Toxic Fear In Relationships

Facing The Fears That Ruin Relationships

Pastor Terry Porter

Relationships in marriage, family or on the job can always be tricky and complicated.  The fact of the matter is, we all have a free-will – that is, we all have our own opinions, struggles, stories and stressers that we bring into the everyday aspect of a relationship (any relationship).  One of the biggest sources of stress in our relationships comes from our own fears that we carry with us.  This past week I presented a message to the church about the 3 types of fears that ruin our relationships in life.  These are nothing new; in fact, they all started way back in the Garden of Eden.  Let’s take a look at these fears and what we can do to strengthen our relationships (play the audio clip below and follow along with the outline).


Toxic Fear in relationships can lead you to becoming a perfectionist. Relationship fear will lead to hype-control in other areas of your life.

Genesis 3:1-19 (NASB)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'”
4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 16To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

17Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

FEAR 1: Fear of Exposure Makes Me Distant

Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV)
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

God is asking 2 questions that He already knows the answer to:

Where are you?  Why are you hiding?

Who told you you were naked? 

Adam is living in Fear and it brings him through 3 phases:

  • Phase 1 – Shame: 

Genesis 3:7 (NLT)
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness…

  • Phase 2 – Cover Up

Genesis 3:7 (NLT)
…So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

  • Humor – this is the person who can never be serious
  • Clothing – if I look just right they won’t see the real me
  • Stuff – the right accessories, car, house, lawn… If I look like I got my life together then people won’t get too close and see the real me…
  • Facebook and other Social Media – present a fake view of ourselves.

It’s all a cover-up to keep people at an arm’s length of knowing the real us!

  •  Phase 3 – Distance From God

Genesis 3:8 (NLT)
…So they hid from the LORD God among the trees.

FEAR 2: Fear of Disapproval Makes Me Defensive

Genesis 3:12-13 (NIV)
The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

We’re not just hiding now; we’re Hurling!

We’re not just Excusing we are Accusing!

When a person starts to fear Disapproval they become critical…

  • More critical
  • More perfectionistic
  • More attacking of someone else (don’t look at me, look at them)
  • More putting others down

All signs of a person who fears disapproval!

FEAR 3: Fear of Losing Control Make Me Demanding

The result of Sin meant that Adam & Eve lost control:

  • Lost control of Everything
  • Lost control of Future
  • Lost control of destiny
  • Lost control of the garden


When you start to lose control (Don’t get your way) you become more controlling!

I Do it (we do it)…

  • Clean the Dirt
  • Perfect Lawn
  • Everything in it’s place
  • Bossing people around
  • Defensive, Demanding, Demeaning, then Dominating.


This is really a security issue (secure in who you are)

  • A secure person will let things go
  • An insecure person needs their way all the time
  • An insecure person will become manipulating to their way
  • When an insecure person loses control become controlling


Genesis 3:16 (NIV)
To the woman He said… “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

This is where the misunderstandings in relationships started.

This is where the confusion in relationships started.

This is where the battle for control in relationships started.


When you’re in a relationship that is:

  • Controlling
  • Confusing
  • And misunderstood

It’s no fun!

The Antidote For Fear: LOVE

1 John 4:18 (NASB)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The opposite of fear is not faith; it’s Love.

When we ask God’s love to come into our heart, fear goes out…

Do we really know God’s Love… God is love!

Learning To LIVE In God’s Love:

EVERYDAY Surrender My Heart To God

Psalm 88:9 (NASB)
My eye has wasted away because of affliction; I have called upon You every day, O LORD; I have spread out my hands to You.

EVERYDAY Remember The Way God Loves Me

  • I’m Completely Accepted

Titus 3:4-7 (NASB)
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

  • I’m Unconditionally Loved
  • I’m Totally Forgiven
  • I’m Considered Extremely Valuable

EVERYDAY Offer The Same Love To Others

John 13:34 (NASB)
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Think of your relationships when you Love Like God:

  • Accept others
  • Unconditionally love them
  • Forgive them
  • Value them – serve them!

One Last Thought…

Real Love does four things: Love Extends GRACE; Expresses  FAITH; Expects the BEST and Endures the WORST.



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