Religious Scrupulosity: Super Faithful or Mentally Ill?

As Christians, we look up to people who pray and read the Bible a lot. But the sad fact is that some of the people we think of as the most devout are actually suffering from a condition known as religious scrupulosity.

Scrupulosity is a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and is marked by the constant presence of intrusive thoughts about sin, hell, or blasphemy, resulting in compulsive religious activity. It can be extremely debilitating, and a lack of awareness about it can keep us from helping the people in our lives who may be suffering from it.

On this episode, we explore what religious scrupulosity is, its symptoms, and how it differs from a healthy commitment to religious practices and spiritual disciplines. We also look at some of our heroes in church history through the lens of scrupulosity. Did some of them suffer from extreme anxiety that they compensated for with religious compulsions?

We also discuss how our approach to theology can trigger or exacerbate feelings of religious scrupulosity, even among people who are relatively healthy. Are there ways we can adjust how we talk about biblical doctrines to better help us become both holy and healthy?


READ: Is Anxiety a Sin?
READ: The Mental Health Crisis Is a Church Crisis
READ: Is Biblical Counseling the Answer to America’s Mental Health Crisis?
LISTEN: Is Anxiety ‘Temporary Atheism’?


The Gateway Institute: Scrupulosity OCD Symptoms & Treatment
Jonathan Edwards: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (Full Text)


Subscribe On Apple Podcasts | Follow On Spotify

Latest Episodes

Cremation, Sainthood, Unforgivable Sin, and Other Questions
Religious Scrupulosity: Super Faithful or Mentally Ill?
Is Alistair Begg Wrong About Christians Attending Same-Sex Weddings?
Does Paul Contradict Jesus? Progressive Christianity on TikTok
Is Joe Biden a Christian Nationalist?
Asian Jesus? Exploring Our Cultural Assumptions About Jesus Through Artwork
Pro-Life or Abortion Abolitionism: Who’s Right?
The Christian Origins of Santa Claus
Can You Walk Away From Church Without Walking Away From Jesus?
Are Ghosts Real?
Seeking Moral Clarity in Israel and Palestine
Unconditional Conference, Andy Stanley, and LGBTQ+ Issues in the Church
Ecumenism: How United Should the Global Church Be?
Are Demons Making Us Sick?
What's the Deal With Horoscopes?
5 Hot Takes on the 10 Commandments
Christian Thoughts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Will Our Pets Be in Heaven? (And Other Questions)
Poverty, Welfare, and 'Rich Men North of Richmond'
Why Are Christians Obsessed With the Enneagram? (And Should We Stop?)
Emmett Till, Florida Slavery Curriculum, and the Importance of History to Faith
Church as a Business?
‘Sound of Freedom,’ Child Sex Trafficking, Conspiracy Theories, and How To Be Helpful
The Long History Behind Evangelical Opposition to Social Justice
Do Pastors Have To Go to Seminary?

Explore More Episodes