medical or spiritual?

Discovered a website this weekend that is very disturbing to me as a Christian obsessive-compulsive.

At GreatBibleStudy.com, you can read quotes like the following:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is not a mental disorder or disease… it is a spiritually rooted bondage in the person’s mind that needs to be uprooted.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is basically demonic torment brought on by a person’s bondages to fear and shame.

These ‘voices’ or compulsive thoughts are NOT caused because of a chemical imbalance (which the secular world cannot explain anyways); they are there because of a spiritual bondage in the person’s life.

Now, don’t get me wrong!  I believe that obsessive-compulsive disorder has entered into this world due to SIN, yes, but to negate that OCD is caused by a chemical imbalance seems ridiculous to me.  As a Christian, I view ALL of life through a spiritual lens, but these quotes seem like the equivalent of saying, “Diabetes is not a problem with the pancreas– it’s a spiritual issue!!!”  To say that diabetes is not connected to the pancreas’s inability to produce insuliin would be silly, just as saying that OCD is not connected to a chemical inbalance (our bodies absorb serotonin too quickly … that’s why we take SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors … they SLOW DOWN the reuptake/reabsorbtion of serotonin]).


All issues are spiritual issues, but that does not mean that they are NOT also medical issues.  God is also the Author of Science and the Creator of our bodies.  To not combine the spiritual with the scientific is short-sighted, I believe.

What are your thoughts on these quotes?  I’d especially love to hear from obsessive-compulsive believers!

8 thoughts on “medical or spiritual?

  1. “All issues are spiritual issues…” As strikingly dumb as the statement on that website is, I think it’s easy to err on the other side and simplify things as being *just* medical/physical issues when there is also a spiritual component that needs to be addressed.

    Thank you for including this statement in your post.

  2. Those quotes raised my blood pressure.
    Why do people want to insist that illnesses such as OCD are not medical? What is accomplished by denying their medical basis? I just don’t understand it. Why is it that mental illnesses are attacked? (yes, I feel attacked).

    People who believe what’s on that website really do a number on people with OCD who have religious scrupulosity issues.

    I am a believer with OCD. I believe that God created science and medical knowledge to HELP people. They are tools that God gave us to help people who are suffering.

  3. Completely 100% agree with you and the other posters so far! AMEN! I am a Christian who as well suffers from OCD and in the beginning the mentality of getting over OCD from people who believe it is solely a sin issue did me a huge disservice. OCD and Tourette Syndrome run in my family which, for me, further links the idea of a brain abnormality such as a chemical imbalance. Medication also worked very well for me.

    Bad comes from sin but that does not discount very real medical issues in our fallen world. We need to turn to God and he needs to lead us through this which I often believe he does via the use of medication, support from his people and cognitive behavioral therapy. Articles like this frustrate me as well and hurt many people from recovering faster or recovering at all. Like Tina said, people with scrupulosity in particular really suffer from this misinformation.

    I believe Christians as a whole are still behind on wanting to accept a medical basis for mental illness. Hopefully our stories and testimonies will help change that through posts like this and so forth :o)

  4. Hurtful, hurtful, hurtful. That is the only way I can describe those statements. To be honest, I struggle with this issue ALL OF THE TIME. I wonder, did my disobedience to God cause this? I sure haven’t been a perfect Christian. I’ve made lots of mistakes. There have been times when I knew what God wanted me to do and I ignored Him anyway. I wonder if that is why I have this. But then, I think about how medication and CBT/ERP have helped me so tremendously. If my issues were ONLY spiritual, wouldn’t those treatments have been ineffective? Why did I first exhibit anxiety as a very young infant/child if it was only a spiritual issue?

    I will not deny there is a spiritual aspect to my illness. I do believe that, and there are things I could have/should have done to mitigate how very ill I got. However, I also believe that there is a large component of my illness that is strictly biological and that I have absolutely no control over. I also believe we live in a fallen world and illness is one of the results. We just had a sermon on this at church yesterday. I just wonder, would the author suggest that a person with mental illness not seek counseling and medication? That is a scary thought to me.

    The only thing I can say about those statements is that the author clearly has no one in his/her life with a serious mental illness. A little reality can often change our perception of things.

    • I agree that there is a spiritual aspect to my OCD and depression and anxiety. My faith and my hope help get me through the pain. We all suffer, and God helps us through the suffering.

      Good discussion. Some thought-provoking quotes there, Jackie! 🙂

  5. I don’t believe that someone gets OCD because they are sinners any more than I believe that someone gets cancer because they are a sinner…or that a tornado levels a town because the town was full of sinners. THAT is the OLD way of thinking, NOT the GOOD NEWS way of thinking. Although OCD can feel like a demon it is a medical condition like any other disease, we are subject to them because we are human and live in a world where good and evil exsist. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, that is life. The lesson is to keep the FAITH and know that GOD loves us no matter how or why we have OCD.

  6. While I do not have any mental illnesses that I know of, as a scientist, I am disturbed by this quote. What I feel when reading certain Christian authors arguing against evolution, the reality of climate change, vaccinating children, etc., is probably a small taste of what you feel when reading websites like this.

    I think is it one more example of the anti-scientific (even anti-intellectual) attitude that permeates much of current evangelical Christianity. As many previous commenters have said, by taking this attitude, we risk loosing the vast benefits reaped by this God-given tool for understanding his Creation, including our brains.

    It is also dangerous theology to assign a direct spiritual cause for every event in the world. If one does that and said event is then found to have a physical or medical explanation, what need is there for God?

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