OCD and Christianity

Sometimes Christians with OCD are confused as to whether they should view their disorder as a clinical or a spiritual problem. On the one hand, OCD is undeniably a biochemical, physiological, dysregulation of the fear-system of the brain. On the other, it is an attack from an enemy who bombards us with thoughts we don’t want to have. In this regard, Christians in the past typically have viewed obsessional thoughts as arrows from Satan. Both of these explanations are true. They are simply different perspectives on the same problem. The question is which one best allows a person to grow in faith.

Sometimes it does work well to look on OCD as a battle with our spiritual enemy. The benefit of this view is that it provides motivation to stand up to our fears. We stay on the spiritual battlefield and take Satan’s blows, while leaving the actual fighting to Jesus. That way we learn we can completely rely on Him. For other people, however, introducing Satan into the equation seems to create more problems than it solves. It touches off long standing anxieties, and even triggers new obsessions. For them, it is best to focus on the clinical cause of the disorder. This understanding (thanks be to God for revealing it!) gives us extra courage to put our trust in God; because we know that from a clinical perspective, at least, our fears are irrational.

What is critical is understanding God’s purpose in allowing us to suffer OCD. He uses it as a training ground for learning to trust in Him. When we take the risk of not responding to our obsessional fears and putting our hope in Him, He gives us the gift of faith. He gives it when he deems we are ready for it, and not before. It is tough training. Yet, God promises he will provide us with strength, and not allow us to be tried beyond what we can bear. He is there beside us, carrying us when we need it.

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