OCD and Christianity

I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John16:33)

For the Christian, OCD can be viewed as spiritual warfare. It is the enemy pressing tormenting fears upon us. We can’t prevent the fiery darts; only God can take care of that. What we can do is simply this: We can stay on the battlefield, fortifying our courage with the knowledge that the outcome has already been determined. In his commentary on this verse, Luther paraphrases the words of Jesus:

I am giving you clear information in advance that you will surely experience anxiety and distress. You must be resigned to this, and you should be prepared for it, in order that you may not lose courage and your comfort. But be of good cheer and unafraid, for I tell you that the battle is already won…This is the sum and substance of everything I have said. Its one object is to give you peace and consolation in Me when strife and anxiety must be your lot in the world.

If we keep on running away from the battlefield by using compulsions, we will keep on being attacked by obsessional fears. We will never find lasting peace. The idea here is that we must endure the fearful thoughts called obsessions in order to receive the gift of faith. Luther’s seems to be speaking directly to OCD sufferers when he notes in his commentary,

The devil will be at your heels and will plague and torment your hearts. And this will be as hard to bear, yes, much harder to bear, than if the swords and weapons of the whole world were directed against you, as those who have experienced this surely know….Christ would like to inspire us with such courage and teach us to rely and count on Him; for He surely considers and sees that we are very weak, and that when we take stock of ourselves, we are too greatly frightened and terrified.


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