Anger is a common emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. In marriage, anger can become especially problematic if not handled constructively. For Christian couples who want to honor God in their relationship, it’s important to understand what the Bible teaches about anger so they can navigate conflicts in a healthy way.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible warns against sinful anger, but also teaches that anger itself is not necessarily sinful. Scripture encourages couples to be slow to anger, control their tempers, seek forgiveness, and resolve conflicts quickly to avoid bitterness and discord.
In this comprehensive article, we will examine various biblical principles and passages that provide guidance for dealing with anger in a godly manner within marriage.
The Danger of Uncontrolled Anger
Damages Relationships and Grieves the Holy Spirit
Uncontrolled anger can deeply damage marital relationships over time. Outbursts of anger and rage create an atmosphere of tension, fear, and resentment. Spouses may walk on eggshells to avoid provoking anger. This leads to emotional distance and mistrust, hurting intimacy.
As Ephesians 4:31 warns, all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be put away from you.
The Holy Spirit seeks to cultivate peace, patience, and self-control in relationships (Galatians 5:22-23). Rage and hostility contradict the Spirit’s work, grieving and quenching the Spirit. Anger almost always leads to sinful words and actions, giving “opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Thus anger unchecked damages Christian marriages and displeases God.
Can Lead to Sinful Words and Actions
Uncontrolled anger commonly results in verbal abuse—insults, mocking, demeaning speech, curses, threats, or the silent treatment. Often it escalates to physical aggression like violence, throwing things, punching walls, or destroying property.
Sometimes it leads to complete emotional abandonment through walking away, storming out, or the total withdrawal of communication and affection. Ephesians 4:29 reminds couples, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.”
Domestic violence has no place in Christian marriages. Horrifically, up to 25% of all relationships experience domestic violence at some point. Christian husbands must heed Colossians 3:19, “do not be harsh with your wives.” Wives too can be verbally or physically abusive in anger.
All couples must resist escalation and call on the Spirit to “produce love, joy, peace…” (Galatians 5:22).
Allows Opportunity for the Devil
As Ephesians 6:12 declares, Christian couples do not merely fight against each other, but against demonic spiritual forces exploiting anger. The devil seeks footholds through rage, resentment, pride, and unwillingness to forgive.
These provide opportunities for further temptation, accusation, deception, and condemnation. Couples should guard their hearts and control anger to avoid falling into these traps (Proverbs 4:23). If anger escalates into abuse, one must flee temptation entirely through separation.
Attributes of Godly Anger
Slow to Anger
When we get angry, it is often a knee-jerk reaction. We respond immediately to the situation or person that upsets us. However, the Bible tells us that God is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). He doesn’t have sudden outbursts, but is patient and gives people time to repent and change their ways before expressing His wrath.
As Christians, we should follow God’s example by thinking carefully before becoming angry, and not letting our temper get the best of us.
Does Not Sin
Human anger often leads us to sin. We may yell hurtful things, seek revenge, or become violent. But the Bible says that God’s anger “does not sin” (Psalm 7:11). His holy anger remains righteous. When we get angry, we should be careful not to let it cause us to sin through unkind words or actions.
Anger itself is not a sin, but we must channel it wisely and constructively.
Does Not Hold On to Anger
Unlike humans who tend to harbor grudges and resentment, God “does not keep his anger forever” (Jeremiah 3:12). He is quick to forgive those who repent. Micah 7:18 assures us that God “does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy.”
We should follow God’s example by striving to forgive others when they wrong us, not holding on to our anger forever. This allows relationships to be restored.
Remains Under Control
When we get angry, we often lose control, saying or doing things we later regret in a flash of rage. But God’s wrath is measured and controlled. He administers perfect justice. The Apostle Paul tells us “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).
This means we should take care that when we get angry, we remain clam and exercise restraint, not letting our temper get the best of us.
Principles for Handling Anger Biblically
Be Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak
As the Bible teaches in James 1:19, we should be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak” when feeling angry. Taking time to listen, understand, and process the situation before responding can help prevent saying things out of anger that leads to more harm.
Research shows that couples who listen well to each other and validated each other’s perspectives resolved conflicts better. So be patient, keep an open mind, and don’t interrupt.
Seek First to Understand
Seek to understand where your spouse is coming from when they express anger. As experts suggest, reflect back what you hear them saying and ask clarifying questions to make sure you fully grasp their perspective and feelings before making judgments or stating your own view.
This act of empathy can help diffuse anger and pave the way for productive discussion.
Ask Forgiveness When Needed
When you have clearly made a mistake or handled anger poorly, promptly admit fault and sincerely ask forgiveness according to biblical teaching (James 5:16). Research indicates that couples who apologize and forgive well have greater relationship satisfaction.
So be humble enough to say “I’m sorry I got so angry” or “I was wrong to yell at you.” Then give space for your spouse to process without demanding an immediate response.
Resolve Issues Promptly and Make Amends
Don’t let anger simmer or issues go unresolved for long periods (Ephesians 4:26). Set aside time soon after the conflict to discuss matters calmly, articulate feelings, identify root problems, set boundaries, find compromises, and make action plans to resolve the issues.
As needed, seek wise counsel, prayerfully reflect on any personal contributions to the situation, examine your heart, and then actively make amends (Matthew 5:23-24).
Speak the Truth in Love
When addressing sensitive issues that may lead to anger, speak the truth, but do it graciously and lovingly (Ephesians 4:15). Criticize the behavior, not the person. Use gentle language that builds up rather than inflammatory words that tear down.
Time the discussion for when you are both calm and not tired or hungry. And remind each other of Christ’s love as motivation to find common ground.
Bible Verses About Anger in Marriage
This verse states, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This reminds spouses that responding gently and thoughtfully, instead of harshly, can help diffuse anger and arguments (1).
Treating each other with patience and kindness, even when tensions run high, allows couples to understand each other rather than trading barbs. As BibleStudyTools notes, “A gentle response brings peace rather than more anger.”
Proverbs 14:29 advises, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” This verse encourages spouses to be patient, thoughtful, and slow to anger with each other.
As the New International Version translation states, patience demonstrates understanding between partners. On the other hand, having a quick temper shows poor judgment and lack of insight into a spouse’s perspective.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). This passage provides guidance for managing righteous anger and avoiding unresolved conflicts.
The key is addressing disagreements promptly before anger escalates and festers. Letting anger simmer overnight can poison relationships and allow bitterness to take root, which gives “the devil a foothold” to divide couples.
James 1:19-20 offers this advice: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
This emphasizes being a thoughtful, attentive listener rather than reacting in haste. Human anger fails to achieve righteous, godly solutions. As the Bible Study Tools commentary explains, “hasty words stirred up by passion never accomplish God’s righteousness.”
Paul’s letter to the Colossians instructs believers: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
This verse makes clear that Christians should actively resist and remove uncontrolled anger and hateful speech from their relationships. Letting such dangerous emotions and words take root can severely damage marital bonds.
Instead, couples should treat each other with compassion and dignity to nurture intimacy.
Examples of Sinful Anger in the Bible
Cain Murders Abel
In Genesis 4, Cain became furious and jealous when God accepted his brother Abel’s offering but rejected his own. God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at your door” but Cain still allowed his anger to escalate out of control (Genesis 4:3-8).
In a rage, Cain murdered his brother Abel – the first recorded act of anger and violence between humans.
Saul Tries to Kill David in Anger
King Saul became intensely jealous of David after David defeated Goliath and the people sang songs praising David more than Saul (1 Samuel 18). On several occasions, Saul threw his spear at David in bitter anger trying to kill him. His irrational anger stemmed from pride, jealousy and insecurity.
Jonah’s Anger at God’s Compassion
Jonah became angry when God decided to spare the people of Nineveh if they repented of their sins (Jonah 3:10-4:11). In his bitterness, Jonah told God he would rather die than see these enemies of Israel be shown compassion. His prejudiced anger revealed his lack of God’s heart for all people.
Yet through a vine plant, God gently taught him not to value his personal comfort over people’s eternal lives.
In summary, the Bible offers much wisdom to help married couples deal with anger in constructive ways. While anger itself is not always sin, uncontrolled anger can easily lead to destructive words and actions which grieve the Holy Spirit.
By applying biblical principles for conflict resolution, quick forgiveness, and speaking truth lovingly, couples can honor God and avoid bitterness even in heated arguments. With God’s help, anger can be managed and marriages strengthened through the wise counsel of Scripture.