Ours has been called the “age of outrage.” Perhaps it began with news anchor Howard Beale throwing open his window in the1975 movie Network and screaming into the crowded streets, “I’m mad as h---and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Whatever Beale was mad about seemed to simmer for decades until the 2016 election. Name calling, finger pointing, screaming and yelling soared to new heights and hasn’t seemed to diminish since.
Now that we are approaching 2020, the noise is escalating. With the advent of social media all accountability seems to be thrown to the wind. In this age of outrage, people say things they shouldn’t say including prejudicial bullying, ridicule and false accusations.
Even Christians seem to be outraged. It seems that Christians are primarily outraged because they sense they are losing control of their “Christian” culture. Step by step over my lifetime the cultural advantages for Christians have been curtailed. There is a sense that Christians are losing the battle as America becomes increasingly secular.
Last year Ed Stetzer wrote a book entitled, Christians in the Age of Outrage. In his introduction, he writes, “Terrorism, sex trafficking and exploitation, systemic racism, illegal immigration, child poverty, opioid addiction … the list goes on. These issues deserve a measure of outrage, don’t they? They certainly deserve our anger. And this is part of the problem. What do we do when the anger becomes too much? When our righteous indignation at injustice morphs into something completely different? How do we know when righteous anger has made the turn into unbridled outrage?”
In March of this year he wrote, “The comments sections on YouTube are a greater testament to human depravity than all the reformers’ doctrines combined. Arguments, bullying, conspiracy theories, vitriol and irrational cesspools of misinformation and misdirection abound in our digital communication and marketplace. There is outrage everywhere — sometimes targeting Christians, but unfortunately, often coming from Christians.”
Outrage has never been the means by which the Christian faith has flourished at any time. In fact, the Bible outlines a very different path if we want to influence the culture in which we live.
Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). The Apostle Paul echoed these instructions, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).
The Psalmist writes, 34:13, “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 24:13). “I said, ‘Lord I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle” (Psalm 39:1).
Does this mean Christians should never speak up? Of course not. Paul clearly spoke up and defended himself when he was falsely accused at Philippi, Jerusalem, Ceasarea and Rome. But, for the Christian, there is no place for name calling, ridicule, misinformation and outrage.