OCD and Christianity

Suppose you have a thought that is heart-stopping blasphemous, maybe an image of yourself stabbing a loved one, an urge to desecrate a picture of Jesus, or an idea that you are a sexual pedophile. Shocks of anxiety surge through your whole body. You try to shove it out of your mind, but you can’t. You must do something to deal with it right now.

In your better moments you know, because your therapist has told you so, that you suffer from classic obsessional thoughts. They issue not from you, but rather from OCD. They are meaningless and hollow, and kept in your mind only by the fear that they cause and the compulsions you do to get rid of them. You know that you should “ignore” the thoughts and stop the rituals. You try your best, and this helps some…but they keep on coming. What’s the next step?

For the Christian, it is to move on to the therapy of trust. It is to leave in God’s hands the occurrence of the obsessional thought as well as its accompanying anxiety. If God wants to allow the painful thought to occur; well, that’s up to him. If he wants to allow it to get better or worse, that’s up to him. If he wants to allow you to live in severe anxiety all day all day long, that’s up to him. We leave the occurrence of all of it to God.

But why, you ask, would God want that? “What I want,” you say, “is to get rid of these awful obsessions, and to stop feeling anxious!” But that’s the point. Maybe God wants you to give up what you want, and to consent to what he wants. Maybe he wants you to simply accept this trial, and to put your trust in him. Isn’t it clear that God tests us for our own good? To bear obsessional thoughts without fighting, to willingly endure painful anxiety, to hold on just to his grace: This is the weakness through which we become stronger (2Cor 7). Perhaps you are too self centered right now, feeling that you must be in control of everything.

We must be willing to let God mold us into better people. In the therapy of trust, we do nothing to curtail an obsessional thought when it occurs. We do not attempt to put the terrible thought out of mind. We also do not perform compulsive acts to correct it. We accept the presence painful anxiety, uncertainty and guilt; and we move on to doing what is important in our lives. Our attitude is simply: “If this is what you want, Lord, then bring it on. Your grace is enough or me.”

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23 Response Comments

  • Nick   at

    I have not yet employed this absolute trust in God. I intend daily to surrender my will to God’s Will, but your writing here inspires me to surrender deeper and deeper. I think this is why I continue to suffer, because on a deep level, I am still holding on to my own will about OCD.

    For the Christian, it is to move on to the therapy of trust. It is to leave in God’s hands the occurrence of the obsessional thought as well as its accompanying anxiety. If God wants to allow the painful thought to occur; well, that’s up to him. If he wants to allow it to get better or worse, that’s up to him. If he wants to allow you to live in severe anxiety all day all day long, that’s up to him. We leave the occurrence of all of it to God.

    This is a much deeper level of trust that I would like to develop.

    • admin   at

      Thanks for the comments, Nick. When OCD strikes, of course, all this will become fuzzy. Doubts will fly. That is part of the suffering that will bring you closer to God. In that situation, we’ve got to just hope for grace, and wait for it, and willingly suffer on our cross of fear and doubt.

      • Nick   at

        Wow, the timing of reading your comment comes at the perfect moment. I really needed this.

        Yesterday I was triggered and an obsession took hold, and desire for reassurance and other compulsions.

        I chose to trust. However, it was as you said – fuzzy! I felt like I might be failing because of the fuzziness and lack of perfect surrender, and strong urges to seek reassurance from others.

        Of course, this was only OCD pride speaking, perfectionism.

        Your comment here guides me in that process when the doubts and fuzziness are present.

    • Rita   at

      It’s not the LORD’S will to be anxious. He commands us to give our anxieties to Him, so
      to say it may be His will to be anxious is contrary to Scripture

      • Joshua garman   at

        You’re right, and no guilt either if the thoughts are not your thoughts.

        • Joshua garman   at

          Or if you confess and are forgiven there is no condemnation!!! Roman’s 8:1

  • Ben Delp   at

    Powerful! Printed this out and am practicing this with everything that I am. I also love this approch because it honors God and if this is the way to honor Him- so be it! That’s all us OCD’rs want anyway- to trust and to love the Lord.

  • David   at

    This is a great post, i just hope i can do this and over come these Horrible thought’s. I Trust you Jesus, give me strength.

  • Nathanael   at

    I have issue applying this because if my blasphemous thoughts are real, and sinful, then simply going about my day ignoring them and not curtailing the thought seems against scripture, and everything I’ve been taught as a Christian, and sense with my conscience. The blashemous thoughts I have are tied to visceral emotion and myself, not just white noise. If my will and my heart are involved, how do I move on? I try to say I trust in the blood of Christ but it just feels like a cop out as I go do fun things.

    • G   at

      Hi nathan, the same thing for me. Sometimes when I am angry i get the thoughts and then I have a hard time believing its just ocd. So i have a hard time ignoring it

    • Emma   at

      I understand that. The questions of “what if I did sin this time? What if God can’t forgive me? I HAVE to shower because I had a bad thought and moved my elbow at the same time my brain tried to approve of the bad thought. If I don’t shower I’m committing a horrific sin that God cannot forgive…The important thing is remember that it’s not just you struggling with this and that because it’s so common with OCD sufferers most of the time it’s very likely OCD

  • Karyn neal   at

    Do you suffer all day long and end up with insomnia. I’m so tired of the vile thoughts about father holy spirit now I’ll just let them pass

    • André   at

      I’ve had many sleepless nights too. I think insomnia it’s chastisement from the LORD but sometimes we can’t really control what comes to our minds

  • Tania   at

    I have a hard time trusting in Christ because I feel numb when I sin. I only have a mental want to be with God and want forgiveness but because I have numbness, I feel I have been given over. I struggle with unwanted thoughts commiting blasphemy.

    • God doesn’t even want the wicked to perish don’t give up! Jesus is Lord

  • ann   at

    How can you let your thoughts flow when there’s an urge/like a feeling you want to commit the sin and agree with the thoughts? This is my fear all day and night. I’m at loss as to what to do. I have to constantly make sure my mind is blank. Don’t know how much longer I can do this……

    • admin   at

      We need to recognize when we are being tested. That’s when we call it OCD.The urge/feeling that you talk about is undoubtedly an obsession. We need to identify it as such, and treat it differently then a normalconcern. We treat it differently by trying to stay in the uncertainty and fear that it generates, while waiting and hoping for God to give us peace.

      • April   at

        I think what everyone here is trying to convey is this- how can we determine if they are really coming from us or ocd? Surely out of 100 thoughts some come from us. If that’s the case how do we know which ones to ask forgiveness for and pay attention to versus the ocd thoughts? If we don’t ask for forgiveness for the ones that belong to us then we’re singing right? It’s so hard to differentiate if they’re coming from you or OCD because sometimes it feels like you do agree with them and you’re purposely thinking them. I think this is where it gets really tricky for OCD people

    • Becka   at

      I feel exactly the same, I know I don’t agree with my thoughts and love God very much, but it feels like I have an urge to say bad things which then makes it not feel intrusive as I’ve had the urge. I find it hard to know if this is really ocd although it’s been going on for over three months everyday, I am in constant fear everyday if I have committed the unforgivable sin

      • Emma   at

        Becka, that was me four years ago. Actually, the day you posted the comment I consider the day that I truly felt lost with it and the start of a long journey with anxiety about the unpardonable sin. It took a ton of prayer, therapy, medicine, and time (plus God). I still struggle but the thoughts are less severe now and easier to dismiss. I talked to practically everybody I knew to talk to about it and no one that I trust thought I could commit the unforgivable sin. If you think of the context, it was a heart issue not a slip of the tongue. If your heart is turned towards God and continually tries to follow Jesus and trusts in Jesus and the cross for your salvation then it really seems like Christians are okay. However it’s soooo hard to believe this sometimes! I still struggle

      • David   at

        I want you to read this article:

        How Can Salvation by Grace Involve Free Will? – Greg Boyd – ReKnew

        It explains how salvation works. Did you know there is a verse that says you can’t even call Jesus Lord without the Holy Spirit?
        You have to trust that Jesus has saved you, despite whatever pops in your head.
        None of us could or would come to Jesus through faith and repentance except for the Holy Spirit. We are sinful and wicked. Faith and repentance are a gift from God for everyone, but some people refuse and resist the Holy Spirit. This is the unforgivable sin, to resist the Holy Spirit to the point that God abandons you to disbelief. I know you believe, and it’s only because of God that you are able to believe in the first place.
        The unforgivable sin is resisting the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin and leading you to repentance.
        We cannot repent and believe in God unless He gives us the faith needed.
        You believe, I know that you do. You wouldn’t be so concerned with all of this if you didn’t believe. When I was an atheist, I didn’t care about pleasing God at all. I didn’t even believe He existed. I even said blasphemous things about the Holy Spirit trying to commit the unforgivable sin to prove that I didn’t believe in God. Now I have repented and turned to God and trust Jesus as my Savior. I didn’t turn to God and believe and repent on my own, God came to me, the Holy Spirit convicted me and I believe now. As soon as I believed, all types of ugly blasphemous and evil thoughts came into my mind. This is demonic spirits trying to scare and aggrevate you, they want you to stop believing there is any hope and stop believing in God. The fact that they are attacking you and it bothers you proves God is working in your life, but you have to trust Jesus through the doubts and fears and ugly, evil thoughts. The Bible says in several places that if you believe and trust in Jesus, you are saved. It doesn’t matter what you said, thought, or did in the past. His blood on the cross covers you completely, but you have to have faith. That means believe and trust Him, even when the storms come to your mind and life.
        You have to have faith (trust) that you belong to God because you believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for your sins and rose from the dead. He understands what is going on in your mind, so trust Him through the ugly thoughts and they will calm down. Resist the devil, and he will flee. This is a learning experience for us, to draw us closer to God is we choose to trust Him.

  • Honey Coleman   at

    I have had these thoughts for a few years, my family say ignore them but I find it hard to ignore, when they are blasphemous. God comforts me but I know that I have got to make that change, I’m not to sure how God bless everyone I really hope that you all get the help you need xxAmen

  • Sandy Larios   at

    I’m no therapist by all means although I wish I were. Seeing as though there’s so many of us that suffer with blasphemous or intrusive thoughts makes me want to go to school and take psychology courses and study the mind and how I can help people who struggle with mental illness and anxiety, depression, you name it. Although it may take a lot out of me but it may help me as well as understanding people and how I can ask God to give me the wisdom and sensitivity to give them hope and encouragement through Him. If only I could afford to go to college or maybe just take online classes especially during this pandemic cause I don’t think it’s safe for me to be out and about when people are still getting sick from Covid-19 without putting on their masks. 😫😞 but either way, we just let ourselves give up on our fight against ocd and COVID-19 but that we have to keep believing in Christ that it’ll all end for us soon, whether we live or die but as long as we know who we are and where we’re going in the end. This world is never meant for us so we shouldn’t hold on to it or the things of it for we need to look above instead. It’s hard to focus on the things of God and heaven believe me, I know but we must! We can not afford to get comfortable with our lives anymore for Jesus Christ is coming soon! We must do everything we can to fight until our last breath! God be with us all. ❤️ I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Philippians 4:13