OCD and Christianity

Our clinical understanding of OCD is a great development. Not long ago, a student told me about the moment when she first learned she had the disorder. She had struggled mightily with obsessions and compulsions throughout her childhood and adolescence—thoughts of harm and blasphemy tormented her almost constantly.

I grew up living insane. No one would believe what it was like. When I learned I had OCD, it changed everything. I had a medical problem! I wasn’t crazy or condemned to hell.  That was…the best day of my life.

Other people have made similar comments. It’s a revolutionary development when you realize that you suffer from a disorder of the fear system of the brain that makes you worry incessantly about concerns that are not worth worrying about.

Christians should fully embrace the medical view of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Jesus himself recognized various diseases and proceeded to heal them, sometimes employing physical treatments (Matt 9:35; John 9:6-7). The evidence that OCD is a biochemical brain-disorder is now overwhelming, as is the evidence that it can be effectively treated by medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Yet, of course, OCD is also a spiritual disorder. It is a specific and important part of God’s plan for our salvation. It is exactly what we need when we get it. And clinical treatment is also exactly what we need when we receive it. We also must strive to recognize God’s presence in all of this, and through it grow in faith.

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4 Response Comments

  • Mark   at

    Dr. O,
    About two years ago is when I learned of my spiritual ocd and I’ve finally been able to work at it with some real hope for the future. Just recently, I had a primary doctor visit. I haven’t had him for very long, but long enough to develop a good relationship with, as He’s a man of God and I trust him. During my last visit, I began to describe what I’ve been going through and the fear and worry involved especially in my salvation. He was very quick to shut down the idea of ocd and say it’s a battle that every Christian goes through. And the more I tried to explain it the more he wouldn’t budge from his stance…It’s frustrating because it seems for me like I have no idea what’s going on apparently. He wouldn’t hear what I had to say outside what he believed and spent the majority of my visit trying to encourage me, while I basically just shut down. It makes me feel like I’m back at square one. Any thoughts?

    • admin   at

      He’s sincere, but missing the mark here. I think you just have to look on it like that. Perhaps visiting a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis of OCD for you and give a treatment recommendation would be a good idea.

  • Jonathan   at

    OCD is definitely a medical condition. I was put on Luvox and found obsessions and compulsions dropped off significantly. As Dr. O has mentioned there is a spiritual aspect to the disease and using CBT, and inspirational spiritual guidance from a good therapist/counselor provides a great tool kit to combat this medical condition on many fronts. This website alone is truly encouraging to those of us who suffer from OCD. You are not alone and there is help out there. Peace!

  • Donna   at

    Dr. O,
    I was glad to read this blog on the medical view of OCD. I have made changes in my diet and begun to exercise to help my body naturally increase my serotonin levels. The changes in my diet and exercising have helped me a great deal.

    The brain is an organ that is just as affected by the things we eat and how we treat our bodies as any other organ. But, because the brain is where our thinking occurs, when it becomes ill because of a chemical imbalance, it can so greatly effect our spiritual life.

    However, God is so good! There are ways to correct the chemical imbalance and all the while learn to put our trust in God during those terrible intrusive thoughts.

    Be hopeful!