When I left the Catholic Church many years ago, one of the reasons I left was because of what Catholics refer to as “scrupulosity.” I had never heard of the term before a couple of years ago, but I recognized myself as soon as I heard what it is. I also know of others who left the Church because of it.

What Catholics know as “scrupulosity”, was what as a Protestant I had come to know as “legalism.” It is a corruption of freedom. The scrupulous person is anxious that he has committed a sin when in fact he has not or is convinced that his venial sins are mortal when they are not. This leads to a person thinking of Catholicism as a big-guilt trip—the feeling that in order to go to heaven, you would have to go to confession several times a day, like God is a ogre in the sky waiting for you to sin so he can kill you before you have a chance to repent.

I found a very good article on scrupulosity that you should read. Catholics, read it so you don’t fall into this trap, or so you can get out of it. Non-Catholics, read it so you can better understand the Catholic position.

Here is one of the best statements in the article: “Perhaps the best antidote to scrupulosity is the awareness that God’s grace is not easily dislodged by our sinful actions, much less by our smaller imperfections. If we think we can easily lose so great a gift, we are guilty of undue pride, which often masks itself as humility: ‘I am a horrible sinner and incapable of God’s love.’ That is a false humility by which we make ourselves more powerful than we really are and minimize the sovereign power of God and his gift of grace.”

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