Do you struggle with idolatry obsessions? Maybe you’ve never heard that phrase before, but that’s ok! Idolatry obsessions, for a person with OCD, are very different from a typical believer’s struggle against idolatry. Let’s look at a case study that illustrates a very typical expression of this issue.
Nayla looked at her phone, paralyzed with fear. A text message from her boyfriend asked if she wanted to come over to his parent’s house after Bible study for a family bonfire. Nayla wasn’t sure what to respond.
She wanted to go, but at the moment she picked up her phone to reply, a thought had popped into her mind.
If you go to your boyfriend’s house after Bible study, you’re idolizing him.
Where had that voice come from? Was it from the Holy Spirit? Was it a random passing thought?
Nayla wasn’t sure.
Even if it was just an anxious thought, wouldn’t she be agreeing with the thought by going to his house? And wouldn’t that mean she was assenting to the idolatry?
Before she knew it, Nayla felt herself twisted in a spaghetti bowl of confusing thoughts. She often experienced “if/then” thoughts that turned everyday scenarios into high stakes religious barters:
- If you eat that piece of pie, you’re blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
- If you don’t go out of your way to witness to that stranger, you’re going to hell.
- If you don’t count to 14 before going through the door, God will let your mother die.
Nayla’s latest if/then statements were weaponizing her fear of idolatry against her, and she didn’t yet realize that this was incredibly common for people with religious OCD.
What Are Idolatry Obsessions?
The easiest way to define idolatry obsessions is to first define idolatry from a Biblical perspective. Then, if our anxious thoughts create a picture of idolatry that is different from what Scripture tells us, we’ll know we’re dealing with an obsession rather than a conviction.
By the way, here’s a good working definition of “extremism” and “fanaticism:” extremism in religion is simply to add to what God has said.
And yeah, guilty as charged.
Those of us with a predisposition to OCD can end up in some really fanatical positions.
To reverse this trend of unintended, fear-driven religious extremism, we have to know clearly what the Bible says, then sweep away all the manmade extras we’ve added to it.
So what is idolatry in its simplest and purest form?
A Basic Definition of Idolatry
The prophet Isaiah worked hard to warn his people against idolatry. He tried to turn them from their idolatrous ways, cautioning them that Babylon would carry their people into captivity for 70 years. But nothing seemed to move the Israelites. They continued burning incense on the high places and bowing before idols.
One of the themes in the book of Isaiah is judgment against idolatry. The prophet decries idolatry, saying,
Their land is also full of idols;Isaiah 2:8-9
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made.
People bow down,
And each man humbles himself…
Idolatry is thus seen as something that inappropriately “humbles” a person, bringing them to worship that which their own hands have made.
Isaiah looks forward to a time when God’s truth and justice will be seen throughout all the earth. It will be a time of justice, a vivid moment when idolatrous people will cast away their futile idols.
The loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low;
The Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
But the idols He shall utterly abolish.
They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silverIsaiah 2:17-21
And his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship,
To the moles and bats,
To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Throughout his prophetic book, Isaiah defends the uniqueness of God as the only One worthy to be worshipped. He does this by commenting on three themes that describe why it is ridiculous to worship anyone other than God:
- Only God can create
- Only God can predict the future
- Only God can save
These three themes begin to help us understand idolatry and idolatry obsessions.
Theme 1: Only God Can Create
A Pakistani friend once told me a story that is in the Qur’an. In this story, there is a Jewish town where the people know they are not permitted to go fishing on Sabbath. In a tempting turn of events, the fish only appear on Sabbaths.
Obviously, the fishermen are sorely tempted and are itching to go fishing on the Sabbath. Eventually, they give in to the temptation, and God punishes them for fishing on Sabbath by turning them into apes.
My friend told me there is much discussion as to whether the Qur’anic story means they were literally turned into apes or whether it was a figurative expression for being shamed in some way. But, he told me wryly, “It does not really matter. Look at society today, how the people believe in evolution. They say of their own accord that they come from monkeys. You see, Sabbath was originally given to help us remember that God is our Creator. Once we forget our Creator, we don’t need to be turned into monkeys–we will stoop so low as to call ourselves monkeys!”
Understanding God as our Creator is a potent shaper of our worldview, values, self-image, and beliefs. Isaiah knew that the creation narrative would protect God’s people from idolatry. He wrote,
Truly You are God, who hide Yourself,
O God of Israel, the Savior!
They shall be ashamed
And also disgraced, all of them;
They shall go in confusion together,
Who are makers of idols.
But Israel shall be saved by the Lord
With an everlasting salvation;
You shall not be ashamed or disgraced
Forever and ever.
For thus says the Lord,Isaiah 45:15-18
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other.
This leads us to the understanding that, in part, idolatry must be in some way a negation of God’s role as Creator. Idolatry may be seen as antithetical or competitive to God’s claim to be the only Creator.
In this sense, there are a few philosophical positions that would seem to fit this description, such as the various non-theistic suggestions for the origin of life or pagan creation myths.
Responding to the panic-driven if/then statements of OCD can hardly be considered a negation of God’s role as Creator.
Theme 2: Only God Can Predict the Future
Isaiah’s second reason for insisting that only God is God and idols are worthless is the fact that God accurately predicts the future.
Predictive prophecy is an extremely unique feature of Biblical scholarship, one that has made many atheists into theists. While our weather apps can predict next week’s weather with about 50% accuracy, Biblical prophecy correctly outlined future events hundreds of years before they happened.
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one.’ ”
Tell and bring forth your case;Isaiah 44:6-8, 45:21
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.
God asserts Himself against idols by His ability to predict the future. This is a key difference that sets Him above and beyond all competition. No one else can declare what will happen.
Idolatry, then, must in some way involve attempts to predict the future through other means.
I, for one, would consider it idolatry to try knowing your future through tarot cards, palm readings, tea leaf readings, or other type of psychic activities.
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.Deuteronomy 18:10-12
In case the word “soothsayer” in the above passage is an unfamiliar word, it means one who attempts to foretell the future. Today, we might use the word “psychic.”
Let’s remember, though, that psychic readings are a supernatural attempt to know the future. Other non-supernatural attempts to predict the weather or economy appear to be different because they rely on scientific observations of God’s created world (meteorology) or observations of patterns within financial trends (economics). This seems to be a valid use of human wisdom. Jesus saw weather predictions as a good thing, although He tongue-in-cheek cited weather prediction as rationale for why the Pharisees ought to have recognized His coming.
He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.Matthew 16:2-3
So no, not all predictive activities are bad, but attempts to supernaturally foretell the future–something only God can do–would seem to be an expression of idolatry.
OCD may tell you you’re committing idolatry for not obeying its arbitrary if/then suggestions. But this is hardly what the Bible describes as idolatry.
Theme 3: Only God Can Save
Isaiah’s third rationale for why idols are worthless is that God alone can save. He wrote,
Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
And their precious things shall not profit;
They are their own witnesses;
They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed…
The craftsman stretches out his rule,
He marks one out with chalk;
He fashions it with a plane,
He marks it out with the compass,
And makes it like the figure of a man,
According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
He cuts down cedars for himself,
And takes the cypress and the oak;
He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.
Then it shall be for a man to burn,
For he will take some of it and warm himself;
Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.”
And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!”
…“Remember these, O Jacob,Isaiah 44:9, 13-17, 21-22
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
The prophet Isaiah uses cutting humor to mock the futility of idol worship. He notes how men burn half a log for warmth and food and then turn the other half into a carved idol. How can this, the works of their own hands, save them?
In the midst of this scathing observation, Isaiah breaks into a rapturous description of God’s own ability to save.
The idolatrous craftsman cries out to his idol, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” But when God speaks, it is reversed. There are no worshippers begging Him for His attention. It is God Himself who extends His power: I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” God needs no persuasion, no rain dance, no child sacrifice. He is the One who calls us.
This is a God whose very nature is to save.
The third theme we find in Isaiah’s discussion of idolatry is that we must worship God alone because only He can save. Idols might promise protection and eternal security, but these are false claims. Only God can rescue us from guilt, shame, and judgment.
Any religious ritual designed to gain eternal life through any means other than faith in God could then be understood as idolatry.
Unfortunately, I hate to say that OCD can take on a very idolatrous flavor. How often are we convinced that our neurotic religious compulsions are necessary for our salvation? We end up depending on ourselves and our ritualized little salvation checklists rather than depending on the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
If we have idolatry obsessions, this is the area for us to be concerned about.
Not the fact that we really enjoy eating dinner (no, you are not idolizing food by having a good, solid supper every night) or the fact that we are really attracted to our spouses or partners. God never told us we can’t really, hugely, enormously enjoy life and the good things in it.
Enjoyment of clean pleasures is not idolatry, and should not produce an idolatry obsession.
Looking to anything else to save me, to predict my future, or to be honored as Creator is idolatry.
Idolatry in the Ten Commandments
The first two commandments relate to this concern with idolatry obsessions.
The first commandment, which is often not listed in its entirety, says,
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.Exodus 20:2-3
God’s claim to uniqueness in our lives is based on the salvific work He has already done. He has brought us out of bondage and given us a life of freedom. Therefore, we must have no other gods that would compete with His singularity.
And the second commandment explains how we ought to apply this.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.Exodus 20:4-6
God explicitly tells us not to create carved images to represent Him. We are prohibited from trying to access God through images.
(Probably someone who reads this will wonder about religious art. Please note that religious art, which is intended for beauty and religious education, is not the same thing as statues or icons that are used for veneration. In the ancient Jewish tabernacle, there were images and statues of angels, bulls, pomegranates, and almond blossoms, along with many richly textured fabrics and soaring architectural art. God is a lover of art and beauty–but He is not a lover of objects that receive our veneration.)
This is the simple and most straightforward understanding of the first and second commandments about idolatry. God wants to retain His unique singularity as Creator and Redeemer in our lives, and He doesn’t want to be venerated through images.
Common Idolatry Obsessions
Now that we’ve looked at some key passages about idolatry in Scripture, let us try to apply this information to our obsessive-compulsive lives. What we notice right away is that the things we worry about as people with OCD are very different from the idolatrous prohibitions we’ve just read about.
Some of the most common idolatry obsessions are listed below. These are the things we worry “might” be idolatry:
- Loving someone deeply (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, etc.)
- Passionate interest in a hobby (sports, musical instrument, handicrafts, travel)
- Much-desired purchases (house, pet, car)
- Educational and career paths (attending university, pursuing a career in politics, working in any field other than Christian missions)
- Everyday pleasures (eating a meal, having dessert, sleeping in on weekends, taking a hot bath, eating before having completed religious compulsions)
- Preference of non-spiritual activities over spiritual activities (such as preferring to take the dog for a walk instead of read the Bible, often when one knows that reading the Bible is going to be anxiety-inducing)
- Random “tests” of daily minutiae (if/then wagers are placed on the teeniest little details of everyday life, like, “if you blink, then you’re agreeing to commit idolatry)
Living with Zest
It is certainly right to lay everything on the altar before God. He calls us to be completely surrendered to His will, and sometimes He does call us to give up things we love.
But He also gives us things we love, and when He does, He wants us to receive them with joy. Enjoying His goodness and bounty is how we worship Him in our everyday lives. Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Solomon, who spent years in existential toil and agony while trying to figure out the meaning of life, looked back and recommended a simpler path than he himself had taken. He said it’s useless to get stuck in your head trying to figure out everything about the universe (see Ecclesiastes 1:13; 3:9-11; 12:12), and he admonished us to lead simple lives, enjoying what God has provided.
Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
What about you? Have you spent a lot of time burrowing in your own head like Solomon?
Would you like to be able to eat, drink, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life without obsessing?
Solomon repeats this advice multiple times in the book of Ecclesiastes (see Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:13; 5:18; 8:15; 9:7). His final argument for why we should enjoy a simple, wholesome life is that one day we will die, and there is no goodness or enjoyment in the grave.
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil.
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
Solomon reminds us that our simple life should be:
- Enjoyable (“merry heart”)
- Pure and wholesome (“let your garments always be white,” a metaphor for purity)
- Non-stingy (“let your head lack no oil”)
- Relational (“live joyfully with the wife [or husband] whom you love”)
And yet, this life is lived with a view of eternity. One day we will die. One day, all our works will be brought into judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Solomon is not giving us a license to live sinfully or selfishly; he is simply reminding us to enjoy life fully and wholesomely while we have it.
This life is “vanity.” There is no hidden esoteric meaning we have to extract from it, so there’s no point in being stuck in our heads. Life is a lovely, chaotic, beautiful paradox–it is “vain” but also “abundant,” “meaningless” but also “joyful.” God tells us to live morally and with zest.
Let’s not waste time with idolatry obsessions. If you enjoy your dinner, or your marathon, or your puppy, God is not jealous.
How to Identify Idolatry
Let me share a principle that may be helpful for a naturally obsessive-compulsive personality to determine whether an idolatry obsession is worth worrying about.
Principle: if God asks us to sacrifice something, it’s because it’s wrong or harmful, not merely because He wants us to give up things we like.
To illustrate this point, let me create two hypothetical scenarios which will sound very familiar to the scrupulosity community.
Pat and Paul are two Christians who have scrupulosity. They both like reading books, and they are both struggling with idolatry obsessions regarding their reading choices.
Pat likes to read Harry Potter and stories about vampires and teenage witches.
Paul likes to read historical accounts of medieval kings.
Both Pat and Paul feel anxious when they read. They worry that they are idolizing their books above God because they enjoy their reading very much. They also experience the intrusive if/then wagers that tell them they are agreeing to idolatry if they read.
Pat and Paul decide to study God’s word on the matter. They come to a better understanding of what idolatry really is, and they study what kind of entertainment is safe and wholesome for Christians. Paul comes to the conclusion that historical reading is a beneficial realm for reading. Pat, on the other hand, comes to the conclusion that reading about witchcraft and magic is not appropriate for followers of Jesus.
(Side note: I know Harry Potter is a sensitive subject for some believers. I don’t write this to make anyone anxious, but if anyone feels the need to describe why they feel it is appropriate for believers to read or watch stories that involve witchcraft, my only request is that you please share Biblical references in your comment.)
Now, as Pat and Paul have come to their conclusions, we see two things: first of all, Paul might still feel sinful and idolatrous by continuing his historical readings. This is the nature of having an anxiety disorder that attacks our spirituality. But if the activity he’s engaging in (reading historical books) is safe and appropriate for a believer, he should push forward and ignore the feelings.
God is not playing games to see if you love Him enough to give up things you enjoy.
God’s not like that. (And wouldn’t that make Him sound mean and petty?)
The second observation is that Pat, if she encounters Biblical truth that says, “what I’m reading is not healthy for my spiritual life,” and yet continues reading, this becomes sin. This is what many preachers mean to say when they talk about idolatry as “anything you love more than God.”
Certainly, any sin, persistently cherished, can become an idol.
But please notice, it is SIN that becomes an idol, not innocent gifts of God! This is the main difference I want you to notice.
I have talked to some clients who are really in gray areas with their idolatry obsessions–certain things they feel the need to give up that do seem sinful. But I’d say the majority of scrupulous people who describe their idolatry obsessions to me are worried about completely innocent things.
What About Abraham’s Sacrifice?
Of course, someone is wondering, what about Abraham sacrificing his son? Isaac wasn’t something sinful. He was the son of promise. Why would God ask Abraham to give up his son unless it’s true that God sends random tests to see if we love Him enough?
I would respond by saying that Abraham’s case was unique, and we have to be careful what interpretive hermeneutics we’re using if we try to take Abraham’s exception and make it the norm.
Abraham was a prophet who, on multiple occasions, spoke to God directly and intimately. (There’s also nothing that suggests he had a mental health disorder that was regularly distorting God’s voice, as it does for us). Abraham’s experience on Mount Moriah was also a salvific drama that foretold the coming of the Messiah. This is why, after he saw and sacrificed the ram, Abraham renamed the place Jehovah Jireh, “The Lord Will Provide.”
Many centuries later, Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). When and how did Abraham see Jesus’ day? In the mount.
The Mount Moriah narrative was an incredible drama that foreshadowed salvation by faith in the Old Testament. This was executed by a prophet of God who, like all of us, struggled to have faith. But God was carefully calibrating the depth of his trial and did not, in fact, let any harm come to his son.
It would be hard, on so many levels, to take Abraham’s singular case and make it normative for all our idolatry obsessions.
Note also that idolatry was never part of Abraham’s story. It just wasn’t.
Giving up your garlic bread, your puppy, your house, or your university career (all real examples from people I’ve spoken with) in order to prove that you’re not idolatrous doesn’t match the meaning and purpose of Abraham’s experience.
A Word to the Anxious About Idolatry Obsessions
Some of my readers struggle with idolatry obsessions more severely than others. For just a moment, I would like to address those whose idolatry concerns are the stickiest and most terrifying.
If you already feel you’ve been helped by what’s been written, feel free to sign off. What I’d like to say next is for those who tend to feel help-resistant, as if nothing that’s said on this topic makes any sense at all and doesn’t stick longer than five minutes.
I would like to ask you a question, and I realize that this question could be understood in two different ways depending on the intonation of my voice.
That’s one difficulty with writing instead of speaking–it’s hard for me to transmit the tone of my voice. But please be assured that I am asking the forthcoming question with the tenderest tone and the gentlest intentions.
My question is, “Who, my dear friend and fellow sufferer, do you think you are?”
Who do you think you are?
When you listen so carefully to those if/then statements in your idolatry obsessions, it sure seems like you think you’re a prophet of God.
After all, a prophet is God’s mouthpiece, one who receives messages from God. And it seems like you are getting direct messages from God.
New, private little laws of God that only apply to you and no one else. New rules. New demands.
See, if you come up with new rules and laws that aren’t in the Bible’s 66 books, that’s going to mean you are either a prophet or a person suffering from a mental health disorder.
And if you’re a prophet, and those weird if/then statements are really from God, you need to first pass the tests of a true prophet. Because, don’t forget, the Bible warns us against false prophets, and you don’t want to let your OCD turn you into someone who is prophesying falsely against your poor blessed self!
So why don’t you check out these tests of a true prophet. There are just a few of them.
- A true prophet may come with new information, but it will never contradict Scripture, only elaborate upon it (Isaiah 8:20).
- A true prophet will lead you to confess Jesus Christ and look to Him as your only Savior (1 John 4:1-2). A true prophet will never lead you to look to yourself for salvation.
- A true prophet will bring forth good fruit in their life and revelations (Matthew 7:15, 20), not misery and confusion.
- A true prophet’s predictions will always come true (Jeremiah 28:9). If any of your complicated if/then compulsions and idolatry obsessions have not come true, even just one of them, you can be sure your self-prophecies are false and can be ignored.
Don’t fall for OCD’s tricks. I know it sounds like it’s from God and it comes with so much anxiety. But please, go back and compare with Scripture. The Bible is our only safeguard against religious fanaticism.
And Scripture is calling us to be balanced, joyful, and free.
Idolatry Obsessions: Conclusion
We’ve talked about a lot.
This blog post got a little out of hand–I was planning to write a short treatise on idolatry obsessions and here I am 5,000 words later.
This has been a much-requested topic, so I hope it has been helpful in some way. We’ve looked at Isaiah’s three main themes against idolatry, in which he argued that only God can create, only God can predict the future, and only God can save. Presumably, idolatry would involve looking to any statue or icon or ideology to as the source of my existence, the foreteller of my future, and the savior of my soul.
We’ve talked about the first and second commandment in their simplicity, and we’ve seen Solomon’s advice for living a wholesome life with enjoyment and zest. We’ve also seen a few principles for trying to apply Bible truths to our idolatry obsessions.
At the end of the day, here is what I would love to see happen in your life.
I would love to see you study the Word, non-compulsively and with a calm spirit, to see if there is sin in the thing you fear is “idolatrous.” Please do not try to do this when you feel anxious, because it will strongly bias your research and will also make you miserable. Sometime, when you are in a “sound mind,” search the Scriptures. Talk with a church member or family member who has a strong relationship with the Lord. Try to ascertain if there is sin in that thing that seems like idolatry.
As you do this, also analyze the idolatry obsession itself. Try your best to isolate the if/then wager that often comes packaged with the obsession. Write out your idolatry obsession in the following format.
My idolatry concern is that IF I ______________, THEN God will/I will ________________.
Once you have identified your idolatry concern and you have studied to see if there is “real” sin in it, you’re ready to move forward.
(And please note: having a mental health disorder like OCD makes you predisposed to see sin EVERYWHERE. Try to check your conclusion with someone else. Some of you who are reading this can probably already say, “Oh, if I ask my wife, she’ll say this is ridiculous and unbiblical and I’m moving entirely from nervous energy.” If that’s the case, be humble. Accept the input of others.)
If the thing you’re concerned about is not sinful and you have no biblical reason to believe it needs to be cast away, then enjoy it.
Enjoy it with gusto and an extra spritz of lemon.
Because God’s like that. He’s a God who creates flowers and pretty birds, just because He likes nice things.
Do not permit your anxious brain to distort the character of God. Do not permit it for one moment. Force yourself to eat if you must (I think I will need a whole separate blog post for discussing the intersect between scrupulosity and eating disorders). Force yourself to relax after a long day of work. Force yourself to just sit in nature and bask in the beauty and wonder of life.
As you sort out your struggles with idolatry obsessions, may it all be done in view of our loving Creator, who wants us to be happy. “Serve the Lord with gladness,” says Psalm 100:2, and all around us we see evidences of God’s desire for us to find joy and abundant life.
May you not only walk the narrow road in truth and righteousness, but walk it with abounding joy.
Best wishes on the journey,