Cutting: Why You Do It, How to Stop

Deepak RejuFor Those Seeking Hope1 Comment


Cutting is a form of self-harm that, at its core, is rebellion against God. There’s hope: Jesus. Cutters are rescued in God’s kingdom! This article by pastor Pastor Deepak Reju appeared first here on Biblical Counseling Coalition’s website and is used with permission.

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Sally sat across from me and uttered it for the ten thousandth time, “I hate myself.” Though these might not be the words verbalized at every appointment, her actions all too often communicate self-hatred.

She cut herself yet again.

I’ve seen it too many times. If you are a counselor, you know that cutting is on the rise. More and more women are doing it. But why?

Some Reasons for Cutting

Struggles with Self-Worth

Some struggle with self-worth. Her parents made her feel like trash. (Their refrains echo in the chambers of her brain, “You stupid kid” or “What’s wrong with you?” or “You’ll never be anything.”)

No surprise, she thinks of herself as worthless. Cutting is an expression of her value. No value, no harm done. There is nothing wrong with hurting herself because she is rubbish.

I Deserve to Be Punished

Others think they deserve to be punished. A woman hurts herself because she believes she can self-atone. Someone deserves to be hurt; to feel pain; to be in anguish; to shed blood.

An Attempt at Stress-Relief

Maybe cutting is an attempt at stress-relief.  She can’t control her life. It feels so out of control.  The pressure at times is unbearable. Cutting is a temporary way to relieve the stress.

To Distract and Escape

Some are doing it as a way to distract and escape. The pain they inflict and feel they can focus in on so specifically that it momentarily distracts them and takes away the deep pain they feel in other parts of their lives (rejection, loneliness, fear, anger at God, memories of abuse, etc.).

The pain they inflict is so distracting it’s the only thing they have found that lets them “escape” the other pain.

The Biological Rush

Cutting is often paired with a biological rush that comes afterwards. And, unfortunately, this rush can be somewhat addictive.

We could come up with more reasons. These pose as a sampling of why someone might cut herself.

But God!

But what about God? Though it is rarely conscious rebellion, cutting is a form of rebellion against God. As the great Creator, God owns us, so hurting myself is a way of disregarding His sovereignty over my life, especially since He made me and loves me.

The biggest reason why someone cuts has to do with God. When I cut, it is like saying to the great Creator who made me, “I don’t care” or “I can manage my life better than you” or “You are not giving me any relief so I’ll find a way” or “I hate you for making me this way.”

Again, it is rarely conscious rebellion. Most cutters I’ve known are not thinking about God when they put a knife on their wrists. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? They’ve got vertical blinders on. At that moment when the sharp edge breaks the skin, they’ve forgotten about God.

That’s why God’s Words to us mater. Cutters are rescued in God’s kingdom. The only person who ever truly atoned for sin was Jesus. A cutter’s self-atonement is worthless. You think you deserve to hurt yourself, but that’s a lie. You don’t deserve to hurt yourself. No one ever does.

The one punishment you do deserve is God’s wrath for your sin. But that’s why Christ came. Though He didn’t deserve to die, though He didn’t deserve to have nails piercing His hands, He died for the unworthy, so that they might stand before the King as worthy servants.

That’s the hope that the gospel brings to every cutter–past, present, and future. That’s the hope He brings to you today. Jesus died for you.

Join the Conversation

What additional reasons for cutting and self-harm would you add?

How can Christ’s gospel of grace provide relief and release from the desire to self-harm?

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