Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Learned Anger. There is nothing quite so shocking as hearing our own kids repeat the exact words with the same intonation that we use as a parent. This can be humorous, but also can startle us into reality when they mimic our anger in their own conversation. It helps us to realize that anger and its expressions can be learned, but it also causes us to realize that just as negative characteristics can be learned, positive conversation qualities can be learned as well. We can demonstrate words of grace, love, and kindness that are just as easily learned. We can be an example of sinful behavior or an example of a life transformed through the power of the gospel.
Anger is one of those obvious generational sins. It is passed down from generation to generation. The shock of the progression is demonstrated when we simply excuse and justify the angry behavior as "its just the way our family relates to one another." This response is dangerous because it 1) accepts the sin as inevitable by surrendering to the repeated behavior, 2) ignores the deliverance from the sin of anger that Christ provides on the cross, 3) excuses the sin from personal responsibility, 4) rejects the hope for change, and 5) risks being a characteristic that we take pride in, "we are an angry family, always have been an angry family, and always will be an angry family, and we will not be the one to stop the tradition!"
Let's be clear, anger is sin against God and attacks the very character of God Himself because at the root of anger is a fight for control rather than a submission to God. Anger does not receive a pass because of a long lineage of angry people. Anger cannot be blamed on genetics (except for the sinful nature as a human and the struggle with indwelling sin as a believer). If anger is just part of our DNA then our only hope is to address anger is by altering our DNA. Anger just has to be accepted and we are hopeless. If anger is a heart issue (which it is) then our hope is found in Christ changing our heart (which is why He came to rescue us).
We can stop generational and learned anger, by allowing God to get to the root desires of our heart and transforming us at the heart level. Will we allow God to change us and stop the cycle of teaching anger to the next generation?