I’ve never understood the psychology behind Halloween. Each year when this “holiday” rolls around I ask the same questions. “What is it that we find so entertaining about fear? Why is horror a form of entertainment?” Truth is, I don’t like being scared and I suspect many don’t. Trauma is just not my thing so why would I intentionally pursue it? Yet there’s a rather large industry and entertainment genre dedicated to making people afraid. Apparently, the greater the shock-value, the more intense the terror, the more we are entertained.
Odd. Truly odd.
Why do we find this genre worthy of our minds and hearts? What is it about humanity that attracts us to fear? Should believers participate in this form of entertainment? Or instead (and ironically), should disciples of Christ fear fear?
Scripture has lots to say about fear; some good and some not so good. For instance Adam and Eve’s first response after sinning in the Garden was to hide from God because they were afraid of being exposed (Genesis 3:8-13). “An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone” of Jesus’ tomb shocking the guards to “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:3). And, because of Jesus’s popularity, political fear subdued many religious leaders (John 12:42-43; Matthew 21:26; Mark 11:18,32; 12:12).
On the other hand, Abraham feared God and obeyed by offering up his son Isaac (Genesis 22:12). Noah, out of “holy fear” built the ark that carried him to safety (Hebrews 11:7). Nehemiah governed righteously “because of the fear of God” (Nehemiah 5:15, ESV). When the women had discovered Jesus had risen from the dead they “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy” to announce the news (Matthew 28:8). Fearing our intellectual limitations is the beginning of true knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). And God sometimes humbles us with fear of our circumstances so we do not boast in our own abilities to overcome (Judges 7:2-3).
No matter our plight in life, because God is ever present we can say with confidence “I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4). Courage before God displaces fear of God when we’ve experienced the saving love of God (1 John 4:17-18).
Seems to me that fear, as a form of entertainment, is questionable as to any value add. Fear, as a means of recognizing our limitations, can point us upward to God and teach us a great deal about ourselves.