I consider myself lucky in some ways with the types of OCD that I have dealt with and continue to struggle against. While they certainly aren’t a walk in the park, there are other types of OCD that seem even more sinister to me. One of these is intrusive thoughts.
From what I gather and have read/seen/heard, intrusive thought OCD involves the presence of certain persistent and very real thoughts inside your head that are not welcome or normal to you. They might relate to harming or doing something inappropriate to someone else or to yourself. They might deal with violent or sexual behaviors that you would never actually do in real life—but the OCD keeps bringing these thoughts to the forefront of the mind, making you worried that maybe you really do or would want to put these thoughts into action.
Can you see why intrusive thought OCD would be deeply disturbing and extremely hard to fight? For those who have religious leanings, it can be even more damning.
For instance, Matthew 15:18-20 states,
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
So basically, here we have Jesus Christ saying that what is in your heart is what makes you unclean, not what is on your hands. Should we infer then that intrusive thoughts > contamination? Well, not so fast. I don’t want to say one type of OCD is better or worse than another because all OCD is the pits. But people with intrusive thought OCD might think that, because they have these thoughts, they are basically condemned. But is this true? Are thoughts equal to action?
Thoughts = < > Actions?
It seems like the scriptures often imply that we will be judged on our thoughts as well as our actions. But does this apply to rogue thoughts as well as ones that we have control over and maintain? I don’t think so. I have a hard time believing that thoughts that you find so abhorrent and hate having would be used to judge you. I think that instead, the fact that you are fighting against and hate having those thoughts will be what defines and makes the difference.
Let’s not forget that whole agency thing that is so important in the Gospel. We are free to choose and free to act. When thoughts come into your head against your own free will and try to control you, that’s not exactly free agency at play. That’s something else, and therefore, please don’t feel like you are defiled because of those thoughts.
There are definitely those who have the thoughts described in Matthew 15:19 and act on them. Or think they are good ideas. Or are not bothered by them. That’s the real problem. That’s what Christ is warning against. Please don’t let OCD convince you that you are not worthy or righteous. Separate who you are from what the OCD is forcing upon you. And remember that you can win.
Have you suffered from intrusive thought OCD? What is or would be the hardest part of dealing with “rogue” thoughts?