Putting the Soul
back in Psychology!
How to know if your anger is a sin.
[Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay]
There is a difference between the concrete biological "anger" (caused by sensory displeasure regarding a difficult concrete evil while moving to fight to obtain a need or prevent the loss of a need, named one of the "passions" by Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas) vs the abstract psychological emotional anger, in varying degrees, coming from the immaterial intellect of human soul (caused by: 1) any number of uncharitable and false or immoral attractions, likes, dislikes, wants/desires, expectations, and/or beliefs, 2) a cover up to avoid feeling sadness, 3) a cover up for perfectionist selfish using self-pity; i.e. hurt feelings, 4) a cover up for any number of particular selfish fears of suffering whereby one tries to exteriorly control what one cannot or should not in order to try to obtain one's selfish way rather than having self-control and accepting the reality of God's Way in trusting Him, while failing to discern with Him).
"The irascible power in man [of the soul, where "anger" is a movement] is naturally subject to his reason, wherefore its act is natural to man, in so far as it is in accord with reason, and in so far as it is against reason, it is contrary to man's nature." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas
Both types of "anger", biological sensory and the psychological emotion (in all degrees and for all reasons), are morally qualifiable in human beings simply because we are an immaterial Soul (intellect & free will) and material Body/Brain (biological) composite, the immaterial Soul and all its powers (of which there are 5 general) always being primary to and animator of the brain and body, with the intellect and free will powers not using a corporal organ in any way, whereby we are always responsible [fully by the age of 7, called "the age of reason" and partially in some degree beginning at least around the age of 4 years old] for checking/discerning and regulating our biological movements and feelings, as Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas states, which most human beings fail to do regardless of age, while most parents and clergy fail to teach how to do (because they don't do it either).
"Man is master of his actions through the judgment of his reason, wherefore as to the movements that forestall that judgment, it is not in man's power to prevent them as a whole, i.e. so that none of them arise, although his reason is able to check each one, if it arise." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas
"for the whole corporeal nature is subject to the soul, and is related to it as its matter and instrument." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa
"A passion of the sensitive appetite is good in so far as it is regulated by reason, whereas it is evil if it set the order of reason aside." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas
For we are always affecting our biological movements and feelings (of the sensitive appetite) by either sinfully failing to choose to try to be self-aware and properly regulate and manage them, and/or choosing to augment and/or distort them into what is sin; the absence of Truth/Love/Virtues, or virtuously by correctly not having them in the wrong ways by having Truth/Love/Virtues, including but not limited to having self-awareness, proper discernment, and self-control, of which we cannot achieve without proper cooperation with The Divine (as with the "10 Steps to Lasting Healing" Method). Failing to try to constantly actively cooperate with The Divine is a sin of omission. Furthermore, we are always freely choosing our psychological emotions and feelings through our freely chosen intellectual acts of our immaterial Soul (rational appetite) whether we are self-aware of this and understand how to explain it or not. To learn how to understand this see,
So called "righteous anger" is best to be named righteous indignation or zeal (zealous anger, as Aquinas states) , and needs to be clearly defined, so the human beings who have begun to use their ability to reason beginning at least around the age of 4, will stop being taught and encouraged to rationalize their feeling of anger as justified when it is sinful, while not wanting anyone else to ever be feeling equally angry, thereby properly recognizing others' same anger as uncharitable in some way shape and form. The hypocrisy runs deep.
The "passions" that Aquinas frequently refers to are only neutral as concepts in and of themselves (not morally qualifiable) when they are referring to the movements of the senses and other physical feelings that are biological instincts in all animals both brute animals and human beings. Because they (the "passions") "cause a transformation of the normal condition of the body and its organs which often appears externally", according to Aquinas' definition. In brute animals of all ages there is nothing more and they remain neutral. These "passions" are also neutral in human infants, toddlers (1-3.9 yrs old), and those with severe enough birth defects of brain damage, such as particular types of brain tumors one is born with or chromosomal disorders, which puts limitations on and hinders one's psychological (intellect and free will) level of functioning. (As Aquinas state, the lessor (body & brain) and hinder the greater (soul: intellect & free will)
All other humans who have begun in any degree or way to use their God given (at conception) intellect and free will powers of their immaterial Soul, which begins at least around the age of 4 years old, we are responsible, to some degree (and fully responsible by age 7), for checking and regulating in discernment directly with The Divine, all of our "passions" of biological movements of the senses, physical feelings, and biological instincts.
Our psychological emotions and feelings are automatically morally qualifiable as they are caused by our freely chosen intellectual acts of our immaterial Soul; specifically our: attractions, likes, dislikes, wants/desires, expectations, beliefs, and thoughts. These are called "intentions".
Aquinas' translation into English uses the same term, "passions" frequently with clear distinctions, for both brute animal biological movements and instincts, as he does for morally qualifiable virtues and sinful emotions and feelings of the human intellect and free will of the immaterial Soul.
"The Apostle says (Romans 7:5): "When we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were by the law, did the work in our members." Now sins are, properly speaking, in the soul. Therefore passions also, which are described as being "of sins", are in the soul." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa
According to Aquinas, anger can be a mortal sin when physically or externally acted upon (including verbally), and leads us to other sins, which is why it is one of the Capital or 7 Deadly Sins.
"On the contrary, A gloss on Psalm 4:5, "Be ye angry and sin not," says: "Anger is venial [sin] if it does not proceed to action"." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa
How to recognize when anger in any degree is a sin and NOT righteous.
1) The degrees of anger that are automatically a sin as described in present American English are:...bugged, annoyed, irritated, frustrated, put-out, peeved, fed-up, pissed-off, vexed, hostile, furious, enraged, rage, impatient, controlling, intolerant, hateful, animosity, bitterness, resentment, unforgiving, vengeful, spiteful, envy, jealously, and any new slang terminology the young decide to suddenly invent....simply changing your vocabulary to avoid using these words, does NOT change your anger from being sinful. And if you do this you are sinning even graver by rationalizing and refusing to accept the Truth about your sins and refusing to repent.
For the sake of time, any time the word anger is written, this means any degree or type of anger mentioned in this previous paragraph.
2) When we are not focused on the presence of God, etc. prior to and when becoming angry.
3) When we want revenge (an eye for an eye).
"You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other: And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him." ~ Matthew 5:38-40, Douay-Rheims
4) When we DON'T want "vengeance" (i.e. justice) only for the others' sake of their conversion.
5) When we want to be the one who serves the "vengeance", rather than God.
"To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath,
for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. ~ Romans 12:17-19, Douay-Rheims
"For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people." ~ Hebrews 10:30, Douay-Rheims
6) When we fail to immediately pray in discernment with God, and/or fail to thank God for the opportunity to sacrifice, and/or fail to offer up the unpleasant situation for compensation for our sins, healing of our sins, and for the other...all of this proving our anger is prideful and selfish.
7) When we feel or believe we are justified in what we want or don't want that is not happening or think or feel that we should get your way. This means we are failing to properly discern with God and are rejecting God's Will, so our anger is prideful and selfish. This includes when we think or feel like we are an sinless victim and feel sorry for ourselves.
Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus de Ligouri states in his book Uniformity to God's Will, that everything we don't control with our free will is the Will of God for us. If we don't believe and live this, then our anger is always a sin.
"God has a supreme desire to make us sharers of his goods and of his happiness. If then he sends us suffering in this life, it is for our own good: "All things work together unto good." Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls: "Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction.""..."We should want things to be just as they are, because it is God who thus disposes them."..."The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."..."It is certain and of faith, that whatever happens, happens by the will of God: "I am the Lord forming the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating evil." From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God's hands"
~ Dr. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, Uniformity to God's Will
8) When we want another person to change for our sake for any reason, or for the sake of another for any reason, who is not the person we are angry with, thereby proving we don't want the person to change primarily for their own sake.
9) When our immediate thought or desire is to justify our anger, rather than to immediately think we are probably sinning, and take it to Jesus in Repentance and proper Discernment.
10) When we believe that anything or anyone other than our own intellectual free will to choose is the sole cause of our anger. In other words, we believe for any reason that the other person or situation is making us feel angry. Thereby making us a feelings blamer, which is a sin and selfish and proves our anger is not righteous, because the Truth is that we make ourselves have all of our emotions and feelings both psychological and biological.
11) When we are trying to make ourselves stop feeling our bad emotion(s) through our interactions with the other person, thereby using them as a means to an end, rather than repenting of our bad emotion to God and primarily seeking healing and solace from Him.
12) When we want to control (including prevent) another's interior acts and free will to choose, including emotions or feelings, for any reason.
13) When either prior to or during our anger, we feel hurt (self-pity), feel offended (perfectionism), worried or afraid, in any degree for any reason, which are all sinful psychological emotions, and our anger is a cover up for our selfishness and cowardice.
14) If we, as of the full age of reason at age 7, fear suffering in any way for any reason. Then all of our anger will be a sinful cover up for the sinful fear of suffering...which is the lack of acceptance of God's Will, distrust in Him, a lack of desire to sacrifice, and a refusal to want to compensate for our sins, thereby proving that we do not hate all sin.
15) If we don't accept any and all discomfort that occurs, then all of our anger in any degree will be a sinful cover up for the nonacceptance of discomfort which is the nonacceptance of God's Will and a refusal to want to compensate for all of our sins.
16) If we either don't believe in or don't always want to compensate for every little and big sin of ours, (sin of either commission or omission), as a priority in our daily lives, then any time we are angry to any degree it will be a sin.
17) When we are angry because we are being: disobeyed, disrespected, or are offended...this proves we are being prideful, arrogant, and selfish and not caring about the other person at all...sometimes this will manifest in the thought of "How dare you disobey me", "How dare you disrespect me", "How dare you speak to me that way", "How dare you do that to me", etc.
18) Any time we want to (whether we do so or not) hit another person or want to try to inflict physical or emotional pain on another person while we are angry proves the anger is a sin of blaming our anger on the other and selfishly trying to make ourselves feel better through harming and/or trying to control the other person. No matter how we rationalize or try to justify this abuse by calling it "spanking" or "discipline".
"Nevertheless such like anger may happen to be a venial sin by reason of the imperfection of the act... as when one desires to be avenged in a trifling matter, which should be deemed of no account, so that even if one proceeded to action, it would not be a mortal sin, for instance by pulling a child slightly by the hair, or by some other like action." ~ Dr. St. Thomas Aquinas
19) When we believe the other person, including child, is being malicious...we are pridefully and hypocritically judging the intentions of others based solely on appearances. And we are projecting ourselves onto the other person...thereby making any and all of our emotions, feelings, and actions sinful related to this.
20) When we only say "no" to others when we are angry. This is selfishness and poor boundaries, proving any and all anger we have in any degree is a sin.
21) When we are angry to any degree because "I can't take it anymore.", we are fed-up or tired of dealing with "this" or "that". When in regard to another person, these are poor boundaries and show our anger is a sin because we are selfishly using the other person, while we are also failing to accept the reality of God's Will for us before trying to problem solve. This latter reason is also true regarding any situation or experience we don't want to deal with, even if it has nothing to do with another person.
22) When we swear / use vulgar vocabulary, whether say it or only think it, regardless of how we consciously feel, we are sinning in some degree of anger.
23) When we are angry or feel offended, because the other person is sinning against us or another. This is perfectionism of pridefully selfishly and hypocritically expecting the other to be sinless and selfishly using the other person for our or others need to feel happy or loved (which can only be fulfilled between us and God), and in these types of situations we are also blaming our anger on others which is a sin. In blaming others for our anger, we are also proving our anger is sinful, because if it was the virtue of zeal or righteous indignation, we would be giving ourselves the credit/blame for it, rather than blaming how we feel on externals.
24) Either before or during your feeling of any degree of anger:
Are you feeling emotionally hurt (aka self-pity, believing yourself to be a sinless victim, for not getting what you want in the way you want it and thinking you are right without facts from God)? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you feeling emotionally stressed? / worried? / afraid? / anxious?...all of which are your absence of Truth/Love/Virtues. If yes, any anger you feel is also a sin, along with these emotions.
"Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity." ~ 1 John 4:18 Douay-Rheims
Are you accepting (aka fine with) the reality of what happened or is happening? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you accepting what is happening that you don't want or don't like? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you accepting that everything that happens that you don't control with your free will to choose is automatically God's Will for you? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you believe suffering is always good and necessary for everyone? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you believe God is in control of what you are not? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you know what you are responsible for controlling and what you are not? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you spend quality silent alone time with Jesus daily just being with Him listening to Him and asking Him to make you self-aware of all of your sins and teach you Truth? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you fine if you cannot control something? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you know how to always recognize the difference between what you can and cannot control? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you trying to control another person's free will to choose? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you fine if you don't get your way? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you want another person to be perfect in that moment? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you wanting the other person to be Loving to you, rather than you only concerning yourself with being Loving to them? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Do you want something from the other person that you are not getting, and you are refusing to accept that? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Do you want what you cannot have in the moment? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Do you not want what is happening in the moment? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you thinking, How dare you disrespect me? (pride, hypocrisy, and selfish using) If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you thinking, How dare you disobey me? (pride, hypocrisy, and selfish using) If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you thinking, How dare you do that? (pride and hypocritical perfectionism) If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you being merciful? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you forgiving? If not, any anger is a sin.
Are you resentful? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you jealous, envious, possessive, hating someone because they are not giving you the love you want, etc.? If yes, any anger is a sin.
Are you putting the other person's needs before your wants? If not, any anger is a sin.
When possible are you putting the other person's greater needs before your lessor needs? If not, any anger is a sin.
Do you know how to recognize the difference between wants and needs? If not, any anger is a sin.
Caring about the other person at all or are you only caring about getting your way? If only caring about getting your way, any anger is a sin.
Do you objectively know what is best for the other person in a particular situation because you asked Jesus Christ directly and listened to His answers, as well as daily seek from Him all the false and wrong interior intellectual acts of: emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, expectations, wants/desires, likes, dislikes, and attractions that you have and repent of each of them and ask God to teach you the Truth and give you the Love/Virtues to replace each? If not, any anger is a sin.
The Bottom Line
When we human beings are angry, who are NOT ready for the canonization papers to arrive in the mail from the Holy See, we ARE sinning, because our anger is NOT in accord with right reason, no matter how much we want to rationalize and lie to ourselves that our feeling of anger is caused by exteriors and/or Truth/Love/Virtues, rather than being caused by what we freely intellectually irrationally perceive: think, believe, expect, want/desire, like, don't want/desire, don't like, and are attracted to, that is actually causing our anger, while we also FAIL to check all of this from within our intellects and free wills with Jesus Christ in order to see how we are wrong.
Pride goeth before a fall.
Lack of self-awareness and failure to discern with Jesus Christ, by asking Him daily to show us all the ways we are wrong and all the lies we believe that are the causes of when we feel angry, or feel any other negative psychological emotion or feeling, are sins on top of sins.
One of the most frequent cherry-picked quotes from Aquinas to try to rationalize sinful anger is, "But if one is angry in accordance with right reason, one's anger is deserving of praise."
What does "right reason" mean?
Right reason means you have all the Truth from God regarding faith and morals and you don't believe any lies about Truth/Love/Virtues, which includes God, yourself, others, right from wrong, etc. This means you have NO false beliefs, unrealistic expectations, wrong wants/desires, bad likes/dislikes, or distorted attractions, and you are NEVER unloving/unvirtuous.
"Right reason" does NOT mean that what you automatically perceive: feel, think, believe, expect, want/desire, don't want/desire, like, dislike, and are attracted to, is "reasonable" to you.
"Right reason" is NOT based on your "conscience".
By the time we actually feel some degree of anger, our reasoning was already wrong in some way, shape or form. For Zeal and Righteous Indignation does NOT feel like any anger we sinners have ever felt.