C.S. Lewis wrote something which I think goes right to the core of religious obsessions: "Humility is not thinking less of oneself. It's about thinking of oneself less."
That is Law, and as always is the case with Law, it functions for our good only when, as Paul put it, we "use it lawfully." It can do damage if we misuse it.
Being obsessed with the self is pride. OCD will seek occasion to make us feel guilty about obsessing because it means thinking about ourselves. It will lose track of the fact that we obsess because of a neurological condition which can have spiritual ramifications, not a spiritual condition as such. And of course, it will lose all sight of the fact that the whole problem is that a person who is paying attention to how he or she is doing spiritually is fixated on himself (or herself) and isn't looking outward, to Jesus, Who is the only righteousness we have or ever will have, and to our neighbor.
I wish I'd heard this talk by Dr. Ron Rosenbladt before I went looking for answers for some of the very experiences he describes in places where answers weren't to be found. But if you have a problem with scrupulosity, I have a hunch that Dr. Rosenbladt has something to say to you, too.
In fact, I think you'll probably wonder how he knows your life story.
Hopefully you aren't an "alumnus" of the Church; after all, you're reading this. But even if you are- especially if you are- this is meant for you.
And if you are still within the Church, I have a hunch that this is still your story. And Dr. Rosenbladt has the only answer.
Obsessions are not unbelief. They're a symptom of a medical condition. That said, existential trust (aka "faith") is finally the only answer to religious obsessions.
I'm going to try not to get too technical or too theologically partisan here, but I just got done on Facebook with an exchange with a Calvinist who couldn't understand how, since Luther also believed in predestination, he didn't teach that God predestines people to hell. I explained that basic to Luther's theology is the understanding that God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor God's ways our ways. Figuring God out even on the basis of Scripture just isn't possible. We know about Him only what He tells us. He's told us about predestination. He's also told us that He isn't willing that any should perish.
It's not for us to figure out how both things can be true. It's for us to believe Him.
But how? Luther's position was that you shouldn't try to under…
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. --Titus 3:4-7, ESV
The shrinks call it "rumination." Or sometimes "perseverating." It's the habit OCDers (and others) have of "chewing on" things- going over and over them, examining them from all sides, assessing and re-assessing them.
Thinking is a good thing. But we can overdo it. People with OCD often overdo it. That's where the "obsessive" in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes in. To "obsess" is to become preoccupied with something, to be so concerned with it that it not only crowds out other things we need to be thinking about but domina…
This is a sonnet by a Scrupe Group member who has given permission for it to be shared here. It's his hope, and mine, that it will speak to you and perhaps for you as you strive to deal with this cross that we in the Group bear.
I’d fret about the rules I shouldn’t break
and made up new ones that I thought were good
and gave myself an existential ache
with fear that I would not do what I should.
I’d fret about my every thought and feeling
that didn’t match what I considered pure
and tried to crush the ones that weren’t appealing,
and it seemed that I would be damned for sure.
But while I couldn’t face that I was flawed
and that my thoughts were full of rot and death,
I focused on myself instead of God
and faith He’d pull me from my hellish depth.
My sin appeared so mighty and immense,
but it’s not God, with Love’s omnipotence.
"On my blog, the sonnet includes a photo I took that I think captures something of the feeling of the way this experience blocks our sense…