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Fear is not a sin

There is no good reason to feel guilty about being afraid. I was erroneously taught that fear is the opposite of faith. Fear, anxiety, dread, and angst are afflictions, not sins.

Jesus felt fear and dread in the garden of Gethsemane. Fear, anxiety, dread, and angst are part of the human experience. God did not call us to be Stoics. It is good, right, and healthy to admit fear, to face it, to bring it honestly into the light.

In Gethsemane, angels came, not so much to comfort or console, as to give Jesus the strength to move forward towards crucifixion courageously. Courage is doing what is right even though you’re afraid.

There are situations in life during which it is natural to feel fear – a terminal diagnosis, finding oneself in the middle of a war, or an earthquake, or a tornado, for example. Stoics are practiced at denial. Humans in touch with themselves feal fear. God is not likely to remove all fear in the middle of your house being ripped apart, but God will give us strength to endure.

There are, of course unnatural fears, neurotic fears, anxiety disorders that can dominate our lives. Some of us find ourselves afraid of things that don’t threaten us. We might be afraid to cross a bridge, be alone, or be in a crowd. Those fears are likewise afflictions, not sins. And, they are treatable with psychotherapy or a combination of therapy and pharmacology.

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