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Is venting biblical?

August 7, 2007

What’s the difference between venting and complaining?  Is there a difference?  Is there a difference between voicing such things to God versus another person?

Complaining, whining, grumbling, non-thankfulness got Israel 40 years of wandering and a whole generation losing out on the promised land.  The NT specifically forbids grumbling (Philippians 2:14-16), but commands thankfulness (1 Thess 5:16-18).

But do we encourage sin by the practice of venting?

I’ve wrestled with this for many moons and go back and forth.  What say you?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2007 6:34 am

    That’s a good and provocative question. The Psalms are full of what some might call “complaining” but God didn’t seem to mind people expressing their deepest thoughts.

    Could it have anything to do with duration – i.e., it is ok to vent and move on but not to fixate on it? I’m uncharacteristically short on verses to support that hypothesis, though.

    I wonder if there is some distinction in the original languages that would clear it up.

  2. August 7, 2007 7:45 am

    Neil beat me to it. My gut reaction was nearly exactly the same, though I had not thought about the original language part.

    In my experience venting is an important part of the emotional process, as it can actually prevent other sins.

  3. Krista permalink
    August 7, 2007 10:32 am

    This is a good article I read once on Boundless. I think it covers the topic of venting quite well. http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001267.cfm

  4. August 7, 2007 11:15 am

    An article written by Suzanne Hadley no less… Ben and I went to school with her at MBC. I’ll have to give it a full read.

  5. August 7, 2007 2:50 pm

    Wow, Krista. That’s a great article. I totally agree with Suzanne. I’m persuaded.

    Karl and Neil, the article puts the kibosh on the whole venting thing. What say you to it (cause I originally saw your points… now, not as much)?

  6. August 7, 2007 3:00 pm

    Haven’t read the article, but I feel that people (me for a long time) too often “filter” their emotions and thoughts in an unhealthy-stifling way. There is a certain aspect of having a healthy relationship with God & a journey friend (wife, bff-did I just do that?) who can hear your feelings and call you out when needed. But, at the same time lend an ear when you need someone to talk to, because sometimes you just have a bad day.

  7. August 7, 2007 5:22 pm

    D’oh! There goes that excuse.

    That was a good article. I see her points in my life, too. I learned a long time ago that re-hashing complaints didn’t make me feel better. They just made me mad all over again.

    I still need to think about the Psalms thing, though. Maybe when we just cry out to God with our problems it will put them back into perspective right away, just as it seemed to with the Psalmists.

  8. Slothboy permalink
    August 7, 2007 5:58 pm

    your mom is biblical.

  9. jennifer cribb permalink
    April 23, 2012 9:27 pm

    Proverbs 29:11
    Says not to do it in anger. Also it says it is wise when your calm and you vent. I had the same question and this is the verse that came up. Hope it helps

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