One of the first articles I published on this blog was titled Anger Is Fuel For The Fire Of Lust. In that article, I talked about the relationship between lust and one of the most primal human emotions–anger. Today, I want to address the relationship between lust and another primal human emotion–fear. Like anger, fear is a signal that something is not right. Fear, in particular, is designed to alert us to danger. If we see a lion or gunman in our backyard, fear motivates us to confront the threat or to run from it. Without fear, life is always business as usual, which would lead most species on earth to an early grave.
Fear In The Modern World
Most of the fear humans experience in the 21st century is not due to physical threats in the environment, but due to emotional ones. People fear failure. People fear rejection. People fear losing loved ones and romantic partners. People fear losing jobs. People fear losing health. People fear losing freedom. Fear is pervasive in the modern world. Some of the it is fueled by the economy. Advertisers are notorious for creating artificial demand, rooted in fear, because they know that fear is a powerful motivating force. The implication is often that if you don’t buy their product, then you can expect to experience emotional pain.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear has a constructive evolutionary purpose. However, it is disorderly in most people, such that it effectively works against our interests. The fear we need to survive is relatively small in comparison to the fear we actually experience. In addition, fear of emotional pain often reinforces the probability of experiencing that pain, rather than empowering us to avoid it. Fear makes us weak, indecisive, and incompetent. Ask yourself, would I be better or worse off if reduced my fear by 20%? 50%? What about 90%?
A lot of anxiety that people experience is a collection of unresolved fears from the past. I like how one author distinguished between fear and anxiety.
Fear is an emotional reaction to a specific, real danger, while anxiety is an excessive and unfocused fear that may be triggered by a variety of stimuli. Anxiety caused by stress may persist long after the trigger is removed or arise with no trigger at all.Fear Versus Anxiety
Fear Fuels Escapism
Chronic fear [anxiety], like anger, makes people feel uncomfortable in their own skin. And it is a natural human impulse to escape feeling uncomfortable. People resort to food, sex, drugs, entertainment, work, and relationships to avoid unpleasant emotions (and to experience positive ones). Some of these resorts are healthy, in the right measure and context, while others are downright toxic. How we medicate our emotions says a lot about our character; bad habits and addictions are not inevitable. However, the truth is that the worse our reality is, the greater our desire is going to be to escape it.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.James 1:14
As I elaborate in First, Do No Harm, the first order of getting healed is not to make a bad situation worse. When we resort to lust, pornography, or some other pernicious habit in the face of fear, anger, etc., we necessarily make a bad situation worse. In the short term, we need to apply the brakes, while thinking of tools and strategies to address root issues in the medium and long-terms.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.Proverbs 29:25
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.Psalm 34:4
How To Heal Fear
As far as tools and strategies, spirituality can be a big source of emotional stability. According to one author, the Bible contains the phrase “Fear not” 365 times. A spiritual anchor is a shield against some of the natural traumas and trials of living. People commonly regulate emotions with diet, exercise, fasting, prayer, meditation, stretching, purposeful social activities, and by maintaining loving relationships with other human beings.
Perfect love casts out all fear.1 John 4:18
This article is not intended to solve the problem of fear, but as motivation to take it seriously in our battle for sexual integrity. The presence of a deep-rooted fear or anger problem is an absence of healing. Given our imperfect nature as people, soul wounds often manifest as toxic, even sinful, behaviors and addictions.
On the other hand, healing from fear and anger is a kind of freedom. Healing makes it infinitely easier to break particular bad habits and act consistent with our values and interests.
For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.