OCD and Christianity

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7 KJV). These words can strike terror in OCDers. For many of us, if we are the thoughts that go through our minds, we are in deep trouble. Actually, if read in context, it is clear that Proverbs is not making a general statement equating our identity with our thoughts; rather, it is commenting on a particular deceitful man who appears generous but is really very selfish. But that doesn’t matter to an OCDer! Because the words “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” just might refer to herself.

I work with a lot of people who get caught up with certain Bible verses. They ring over and over in their minds as stinging accusations. Typically, people try to counter them by disputing them. This doesn’t work, of course, because in OCD the more we respond to tormenting obsessions, the stronger and more believable they become.

How should a Christian deal with Bible verses that trigger obsessional fears, such as this one from Proverbs? Here’s one suggestion. First of all, be clear that, at the very least, the verse might not mean what you think. You probably already know that in your head, because people have told you or you have looked it up. But get it in your heart: What you really are is uncertain. Secondly, realize that this tormenting uncertainty is a trial specifically arranged by God for you. Its role is to further your growth in faith. Faith, you may recall, is “the conviction of things unseen” (Heb 11:1). If it was written in the Bible, “By the way, don’t take this verse personally,” then you wouldn’t need faith!

God allows us to be attacked by uncertainty so that we will grow in our trust of him. Our part is to take the risk of remaining in uncertainty until faith is revealed.

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