Open Letter to a Christian Cutter

The phenomenon of self-mutilation, or "cutting" as it is colloquially known today, is a frighteningly common problem - especially among teens. Much like eating disorders, it is hard for an outsider to understand what would make a person harm herself physically; what is driving this compulsion?

Recently, I have started getting more and more e-mails from young ladies who, while they believe in God and profess to know Him, have turned to this addictive form of self-abuse. While I have no personal experience with "cutting", I've come to believe it's demonic. Human beings were made in the image of God, and in revenge towards Him, Satan tempts (or compels) individuals to deface themselves.

Another common denominator between bulimics and "cutters" is the prevalence of sexual abuse in their childhoods, one of the most satanically-inspired forms of torment there is. Shame, rage, and a denial of God's poeima ("workmanship") combine in the heart and manifest in such symptoms of self-abuse.

Recently, I wrote to a teenaged cutter:

"The cutting is definitely acting out of rage and anger. This is actually demonic (NOT saying you have a demon in you -- but all sin and sinful temptation comes from the devil). The devil cannot control you or force you to do anything, but he can tempt you and put ideas in your mind. One of those "ideas" is to hurt yourself and mutilate your body. Remember the story in Mark 5 of Jesus healing the man at Gerasenes (he was tormented by demons)? Read verse 5 - "he cut himself with stones". Why do you think he did that? The demons literally made him do it -- they wanted to hurt and deface him, as they do all people, because we were made in the image of God. That's why self-destructive behavior is a sin - it defaces God's greatest creation and work of beauty - humans.

Remind yourself of that the next time you feel compelled -- where is this compulsion coming from? To deface the body Christ died to redeem? Straight from the pit of hell, Theresa. Please turn to God in these moments and pray -- tell Him how you feel, and ask Him for His supernatural comfort and strength to get through it. Do not be afraid to let yourself feel emotions and cry; tears are often the beginning of healing. But do not resort to cutting yourself and making the devil smile.

The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6). This definitely includes your peace of mind - He can renew your mind, as you stay in the Word, too. This is one reason why it's so important to be reading your Bible, and digesting it bit by bit. As you think on what God's saying in His Word, gradually His thoughts will beome your own and you will have much less fear and anxiety. It is never His will for you to be fearful or anxious - repeatedly, throughout Scripture, God tells us "fear not" and not to be anxious about anything (easier said than done, I know. But we can overcome unhealthy thought patterns with prayer and developing the habit of asking ourselves "What does the Bible say about this?")

Forgiveness is very important in order to let go of bitterness and anger. Sexual abuse is probably one of the worst things a human being can inflict upon another, but you cannot let ANOTHER'S sin destroy YOUR life. When you're having a horrible flashback or memory, I want you to calmly remind yourself that Christ is there; He is with you and HE is sovereign. This means that although the abuse was evil, He allowed it, for reasons we can't see this side of eternity. If you allow Him to, God can bring good out of this; I promise. You can be a display of the amazing grace of God. He is stronger than that flashback or any ugly memory. Turn to Him in the midst of it and remember that He is REAL, powerful, and true. He is the Protector of the powerless and the Defender of the innocent. I would say for now, stay in the Word and set time aside daily to talk to the Lord and ask Him for help in this area. Definitely see if it would be appropriate or an option for you to get pastoral counseling at your home church.

You need to fight this starting by turning to God and resolving to think His way. The cutting is just a symptom of the problem; it is not the problem itself. The anger and hurt and fear can only be healed by bringing it to Christ and letting Him shine His light of Truth on it -- and no one can do that except for you. Promise me you'll talk to Him about this this week, and at least read something from His Word. Let me know what stands out to you in your reading. Even if you're not sure you can or really want to stop this behavior, tell Him that, too. Be honest. He already knows, anyway. The devil is definitely trying to torment you, but he can have no more power over you than you give him because of Christ's shed blood on your behalf.

Don't go to sleep tonight without at least spending some time with God. Please write soon and let me know how you're doing, so I can continue and we can talk about this further.

Praying for you!"


  1. It is a sad thing when teen girls start doing stuff like that.I remember my niece wrote in her diary that she felt like cutting herself.She has since gotten out of that phase,and she got married and she has a 1 year old.

  2. I have a booklet I picked up at a Biblical Counselors' conference two years ago, which you might find worth-while if you don't already possess a copy. It is titled "Hope & Help For Self-Injurers and Cutters," by Mark Shaw and published by Focus Publishing.

    I printed out this letter of yours and am putting it with the booklet. Very good stuff. Thanks

  3. Glenn,

    No, I have not heard of that one, but if Focus put it out, it must be good. I will check it out and add it to my arsenal of counseling materials. Thanks for the heads-up!


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