Does Anger Justify Condemnation
When does rage over failure to get our own way make it right to visit criticism, condemnation, and harm to the one who doesn’t march to our tune?
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
What’s this got to do with A.A.?
I’ll never forget the AA who said he went to A.A. meetings to find someone to hate. Nor the many times some writer about A.A., who dislikes another writer or his viewpoint, vented his steam and condemnation on the other whom he deems unworthy of respect and attention? Nor the many times some angry and pontificating Christian, who thinks A.A. is wrong and that other Christians who go there are hell bound, arms his language with Scriptural error and senses knowledge hogwash into trying to suppress a child of God dedicated to helping still suffering drunks in the fellowship? Nor those AAs who just can’t keep quiet and are bent on airing their angry venom with words that they believe will somehow control those suffering souls who mention their belief in God, their love of the Lord, and their use of the Bible.
The resentful behavior and retaliation are, of course, not a creature or creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. They can be found in all walks of life. But they do great harm to the service to God and those about us who consider it a duty and a necessity to reach out to the faltering hands of a desperate drunk..
Hatred, condemnation, and vengeance do not square with A.A. principles and practices at their best. And if a bunch of drunks can agree that circles of love trump circles of wrath, there’s no good reason why some of the afflicted should toss out the compelling A.A. ideas that they, the intolerant, are not God. Or that they may not put a fence around the world and keep other drunks in line.
A.A.’s Big Book has some useful guides: (1) “Selfishness—self-centeredness. That, we think is the root of our troubles” (p. 62). (2) “We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were ‘burned up’” (pp. 64-65). (3) “But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. . . . If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us.” (p. 66). (4) “God save me from being angry. . . . We avoid retaliation or argument” (p. 67).
True or untrustworthy, these principles do arrest the attention of the sick drunk who enters A.A. and decides he has to find and adopt a new way of living.
Put this in biblical terms: (1) Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry; and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (2) Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (3) Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind to one to another . . .” (4) Ephesians 5:2: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us. . . “
If you compare the words of Dr. Bob and his wife Anne and some of the language of the Big Book with the words of the Bible, it is not hard to see why Dr. Bob said the basic ideas for the Steps themselves came from the study and effort in the Bible that went on in early A.A. from 1935-1938.
A.A. is not perfect. It’s not monolithic. It does not exist to be judged by some unbalanced critic. It harbors people with all kinds of difficulties, addictions, shortcomings, beliefs, and behavioral attitudes. But its principles that challenge the newcomer and old-timer alike to put off the old man and put on the new provide an applicable challenge for raging protesters. The angry writer, the angry Christian, the angry AA, and the bleeding deacon who wants to control others have ample reason to change their own approaches and actions. Whether they read the Big Book, study the Bible, or come to realize how much harm comes from unrestrained harms done.