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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4 Response Comments

  • Carolyn   at

    Thank you Dr O. That makes so much sense and such a helpful reminder to trust Jesus and that He is right beside us. Thank you x

  • Shawn   at

    Concerning what Dr.O said I am reminded of this piece of scripture
    2nd Corinthians 12
    And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to [a]buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.
    I believe the OCD thoughts are from the messenger of Satan (metaphorically or literally I can’t say) and should be treated as such and ignored. Mere hiccups of our faulty sinful minds. God allows us to experience this pain to grow in our dependence on Christ. At least that’s how I view it.

  • Cara   at

    Yes. I so agree. I feel Satan throws these unwanted thoughts at us and wants us to feel so bad for thinking them, condemned by them, thinking they are our own thoughts, from our hearts. But they are not. As Romans 8: 1 says “ There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh , but according to the Spirit”
    This condemnation is not from Him but the Enemy. He loves us and wants us to trust in His love for us, therefore allowing these ocd thoughts into our minds. So thankful He gives us this truth in His word. ❤️

  • Jared   at

    Good post! I’ve often heard it said that God won’t gives us more burdens than we can handle. That’s not really so, as often He does do so, so we learn to depend on Him and see we simply in fact cannot do it ourselves. But, as this article does truly mention, based on 1 Corth 10:13, God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, but will make a way of escape. Paul was telling the Corinthian Christians that their experience is not unique. Just as the Israelites were tempted, so too the Corinthians will be (and were being) tempted. In fact, we’ll all be tempted. Jesus himself experienced temptation. This passage is not about God declining to give you more burdens in life than you can handle. It is about God helping you when you are tempted…Temptation is indeed a test of our resolve, character, and choice of faith. And that is what Paul is talking about here—not about adversity and the difficult circumstances that come into every life at some point. Our ocd trials and testings give us the opportunity to learn to willfully choose to trust God when everything seems 180 degrees opposite, even to the point we worry/feel we maybe don’t “truly” believe. Christ paid our sin debt in full, so we can choose to walk on daily in that truth, past the what if’s and feelings of uncertainty. That’s choosing faith and looking to God saying, I’m choosing to believe/rest in you and your truth, help my unbelief.