Fear is something I have been observing for quite some time among my fellow conservative Christians, but it became especially noticeable in the past two weeks as the Boy Scouts of America contemplated removing their national ban on gay scouts and scoutmasters.
I am not talking about the primal fear that a person gets when confronted by a rabid dog or a mountain lion. Nor am I talking about the fear that a person gets when someone breaks into their house wielding a knife or a gun.
No. I am talking about fear of the boogeyman. Fear of the unknown. Fear of ‘the other.’ Fear of ‘the enemy.’ Fear of those who are different. Fear based on lies, half-truths, and ignorance.
This is the fear that pervades the conservative Christian community, though it is by no means unique to conservative Christians. Such fear is a far too common dark side to human nature and society.
Being a fairly, though not entirely, conservative Christian myself, I obviously notice it most among those that are my friends and connections.
Libby Anne, the blogger at Love, Joy, Feminism, talks about some of her fears in a post about Fear and the Fundamentalist Child. Now that I am older, the fears–and lies–that I notice are things like fearing that Obama is a Muslim Marxist, that liberals hate America and are secretly socialist or even communist out to destroy our nation, that gays are out to molest and recruit children, that marriage equality will destroy our society and nation, that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has “a deliberate strategy to marginalize, stigmatize, and repress the speech and democratic rights of conservative Christians.“
The fear is everywhere, even Patrick Henry College’s existence is wrapped up in this fear: the fear of secular colleges indoctrinating children (who are really adults at that point) away from the faith.
As I said before, this is not something unique to conservative Christians, but I believe it is especially heinous that it is basically preached by so called Christian leaders almost like dogma.
Why so heinous? Because the Bible everywhere speaks against fear.
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.””
Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Does the Bible not contain promises about these things?
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Why then do parents fear to send their children off to a secular college? Their fear causes them to not trust the promise of God. Or perhaps it is that they know in their hearts that some or even much of what they have taught their child is not really of God.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
If you are a girl and listen to many of those that preach about modesty it would be easy to think that indeed clothes–the right ones–are indeed what it is all about.
Romans 8:31, 38-39 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Hebrews 13:5b “…for He has said,”I will never leave you nor forsake you.””
1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
If nothing can separate us from the love of God–and indeed God is love–and perfect love casts out fear, then why do Christians fear so much?
Perhaps most well know of all:
Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Fear cripples. Fear destroys. Fear is the enemy of love. So when Christians preach fear and go around spreading lies to reinforce the fear, they are working against everything they claim to stand for by calling themselves followers of Jesus Christ.
Love is the antidote and vaccine to fear.
Love, don’t fear.