No More Bears Under the Bed


RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE, there it was. Newly minted sinner Adam’s first words: “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid…”

One sure symptom of sin is FEAR.

When sin goes, fear will go with it. You can then, if you wish, scour every square acre of heaven and come up empty of fear. Meanwhile, here in this life—on this planet—fear is a daily companion.

I’ve thought a bunch about fear, and totally free of charge, herewith offer my thoughts on the topic.

  • A real difference exists between fear and the natural, built-in instinct for self-preservation. If you choose to call that fear, be my guest. But to me, there’s a huge difference between a natural and healthy response to a real and present threat—and the debilitating fear of threats that exist only in potential or imagination.
  • If fear is a symptom of sin—and if the Church is ostensibly in the business of opposing sin and its symptoms…even helping deliver people from that—then for the Church to employ fear as a motivator has to be one of the most sinful things on earth.
  • FDR said it: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Yet our own government resorts constantly to fear as a tool for controlling the populace. Color-coded charts for how afraid we should be this month of a terrorist strike. If we vote for or against something or someone, then a terrible fate will follow our stupid choice. The world is full of people “out to get us,” so we should retreat under our desks covered in goose-bumps and wide-eyed as barn owls.
  • Fear IS a motivator. So is guilt. So is hate. So is jealousy. So is greed. And many others. But because these motivators do work, should a good country, a good Church, a good Christian, a good human being, USE them? Don’t you ever get tired of people or governments appealing constantly to the worst in us? I jolly well do!
  • The litany of things, real or imagined, of which we are afraid, is appalling. We’re afraid of what other people think. We’re afraid of being different from other people. We’re afraid of people who are different from us. We’re afraid of growing old, of getting sick, of dying. We’re afraid of failure…and of success. We’re afraid of not having enough money or not enough love. We’re afraid of the IRS and the boogeyman and disapproving bosses or spouses and getting mugged and our own shadows.
  • “Perfect love,” the Bible says, “casts out fear.” That means love trumps fear. It’s ultimately stronger. In the short term, fear may seem to win the battle—but ultimately, love is going to clean fear’s clock.

To my government: If you are addicted to fear-mongering, then lay on the fear all you want. But I’m not going to become one of your Pavlovian canines, salivating every time you ring the fear bell. You’ll have to find something more positive to motivate me.

To the Church: Lay off fear and guilt entirely as motivators. Do you really think that by using the devil’s tools, you can get God’s work done?

To everybody: Yes, sin is a disease. Fear is a symptom. But symptoms can be treated. Love is the divinely prescribed antidote. We have it within our power to choose a life of fearlessness. You do. So do I.

When I was a little guy, I would lie awake in the dark, just sure that the bears under my bed would any minute crawl out to have them a little-boy snack. But bears under my bed no longer scare the bejabbers out of me. And I’ve learned by now that most fears are no more real or scary than the grizzlies that used to hang out under my bed.


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