Roosevelt said “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933, as published in Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume Two: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: Random House, 1938), 11–16.
Modern psychiatry puts all phobias into three general categories although there are hundreds of different phobias within each category.
Panic attacks are usually thought of as irrational anxiety and are referred to as agoraphobia. Fear related to certain social situations that causes avoidance behavior is called social phobia. Specific phobias make up the final category and this is fear of specific stimuli which can be anything from bugs to moonbeams.
One of the most recent additions to the list of phobias has used Roosevelt’s concept to help name what might be thought of as the king of phobias. It is called phobiaphobia. Yes, it is a legitimate term and just as it seems to imply, it is the fear of fear!
Naming fears may be useful for psychiatry but the terms are often borrowed by other disciplines and social groups to thwart, deny, or establish certain codes of behavior or to condemn them.
One example that of late that has come into vogue is the term homophobia. Anyone expressing disdain for the homosexual lifestyle is quickly labeled a homophobic. That label is usually accompanied by a certain stigma as if there is something wrong with the homophobic. That unspecified stigma produces fear usually in the homosexual. Here is a conundrum but it is not as mysterious as it seems.
The fear of homosexuals is an objective fear. The fear of the fear of homosexuals is purely subjective. Outlining the dangers or the parameters of a subjective fear is almost impossible. Conversely defining the nature of an objective fear is much easier.
In plain English the fear of homosexuality has tangibility. The fear of the fear of homosexuality (phobiaphobia) does not. The only way this can make sense is to put it in the common vernacular. Simply stated the only thing a homosexual actually has to fear is that the fears of the homophobic might actually be real. So what is that reality?
Most psychiatry concurs that the first step in dealing with a phobia is the ability to identify it. Leaving denial behind, if most people were asked what they fear about homosexuality the answers would be pretty much the same. A diversion from the natural and a threat to societal norms as well as a threat to the very ongoing of civilization itself (as in the inability to procreate) are at the top of the list.
For biblically based Christianity it is the fact that scripture defines homosexuality as one of the few sins that is so disgusting to God that it figuratively makes him sick. The word associated with homosexuality in the bible is abomination. Put plainly homosexuality is among one of those sins named that make God sick to disgust. It is such a departure from God’s original intention for man that it leaves God disgusted.
A picture of God pleased with mankind with their faith in him and their love for each other is what the bible says he is looking for. Scriptures also say that when they deny him and refuse to love each other he is displeased. A picture of God sick with disgust is a very different scenario. It is not only hard to imagine such a condition existing in the Supreme Being but it is even harder to imagine what his response to us would be if we flaunt it in his face.
Fear is a natural adjunct to reason. It is what makes us look both ways before we cross the street. Fear is what makes us tell our children not to go swimming alone. Fear is what makes us read the labels before we take our medicine. Some fear is not only good but is life preserving.
Speaking out or standing against homosexuality is not necessarily a stand against anyone including the homosexual individual; it is a stand against a behavior and the product of that behavior. It is almost impossible for some individual not to take it personally but personal it is not. It is often interpreted as hatred as seen in the recent remarks of singer Elton John.
Fear does not always translate into hatred. Most people have a healthy fear of lions or alligators. We fear what they may do to us and if we have two cents worth of common sense we ought to fear them in that way. Yet I can’t remember one person in my lifetime ever speaking of their hatred of lions or expressing unbridled vitriol about alligators.
Having God’s favor removed from a nation is a serious consequence and even worse is the promise of judgment on a nation. That sounds like a pretty legitimate thing to be fearful of to most reasonable men.
Fearing the byproduct of a particular behavior does not translate into hatred for those involved in a particular pattern of behavior. It is, however, a part of that healthy behavior that warns our children to look both ways before crossing the street. We don’t hate drivers, we aren’t gripped with autophobia, rather it is our love of our children that urges us to warn them.
In the most tangible way the fear of unbridled homosexuality is connected at the hip to patriotism. A power greater than our government says our country won’t stand on freedom alone but it must be predicated on righteousness as well. What fool would want to see his own native land fall into judgment?
Constructive and useful fears are what keep our world together. We fear the use of nuclear weapons because it threatens our very existence. There is little difference between that and looking both ways before crossing the street. Microcosmic or macrocosmic the product is the same. Fear is what tempers reason and actually guides our conscience in matters of life and death.
No one has ever been ashamed of the fear of falling when they are hanging on the ledge of a twenty story building by their finger tips. Christians and reasonable men everywhere need not be ashamed of what they perceive to be a threat to the future of their own homeland.
In a country where everyone is allowed to voice their opinions and heartfelt convictions, whose opinion must we strike down and refuse without regard? The homosexual is of the opinion that they may be a female trapped in a male body. The average Joe may be of the opinion that the homosexual has a silly notion that he is a women trapped in an empty head. The Christian is of the opinion that the bible is true and the homosexual has a devil trapped in a reprobate heart.
Even as we are debating, and laboring to find what the best course of action is regarding our various views we can be thankful that we live in a land that all people can hold their opinions without being killed for them. Our lawmakers are of the opinion that no one should die or be jailed for their opinion. So far that is still what America is all about.
What is not so clear anymore is why individuals must undergo social contempt for voicing their negative opinions on homosexuality. Since there is no law against it then all that is left to answer that question is that it may be political correctness or popular opinion. Since both of these are merely a kind of adult peer pressure we can be thankful that until it becomes law we can still speak out…if we have the nerve and stamina to do so.
Roosevelt never mentioned that fear tends to beget fear. Being a statesman didn’t qualify him to analyze helpful fear from other fear. The homophobic fears what the gays will do to their communities or their country. The gays fear the fear of the homophobic and now everyone must fear what, where and when we so much as mention our feelings and views on the subject. The error is never noticed.
The error is that the only group that is credited at all for dealing with the fear is the homosexual. They are said to be individually and collectively brave for finally coming out of the closet. This imbalance is overlooked giving rise to yet other fears like, what’s next? Will their come a time when we will say it’s ok to have relations with minors or kill prostitutes or…ad infinitum. Somehow it seems hard to answer all of this with anything other than a call to get this thing in balance. Fear doesn’t spell hatred and fear is an integral part of good reason.
Rev Bresciani is the author of two Christian books. His articles on the second coming of Christ, faith, politics and the American way of life are read in every country throughout the world. Come visit http://www.americanprophet.org
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