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Fear Factor

By October 17, 2008No Comments

ScreamThis week I’ve been been preparing for a talk I’m giving at Campbell University’s Campus Crusade. I’m speaking two days before Halloween, so they’ve asked me to speak on the topic “Fear Factor.”

As I’ve researched the various dynamics of fear in preparation for the message, I decided to do a search of different phobias. I’ve heard of the common ones like the fear of heights and the fear of closed spaces, but you won’t believe some of the crazy ones I found! Here’s just a taste…



o Anablephobia—Fear of looking up
o Anglophobia—Fear of England and English culture
o Aulophobia—fear of flutes
o Chaetophobia—fear of hair
o Consecotalephobia—fear of chopsticks
o Lutraphobia—fear of otters
o Peladophobia—Fear of bald people
o Pogobophobia—Fear of beards
o Pteronophobia- Fear of being tickled by feathers.
o Urophobia- Fear of urine

o Venustraphobia- Fear of beautiful women.
o Vestiphobia- Fear of clothing
o Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.
o Geniophobia- Fear of chins
o Bovinospiraphobia—fear of ghost cows
o Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words

Aside from the fact that these fears sound utterly ridiculous to me, I think they demonstrate a great theological point. As we consider our battles with fear, it’s important that we distinguish between healthy fears and unhealthy fears. Some fears are totally insane, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are.

On the one hand, there are certain healthy fears that keep you safe and healthy. For instance, you should be afraid of sticking your hand in a fire, or falling of a ten story building. Those fears serve to protect you because they’re rooted in the existence of a real danger.

On the other hand, we are frequently driven by fears that are NOT rooted in the existence of real danger, fears that do not actually protect us from anything. These fears are inherently irrational. All the fears listed above are a great example of this.

That said, the litmus test for measuring whether our fears are rational or irrational is the character of God. If we respond to a fear that acknowledges God’s power, authority, justice, and the way He has designed the world, then that is a fear based on reality. It is a fear that guards us and keeps us spiritually secure.

However, if our fear is not based upon a knowledge of God’s faithfulness and love, but instead upon a fear that God will NOT take care of us and we need to take care of ourselves–that’s an irrational fear. To live as if we need to control our own lives because we’re afraid that God isn’t trustworthy is just as crazy as a person who shaves their whole body because they’re afraid of hair. Neither fear is legitimate, so their resulting actions are unnecessary, in addition to limiting our quality of life.

And in case you think you don’t suffer from these irrational fears, consider the ways in which you try to “discern God’s will for your life.” At first glance, this would appear to be an entirely faithful exercise. You are seeking God and working your hardest to determine His plan. Sounds pretty godly, right?

But oftentimes our actions are driven more by fear than trust. We’re afraid that if we don’t work hard enough to crack the code, we’ll miss out on God’s plans for us. If we don’t pay close enough attention, we’ll accidentally ruin our lives by going down the wrong path.

Under the guise of obedience, we are secretly afraid that God may not be taking care of us. If we don’t hold up our end of the bargain and try to control things ourselves, we worry that God won’t come through for us the way we need.

When this happens, we are not acting out of a healthy fear of God, but an unhealthy fear based on a lack of trust in God.

So whatever your fears may be, ask yourself whether they are based upon reality, or a misperception of reality. And more importantly, ask yourself whether your fears are rooted in a healthy reverence for God, or a lack of faith in God. One fear leads to safety and freedom, the other leads to unending bondage.

And in case you don’t believe me, I thought I’d end with some seriously wacked out fears that I found on the internet. These don’t have scientific names because they are specific to individual people, but the “sufferers” included explanations so that you can follow their logic. Consider this to be a picture of what awaits the individual who does not guard their fears. Fear has the capacity to consume you, and in some seriously weird ways…

  • Fear of Going Back in Time, Getting Stuck There, Then Contracting a Disease that’s Curable Now, but Won’t Be Curable Then—I have a fear that somehow I’ll go back in time and get stuck there, then get some illness that we have cured now (like polio or the plague), and die from it all the time knowing that if I was here in time I would be saved. So, I’ve always wanted to learn how to make penicillin just in case.
  • Fear of Dying in a Car Crash with the Radio Stuck on a Country Station—I have a fear of being in a car crash, and as I’m dying trapped in the wreckage, the radio gets stuck on a Country and Western station, and I can’t get to the radio to switch it off or change the station. I don’t want to die like this…I’ve had this phobia since the age of 17. I’m now 36
  • Fear of Cannibal Siamese Twins— I have a terrible fear of siamese twins, specifically cannibal siamese twins. I am also afraid of small dogs with big eyes, dwarves and generally anything that could grab me by the ankles and skin me alive. I avoid any dark room or hallway, or going outside in the dark for fear something will grab me by the ankles.
  • Fear of a Little White Dog Coming Out of Your Closet — Submitter has been locking her closet since she was 3.

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