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Faith, Fear, & Scary Movies

Christian halloween lds

What does faith have to do with scary movies? A few years ago, I took a “Media, Family, & Human Development” class at BYU.  One of the topics discussed in class was fear in the media. Though in class we didn’t go into much depth about it in a gospel sense, it really got me thinking about how much it ties into faith.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;

but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

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I love this scripture. Here, Paul reminds us that the spirit of fear is not of God. But in today’s society, it seems that seeking after this “spirit of fear” has sort of become an object of recreation. Why do we seek after it? We go to scary movies for the creepy thrill it gives us. [Some types of] Halloween festivities and haunted houses may offer the same type of excitement. Though it seems like harmless fun, I think the fact that faith and fear cannot coexist is an idea worth considering.

Faith and Fear Cannot Coexist

Kevin W. Pearson  said, “Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other.” Faith is the absence of fear.  You can’t have faith with fear, and you can’t have fear when faith is present. One will crowd out the other.

Movies acknowledging the Plan of Salvation

I remember having a conversation with my sister one time where something she said struck me. She mentioned how she doesn’t really enjoy movies where she can’t see how the Plan of Salvation fits in the plot. That really made me think. Perhaps some movies (because their overarching theme) crowd out that vision of Heavenly Father’s plan for us. For instance, you wouldn’t expect the main character in a horror film to kneel down in the midst of a crisis and pray to the Lord for protection.  God’s power is absent from the picture. Why? Because resorting to faith would take away that “exciting” unsettling feeling of fear that those types of movies are intended to create in our hearts. Adding God to the picture would fill our hearts with the faith that God is in control of our lives, thus strengthening our faith and crowding out all fear.

Every choice affects our faith

The For Strength of Youth pamphlet affirms, “Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you.” Moment to moment,  every choice we make is either contributing to building our faith or weakening it. So does this mean that seeking after entertainment/recreation that encourages basking in the “spirit of fear” could, little by little, fill us with more fear and crowd out our overall faith? Perhaps. These things may carry with them an element of excitement, but is it really worth the potential demise of our faith?

“Fear and faith cannot coexist in our hearts at the same time.”

Neil A. Anderson

I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed scary movies and haunted houses at times. I can definitely see how we often find these things thrilling. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but thinking about it in this light has made me want to be more wary of the idea of intentionally doing things that fill me with the spirit of fear. It seems to me that when fear is present, the Holy Ghost cannot be present – simply because His spirit only dwells where faith dwells, and faith cannot fill our hearts when a spirit of fear prevails. Just something I’ve been thinking about.

cannot coexist lds

What do you think? Do you have any of your own insights to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

2 comments

  1. kaye absin

    Before i went on my mission, I made a committment to seek only for lovely, virtuous and positive movies. I was a fan of horror and sadistic asian movies way back then but I realized that the Spirit will not dwell in me if my mind is filled with fear and violence.

    Nice article :)

    1. Rebecca

      Yeah I definitely agree, it’s hard to feel the spirit in that kind of an environment. Thanks for your comment! :)

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