The Bible says that man should have a healthy fear of The Lord for betterment of life. However, an unhealthy, persistent or irrational fear of God is a specific phobia that can cause a great deal of distress to the sufferer and his loved ones.
Fear of The Lord phobia is known by several names: fear of God, Fear of religion, Theophobia etc are a few of these. The word Theophobia originates from Greek words “Theology and Phobos”; former meaning God/religion and latter meaning extreme fear or dread.
This is an anxiety condition that can greatly impact the quality of life of the sufferer: lost opportunities, poor grades or performance at work, lack of promotions, degrading health can all result from this phobia. Contrary to popular belief, there is no link between Atheism and Theophobia: Atheism is the disbelief in God, whereas a theophobic actually believes (or even loves) God to an extent that he fears Him deeply.
A phobia related to Theophobia is Atheophobia. This is the fear of not having God in one’s life. It is not as extreme as Theophobia but is quite common among believers of God. Such people feel that they must always be ‘connected’ to the Lord: visiting a Church (or other place of worship) daily, constantly thinking or talking of God etc are a few ways in which they try to achieve this.
Causes of fear of God phobia
Phobias are the mind’s way of protecting itself.
As is the case with most phobias; fear of The Lord phobia also originates in the unconscious mind: it links emotions experienced under certain situations. A real-life childhood experience: bad grades, death of a loved one following a bad conduct might be linked to “God’s wrath or bad karma”. Mild cases of childhood theophobia generally go away by the age of six. However, some persist well into adulthood.
Other catalysts for Theophobia include movies, stories, news reports which show examples of similar situations.
Symptoms of Theophobia
Theophobics are known to experience panic or anxiety attacks at the thought of visiting a Church/religious place of worship, or when faced with ethical or moral dilemmas
Symptoms of Fear of God or religion phobia are more or less similar to those of other phobias. They manifest themselves in two ways: in some individuals, the symptoms may be present all the time; in others they may require a direct stimulus to be seen. (Direct stimulus includes sitting in a place of worship or facing a moral or ethical question etc).
Both, physical and psychological symptoms might be experienced by the phobic: shortness of breath, a full blown panic attack, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, gastrointestinal distress, thoughts of death, feeling like running away, etc are some of them.
Overcoming the fear of the Lord phobia
Since Theophobia is usually deep rooted, the recovery is also progressive. Phobics and their loved ones must realize that the process may take a few days, weeks or even months for complete resolution.
- The key to overcoming the fear of God or religion is early intervention and diagnosis. The phobic must be exposed to his phobia on a regular basis; going to places of worship, experiencing situations that call for moral and ethical choices etc are a few ways of achieving this.
- Drugs should not be used for treating the fear of the Lord phobia, as they only offer temporary cure and superficially mask the symptoms. They can also be habit forming or give rise to withdrawal symptoms.
- Neuro Linguistic programming and Hypnotherapy are two highly effective means of treating and overcoming Theophobia. Both these therapies get to the root of one’s fear and help the individual drive out the fear of God from his mind.
If you or a loved one is suffering from the fear of The Lord phobia; you are not alone. Countless individuals are known to suffer from it. But there is help available in the form of aforementioned therapies using which you can regain your confidence, understand reality and permanently drive out the fear of God from your mind.