to pretend it wasn’t happening or how to consider others who are in worse situations so we could be happy. Gah.

        There is hope. Now that I am not living with my abuser and I have very little contact with him, I can think. I can go through my day without the spoken or unspoken accusations of my stupidity and incompetence. I am not paralyzed with fear when I try to make decisions. And I can tell others about this hope and I can speak in phrases that aren’t cliches. Praise God. There is hope.

  5. Oh amen and amen! “Be angry but do not sin” leaps to mind. (Ephesians 4:26) He tells us to be angry! And “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13). Hate. Anger. They’re all appropriate when they have to do with righteousness and justice. Sadly the Church scales seem to be way, way, way tipped on the side of love to the extent that wrongdoers are as “loved” as their victims. Which is not loving the victims at all. It’s a lonely place to be a victim these days. So few in the Church are willing to get their hands dirty and deal with the ugliness of this kind of sin in all its gory details. Pat, pat, pat on the back; be warm and well fed; and seek the Lord more about love and forgiveness seems to be the prevailing message.

  6. I believe it was only a few weeks after we were tossed out of our church that a woman who is also a member of the church and knew my story sent me an email telling me that I shouldn’t still be hurting – after more than a decade of spiritual abuse I was supposed to be over it. So many abuse victims (whether as children, adults, sexual, physical, spiritual, emotional, etc.) are told to forgive, not to talk about what happened, to not be angry, to believe that God was / is trying to teach the victim something, to get over it already.

    You are so right – seldom does anyone take the side of the victim and stand up to the perpetrator. In fact, they are more likely to stay in a relationship with the perpetrator than the victim – I know this is especially true in spiritually abusive situations where the “friends” of the victim stay in the church, continue to support the pastor and leadership, and stay silent – more than likely because they know that in speaking up, they will bring condemnation on themselves.

    Thank you for such an important message. Victims need to be encouraged in knowing this important truth.

  7. I don’t see any other posts yet so I would love to start “the wave” in the stands here. Ps Crippen hits another one out of the park! Yes, yes YES!!! I have thought this many times myself as I struggled to make sense of how this person I was talking to could so easily claim “peace, peace when there is no peace” as spoken of in Jeremiah.

    When you have experienced evil it simply isn’t possible to remain neutral. When I was trying to get people (often counselors) to understand that this was not a difficult marriage but rather a destructive one, I would tell them that his response to my pain was not appropriate for the level of alarm that was occurring. Essentially I was bleeding in the street and his response was to pat me on the head (that was on a good day, most days he would just step over me and keep walking). His lack of response to my pain was one of the key indicators of how toxic this marriage was.

    Thank you Pastor Crippen for doing something !!!

    Eds note: This comment was edited due to copyright laws.

  8. Soap box time.

    This is very good. It would be the same as having a child die due to a drunk driver, and showing compassion for your friend’s loss of their child, by siding with the drunk driver. Oh, wait – yep, that’s exactly what we do! Nowadays, we jump right in when a child has been molested or killed and advise the grieving parents to forgive the offender and show compassion to the offender, (and don’t talk about your grief and pain, because that would be gossip) so that IF the guilty person is not saved, they could be saved through our example of forgiving them. That’s right folks, I said “IF”. Why? Because anymore, you can be sexually immoral or an abuser and still be considered a saint. We have forgotten that the drunkard, reviler (verbal abuser) and sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom. Sometimes I think we have also forgotten that we did not die for anyone’s sin – that people need Christ, not necessarily our forgiveness. We have forgotten that we are to preach the Gospel, but that we are NOT the Holy Spirit and can save no one. We’ve forgotten that we are to “shake the dust” if someone isn’t interested in receiving Christ. Instead we keep pounding their door down.

    We want to skip someone having to repent for their sin and remove all consequence for their sin, believing that will somehow guarantee their salvation, if we can make them feel as if they are wrapped in cotton balls. We have done away with any semblance of sanctification and made Christian thinking into new age thinking. We have gotten so far off track with God’s thoughts and have replaced them with our own thoughts or what we believe is the right way to think of a situation, that we have completely forgotten that God is angry with the wicked everyday, and that God demonstrates love and compassion for His own people in a way He does not demonstrate it for those who do not belong to Him. We have gotten to the point where we are okay with abusing the grace of God, by saying that you can live in any kind of sin and can still be a Christian. We do not have the deep understanding of God’s view of evil anymore, and because of that, we cannot have the right understanding of what it means to demonstrate godly compassion.

    There may come a time when it would be appropriate to speak to someone about forgiving their abuser, but not until they are out of the fog and never because it’s just what we think they should do. God will lead His people to grant forgiveness to an offender, in His time and in His course of healing that individual. I think that most people want victims to forgive their offenders, because they believe that makes everything okay and we can all just move on and upward and not have to deal with anything pertaining to abuse. But if you think God sent you to get involved with someone who is living in abuse or coming out of it, and you can’t handle the abuse and the ugliness involved in domestic abuse, then just know that God didn’t send you. Do everyone a favor and just remove yourself from the scene.

    Thanks for a great and timely example of what it means to not have God’s thoughts, but what the new agers of the world have been teaching us for years – there is no difference between God’s people and the rest of the human race.

    1. Thank-you for your soapbox as believe you are correct in stating that our culture shows more compassion to the offender than the victims. This is outrageously true and unbelievably sad!

      Psalm 4:4 ” Be angry and do not sin” In God’s very Word, He tells us that yes, we can still be angry and not sin.

  9. Thank you so much for this! I have struggled with this again and again. When my husband sins against my children and plays his mind games and control games with them and the anger rises in me, eventually I end up feeling so guilty. When I have shared with family or friends what we have gone through and are going through, if I don’t get silence and a change of subject, so often I hear excuses for him and sympathy for him.

    Over recent months I have worked with both a non-Christian counselor and a Christian counselor looking for insight and help in how to find a path through the maze we are in. The non-Christian counselor has expressed compassion for my children and for me and offense regarding what my husband has done and continues to do. By contrast, the Christian counselor expressed such compassion for my husband that his voice seemed to break, and he put an extra burden of responsibility on my shoulders for his conversion. It was like a trigger and put me into quite a tailspin for a while. You have said exactly what I needed to hear today, Pastor Jeff. Thank you for you compassion, and God bless you.

  10. Thank you. This is so perfect. Thank you all for insightful comments and stories too. You make me feel like I am in good company.

  11. Thank you for this message and for this blog. God delivered me out of a marriage that I tend to say ‘wasn’t as bad as many’, yet it was destroying my health and my will to live. God has brought me a long way and taught me so many things through all of this and for that I am grateful. He is using your blog to continue to teach me.

    One of the things that frustrates me with the church is how soft we are. Our concept of love is so out of whack! Unfortunately, I am guilty of this. But I praise God that He is renewing my mind in this area!

    As I read your blog so often that still small voice encourages, validates, and teaches me. He encourages me by showing me that the senses that I have of things not being right in the church culture are on target and thus teaches me how to trust my judgments better. Then He takes it a step further and puts words to those senses through your thoughts and teachings. He validates me by letting me see into the lives of others (those of you who post and comment here) and see how so much of how I was treated both by my ex and by the church is exactly like how so many others have been treated. He teaches me by showing me what true justice and mercy look like, how to be gentle with myself and to know that I am not alone, and how to understand the mind of those who are so very wounded so that I can speak truth and encouragement into the lives of those He brings across my path.

    Thank you for this blog! God bless you!!

  12. This message is perfect in its simplicity and clarity! I wonder how the heck believers get so cock-eyed in our approach to relationships. Spot-on, Jeff. I’m printing this one out to share with the Christian counselors who come my way and foolishly buy into that fake compassion nonsense.

  13. Really. It’s ok to get angry and even should be? All this time I’ve been told that I was bitter. Christians are suppose to walk around with a smile on their faces all the time no matter what. I wanted someone to be as appalled by my abuser’s actions as I was, but it didn’t happen. I had a short triggering event last week and was told, “it’s not happening now”, which was true and brought me back to a better state of mind quickly. If I would have been told that same thing even a year ago I would not have taken it well. I hope that I will show others true compassion when the time arises. Thank you for explaining this so simply Pastor Jeff.

  14. My first husband was angry all the time. But he would say, “I’m never angry, you just make me so depressed.” Or, “I’m not angry, I’m just rattled.” Yet if I lost it once a year, he would get all concerned, that I was so wicked and needed help with my anger. I’m thinking that anyone reading this will guess why I lost it. 😦 To this day, some of the kids believe that the big reason for the divorce was my anger and that I ‘wouldn’t forgive’. Now I think I was way too patient.

  15. Oh, your reply just turned a light on for me. In the first few years of my relationship with my 2BX, we got in big fights with lots of yelling and tears on a fairly regular basis. They were frightening, and as they escalated into shoving, I learned to back off and bite my tongue to avoid further escalation.

    What just occurred to me when I read your comment was that I had three longish-term relationships between ages 17-25, and never in any of them did I ever feel fearful of my boyfriend. So my husband was the only romantic relationship I have ever had where I have felt fearful. Wow. Glad to be escaping.

  16. I so agree with what you said. To many Christians think being one is to be one temperature
    all the time. I didnt fit in ….I get outraged at injustice….and want to lop off heads of the evil abusive people. I get sick of those who …say we just need to pray and forgive….
    I think were are called to pray, but also do something about it.

  17. A friend and her family left a very abusive church a few months ago. As she processes many of the things that happened at that church and the people around her hear the awful stories that took place there, we are rightly horrified. The other day my friend was sharing one such story and a woman near me kept saying, “I would’ve called the police.” We’re all so stunned to hear about how this family and their friends were treated. And our reactions are helpful to her. She NEEDS to see that we’re horrified. It helps her to know that the abuse was wrong, not normal, terrible, that she’s not being sensitive or overreacting. Seeing people have a problem with oppression is healthy and Godly. It is a ministry to this woman! It is a necessary step in her healing.

  18. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


    Great post, Jeff!

    Readers may also like to check out some of our older posts which are similar to this one:

    Lundy Bancroft Says The Right Outlook Is Outrage

    When Anger is Godly

  19. The first time I gave myself permission to feel anger over abuse was when my secular therapist said it would not be normal for me not to be angry. Up to that point, the message I got from Christians was that Christians should not express anger, but they should forgive and leave things at the Cross. I now know that healing and change must go through a stage of full recognition of the problem, and that brings with it anger. But that anger becomes a productive force for change. Beyond recognition comes a stage of building the New, a new life, a new mind, a new self (and for me, a new understanding of the Bible).

    1. Healing and change must go through a stage of full recognition of the problem, and that brings with it anger. But that anger becomes a productive force for change. Beyond recognition comes a stage of building the New, a new life, a new mind, a new self (and for me, a new understanding of the Bible).


  20. A tepid reply to real injustice minimizes it. Sometimes abused people are so conditioned to their abuse that the white hot anger of a bystander informs them its not acceptable and it is something to be angry about. It models righteousness in fact, and a correct response to shameful, sinful treatment of a human created in the image of God.

    1. APDR, exactly!! I can’t tell you how many times it has set back my healing to have others minimize his abuse. It is isolating and hurtful. Instead of focusing on the pattern of sin inflicted upon you they are focused on your response to the sin. While we need to be held accountable in that we still need to practice the fruit of the Spirit, it is a grave injustice to the victim when the unrepentant sinner and the victim are thrown into the same spiritual pot. You make such a great point in saying that being angry models righteousness.

      Thank you Pastor Jeff for this compassion for victims!!

  21. Out of three sibs, one sister and her family wanted nothing to do with me, my ex IS a covert Aggressive. 18 years, they saw some of his aggressiveness, and would say, “Oh that is just X) You sinner sister, I want nothing to do with you and their adult children felt the same. JUDGEMENT!!!!!!! They took in my x with open arms and he laughted all the way. He started taking Zanax for a week or so and claimed that he was now addicted to it and walked around like a zombie. I was blamed for that as well. This was his pattern that he would do at home when he needed attention from me, just lower scale. Now remember, giving him attention, support, love, affection, his help meet wasn’t enough. We all know how an emotional and verbal abuser works. Control, mind games. Leaving him was a big scale and it took more meds to show he was lost and hurt. I knew that this would last for 7 months. 7 is his magic number. And guess what, just one month prior to the 7 months, he started weening himself off his meds with a Med Doc. because he was addicted you know. He said that he was under the care of a doctor because he was addicted. And he said that ALLLL the time. 7 months, he was back to everything he had been doing prior to my leaving. He just needed to show he was the victim, and EVERYONE came running. He is pretty well known in our town. Mr X had no emotional connection at any time in the marriage. I know that I am just rambling right now, but this article brought up some raw emotion, but it was good. It helped me to feel some stuff that is still inside I guess. It seemed like the emotion that I feel at time was right there on paper, if that makes sense. Compassion, I guess not because no one, Not one every confronted Mr. x except my eldest daughter. The anger was not with compassion, it was at me because I decided to take myself out of a very harmful situation. Thank you for this article, it helped me greatly. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    1. Gods Grace- welcome to the blog! Yep, your feelings were valid, and still are. You said “He is pretty well known in our town.” Oh man, I know all about that kind of a scenario and can empathize with what you were and to an extent still are up against. Victim playing. Everyone comes running. It’s the same old drama. We are very glad that you are seeing more clearly and that the article has been a help to you. Thank you.

    2. Sadly, you’re not alone in this. Many abuse victims have been rejected and worse when they finally leave or tell while the abuser is treated as the victim. It’s no comfort, I know. But God sees all and He will not hold these people blameless.

  22. Thank you for your post Jeff. I have been with ACFJ since I left Mr. X two years ago. It gave such clarity to what I was up against. Knowing that there were Sooooo many others experiencing the same situation, I felt like I was reading about myself. Your sight has helped me greatly. With the Lords leading, and I know he lead me to this sight, I have more understanding. I have enjoyed all the topics of discussion, and the individuals stories who have shared. Thank you for being there for us, especially me. I am more educated now then I ever was. Wow, it feels good to be whole again, having ME back in my life. I’ve missed ME. haha Still trying to step out and get involved. It’s a journey, and it feels good. Thank you also Barbara for all that you have done. Looking forward to your new posts.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.