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Scrupulosity, pride, and how humility helps

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"Sad alumni of the Church"

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.


The only place you can run from God

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…

He has you covered

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…

Scrupulosity: A Sonnet

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.

Scrupulosity

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…

It's not just OCD. It's human nature

Martin Luther's opponents accused him of taking the easy way out when he proclaimed the message of Jesus and Paul that we are saved by grace through faith.  But faith, as Luther never tired of pointing out, is never easy. It's believing what one cannot see while rejecting what appears to be obvious. It's holding on by letting go. It's exactly what Hebrews 11: 1 calls it: "the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Moreover, it's trusting God for something our fallen human natures really don't want: a righteousness that comes from outside of ourselves, that we have done nothing to deserve, which we are powerless to obtain by anything we do, and which has as one if its most essential prerequisites a recognition of one's own unworthiness and helplessness.

It's not just people with OCD who have trouble with faith. It's all of us sinners. We all want, in Bonhoeffer's phrase, to "stand before God and say, '…

Get over yourself!

The Babylon Bee is a Christian satire site sort of similar to The Onion. Except, you know,  Christian. And this particular bit of satire is just what the OCD doctor ordered for scrupulous Christians.

Martin Luther and Thomas More may have agreed about very little else, but they did agree that the most effective thing you can do when the devil vexes you is to laugh at him. Pride is his Achilles heel, and being laughed at is something he simply cannot stand.

The same thing applies to religious OCD. It may not be what we want to hear, but sometimes the best thing we can hear while in the throes of scrupulosity is "Get over yourself!" The amount of absolutely ridiculous pride involved in thinking that one is the Greatest Sinner of All Time, the one sinner whose sin is so great that even the blood of Jesus can't wash my guilt away and even the love of God can't save is actually kind of funny. When we can see it that way, we also see how silly are obsessions can be.

Someti…