Thoughts on Decision Making When in the Shadow of OCD Doubt


Scrupulous people often get stuck and OCD sufferers can be hesitant, doubtful decision makers. They mull over decisions, not ever really having confidence about which path to take. They ask for input, read and study, over-analyze, and still never really feel good about what to do. One of the great needs is a solid basis for decision-making.

As any Christian should, I have a commitment to follow and obey the teachings of Jesus and Scripture. However, one of the most troublesome passages for me is Romans 14:23: “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating[^1] is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (NASB)

I have heard this principle summarized as, “When in doubt, don’t.” This is a helpful principle for those with healthy consciences. But anyone who’s battled with scrupulosity knows how doubt darkens so many important decisions. So how can you biblically make a decision when doubt is present? “I doubt whether or not I should take meds; therefore I shouldn’t take them.” “I doubt whether or not I should confess my sins; therefore I shouldn’t confess them.” “I doubt where or not God is really calling me; therefore I shouldn’t enter the ministry.” And so on. I’ve wrestled with these issues for many years.

One helpful insight came from Ian Osborn in a counseling session. He mentioned that we are also commanded to resist the enemy (James 4:7). If a doubt comes from the enemy, we must resist it(him). We can’t just consider Romans 14 without considering James 4. To know there is a bit of conflict on these decision-making principles actually  freed me up to resist doubt and make decisions when uncertainty and doubt are present.

In following posts, I’ll be adding content on the much needed topic of discernment and how it relates to decision making. Ignatius did much to help us in this area. Sign up to get updated when new posts are added.


[^1]: Italics indicate that these words are not in the original language but were added for clarity by the translators.

Featured Image: “Which way to go ?” by J P on Flickr (CC by 2.0)


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