For as long as we can remember, teenagers have gotten a rush out of doing dangerous things. Whether it is racing in a car or using drugs, unwise and dangerous choices have marked the lives of teenagers. Recently, however, a new way to achieve this rush has become popular. This is found in what is known as ‘cutting.’ When someone ‘cuts’ they purposely use a sharp object to pierce the skin and draw blood.
If you go back 15-20 years ago, if somebody was injuring themselves in this way it would be seen as a cry for help, or the definition of someone who is suicidal. However, recent research has shown this is not necessarily the case. Researchers now think it provides a rush, or to put it another way, a ‘high.’ It is the modern day free drug. Rates of people who injure themselves have skyrocketed, and specifically amongst teen girls. In the 1990’s the rate was lower than 3%. More recent research has shown numbers as high as 1 in 5 teenage girls between the ages of 10 and 18 either cutting or burning themselves.
While I cannot offer a complete treatise in this article on cutting and how to deal with it, I would like to show what the Bible says about such self-harming/self-mutilating practices. In short, the Bible describes cutting as the actions of pagan and false religion worshipers. While I’m not implying that anyone who cuts is some sort of a Satanist, I am saying that those who cut as a recreational escape, are engaging in acts of pagan worship and they might not even know it.
The clearest example of this is found in 1 Kings 18 in the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The wicked king at the time, King Ahab, was promoting Baal (pagan god) worship and Elijah felt it was time to take a stand. So Elijah ordered a showdown to see who the boss was. The prophets of Baal went first calling on their god, but there was no answer. So they began to “cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kin 18:28). Notice it was their ‘custom’ to cut themselves in such a way. It was ingrained in their pagan worship, a tradition. It was these pagan cultic practices that made God give the command to “not make any cuts in your body for the dead…” (Lev 19:28). Clearly there was some sort of prescribed form of pagan worship that involved self-mutilation.
In the New Testament the only mention of self injury is the man who is demon possessed and when Jesus casts out the demons they indwell a bunch of pigs and the pigs run down into the sea (Mark 5:1-13). In that passage it says he “gashed himself with stones” (v 5). Again the situation is pagan, occult, demonic influences.
I want to make it clear that I am not insinuating that anyone who cuts is a pagan worshiper or a demon possessed person. What I am trying to say, to those who cut for simply a recreational high, is that you have to realize the dark history of such a practice. If Satan can convince us that such evil practices are simply ‘recreational’ then he is already winning the battle of our minds.
To those who struggle with cutting because of depression or anger, I would encourage you to seek Pastoral Counseling. The real solution to the problem is understanding your identity in Christ, not a temporary diversion from life’s problems. We are not to try and escape life’s problems, but seek the Lord in the time of life’s problems.
Pastor Mark Scialabba