Cutting, Counseling, and Christ

Sometimes people are so needy, broken, hurt, angry, and confused that they resort to cutting themselves as a way of escape.  Mentally and perhaps physically, cutting seems to ease the pain or reduce the burden of life for some people.  Before discussing this any further, it is important to note that though not all of us cut ourselves when broken or despondent, all of us quite often try to deal with these things in different sinful ways (i.e. drinking, fleeing, bitterness, anger, etc.).  So at bottom, cutters and those who don’t cut are in the same boat; none of us can cast the first stone (so to speak).

But cutting is something that needs to be addressed, because it is harms people made in God’s image.  It needs to be addressed because it is a sinful response to trial and hardship.  It needs to be addressed because it happens all too often.  Christians – especially pastors, elders, teachers, and counselors – need to know what to do when a loved one resorts to cutting.

Here’s a good start: get Cutting: A Healing Response by Jeremy Lelek.  This pamphlet is a great resource that briefly explains what cutting is, why people do it, and how the gospel speaks to this tough issue.  Lelek nicely uses a story (based on reality) to describe cutting in some detail.  It makes for sad reading at first, but Lelek doesn’t make it shocking just for the sake of shock value.  He keeps it more realistic, and then explains how grace applies even to those who cut themselves.

I appreciated how Lelek noted that religion and morality do not really cure cutting.  Rather, it is an issue of the heart that is only and truly dealt with by going to the cross, where Christ bled and suffered to make sinners acceptable to God.  The gospel means that when we are found in Christ, by faith, though we might still struggle with sin (even the sin of cutting), God still accepts us because of Christ.  Lelek was realistic by explaining that someone might have to still fight the urge to cut even after they become a Christian.  This should lead one to detest his/her sin of cutting, but not to despair about it.  Again, it has to do with Christ, the sin-bearer.

I’ll come back to this booklet later and give more details – this post is just a brief summary.  But for now, let me say that I highly recommend this booklet.  Even if you haven’t yet dealt with this difficult issue, you should get it so you don’t panic when it comes up in your church, family, or Christian circle.  Cutting is a dark reality in life, but there is a Light that shines brighter, a Light that overcomes all evil.  This booklet is about that Light.

Jeremy Lelek, Cutting: A Healing Response (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2012).

shane lems
hammond, wi

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